5 Tips for Menu Planning Success

Have you ever struggled to get dinner on the table?  Have you ever felt like your head was spinning after being asked the question, “What are we having for dinner?”  Has the subject of dinner ever started an argument in your house?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably need to start menu planning!

Now before we start, I have to confess that I am not a die-hard menu planner.  I don’t spend a lot of time making out a plan, and when I make a plan I like to leave myself some wiggle room.  Sometimes things come up, and we just don’t have the time or frankly, we don’t feel like cooking!  I also reserve a right to change my mind and my husband reserves a right to change his mind, and when that happens, we divert from the plan!  BUT…overall I find that the week goes a lot smoother when I have a menu planned out.

On one hand it’s good to know what I will be cooking each day, so I can properly schedule my cooking around the day’s events.  Secondly, by making a menu plan, I can ensure that I have all the groceries I need for the week.  (No more eating out, because we’re missing key ingredients!)  Third, I can actually save money on my groceries, because I will only buy the items on the list I’ve made, and the list is based on my menu plan!

5 Tips Menu for Planning Success

If you’re new to menu planning, here are 5 tips to get you started toward menu planning success:

1. Do an initial kitchen inventory.  Check your fridge and pantry for essential ingredients:  meats, vegetables, starches, and ingredients that bind these elements into recipe.

2.  Brainstorm and start planning.  Thinking about the items you already have in stock in your kitchen, ask yourself what you can make for the next week.  Do you have everything you need for a particular casserole or soup recipe?  If so, make notes and consider adding those dishes to your final menu plan.

3. Consult with the family.  If you have a family that will eat practically anything you cook, then you may wish to skip this step.  Likewise, if you have an overly picky family or a large family, you may find it necessary to skip this step for obvious reason.  But if you are like me, you may find it very helpful to consult with your spouse and perhaps your kids.  This is a time where you can explain what ingredients you already have on hand, make suggestions about some things you have in mind to cook, and ask your spouse or kids if they have any special menu items they would like to suggest.

4.  Make your final menu.  List all the meals that you will have for the following week.  This can be a specific day-to-day list or simply a random list which includes 7 dinners you will make for the following week (as well lunches and breakfasts as needed, of course).

5. Make your shopping list. Once you’ve written down either a basic or detailed menu, return to your pantry for a second round of inventory.  Make a shopping list which includes every item that you will need (and do not already have) for the items on your menu.  Don’t forget to include any special seasonings, toppings, sauces, or condiments you may need.

Love printables?  Here’s one to help you with your menu planning:

Menu Planning Printable Image

Download Menu Planning Printable Here

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