Thursday, July 11, 2013

How I Menu Plan

It took me a long time to get comfortable with menu planning. I didn’t like the idea of having to eat certain foods on certain days. I felt menu planning was very inflexible. But once I adapted menu planning to fit me and my needs, it became easy.

Here are my tips for menu planning:

-I check to see how many days we'll be home for dinner and what other activities are going on that week. 

-I choose 3-5 recipes for the week and get the ingredients for those meals. I like meals that use the same ingredients so I can buy in bulk. I try to substitute less frequently used items for ingredients I have on hand.

-There are certain recipes we like and will eat frequently. I keep the ingredients for those items on hand all time. I buy bags of shrimp and chicken thighs at Costco. I know several meals to make with both. 

-I rely on low stress recipes (crock pot, salads, quick meals) for days when I know I’ll be tired. Monday is always something easy. Monday is not the time to try out a new recipe for me. 

-I give myself outs. I don’t always have to cook. We can get take out if cooking isn’t going to happen.

-I think about possible dinner ideas all the time. I read a lot of food blogs and save meal ideas to Pinterest. 

-I designate 1 hour a weekend to coming up with my recipes for the week. Ideally I do this before I go grocery shopping so I only have to go once in the week.

-I discuss menu ideas with Tai and my dad. What they've liked, what they didn't like, any cravings they have. I encourage them to pass dinner ideas to me all the time. Dad likes to watch cooking shows and he frequently prints out recipes for me. 

-Find time or make time to try new recipes or make more complicated dishes if that's your thing. I find I waste a lot more food if I buy 20 lbs of peaches to freeze on a busy Tuesday night when I have no time to actually freeze them. I prefer meals that will take less than an hour on a weekday. I have longer, complicated recipes for the weekend especially weekends when I'll have the time. 

Do you menu plan? Share your tips too!


  1. My meal planning sounds a bit like yours except I often don't allow myself that hour to actually make the plan. BUT when I do, I like to write out the days of the week for two weeks on a long notepad and then mark out the days I know we'll be gone and then fill in the rest with ideas. As long as I buy the stuff I need then I know that I can switch up the days as I want. I always schedule in days for leftovers (wherein we sometimes just eat out).

    And ugh. yes to the planning to do some freezing in bulk and then realizing you just don't have time.

  2. I plan very similar to you, too! I wish though that I had someone like your Dad who gave me some direction as to what they would like to eat!! I've decided though that I'm going to be more adventurous come September and I will just be cooking for two!


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