Congratulations! You’ve completed the first step in a lifetime of saving. money and happiness during the dinner hour.
I hope this wasn’t too stressful. I know when I first started menu planning I came up with all sorts of meals that I thought would be delicious, but my family didn’t agree. Now when I plan my meals I ask my family for their input then try to give everyone a “favorite” meal throughout the week.
I am curious how you are keeping track of your meals? I use to keep everything in my computer. In fact I even got rid of a ton of cookbooks over the past several years. However, I’m moving back towards printing things out and writing them down again.
After I turned 40, using my phone for recipes wasn’t ideal (hello reading glasses). Plus my computer is in another room, nowhere near my kitchen. I now use my cookbooks more often and print out recipes I find on the internet.
If you are a paper and pen person (like I am now), I would suggest starting a menu planning binder. You can print out, rip out, or write down recipes and store them in clear page protectors.
Back to creating a meal plan.
Take your list of 15 meals and pick 6 that you can make this week.
I pick the 6 meals based on sales, food I already have on hand, and weather. While we started with 15, your list will grow over time.
Here is my very first list of 15 meals. Most of the meals are linked to the recipes, except for ones that are obvious (spaghetti) or ones that are located in one of my actual cookbooks.
- Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
- Mexican Chicken Skillet
- Chicken Tetrazzini
- Hamburgers on the grill
- Crockpot BBQ Pork
- Pink Pasta
- Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice
- Steak and Rice
- Grilled Salmon
- Carne Asada
- Beef Stroganoff
- Venison Steak
Now that you have your 15 meals, you are ready for step two. Step two is slightly more complicated, but I think you will see the benefits once you are finished.
Find 5 more meals to add to your list. This will bring your list to 20 meals, which should give you a month’s worth of meals, using leftovers and a few repeats.
The second part of the challenge is to come up with a list of side dishes, fruits and vegetables your family enjoys.
I am not assigning a specific number of sides because I know some people prefer a large variety and other’s not so much. Having a list of side dishes, fruits and veggies your family enjoys will allow you to put together your menu in less than 15 minutes.