Sunday, July 10, 2005

Meal Planning

Planning and shopping for groceries is a big task. It requires thought and organization. I would like to share with you what has made this part of my job as household manager easier.

1. Go on the internet or create you own menu planning sheets. The planning sheets that I use are from and are for one week. The bottom of the sheet has the days of the week and the top has lines for writhing out the recipe inventory. You should print 12 sheets.

2. Purchase a binder or a folder for the sheets to go into.

3, Set aside a block of time several hours long. This is a lot of work up front but will save you hours and hours in the long run. It will also takes all the anxiety and stress out of what to cook.

4. You are only planning suppers. Breakfast and lunch items should have their own staple list that you fill in each week. Breakfast and lunch at our house usually involves the same items. My list would include a box of wheeties, a box of rice crispies, bagels, bread, cheeses, meats and chips.

4. Go to the library and check out cookbooks that look good to you, borrow them from a friend, get your recipe cards and sit down with your planning sheets. Your goal is to fill in all twelve weeks without repeating a recipe. The easiest way to approach this is to label each day of the week with a theme. For instance Monday is soup night, Tuesday beef, Wed, chicken, Thursday sandwiches, Friday left overs, Saturday Mexican night Sunday crock pot night. You could have pizza night, Chinese night or any other theme night you would like. Now you look for 12 different recipes for each theme night. Keep in mind any regularly scheduled activities that your family has at night. For instance we attend an awana program at our church on Wed. nights so I do not have time to prepare a big meal. It needs to be fairly simple and fast so Wed. nights became our pizza night. Sometimes its home made pizza, sometimes I pick up Pappa Murphy's that is premade but just needs cooked and sometimes we spurlge and get pizza that is already cooked. All I have to do is put it in the oven and throw together a salad. We have also had Wed. as sandwich nights because of how easy it is to prepare. It would also be a good night for crock pot meals although I prefer those on Sundays.

4. The recipe's that you chose are not impressed in stone. Flexibility is key. Don't be afraid to branch outside of your food comfort zone. Recipe's can be altered to fit your taste. My family is very picky but this system has caused us to discover that there are some things out there that we do like. If a recipe really bombs just erase that one and replace it.

5. Once you pick out your menu for a week, copy all recipe's and put them into the binder behind the appropriate week.

6. The list at the top of your planning sheet is not your shopping list. It is only a list of items you must have on hand for the menu of that week. Include every item of a recipe so that when you go to make out your grocery list you do not miss a spice or some other ingredient that you normally have but forgot you ran out of.

7. You now have twelve weeks of menu and grocery list to rotate through. When shopping days rolls around you pick however many weeks you shop for, check your ingredient lists, make your shopping list and head out the day.

8. I have a dry erase board where I write out the weekly menu. The kids loving being able to look at it and know what's for dinner. It is also a quick reference for me to know what I am doing that night for supper. The amusing side of this has been that all of my children's friends use this board to determine when they are making dinner reservations with our family.

Happy planning!