I heard you. Yup. I did. You just sighed when you read “menu planning.” I mean, who wants to sit down, try to think about the coming week, and then be tied into that plan? What if you don’t feel like tacos on taco day?
Menu planning has a bad rep. People really don’t want to do this chore. However, I find it very helpful. I love not having to think about dinner throughout the day or at 4pm. I find it much less stressful to have a plan in place. Plus, it does save me money. I can base my meals around the sales that week and I am less likely to want to go buy dinner or cave into the emergency frozen pizzas I keep in the house.
Here are some of the ways I keep menu planning simple and easy.
Do Your Menu in Pencil
I never do my menus in pen, always pencil. Just because I have a plan doesn’t mean I stick to it 100%. Sometimes someone is sick or life changes and then the menu does too. Sometimes you just don’t feel like that particular meal anymore. I believe in having a flexible plan not a written in stone plan. Pencil helps with that. Much less messy than dealing with pen, white out, etc.
Use a Printed Monthly Calendar
I print off a simple, blank calendar from my word processor and use that for my menu. Then I go through and fill out the days I know we are having people over or we have plans. The rest of the month is only done one week at a time, typically on Thursdays for me. It is easier to have those plans filled out ahead of time. A monthly calendar really helps with that plus then can look back over what you had. That’s hard to do with weekly or a dry erase one.
Update 3/2017: I now use a pretty blank calendar I found on Pinterest. It makes meal planning more fun.
Have a List of Your Ol’ Standbys
My method is that I have a folder with a list of my normal go-to recipes. I have them split up into: chicken, ground beef, beef, and pork. If it is a slow cooker meal, I put “(SC)” next to the item. I like to try new things I find on Pinterest or blogs but it is nice to look at a list of my standard meals. You may think you remember all your standard meals…but you really don’t. A list makes it much easier.
If you want to make menu planning even easier, check out $5 Meal Plan. Erin takes all the work out of it and gives you your menu. The first 14 days are free then it’s only $5/month after that. Frankly, at $5/month, it’s super affordable! I’ve tried a couple different meal planning services and this is by far my favorite.
Menu planning really does help with your time and your budget, not to mention your sanity. These tips will help you make the actually planning easier. How do you menu plan? Leave a comment and let me know!Come party with me! Here are all the link parties I do each week.