Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Menu Planning and CONTEST

Today's topic, menu planning, is really all about getting yourself organized to cook. Do you ever hear yourself saying, "I don't know what to make for dinner!"? You are not alone, especially if you hear yourself saying this about 30 minutes before everyone expects to sit down to a meal. So, half of the battle is to decide, in advance, what you are going to make for your evening meal.

  • First, select a menu planning template from off of the internet. I found a cute one on http://www.futuregirl.com/ that you can download for free. If I could show it here, I would. If only I was techno-savy...sigh! Or, Google menu planning template for more free options. You can also just get some paper; draw a line down the middle. Make 6 vertical lines across the paper as shown on the picture.


  • Second, make a list of meals that your family enjoys. Ask your family to help you make the list. You will be surprised with what everyone comes up with! At this point I consider what I might need to use up that I have on hand. I also consider what is on sale at the grocery store.
  • Third, fill in the left hand column with each dinner menu.
  • Fourth, create your shopping list from the meals you have planned, along with other staple items you might need. I keep my shopping list where everyone can see it, so that if they see we are out of something, they write it down. Click on the picture below for a close-up. You'll notice I only plan dinner. For me, breakfast and lunch items are easy and I always have those items on hand. You may want to plan all of your meals.
Do you have a favorite menu planning template? I’d love to hear what you do that makes menu planning fun for you. While we are at it, it is time for a contest. Just make a comment on this post, and I will be giving away a fun menu planning, recipe package. Share this with your friends or on your blog.

18 comments:

Trish said...

See, I have this problem.
I'm secretly impulsive by nature.
At one point in my life I was impulsive about money/spending and I had very meticulous meal plans.
But now, I have meticulous financial plans and dinner is my impulsive indulgence. I do try to keep a loose eye on the coming 2 or 3 days, but just as often I go a completely different direction just before dinner time.
LOL

Norah said...

I always have the best intentions to menu plan but like Trish I'm impulsive. I try to decide on something the night before but I like to keep my options open.

desertdiva said...

I understand where you are at on the menu planning trish and norah. There are weeks that I don't write it down. However, when I do have a plan in writing, everything flows a little better. I will often look at the meal for that day and exchange it for another day's menu. It works for me! It also helps me plan ahead to use my food storage. Thanks for posting!

Norah said...

Actually I guess I do menu plan but its a basic plan. Mainly just the meat or dish and then I go from there.

Heidi & Oliver said...

We definately aren't the best - but one thing we try to do is incorporate our planning into our family night. When we go over our calendar for the week we talk about what we would like to eat the upcoming week - but somehow, it always comes back to what the wife is going to cook...why is that?

myfoodstoragedeals said...

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kathy said...

Thanks for the menu planning tips. I am going to try this. You know me, I am the world's worst cook. I have really enjoyed your blog. It sounds like things are going great down south. We miss you tho!

desertdiva said...

kathy,glad that you are liking the blog! Try this way of menu planning...it saves a ton of time and money. I tend to not spend as much at the store and I have less waste.

Angel said...

See... this is one of those "I used to do this and it worked for me - why did I ever stop?? moments. I need to get back to planning, but I really need to figure out how to incorporate last minute freebies or deals I find.

desertdiva said...

angel, I think flexiblity is key. If I find a deal on something perishable that can't be frozen, then I will just bump the planned meals ahead one day. No big deal. I think the beauty of menu planning is that you have something planned and aren't tempted to do fast food or eat out because you are too tired to figure it out.

Ruby said...

Hi! Dori sent me to search for your white bean dip recipe (haven't found it yet). Menu planning is not second nature for me...but I am trying. I recently started a blog about food/recipes/menus. I have more menus than anything else, but at least it's a start. And like you said, it helps. For me if I have something in mind I at least have a start. Sometimes plans get changed at the last minute, but I still have the makings for that meal.

Kim said...

we tend to shop every 2 days or so here with daughter becoming a veggie girl :)
But I do like the menu idea more than the deciding a day or two before like we've been doing.

desertdiva said...

Ruby, click on this link for the bean dip, or go to my archives (right side of blog)and click on October. It was the second post in October.

http://thelittleredhenfoodsite.blogspot.com/2008/10/parmesan-white-bean-dip.html

desertdiva said...

Kim, welcome to my blog! Being a vege girl should really mean less grocery shopping!! Planning the menu gives you more time for meal preparation and other fun things! I look forward to your comments and let me know how you like the recipes.

Heidi said...

I usually try to write out a list at the beginning of every month. I label it with the days of the month and then write down all of the meals I have on hand to fill the list, taking into account the days we will be gone. This allows me to have a long list of things to make, but I am not stuck with only a few choices. If the meal for that day doesn't sound good I can choose another. I cross off what we have eaten and trasfer anything left at the end of the month to the next month. It helps a lot.
I also really like this planner for weekly planning
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC010183031033.aspx
It isn't fancy or cute but it includes all three meals and a snack for each day.

Marne said...

Hi, I found you from Norah's blog. Fun contest! I like to menu plan, I just get out of the habit sometimes. And then my life is much more hectic. You have great ideas on here, thanks!

Sherri - KaysvilleMomma said...

I am here via Norah!

I try to plan my meals -- I really need to do better!! You have inspired me!!

I do know that if I have it planned in advance the days go better --- I can prep in the morning or during nap time!!

KMDuff said...

I have a magnetic whiteboard monthly calendar on the fridge that I write the menu plans on. I do the shopping list on the magnetic post it list next to it that came from the Target dollar spot. I allow myself to veer from it or rearrange as needed, but having a plan is a huge part of the battle.