Well, here I am again rushing with my own personal deadline to get my blog up before midnight. I am just having too much fun visiting with family and friends. The carefree days of summer wreck havoc in my life, because we live a very laid back life, especially during the summer months. But the idea of having everything at my fingertips is a comfort and a fantastic plan which let’s me cram as much activity as I can into one day. This series of blogs is almost complete, tonight I will be blogging about Menu Planning.
I have to say it is wonderful knowing in advance what is going to be for dinner. What’s even better is having all the ingredients and recipes I need at the ready. The first thing I do to start my Menu Planning is to give the members of my family a pad and a pen and tell them to write down their favorite meals, usually ones that I already make, but I will take new additions. Once I have this list, which has many overlapping menu items, I put these all on a spreadsheet for easy reference. Unfortunately, my son is a finicky eater and is very vocal about what he will eat and what he will not eat. The trickiest thing about his tastes are that they change each week. This week he will like chicken cutlets and next week he won’t, so dinner time is sometimes kind of stressful, plus he doesn’t like vegetables. To get him to eat vegetables is like coordinating a Navy Seal mission.
My Menu Planning begins on Saturday night or Sunday morning. I will take 5 of the recipes from the “Favorites List” and sprinkle them throughout the week randomly, then I add whatever sides go best and perhaps some bread or a salad to accompany the meal. Once I have decided the weekly menu, I then go to the pantry and refrigerator/freezer to take an inventory of what I need to buy, sometime I will do this order in reverse, inventory first and then weekly meal plan. After I have done the shopping for the week, minus a couple of the fresh produce or bakery items, I freeze whatever meats that I won’t be using for the first 2 days. Like I said, my schedule is a work in progress and not set in stone, so I don’t like to plan too far in advance with the meals because I hate throwing food away. On hectic days, when we have after-school activities or Cub Scouts, I like to break out the Crock-Pot. I have to say, I love the Crock-Pot and really need to use it more often. This kitchen appliance is such a life saver, I just make sure that, the night before, I have all the ingredients for whatever dish I am making and then when I get up I can just start the dish and, viola!, dinner is taken care of that night.
I also find that I tend to buy the same sort of things at the supermarket week after week, so I have created a grocery list that I can print out to help me stay on track and on budget. This list also makes it super easy to send my husband to the store. I find that when I take the time out to plan the meals for the week, I am able to eat healthier and I feel so much less stressed and more motivated to cook for my family, which means less Pizza deliveries.
Here are a few Free Printables for Menu Planning that I found on other blogs and website. I am also including my own Grocery List that you can fashion to your own tastes.
Happy Cooking and Planning!!