Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu Planning

Menu Planning the SimpleBlue way:
Step 1 - Keep a Running Shopping List
When you are getting low on an item, write it on the shopping list
Step 2 - Create a Menu
Ask each member of my family what their favorite foods are and write them on a list. Ask what foods sound good to them (for meals or snacks) and write them on that same list.
Step 3 - Find Recipes and Create a Shopping List
Find a recipe for each of the foods listed. On your shopping list, write down any of the ingredients you will need to purchase. Keep all the recipes you just read through grouped in one place so when you are ready to make any of the meals, the recipe is easy to find. Also add any snacks/fruits and vegetables you'd like serve your family.
Step 4 - Shop
Stick to the list as much as makes sense so you don't have extra food hanging around that hasn't been planned for.
Step 5 - List of Meals
Write the list of meals you were able to get ALL of the ingredients for. I write them on a white board in my kitchen. Erase or cross them off when you make the meal if you don't have enough ingredients to make it a second time.

There is now a list of meals you could create on any given day for the next couple of weeks. You won't need to plan out a specific menu for a specific day. Just make sure you look at the list of dinner choices either the night before or in the morning so that you have time to thaw anything that may be frozen (or get it in the crock pot in a timely manner). You can make anything on that list that sounds good or that fits your schedule on that particular day. I think it will surprise you how flexible this menu is, how much your family will like what you have made (they chose the food, after all), that you will waste less food because you know what you have, how easy it is for you and how long you can go between your trips to the grocery store. This strategy for menu planning is flexible, convenient and makes sense for my family. What are your tricks to menu planning?

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