Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: 10 Ways to Make Menu Planning Successful...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

10 Ways to Make Menu Planning Successful...

10 Ways to Make Menu Planning Successful...

This month I am focusing on taking back meal time with that family of mine. For me to do that, I need a bit of organization on my part, so that when dinner time comes around I actually have something to put on the table. This morning I have compiled ten tips that have helped me make meal planning successful. I know that if we make it a priority, we will be able to reap the benefits of having family meal time. We will be able to be involved in our children's lives, eat healthier meals, and have an all around good time!

Put forth the effort- Just like with any goal we make in life, saying we will do something is not enough. We must put some action behind our words. Saying you will make a menu plan is just blowing smoke, you must actually put some action into what you are saying. Sit down, with a piece of paper and a pen, and actually write out what you will be making your family tonight. Remember that all the best intentions will not feed your family. Being organized and writing things down will give you a plan to carry out your menu for the week. Involve those who who eat with you. Ask for requests or ideas, so you can more easily fill out your plan. I also find that having my menu plan out where I can see it really helps. Whether that is on a scratch piece of paper or a fun food planner, put it up where it is visible and will be a reminder.

10 Ways to Make Menu Planning Successful...
Pick a planning style to suit your personality- For some people it is easier to plan themed nights. Italian on one night, while having fish on another. Finding a meal planning style that fits you will allow you to truly succeed in have meals planned and ready for that family of yours. I personally like to plan for the month and then pull meals from that list each week to cook. I always include a night for breakfast and leftovers too!

Make a shopping list- Once you have a menu plan made, you will need a shopping list. You wouldn't build a house without plans or bake a cake without recipe right? Well you should NOT go grocery shopping without a list. Your menu plan is the first part of your food plan for the month or week (depending on how often you shop). Look at what recipes you have planned and shop your pantry first. You will be surprised by what you already have on hand. This will save you tons in groceries, because food will not be going to waste in that pantry of yours. Once you shop your pantry, take account of what you need for the meals planned and what you need to restock any pantry staples that are running low. Having a pantry staples list also helps! Look at what your family typically eats over a few months time. These things will make up your pantry staple list. When I keep our pantry staples stocked, I rarely run out of anything.

Be a Smartie- When shopping, do it strategically. Shop the grocery ads and see what is on sale. Commit to only purchasing things when they are at rock bottom prices. By doing this you will save your family a lot of money, that can then be used for other things. Clip coupons, take advantage of money saving apps, etc. My favorite apps right now are Wal-Mart's Savings Catcher and Checkout 51. They're both free apps that give you money back on the things you buy normally.

Cook perishables first- Once the shopping is done and you are ready to start making that meal plan, do things in order of what will go bad first. Eat things in order of their expiration. When we are using recipes that call for perishables like fresh vegetables, etc I try to use those recipes first in the month, and save other recipes for later. By eating tings in order of when they go bad you will reduce food waste, which will then save you money. You wouldn't throw $20 in the trash, so don't do it in food form.

Roll Over Meals- Including roll over meals into your menu plan is a great way to save. For example if you bought a whole chicken, you could cook it one night for dinner with carrots and potatoes. The next night you could use the extra meat left on the bone in a casserole. The next night you could use those bones to make a yummy chicken broth for soup. By planning meals to roll over into another one, you are able to stretch your groceries further, which ultimately keeps more money in your pocket.

Don't Over Stuff the Fridge- Over stuffing the fridge can cause things to get buried in the back and go bad before they can be used. Leaving space in the fridge for you to be able to move things around will allow you to not waste money on the food you are buying.

Prepare the Night Before- The night before I look at what will be on the menu. If I need to take out meat, than I do it then, so it will thaw over night in the fridge. It you have some prep work you can do ahead of time do it. Taking just a few minutes each night to prep for the next day will allow you to be one step ahead come dinner time.

Grade Yourself- Every time I finish a meal, I ask the family what they think of it. I like to know if my efforts in making that meal were worth it. If it is something that the family loves, I will add it to our regular rotation. If it is not a fav, than I put it on the back burner and either revisit it later or not at all. I want to be able to enjoy food with my family, so making it delicious is always a must.

How do you make meal planning successful in your home?

XO Danielle
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