Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Menu Planning: How?

Last week, we talked about why menu planning is so beneficial. Without menu planning, I would be lost! Since we know that menu planning works so well in so many homes, now let's talk about how to actually plan your meals efficiently and intentionally.

  1. Use a calendar - either weekly or monthly. I use a monthly calendar (pictured above). I just printed basic monthly calendars from this website. You can also print weekly calendars from the same website.
  2. Decide which meals you are going to plan regularly. Will you plan breakfast? lunch? dinner? All of them? I only plan our dinner meals because that works best for us. For some families, it's better to plan all three meals, or maybe just two meals. We have a set number of breakfast items from which we choose each morning. For lunch, we eat leftovers or sandwiches (for my husband). While that works for us, be sure to do what works best for your family!
  3. Start plugging in meals on your calendar! Once you have decided if you will plan weekly or monthly and you have decided which meals you will plan, it's time to start plugging meals into your menu plan! I recommend using a pencil; it's likely that you will switch meals once or twice during the month.
  4. Put your menu plan where the entire family can see it. Our menu plan hangs on the side of our refrigerator. My husband knows he can check the menu plan at any time if he wants to know what's for dinner! I can promise that you won't hear "What's for dinner?" at my house!
  5. Every evening, check the menu plan to see if you can do any prep for tomorrow's meals. If you need to get meat out of the freezer, it's easy to check the menu plan each evening and take meat out for the next day. If there's any other kind of prep that you can do, menu planning will help you prepare for that.
  6. Keep a running list of new meals that you want to try. I keep a list in my homemaking binder of new meal ideas that I want to try. When I am working on my monthly menu plan, I check this list and try to put at least one or two new meals into my menu plan.
  7. Save all of your menu plans. I highly recommend keeping all of your menu plans. I save all of mine in my homemaking binder. When I make my menu plan, I refer to all of my previous menu plans for my ideas. After doing monthly menu plans for over a year, I have a lot of menu plans to look back on!
How do you make menu planning work for your family? What other tips do you have about menu planning?


  1. Great post! I have tried this, and for the one week that I was able to make it work, it was my favorite week of cooking ever. In addition to the menu, I also posted the recipes on the wall so that if I couldn't cook, my husband could, which he did wind up doing one night. Now we have a daughter who needs to be gluten-free, casein(dairy)-free, and meat-free, and we are trying to figure out how in the world to create a workable, ongoing menu that feeds her and the rest of us at the same time. Ouch. But I really, r e a l l y want to have this kind of calendar/menu/recipe/grocery list thing on the wall at all times. If we could just find two weeks of recipes that work for us, we would just do those same two weeks over and over again until we could "get on our feet" with this new diet. Anyway, great post. :-) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad to hear that your menu planning is going well!

      Cooking can be a challenge, but it's a lot of fun, isn't it?


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