A woman next to me at the grocery last week admired my organized list. I mentioned how we always post a list on the refrigerator so we can note when we run out of something, and how the list is handy when it comes to menu planning. Which naturally led to “Menu planning? What is that?” I’ve menu planned for so long, I honestly don’t recall how Not to menu plan. It is so easy, essential and helpful, I don’t know folks survive without it, especially during this busy time of year!
So, make a calendar of this week and note any special events or scheduling issues. Then think about what food you have on hand and what you want for dinner this week. For example,
- Sunday: Dinner with friends, take a side dish
- Monday: home day, Make Soup
- Tuesday: volleyball game, left-overs
- Wednesday: Taco!
- Thursday: Home early, grill chicken
- Friday: tournament / scouts, Pizza?
- Saturday: Party
Why should you menu plan this time of year?
Save money and make space. Menu planning helps you use what you have and make room in the cabinets or freezer for baking or party food. Make space, buy less, waste less! Once you make your plan, you may find you don’t need to go shopping!
- Plan your leftovers. I’m home today and have time to make soup, so I am turning a frozen turkey carcass into turkey noodle soup by dinner (hmmmm, I think I can say I have never used the word “carcass” in a blog before!).
- Sunday I’ll make a ham, then dice the leftovers for chef salad and a carbonara pasta sauce next week. I also made extra cheese sauce the other day, to be used on pasta one day next week when we are really busy!
- Don’t go to the grocery unless you have to!
- I can put a roast, soup or stew in the crock pot at 7 am, ignore it all day, and still have dinner ready at 5 pm. I typically have more food prep time in the morning than I do after school, so this works out well for us. But making dinner at 7 am requires a plan!
- Plan your prep: I have a great tray that makes it easy to bring veggies and dip to holiday parties. I peel and cut lots of veggies all at once, then use them for 3 or 4 parties, plus in recipes at home. And now my sons are old enough to help with the washing and peeling!
Provide good nutrition and peace of mind.
- When the weather turns colder and the schedules heat up, we all tend to catch colds. Good nutrition helps us stay well and keep our energy up for holiday fun and activities. We eat better and better-for-us food with menu planning.
- My oldest son thanked me recently for NOT relying on fast food to feed him and his brothers, even when we’re busy (I was floored, right?!). He and I agree that fast food is convenient, but we are not used to the grease and carbs and don’t particularly like the taste.
So, as I finished this, I got up and put the diced-last-week carrots, celery and onions in my soup pot. Now I’ll edit it, send it for publication, and get cracking on cleaning out my fridge and freezer and putting together the rest of my menu plan. Give yourself the gift of time and menu and a little sanity, and give menu planning a try this week!