It’s the new year, and we are all off and running on our goals, buzz words, and intentions for the new year. That looks like different things for different people. And for me, it is being more organized in the kitchen. I took that goal, and narrowed it down to my menu planning. Instead of scouring Pinterest at 3PM on a weekday trying to decide what is for dinner that evening, I am doing my best to be ahead of the game, one week at a time with planning meals. Whether you are just a beginner, or have menu planned for years, I hope these Five Ways to Make Your Weekly Menu Planning Go Smoothly are helpful!
Have your “go to” meals. For me, this is Pizza on Friday night, and at least two crock pot meals during the week in the winter time. Summer, we grill almost every night. That being said, our “go to” meals are pizza, roast with carrots and potatoes, and parmesan chicken. Those are not something we eat EVERY week, except pizza on Fridays. But, they are meals we have frequently and I always keep the ingredients for them on hand. They are easy, fast, and family favorites.
Consider your weekly activities. Every Sunday, I ask my husband what nights he will be home for dinner that week. This helps me plan meals for the kids and I. Things that are not his favorite, such as lasagna or pasta, we will eat when he’s not home. If there is a night that we have to go to dance, he has a meeting, and the teenagers are home alone, I make a crockpot meal that they can serve to themselves. I try to have at least one or two meals a week that involve a little more prep time than others. I like to make our nights when we are all home around the table together special.
Check the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Do you have shredded cheese and ground beef on hand? Perfect, add some taco shells to your grocery list, and you have an easy weeknight meal. Did you buy 4 pork roasts when they were BOGO at the grocery? Excellent. You are good to go with at least two meals that week. One night can be pork roast with mashed potatoes and a salad. Then shred the rest of the pork for sandwiches later in the week. Shop your cupboards and kitchen while you make your menu. You’ll find tons of inspiration!
Keep your recipes in an easy to find place. For me, this is Pinterest. Instead of a general “Supper Ideas” board, I have them broken down by Main Dishes, Chicken Dishes, Soups, etc. That way, I don’t get overwhelmed when looking for a meal, and it helps me put some variety in our meals.
Work with a theme. This can make a world of difference in your time it takes you to plan, and the meals you make. This also simplifies things SO much. Soups, Mexican, Italian, Sandwiches…..so many options here! Take a look at your recipe collection, or start one based on some themes, or a central focus. Basics like chicken, beef, pork, etc can all be the base of so many awesome meals. Sandwiches, soups, salads. Any theme works!
Menu planning doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Start with the basics, and before you know it, you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief because you’ll be on step ahead of yourself. What menu planning tips do you have? I’d love to see them! Leave a comment with your best tip for menu planning.