“What’s for dinner?” really is the eternal question. Menu planning was something I struggled with for awhile, until I found this genius approach from Peanut Blossom, and adapted it for my own needs. Food is personal and planning for it is too. Here is my approach to meal planning.
Step one: Identify your Priorities
Every family has their own unique tastes and priorities. Our basic priorities are:
1. Real food – We try to make the majority of our foods whole foods. We do organic when possible, and we have a few less-than perfect foods we make exceptions for. Its all about balance.
2. Budget – We have continually added more to our grocery budget as we have placed greater priority on whole foods, and as our boys have grown and turned into bottomless pits! I will not compromise when it comes to my family’s health and food is a major part of that! That being said, there is still a budget so I particularly look at which produce (far and away what I buy the most of) is on sale and try to plan around that.
3. Fun to Cook – Every time I just stick with the basics of chili, spaghetti, chicken and rice, etc….I don’t enjoy cooking! Since I do all the cooking in my family (it’s ok! Hubs manages the kids the whole time so its basically a vacation!) its important that I get to try new recipes and prepare things that I like to make.
Step two: Make a List
Make a “master list” of all the meals your family loves that fit your priorities.
Step three: Divide and Conquer
Divide your master list into categories. Then, assign each category a day of the week. Categories will vary depending on what your family likes, but for inspiration, here are my categories:
Traditional (think pot roast dinner, turkey and stuffing, etc.)
Step four: Plan
When it’s time to plan, just check your grocery flyer for sales (if budget is a priority to you), plug in meals from your list, and go from there!
I do not necessarily stick to this planning method every week– just when I am stuck for ideas of what to make. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut, and other times I just have too many ideas and it helps to narrow the field!
1) Keep your lists on your phone. I keep my master list of meals in the notes section of my phone. I also make my menu in the notes section, so it’s easy to go back and forth between the two.
2) Try some grocery shopping apps. I have the (free) Food.com app. It is great for making your grocery list. And since it is in your phone too, it is easy to go back and forth between your menu plan and list if you need to check something while you are at the store.
3) Let Pinterest help you. I have Pinterest board called “Weekly Menu”. When I plan to use a Pinterest recipe, I pin it to my weekly menu board so I can access it quickly when it’s time to make a shopping list or cook! I just delete the pins from that board when I am done to keep things organized.
I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you! Menu planning can be an overwhelming job, but it is worth it to feed our families healthy, delicious meals!