Menu Planning 101
Menu planning hasn’t always been something that I have done but over the years it has become a part of my weekly routine. I have found that planning out what we are going to eat each week helps me to to stay on track when grocery shopping as well as it keeps us eating healthier. So now each week I sit down and I plan out our meals for the week.
Evaluate. The first thing I do when I start to work on our menu is to see what we have in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I take note of items that could be used in the next weeks menu, especially those items that are on their last leg. I make a list of these and use it to help choose recipes. I also currently have a CSA until mid October and base the majority of our meals around what we receive. Every Tuesday afternoon we receive an email of what will be in our share the next day and I use that list to help build our menu.
Recipe Research. Flip through your favorite cookbooks and san through your favorite food blogs to find recipes that interest you and ones that will pair well with the ingredients you already have. New recipes are always fun but make sure you don’t overload yourself with time consuming or complicated recipes. Keep things simple. Keep the complicated recipes to a minimum, one or two, per week and plan to make them when you have more time- for me this is generally on the weekends. On other days focus on recipes that take 30 minutes or less.
Food Blogs I Love: Green Kitchen Stories; Oh She Glows; Golubka; Pure2Raw; roost; My New Roots
Plan dinners first. I always plan out what we will have for dinner and make note of any dining out plans. After planning our dinners I plan lunches; since most of the time our lunches are leftovers I don’t often have to make anything different unless we go out for dinner. Lastly, I plan breakfasts- these are the easiest because generally we have cereal, oatmeal or grits and it’s just a matter of making sure we have enough in stock. My last plan is snacks, beverages and other items we might need.
Make a Grocery List. Once I’ve made a plan, I make a grocery list based on what we need to make each meal and snacks, ect. Making a list helps to save money, make sure you have a stocked pantry/fridge and makes your trip to the market quick and easy.
Other Thoughts. Stay flexible. Many times I plan my meals for the week and then I decide that I want something different half way through. Since I have done my shopping and I am well stocked with healthy foods it is easy to make a quick change to my normal plan- so long as I don’t have to buy more food. Example I plan to make a quinoa bowl with kale, tomatoes and avocado but I am craving a giant salad so instead of making a quinoa bowl I make a delicious massaged kale salad with kale, tomatoes, avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Menu planning is a great way to save money because you are buying what you need and aren’t wasting food or buying more than you need. It helps you to live a healthier lifestyle; by planning healthy meals and stocking a healthy kitchen it is easier to make healthier choices when healthy foods are right at your finger tips.
- Plan dinners first.
- Plan around what you already have.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it.
- Keep it simple.
- Be flexible.
Do you menu plan? What are you menu planning tips?