This is Part 1 in a two-part series about menu planning. I hope you will be inspired to be more intentional about the meals in your home after reading this series. Part 1 will focus on the reasons why menu planning is so beneficial.
I am what you might call a hard-core menu planner. During the last week of each month, you are guaranteed to find me sitting down with my menu planning binder and a blank calendar. Yes, that's right. I plan our dinner meals one month a time! I started doing this about 14 months ago and it has made such a difference in how our household operates.
While you may not want or need to plan your meals one month a time, I encourage you to try menu planning in some form. For some homes, planning one week of meals at a time works better. If that's best for you, go with it!
In Part 2, I will talk more about how to menu plan, but in this section, I want to examine some reasons why menu planning is so beneficial.
- There's no what's-for-dinner panic at 4:30 p.m. This is probably the main reason why menu planning is a must in my home. If left without a menu plan, you will find me staring at my refrigerator and pantry at 4:30, totally unable to come up with anything for dinner. With a menu plan, that doesn't happen!
- The entire family knows what is for dinner. My husband knows to check the menu plan if he wants to know what's for dinner. It hangs on the side of our fridge all month.
- It allows for flexibility. When I plan our month of meals, I take into account meetings, get-togethers, church functions, etc. that may affect whether or not we eat dinner at home. I can plan simple, quick meals for nights when I know we need to leave at 6:00. And if our schedule changes abruptly one night or week, I can switch a few meals around in the plan.
- It encourage variety and trying new menu items. I like to put a few new meals on the menu each month when I make the menu plan. By doing this, we have found a number of new favorite meals, like homemade Spanish rice, Chicken Enchilada Dip, and Cheeseburger Soup, to name a few.
- It helps you plan ahead for shopping. Because we live in a rural area, we don't grocery shop on any sort of regular basis. We typically pick up groceries whenever we are in a neighboring town that has a store. With my monthly menu plan, I know in advance what items I definitely need to pick up on one of my shopping trips. This also helps because I know what to look for in the sale ads.
- It's fun! Let's face it - menu planning is just. plain. fun. Or is it just me who thinks that? I am, by nature, an organized person, so menu planning fits well with that. While I don't enjoy dreaming up dinner on the fly, I do enjoy sitting down once a month and planning our meals. And honestly? Cooking dinner is more fun when I already have a plan in place!