Habit #11 – Menu Planning
Do you find yourself in a panic and stressed out every evening when it is time for dinner? Do you hit the drive-thru because you don’t have a menu plan? It might be easy to hit the drive-thru, but it is more expensive, and it is usually less healthy than a home-cooked meal.
Where do you start menu planning? Most of us were not taught how to menu plan, so we don’t know how to even get started.
First, establish a food budget. It can be a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly budget. It is likely dependent on how often you are paid.
Sit down with your family and make a list of favorite meals. Ask for ideas for different types of meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish). Ask for favorite vegetables. Write these ideas down in a notebook or on cards. This gives you a base of meal ideas to work from when you menu plan.
If you have never menu planned in your life, start with planning meals for one or two days at a time. Work your way up from there. The fewer times you go to the grocery store, the more money and time you will save.
Be sure to include recipes that make a larger quantity than your family will eat. That will give you leftovers for another meal. You can store leftovers in a couple of ways. You can just keep them in the refrigerator and use them for lunches or another evening meal that week, or you can freeze the leftovers and use them at a later date. Be sure to label the items with a name and date.
You can make an inventory list of items you have in the freezer and incorporate them into your menu plan.
Typically, it helps if you have a theme for each day of the week to help you with your menu planning. How many of you have heard of Taco Tuesday?
Side items can also stump people when menu planning. You do not have to have a seven-course meal every night. Keep side items simple. A cooked vegetable, a starchy item, and some fresh veggies make great side items. Raw vegetables are healthy and easy to serve.
Side salads and a few veggies will help you boost your family’s intake of vegetables, and it will not complicate your meal preparations.
Involve your family in planning, shopping, and cooking. All of these steps are important life skills, and it helps you delegate some of the cooking responsibilities.
Toss leftovers from your fridge weekly. This is best done on trash day or the night before trash day. Getting rid of the expired leftovers will help you free up space in your fridge, and it will help you when you make a grocery list to know exactly what you have in the fridge.
Declutter expired items from your pantry once a month and put new items toward the back of your pantry. Pull the older items to the front, so you use them sooner. Keeping an orderly pantry will help you save money in the grocery store and will help you cut down on waste.
Try different recipes once a month or once a week. Exposing your family to different tastes and textures will expand their palate. Often you will see that recipes can have similar ingredients but different tastes depending on how you season and prepare the food. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
As you get more proficient in menu planning, your evening meals will be less stressful and more fun. As you replace take-out meals with home-cooked meals, you may see health benefits for your family.
It’s Plan and Play Day, so do your zone mission by decluttering in the pantry. Then, sit down for a few minutes and do some menu planning.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
Your Zone Mission for today is to spend 15 minutes purging items from the pantry.
My menu plan for Tuesday is cheeseburger bake and salad.
Have a blessed day!
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