Menu planning has been “all the rage” lately, a throwback to days of old when our mothers and grandmothers would have a hot made-from-scratch meal on the table every evening. These days many of us may scramble to throw on a last-minute offering for our families or simply give up and go through the drive-through “for the last time.”
If you’re ready to have a more relaxing dinnertime with your family, having planned your menu in advance, look no further! Here are some basics of menu planning to consider before tackling menu planning and perfecting it for your family.
Get Organized for Menu Planning
When I plan my monthly or bi-weekly menus, I use a three-ring binder with printed menu forms inside. I also include my local store ads so I can check them for good deals. Then I choose some cookbooks and recipes to incorporate in my meal plan. After grabbing a pencil and calculator, I’m ready to go!
Keep It Simple
Planning meals doesn’t need to be complicated and the best way to keep it from becoming too time-consuming is to keep it simple when you first begin. Use family favorites and don’t try any recipes with complicated or expensive ingredients right away. Double up on meals a couple of times during the month. Find some one-dish meals on a website like allrecipes.com. And you can always eat (gasp!) leftovers.
Plan for Budget Friendly Meals
Menu planning is an even greater advantage when you use it not only to keep yourself from eating out so often but also to cut your grocery budget. Incorporating the sale ads and items already in your cupboard into the process keeps your spending under control. Using less-expensive cuts of meat, choosing low-cost ingredients and watching portion sizes are all other options that I will address later on in the series.
Create your Menu According to your Schedule
Prepare your menu accordingly if you are going to be gone on Monday night for a ball game or at church for Wednesday night Bible study. Being busy is no excuse for being unprepared in the food department. If you don’t need to eat at home before these events, great! But if you’re in need, setting out something simple can keep you from hitting that drive-through once again.
Keeping in mind some basic principles of menu planning can help you streamline your experience, especially for those of you are trying this for the first time. Getting yourself organized, keeping your menus simple, planning with a budget and matching meals with your schedule gives you a head-start on the “method to the madness” of meal planning!