If you know anything about me, you know that I am NOT a natural planner. It's just not my natural setting. However, I am a HUGE fan of menu planning. There is something about knowing what I'm making for dinner that makes my whole day easier.
I know that menu planning isn't a new concept. Everyone and their mother has written a post about it, but I thought I would share my process, and some tools I use to make it all easier. I plan a month at a time, but you can absolutely tweak this to fit the way you plan!
Step 1: Grab your recipes. Some of my favorite source
- Magazines (Taste of Home is my favorite!)
- Recipe card books: You know, those $5 ones in the check out line. I may have a mild obsession with them
- Recipe Box: Old family recipes, things clipped from magazines, all those cards are gold!
I usually start by flipping through all of these things and seeing what jumps out at me.
Step 2: Start with your "days off"
Everyone has days built into their week or month. It may be date night, or pizza night, or whatever. Here are mine:
-Fridays: Pizza night at my parent's
-Sundays: "Snicky Snack" dinner: cheese, crackers, fruit, whatever is on hand
Yep, you read that right, I only cook 4 days a week. It's pretty much amazing. I like it a lot. : )
Step 3: Fill in your staples.
Everyone has their go-to recipes. The ones that their family loves, are easy to make, and don't take much thought. Fill those in first. My go-tos are:
- Baked Pork Chops
- Breakfast for Dinner
Step 4: Fill in the gaps.
Now, take all those recipes you picked out earlier and fill them in where you still have gaps. Think about your family's schedule, lifestyle and needs as you do this. For us, dinners become lunches. Matt is OK with sandwiches, but gets pretty cranky if he has to take one for lunch every day. I try to make sure that there are at least 2 meals a week that will have leftovers. We also go to yoga on Wednesday nights, so I don't want something too heavy on those night. Do what works for you!
Step 5: Organize your recipes.
Make sure you know where the recipe for each night is, if there is one. On Pinterest I start a board for the month with any online recipes. Cook books get noted on my recipe calendar, and recipe cards get stored in a plastic sleeve behind my recipe calendar in a binder.
That's it! You should have a month's worth of recipes ready to go. I have loved this way of menu planning. I used to plan weekly, but this is my new way of doing things, for sure! I love that I can look at the month ahead and know exactly what groceries I need. I can get most of my shopping done at the beginning of the month, only taking trips later to restock on produce. It's been great for our budget, too. I only buy what we need for the month. Although, I will watch out for great sales and stock up on meat then. Then I can just shop from my freezer.
At the beginning of each week I transfer the week's recipes to the menu planner on my fridge. Then everything is at a glance, I can fill in anything I need from the store.
As we try new recipes, we find new favorites. Those get added to my "favorites" page. This is a great page to check when I'm short on ideas!
You know what else keeps me motivated to plan? My super cute menu planning printables! Did you notice them? They're from Clean Mama Printables, and I am in LOVE with them! I reached out to Becky a couple months ago, and not only was she generous enough to share one of her Starter Kits with me, but she wants to share with you guys as well! All week long I will be sharing about other pieces of the starter kit, ending with a giveaway on Friday! Make sure you stick around!
For now, you can use the code 20LONGSTORY for 20% off anything in her shop!