Menu planning is one of those things you know you should be doing. It’s good for your health, finances, and family bonding around the kitchen table. But it can also be overwhelming and feel complicated. Here are my steps for straight forward menu planning that will make things simple, effective, and easy to stick to.
Pick a Day to Menu Plan
If you haven’t pick up on my style yet, or if you’re new around Intentionally Well (welcome!), know that I like a good routine. Therefore, my first tip is to pick a day of the week to plan meals for the following week. I prefer weekly meal planning, but you can also tailor these tips towards menu planning once a month. The day you choose should be the day before you would typically grocery shop. This allows you to take advantage of any sales going on at your store (full disclosure – I’m not a coupon clipping person). Weekly menu planning also allows you to incorporate lots of fresh produce into your meals, which has a shorter shelf life.
Check Your Weekly Schedule
Knowing your weekly schedule is so important. If your kids have sports or other activities two afternoons a week, then you might not want to plan a full made from scratch meal that night (our go to quick meal is breakfast for dinner). This is why having a planner where you can keep everything in one place is so essential to keeping things intentional in your life. I use this one. Flying by the seat of your pants is overrated, am I right?
Shop Your Pantry
This was a tip a friend shared with me years ago, and it is a game changer when trying to stick to a budget. Look at what’s in your pantry and refrigerator first. Can you make any meals with what you already have? Likely, the answer is yes. Shopping your pantry first will enable you to cycle through pantry staples on a consistent basis as well as cut down on food waste.
Check the Weather
I know. This step is kind of out of left field for you. Checking the weather for the week is a great way to bring just a touch more intentionality to your meals. For example, if it’s chilly outside, then it might be more appropriate to have a cozy soup for dinner instead of salads. You also don’t want to plan to grill hamburgers outside, only to be caught in a down pour.
Make It Themed
Assigning each day of the week a meal theme can make choosing recipes less overwhelming. For example, Monday: vegetarian, Tuesday: tacos, Wednesday: Pasta, and so on. I find using this loose schedule makes menu more streamlined and less mentally taxing. I know, in theory, menu planning shouldn’t be mentally taxing. But, you know it can be. Sometimes it’s just plain annoying to be in charge of what all your people are going to eat.
Developing a menu planning habit can be a game changer for you and your family. I hope these tips and tricks help you to start and keep at it. What are some of your favorite family meals? Let me know in the comments below. As always, share this post with your friends if you enjoyed it!