Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Planning

This is sponsored content by BlogHer and Samsung.

Do you plan your meals? Over the years I have gone on and off the menu planning band wagon. When I plan my menu, my grocery shopping is more organized, I make less mid-week trips to the grocer, and best of all, I always know the answer to that question.. "Mom! What's for dinner?"

Over the summer my menu planning practices fell by the way side. Teenagers that sleep in until 1:00 PM are generally not interested in eating dinner at 6:00, especially since they just ate breakfast at 2:00! As my kids have grown into teens, they are home less, always out with their friends and running here and there. However, the school year is upon us once again and next week they'll all be back to school. That also means back to routine and dinner with the family.

I am a recipe-aholic. I save tons to my favorites and print out even more. My binders are overflowing with recipes to try someday. Then there's the cookbooks. I have plenty of them, and a select few favorites, all with a variety of page markers waiting for me.

So each week I sit down and look through my bookmarks, print outs and cookbooks. I have two sheets of paper going at once, one for my grocery list and one for my menu. Once I choose a recipe I write the name and source (print out, bookmark, cookbook name and page #, etc) down on the menu list, then I scan the ingredient list. If I need anything from the store for that recipe, I add it to my shopping list. Often times I try to find recipes for things I already have on hand, or those that use ingredients I have growing in my mini-garden.

Once I have the list of recipes created, I tape it inside my kitchen cabinet. These keeps it up and out of the way and I know right where it is.

Menu planning has several advantages:

1) helps you build your shopping list
2) takes the guesswork out of dinner each night
3) reduces the amount of money spent on take-out

I used to only do a menu plan for dinners, but now I use this same process to choose dessert recipes I want to bake that week. I don't bake everyday, so it's nice to keep organized and know I have the ingredients on hand for the treats I want to make.

Do you plan your menus? How do you make it work for you and your family?

Read more kitchen organizing tips from some other great bloggers!


  1. I am off again on again with menu planning, but it really does make life easier. Now I just need an easy way to organize all the recipes I've bookmarked, torn out or printed.

  2. WOW, I feel like I was writing this post. We are so alike in many ways. I finally sat down and organized my gazillion printed recipes from the many blogs that I follow, because I got tired of going through everyone of them to find the one I was looking for.
    I menu plan off an on again too, because of my teenagers schedules as well. But I have been more consistent with dinner since school started. I really need to sit my family down on Sunday and plan the week out and see which nights they are home and such.
    Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes and thoughts. Keep up the good work.

  3. I am in the part of the cycle where you don't plan your menus but know that you need to. I need to get started again!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I do the same thing with menu planning. I plan out dinners, taking into account what activities we have planned for the week. I don't plan breakfast, lunches or baking as rigorously, but I do add those to the plan, or else I'll forget to buy things for those meals. My first step in my planning process is to jot down what we still have in the freezer, fridge, and pantry. I then check ads to see what's on sale. Then I figure recipes/meals using those ingredients as much as possible, and make out my plans that way! Add appropriate ingredients to the grocery list, and I'm good to go.

  5. Amanda, this is such a helpful post. I don't really plan our meals for the week, but I always have prepped ingredients on hand for quick to prepare lunches, dinners etc.

  6. You are so organized! No wonder you are always making such delicious and varied dishes! As an empty nester, I must admit that I don't take dinner seriously enough.

  7. Wow - I found this very helpful and kick started me into gear. I have tons of recipes I have collected and have never used. I have started my own "Family Cookbook" these recipes include what I know to be the family favorites, recipes that I go to all the time that I know everyone likes. Our children are grown, but our two girls 21-19 still live at home and attend the community college. My husband teaches school so he is usually home by 4:15, I work a mid shift 1-9pm, I use the crockpot alot and make casseroles the morning of. When using the crockpot I set it so it is ready when someone will be home. I leave instructions if anything else needs to be made (noodles or rice) any leftovers I take for my dinner the next day. As for reccipes I have started typing them into the database of the computer-most everyone has is already in their pc, I was ready to purchase a program and someone told me to look into my pc, yep there it was. My goal is to make a cookbook to pass onto my children, nieces and nephews. To be completed by Christmas of 2011. I found that our local Staples will spiral bind anything for about 10.00 a book. I got the idea off of the foodnetwork. Family heirloom recipes should be passed on. I only wished I had paid attention to my mom when I was younger. She never measured anything and it always came out right. She now has Alzheimers and those recipes in her head are lost.

    We buy a side of beef about every 8 months straight from the farmer, chicken and pork I purchase on sale and repackage into meal size portions, we purchased a foodsaver about 5 years ago and it is my favorite gadget. I find buying in bulk saves money, it keeps me out of the store for those "run in for one thing" that always turns out to be more than that. Wive 14 miles from town. Milk for instance I buy 3-4 gallons at a time, I would rather it be in my fridge than have to run to town for it. Sorry I get long winded. If you would like to share any easy recipes email me. Type recipe-sharing in subject. Georgina

  8. I am very blessed 'cause my good hubby-buddy decided to do all the cookin', housekeepin' an' laundry, when we moved a little over a year ago. He told me it was my turn to do what I love; writing.

    As an author an' cruciverbalist, I am totally in my element. I must say, my hubby is so much better at stayin' on top of things than I ever was. Sorta', anyway.

    ~ Yaya

  9. I do use meal planning, for all 3 meals a day. It took me a while to set it all up, but I can usually plan our menu for 2 weeks at a time in about 15 minutes. With so many other things to get done, I'd be lost without it.

    JoAnn Wester


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