Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Menu Planning

   I grew up in a home that was always busy cooking and baking--almost always from scratch. My mother helped instill a love of cooking in me by always letting me help her, even when my "help" was more of a hindrance than anything else. My daddy helped seal this love of cooking even more by praising my efforts and finding new recipes for me to try. I'll never forget the week or two I tried almost every day to perfect my buttermilk biscuits and make them taste just like my great-grandmother's did--just for Daddy. I did :) and he was so happy and enjoyed them so much. It made all the work worth it.
 Now that I am married, I have a husband who loves my cooking and raves on and on about it to other people. My cooking ability is a great source of pride to him--I think he really thinks there isn't anything I can't make!
 But guess what? I don't always know what to cook, or have inspiration for delicious, healthy meals. Some days I don't feel like cooking, or nothing sounds good at all. Most of the time when that happens I just make sure to have a protein shake and make myself eat something nutritious and move on. That is fine for me, but if you have a hungry hardworking man around the house, that isn't going to cut it. It is too easy to give into temptation and run out and grab a bite to eat--we live so  close to so many restaurants--but that isn't good for us or our bank account.
 I've found that if I plan ahead and make menu plans, we do better about eating at home and I'm not at a loss for what to make for supper.
 Not only does this help us save money, it also helps cut down on costs at the grocery store. When I make the menu plan for the week, I make the grocery list according to what is on the plan for the week. Also, I've found that making the menu plan after checking what is on sale that week helps a lot too.
  When I know what I am cooking for the week it keeps me focused and on track and I am not as liable to just aimlessly buy things. The worst thing for me to do is plan the menu while I am in the store! I will come home with all sorts of things we didn't need.

 My menu plans are very simple right now. I only really have to plan for supper (or dinner, whichever you prefer :) ), and only five suppers a week. Our weekend plans vary from weekend to weekend and we often spend them with my family in the country and Sundays are spent with his parents. So I don't have to plan meals for the weekends.
  Breakfast and lunch are often easy, no-brainers. For lunch I usually send Jacob a sandwich or leftovers from supper the night before, and sometimes he eats lunch out with someone from work.
 Earlier this year I decided to get with the program and plan and be more organized.  I started by making a list of all the meals I could think of off the top of my head. After that, I kept a running list close by for whenever Jacob or I thought of another one. Once I had a pretty good list compiled I sorted the meals into two categories: quick and normal. A few examples of quick: tacos/taco salads, cheeseburgers, BLT's, etc. I mixed up the meals and made sure to have at least one "quick" meal a week in the mix.
  Also another meal that counts as "quick" is a casserole or something from the freezer. Even though I've been cooking for two for almost a year, there are still some things that when I make them, I prepare enough for an army. Casseroles, soups and chicken pot pies, just to mention a few. Thankfully, we were given LOTS of glassware in our wedding showers so when I prepare too much, I can divide it into two meals worth and freeze one. This helps a lot, I just have to remember to set it in the fridge the night before or early the next morning.
I didn't assign specific days to the meals because our schedule is never the same. Below is the result of all that thinking and planning.

 Since then, I've added some new meals to my repertoire, and use the above list more as an idea springboard for when I don't know what to cook. I need to edit it and add more things to it.  I have some new crockpot/slowcooker recipes that are great on busy days or if we eat at home on Sundays.
This list lives on the fridge where I can always see it. I had been keeping it in my three ring binder that I keep my calendar and some recipes in, but it was out of sight and therefore, out of mind. Since it is on the fridge I use it all the time.
 I put together a "menu planner" earlier this week, inspired by one I saw on Pinterest. It has a spot for five suppers a week, and a place to make a grocery list. It is blank and I'll just plan the menu the day I buy groceries.  If you'd like to look at it or use it for your own menus, you can download it by clicking on the link below.

 Hopefully all these things will make it easier for me to stay on track with my meals. I do really well with lists and checklists.
 I'll be posting some new recipes soon, so stay tuned!

Encourage One Another Link up--Deep Roots at Home 


  1. What a helpful idea for your wives or daughters to learn how to plan ahead! It is so helpful to have parents who encouraged you in the right direction with JOY!! I also sense your husband is very deeply loved and adored so that he feels it by your care and attention. Many blessings as you grow closer to the Lord and family!! Thank you so much for the great contributions to this 'EOA' link-up!!!

  2. Menu plans are so helpful! Thankfully we don't live near any restaurants, so it makes it a little bit easier to resist the temptation to just run out and get something. :-)

    I'm trying a different way of menu planning for the month of November, since it's going to be a very busy month for my family. I'm just doing a rotating weekly menu plan. I'm pretty certain my family will like it and I'm going to like how simple and easy it will be! :-)

  3. Wholesome Womanhood: That sounds like a good plan--the holidays are always so busy. I know that once I our family starts growing I'll probably have to tweak and readjust things several times to make it work. Right now with just the two of us things are relatively simple :)
    Thanks for stopping by! :)