My menu plans have changed a lot over the years; primarily to meet the needs of my family.
Menu Plan Techniques I have used:
2. A bimonthly rotation of our family’s 14 favorite recipes.
3. A detailed weekly plan that included breakfast and lunch.
4. A very loose plan where we had certain themed nights (i.e. Italian, Mexican, Pizza, salad, etc.), but I actually winged the meals at the last minute.
I now plan my menus based on what I have in my pantry, freezer, garden, and what was on sale the last time I went shopping. On some nights I cook, so that I won’t have leftovers: When I make the Ahi Tuna, I will cook a one pound filet and after my teenage son has seconds, there will not be any remaining. Other nights I intentionally make extra, so that I can use the leftovers as a base for another meal.
How to Create Menu Plans that Use Up Leftovers, Save Money, and Reduce Waste:
1. Look at our schedule and determine how many people will be home and decide how many meals I will need to prepare. I usually plan to cook dinner from scratch 4 days a week, use leftovers in meals 2 days a week, and take one day off from cooking all together (YOYO Dinner = You’re On Your Own).
2. Take a look in the freezer, refrigerator, and the pantry to see what is available.
3. Decide what meals can be made from the ingredients I have on hand.
4. Decide what meals I have most of the ingredients for and start a shopping list for the ingredients I will need.
5. Check grocery store circulars to see if there are some great deals that I may want to use as a foundation for a meal.
6. I decide what meals go at the beginning of the week based on how many of the ingredients I already have on hand, how fresh the items are, and if I need the leftovers for another meal.
I make menu plans because it saves me time, money, and reduces our food waste. It is important to remember that menu plans are more like guidelines than actual rules. Don’t feel bad if something comes up and you don’t/can’t follow your plan. If my husband decides to surprise us with Chinese food, I will say thank you and put what ever I was planning back in the fridge for the next evening. If we have unexpected guests, I will rearrange our menu to accommodate them. And if, like last week, my kids and I are sick, I am grateful for anything my husband makes!
On Sunday, I will resume sharing my menu plans. As you view my menu, please know that this is what works for my family now. It will change to meet the needs and schedules of my family. In my opinion, the only right way to plan a menu is to create one that works for your family.
Do you create a menu?