Menu planning can be intimidating. Or it can be too constricting for some folks. Or too much work. Or something else sabotages you. So let’s break it down a little.
There are two main times to plan (with a whole continuum of combinations between them):
- before you shop
- as you’re shopping
Before-you-shop menu planners can check what they have in the house to be sure not to miss something they need. They can use circulars to plan the best deals and save money. They can plan to use new and unfamiliar recipes. They can plan for a longer menu, like a month.
As-you’re-shopping shoppers can use what’s on special, including things being sold for impending expiration super sales. They can shop for what they’re in the mood for and be spontaneous. (They can also go way over budget!)
I tend to fall close to the before-you-shop end of the continuum. Each week, I plan a menu around what is happening that week, any guests we are having, what’s in season and on sale, and what I have in my pantry. Then, when I get to the store, I adjust as needed based on an super sales, outages, coupons, etc.
There are also other options for planning. For example, a themed night or nights can make it easier to fill up those blank spaces. You do it for a month or 10 years. Right now, I do Monday night as Clean Out the Refrigerator Night, or CORN, Tuesday as Breakfast for Dinner (BFD), and Thursday as pasta in addition to Friday and Saturday as Shabbat. There is flexibility, but within guidelines. For example, breakfast night could be eggs or pancakes. Other themes could be:
- Mexican night (insert any nationality you particularly like)
- new recipe night
- soup night kids cook night
- crockpot night
Another way is to prepare/have on hand ingredients for a week’s worth of meals and make whatever sounds good that night. So you’d have 5 or 6 meals (plus Shabbat) and would make whatever sounds good that night.
Whatever works for you!
Looking for a menu plan template and grocery list? Or just a printable and customizable grocery list (with staples list)? I’m also working on a few stock menus that I use. As always, you can adjust everything to suit you!
Here are some other links. And don’t forget to check out the menu-planning category down the side!