I have a page posted called Menu Planning 101 with tips on making a weekly menu. I decided I wanted to expand a little further and share with you what my personal process is each week.
I think planning a menu for the week can be overwhelming and sometimes I just don’t want to do it! However, when I do muster up the energy and take the time to plan for the week, I spend a lot less money, eat out less, feel less stressed, and eat better! And the best part is, we eat more at our family table. If your someone who stresses over meal planning and/or feel very unmotivated, don’t lose hope! Start simple! If that means that you only plan to cook 1-2 meals for the week, then GREAT! If that means that you choose one week out of the month to menu plan then GREAT! Start somewhere and I think you will be glad you did!
Please read below and if you have ANY questions or need more assistance, PLEASE feel comfortable to contact me. I would love to connect with you!
Here are the steps I take each week to plan:
- Look at the coming week– This is super important as some days are crazier than others and not every week is always the same. I try to be realistic about how much time I have to prepare and cook a meal. I plan and rotate a list of my favorite super easy, fast meals on the crazy nights (post to come soon!). I ALWAYS plan for what I call “Kitchen Closed” days where this mama is OFF duty! LOL! We always have at least 1-2 nights a week where we will eat leftovers, scrounge (be creative), or eat out.
- Food Inventory-Check my fridge and pantry and see if there are any food items that need to be used up. Nothing bothers me more in my kitchen than wasting food. I cringe every time I throw food away that wasn’t eaten. Taking a few minutes to search the fridge and pantry really helps to alleviate wasting food!
- What’s the Season?– There are definitely recipes I make year round because I love them so much (Example: Chicken Tortilla Soup), however, I usually always think about what season we are in and what foods are in season when choosing recipes. In Summer, we grill a lot, eat a lot of salads, use fresh herbs, eat a LOT of watermelon and fruit. In Winter, I make a LOT of soups, stews, chili’s, and more comfort foods.
- Look at my “Recipes to Try” List– I keep a written list of recipes in a notebook that I would like to try and I also use digital apps such as Pinterest and Mealboard.
- Look through Food blogs and/or my cookbooks– Honestly, I could geek out all day on looking up recipes and reading cookbooks! I love it! My hope is that you will use Family Table Thyme (wink, wink) so that you don’t have to spend the time searching for the millions of great recipes available. Also, one of my favorite things to use to find a recipe or search a specific ingredient is Eat Your Books. Eat Your Books allows you to do an online search for recipes in cookbooks you own as well as on blogs and websites you follow. It is an online catalog for your cookbook recipes (it doesn’t include the recipe because of copyright laws). I LOVE it. It does require a subscription,(3$/month or $30/year) however, I use it enough to be worth it!
- Keep a running list of “Out Of” Items on display— SO HELPFUL! I use a whiteboard that I attached to my refrigerator using command strips (see Below).
- Use my printable (I print double-sided) Grocery List/Menu-
I write out all of my meals first and then go through each recipe and write out ingredients. I will circle the ones I am not sure if I have or not and then go look in the kitchen and double check my circled items to see if I have it. I also write in an actual “time” in my planner when I need to start prepping and cooking dinner. I then go onto HEB curbside or Kroger Clicklist to order my groceries.
Lastly, I display my menu in the kitchen for the family to know what we are having and for me to stick with the menu! If you don’t have a menu board, you could always just put my printable menu on the fridge or anywhere else it can be seen!
This process may seem like it will take a long time, but I promise once you get into a routine doing it, you will get faster at it! Plus, as you do it more you can even try planning more than a week of meals! And honestly, sometimes I don’t always get to Menu Planning. I have weeks where I am going day by day and at the grocery store multiple times in a rush to figure out dinner. I get it!! You must have grace for yourself.
Again, I am here for you and would love to connect with you! If you have your own tips or any comments, I would love to hear what you’re doing!
Please leave them below!!
Carrie Ferroukhi says
I’m so grateful that Laura shared her menu planning technique with me. I’ve been using it for about 2 years now and it’s a game changer! Helps us stick to a plan so we’re not eating out and it sets the kids’ expectations so I get less complaining! If they want to know what’s for dinner, they know just where to look. these simple but effective tips are why I love Family table thyme!!
Thank you, Carrie!! I am so glad this works for your family!!