I’d like to introduce you all to Janelle, a Saratoga County mama and blogger behind Domestically Seasoned! Janelle and I finally got the chance to meet in person at my recent Blogging 101 seminar at the Malta Library and she is as nice in person as her blog depicts! I’m thrilled to have her on SaratogaMama today to discuss the topic of Meal Planning. Thanks Janelle!
Hi, I’m Janelle from the blog Domestically Seasoned. Today I am here to share my Menu Planning advice. I started meal planning way before I was a mom. I would find myself wasting money and time trying to “come up” with something to eat. My meals were lifeless, boring, and not very healthy. I made a goal to do a weekly meal plan for my family. Turns out its not hard to do and the benefits are well worth the time.
Why should I plan a menu?
Menu plans help to make life organized. It takes the guessing out of “what am I going to cook ?” panic attacks and endless trips to the grocery store. It really only takes a few minutes of effort and thought to put together a meal plan. When you are more organized you get to spend more time on the things you love and less time in the panic attack mode.
Menu plans help reduce the amount of waste. Wasted food is wasted money. Don’t throw your money in the garbage. Instead of wasting food, allrecipes.com is a great resource that will make a recipe with those miscellaneous food ingredients you don’t know what to do with. You simply insert the random food items you have and it makes a special dish for you. Also if you have leftover rice from Wednesdays diner you can easily make a dish with rice for Thursday without having to waste a single grain. NO PUN intended.
Menu planning can save you $$. When you see food items on sale you can pick them up because you will make a plan with them. Planning limits the number of items you really need to buy at the store and unnecessary grocery trips. If you wanted to really get the most bang for your buck you can coordinate your menu to match the items that are on sale at your favorite grocery store. I personally like the spontaneity of creating my menus from the items lingering in the fridge.
Menu planning makes for better food choices. When you take the time to plan your menu you also find way to incorporate healthier food choices. Instead of pulling out frozen chicken nuggets and fries every night for diner (because you forgot to plan), you can pull out real chicken breasts and make your own sweet potato fries. When you make your food from scratch it usually is less fat and more nutrients.
How to Plan:
1. Look in your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards to see what you have on hand, and what must be used up that week. By Taking note on these items you will have a better understanding of what you have or don’t have. Don’t worry if you have never made a meal with such strange and miscellaneous items before. Remember allrecipes.com will help you.
2. Check your calender for special events for the week. Do the kids have soccer practice till 7pm? If so maybe we will do an easy crock pot meal with not a lot of prep time. Or maybe it is someone birthday and you’re going out to diner. No need to cook, or pull out chicken to defrost on that night. So check your calender for any special events that you need to plan around.
3. Decide on what meals you will cook. Use your resources like ALLRECIPE, cookbooks, or even dishes you already know how to make.
4. Create your meal plan by writing it out. I write the days of the week and then start filling in the meals. Don’t forget the items that need to be used up. Waste nothing. Feel free to take a look back in your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards again to see what you have on hand. Sometimes I write my meal plan while holding my refrigerator door open. I would also post it somewhere that you can have easy see it.
Menu planning is a guideline and is there for you to use. Plans change, things come up so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go as planned! The menu Police will not come and arrest you!
Tips I found helpful!
- Weekly meal plans worked best for me. Busy life equals unexpected events to come up. It was also easier to do a weekly grocery shopping to coordinate with my meal plans.
- If you plan on making rice for Wednesdays diner, cook enough to make a meal with it on Thursdays. You can piggy back your items. Remember waste nothing.
- Have a leftover night- This is mandatory in my house. We always have something lurking in the refrigerator that needs to be used up.
- Have a miss matched night- Take random leftovers and serve them as your diner
- I don’t stress about planning other meals like breakfast and lunch. But if you need to, feel free to use the same advice as above.
- You can rotate your menus bi weekly. If you don’t mind eating the same things every two weeks, have at it. Life is busy.
- The easiest meals to “get rid of things” in the refrigerator is stir fry and Shepherd pie
- Bored of cooking the same food? Check out these sites for more ideas: recipe.com, allrecipes.com and cooks.com
Feel free to use the printable meal planner below or make your own. BUT whatever you use, make sure to post it front and center in your kitchen!
Thanks Janelle! Check out SaratogaMama’s take on Meal Planning with our post all about Once-A-Month-Cooking!
Do you plan weekly meals and menus? What tips do you have?