Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Menu Planning Technique

I must admit that since I've been pregnant I've really gotten away from menu planning, which probably explains my somewhat chaotic dinner hour. I *love* doing my OAMC, but I just haven't had the energy or feeling of health to be able to do it. I absolutely hate staring into my freezer wondering what food items are going to cook themselves {a girl can hope, can't she?} into a tasty & creative family meal. I was reminded today about a menu planning technique, taught to me at a homeschool group meeting, that I found really ingenious. So, I will share. This will provide you with one month of menus for your family.

Step 1: Category Planning
Come up with 7 different categories of meals, one for each day of the week. {You could use a printable calendar like the ones found here to assign the categories & later for brainstorming the meals.} Categories may include: beef, chicken, pork, pasta, casserole, crock-pot, pizza, Italian, seafood, grilling or any other type of food that your family enjoys. You should also decide which day of the week will be dedicated to which category considering your family schedule. For example, if one day of the week is your errand day, that night could be crockpot night.

Step 2: Brainstorming
Write down all the possible recipes you could prepare under each category. It is best to come up with at least 3 or 4 different recipes for each category. Look through your recipe file {great to have a nice recipe binder for this} or ask your friends for ideas. Menus4moms also provides a great service of sending you a week's worth of meals with recipes and grocery lists to your inbox every week. This would be a great source of new meal ideas!

Step 3: Pick your meals!
On a monthly calendar, write the category heading at the top of each column of days. Now it's time to pick your meals. On each day, go through your brainstormed list of meals for that category & write down what you will make, adding side dishes or desserts as necessary. If you have a file of "to-try" recipes, you can throw some of those new items in the rotation as your schedule allows. {If you are really into cooking, you could always make "New Recipes" one of your meal categories!} When you plan your grocery list, simply look at the meals planned for that week to see what ingredients you need. If you brainstormed at least 4 meals for each category, you should be able to plan an entire month of menus with no repeats!! I am sure the family will appreciate your "creativity" and the fact that they are never eating the same meal more than once a month {something I'm sure my Hubs can NOT imagine at this point}!

Hope you found this somewhat helpful in your meal planning endeavors. I am feeling so motivated after writing this that I am going to start doing it! I also wanted to mention that the gal who taught this "method" has been using it for decades. A few of her grown children were present at the meeting & I got the impression that having "Every Sunday as Italian night" or "Every Friday as Pizza night" has really created some wonderful long-lasting memories that have carried over into their own families. If you have any other menu planning tips/websites/encouragement, please share with the group!

1 comment:

~Bev~ said...

If you don't mind, may I steal this and put it on my blog? I promise to put the entire thing in " " and give you 100 percent credit. I just like this idea. I used to do meal planning, but over the past couple of years have not and I need to do so again, and I think this would be neat to share with the world! Just let me know!