Planning the weekly menu for some people can tend to be daunting. Where do you start, and how do you do it? I am a weekly shopper. That is, I make my menu up and shop only once a week. No extra trips to the grocery store every couple days. That can add up! Here are my tips for keeping up with menu planning, and saving yourself time and money in the process. 1. Always start at the beginning of the week. If you have time, create a menu on Sunday and get your shopping done then. That makes the rest of your week look a whole lot easier, and you will have food in the fridge and pantry, ready to go. If Sunday isn’t going to work for you, get it all done on Monday. My husband and I used to go out on Sunday afternoons, but lately I have been getting it done on Mondays.
2. Create a menu plan. Ask your family members for ideas, or browse Pinterest (my usual choice). Make your menu up until Friday, or if you make full meals the entire weekend, go into Sunday. I personally only make a menu until Friday. When the weekend comes, sometimes we eat out or grab a couple items from the grocery store. Or sometimes we munch. Weekends are usually my time to have fun, so we don’t generally have full sit-down meals.
3. With your weekly schedule, a lot of times you have different things going on different days. Maybe you work full-time, or you are a stay-at-home mom and are busy certain evenings, or your child is involved in school activities such as sports. Try to remember what you have going on and base your menu on that too. I am busy every Tuesday and Wednesday night. I usually try to have a crockpot meal on Tuesdays (I love coming home to a complete meal!), and Wednesday nights I make dinner early (something simple like pasta) and bring it with me to church so my husband can eat.
4. Make your grocery list based upon your menu and where you will shop. Add your other everyday foods, such as breakfast items, snacks, drinks, etc. I like to get all of my shopping done at one store. I take my 11 month old with me, and I am not usually up to hauling her all over town to hit a bunch of markets. You know what stores carry what. Make your menu according to what place you will be shopping at. For instance, I like to shop at Trader Joes now and then, but they do not always carry specific items other stores carry. So, I make my menu plan based on what Trader Joes may carry. I know their prices on certain items as well, and that helps me make decisions. If you like to shop at numerous stores and that’s your thing, then go for it! I hope to be like you someday!
5. Be prepared to change up your menu while shopping. Sometimes I get to the store and find they do not have what I am looking for. Say it’s a big part of one of your meals… what will you do if they don’t have it? There’s always the option of checking another store. Or, you could have a back-up meal just in case and change the menu. I have had that happen to me many times. Sometimes it’s as easy as finding a substitute, while other times you just have to make a complete change. This is why I make my menu and grocery list on the same page. It helps me to remember what the menu plan is, and give me ideas on how to switch it up if I need to.
These are some very simple tips, and may not be new for you. When I was first married, I was so excited to make menu plans and shop each week. I still am! The feeling of getting all your food for the week is just really awesome. I know many people who wonder what they will eat for dinner each night. That doesn’t have to be you! By taking some time to sit and write a menu, it could transform your whole week. I know it does mine! I have learned a lot over the past few years, and am sure I will have more to share later down the road.
Here is a menu of what I will be making this week:
Monday: Baked chicken leg quarters, couscous, veggie blend ~ http://www.food.com/recipe/crispy-baked-chicken-leg-quarters-very-easy-one-dish-449452
Tuesday: Crockpot chili (my own recipe), cornbread
Wednesday: Dad’s Friday night pasta dish ~ http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/dads-friday-night-pasta-dish/
Thursday: Roasted sausage, potato, onions and peppers (the link to her site is no longer, but you can check out my Yummy Things board on Pinterest and get an idea of what it is)
I hope this gives you a little inspiration and helps lighten your load a bit. I’m sure there is a lot more advice from much more experienced people out there. If you have more tips, I would love to hear them.
Here’s to making our lives better, one day at a time!
The Happy Homemaker