I started making a weekly Menu Plan last summer. In fact, it was last August, so I have been making weekly menu plans for almost a year now. I find there are multiple benefits to this!
- It saves us money!
I find that making a weekly menu plan saves us money! By making a plan for each week of what we are going to eat, I find we eat out less often. Those last minute decisions to grab take-out or fastfood still occur, just not as frequently. That's a big savings.
I also find that if I do my weekly shopping with a complete list of what I need, it cuts down on those smaller grocery store runs to pick up one or two things. Lets be truthful, it's nearly impossible to run into the grocery store for one or two things and not grab about five or six more needed items. Not to mention the wasted time and money on gas.
And if I'm really on top of things, I can plan our menus around the grocery store sales for the week, saving even more.
- It saves me mental anguish!
How many times do you stare into the refrigerator before dinner and feel like you are being given a complex puzzle to put together? Just how can you combine those meager ingredients together and create something great for dinner?
Maybe it is just me, but my creative juices don't kick in when I'm pressured to figure out what to cook for dinner. Spaghetti makes its appearance way too often here!
If I've got a plan, I don't have to think. I pull out what I need (which I have 'cos I shopped from my menu plan list) and dinner is on its way!
- We get to try new recipes!
Because I'm better prepared, I usually can try out a new recipe each week. Not only have we found some new family favorites, we have more variety each week.
So how do I do it?
There are lots of menu plan helpers available on the internet. Lots of different ways to organize your weekly menus. Ideas on how to plan each week.
Some people plan on having a certain type of meal for each day of the week. Like this:
Monday - Mexican
Tuesday - Italian
Wednesday - Something new
Thursday - Breakfast for dinner
Friday - Family favorites
Saturday - Eat Out
Sunday - Leftovers
Others prefer to stick to a certain main ingredient for each day of the week:
Monday - Chicken
Tuesday - Beef
Wednesday - Vegetarian
Thursday - Breakfast
Friday - Seafood
Saturday - Pork
Sunday - Leftovers
You get the idea.
I don't do either of these, but I do keep them in mind. I try not to plan on chicken two nights in a row (yes, it does happen) or three different Mexican flavored dishes in a week (I love mexican so this is sometimes a challenge).
I do try to plan at least one new recipe to try each week. To make this easy, I keep a word document on my desktop titled 'Menu Plan Ideas'. As I'm browsing around during the week, if I come across a recipe I'd like to try, I copy and paste the URL to this document so I can find it easily when I do my weekly plan.
When I am ready to plan my week, I open a blank document and title it 'Menu Plan 080110'. I then type out my Monday - Sunday and any special plans we have for the week. Wednesdays and Sundays are always busier nights for us due to church, so I plan easy meals for those days. Usually something in the crockpot. Then I check out my new recipe ideas and put in any I want to try for that week. I next check last weeks menu plan and reschedule any meals that never made it to the table. At this point, I'm almost done, but the hard part begins 'cus I have to fill in the rest of the blanks and my mind conveniently goes blank. So I open the folder with all of my saved menu plans and start browsing thru them, picking out meals that we haven't had in a while.
I usually type up my grocery list right on the same document so I know what I need for each meal.
So there you have - the why and the how! And believe me, it gets way easier the more you do it!