Welcome to Part 3 of my Menu Planning 101 series. This series is designed to get you in the kitchen, start planning, and help feed your family delicious home cooked meals they will enjoy. Part 1 discussed why we should menu plan and part 2 included how to get started.
By now you should have made a list of family favorite meals and side dishes. Believe it or not, by making these two lists you have already begun to menu plan.
You should have 20 meals and a variety of side dishes to help create your menu plan. I would suggest printing out your meals and sides and putting them on your fridge or pantry. This will help you make your grocery list.
The next step is to pick 5 or 6 meals to make for your week. The reason I suggest 5 or 6 meals instead of 7 is because you will probably have leftovers one night, or a night you don’t feel like cooking.
If you plan for 7 meals and only make 5 some people tend to view that as a failure. It is not, and I will let you in on a little secret. When I create my meal plan each week, I guarantee that one of those meals will not make it to the table.
We always have a carry over meal, either due to scheduling, sick kids, work schedules, or an abundance of leftovers. One night I might have planned on making sloppy joes, but we end up having macaroni and cheese with smoothies.
No problem! We will eat the sloppy joes the next night. Plan for 5 meals and you won’t get discouraged.
Your week does not need to run from Sunday to Saturday, make your plan based on what works for your family. I tend to grocery shop on Tuesday or Wednesday, so my weeks usually run from Tuesday to Monday.
You can assign meals to specific days or just assign meals to a specific week. Personally, I come up with several meals for the week, but don’t plan out the days.
I did in the past, but I found that our schedule changed so frequently that we would end up eating out because I wasn’t able to get the roast in the crock pot on time. In my fridge there are usually ingredients for 2 or 3 meals. I decide the night before or that morning what we are having for dinner. I also post it on a board in my kitchen so the family is aware of the meal plan as well.
Once you have created your plan, it is time to shop. Next week I will cover shopping, food storage, and sales, and stockpiling.
Here is a sample of what my menu may look like for a week. Five meals and lots of sides. This helps me create my grocery list!
- Bee Rocks
- Taco Bake (this looked so good I had to add it to our menu rotation!)
- Baked Ziti
- Tuna Casserole
- Wild Rice
- Cheesy Potatoes
- Baked Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Corn on the cob