Keep Things Simple
Menu planning does not have to take up a huge amount of time. Create a routine that works for your family and is easy to maintain.
- Assign each family member a day of the week
- Assign a theme for each day of the week (ex. Monday – Italian night Tuesday – Chicken night)
- Make a list of your family’s favorite meals and have it available when planning your menu
- Create set weekly menus (with grocery list) and follow them on a rotation
Create a Grocery List as You Plan your Menu
Make a grocery list as you plan your menu so you have it available when you have time to go to the store. Using a grocery list will make it less likely that you will forget an item when you are shopping and have to make another trip to the store.
- Plan your menu on the same day each week and plan a grocery trip soon after
- Include basic kitchen staples and household items
- Add your grocery list to Cozi.com so that it is available to any member of your family
Plan Ahead to Cut Down on Prep Time
A well planned menu can cut down on your time in the kitchen.
- Double the recipe and freeze half to be used another week
- Freeze parts of a meal – ex. sauce, prepped veggies, etc.
- Cook twice the meat and include it in a recipe the next day
- Use the crockpot on busy days
- Have a meal prep day at the beginning of the week to prepare veggies, marinate meat, make side dishes etc.
Post your Menu Where Everyone Can See It
A menu doesn’t do you any good if you don’t follow it. Post your menu where everyone will see it and look ahead to make sure you don’t have to do any prep work before hand (such as thawing meat). I love the simplicity of the horizontal magnetic dry erase board from Board Dudes.
Cross Check your Menu with your Weekly Calendar
Some nights are busier than others and you need to take that into account when planning your menu. Don’t plan to try out an elaborate new recipe on a night you have very little time. Have a backup dinner plan, such as sandwiches, frozen pizza, or a freezer meal, just in case things don’t go according to plan.
Frugal Menu Planning Tips
- Look over the weekly grocery ads and include sale items in your menu (and stock up on extra)
- Try eating a few meatless meals each week or decreasing the meat you use by mixing in beans or cooked wheat berries to ground meat.
- Use the crockpot to tenderize cheaper cuts of meat.