Monday, January 31, 2011

Meal Tip Monday--Make a Menu

We all know that one of the hardest parts of cooking is deciding what to make for dinner, right? Growing up, our mom always had a menu taped inside the door of the spice cabinet. We all enjoyed checking it to see what we'd be having for dinner each night, and as we've grown up, we've all found that it makes for less stressful nights when we've got a menu planned out. We figured that since tomorrow is the first day of February, now would be a good time to tell you how we do it so that you can plan your menu for the month of love ;) It's really pretty simple, but here are the steps we take.

1--Start by making a giant list of all of your favorite meals, and add to it any time you find a new recipe or think of something else you love. For a starter list, check this.

2--Once you have a list of meal ideas, sit down with a blank calendar (There is a simple template here. I like this one because I can type everything in, print it, and it's ready to go. Just choose the month you need and start adding to it!). First, fill in all the days you know you have things going on (i.e. birthdays, dinner dates, out-of-town dates, etc. There is no shame in adding 'pizza night' or 'Chili's' to the menu!) and then fill in the empty days with a main course. We only list main courses because we already know what sides we eat with each meal. Try to rotate chicken, beef, pork, and meatless main dishes in order to keep things mixed up.

3--Once you've filled out your menu, make a grocery list. Go through each day and think about what ingredients you need for that meal, and then write them down. There is nothing worse than getting half way throuh cooking something and then realizing you don't have one spice.

4--Finally, go to the store! This method of meal planning is nice because if you'd like to, you can get all of your shopping done in one trip (minus produce, milk, bread, etc.), or you can break it up into bi-weekly or even weekly shopping.

Okay, so now that I've typed it, it sounds a little bit complicated, but it really is pretty simple. And, best of all, it keeps you from racking your brain every night for dinner ideas or, worse (if you're like me), stopping at McDonald's for a greasy double-cheese.

Here is what my menu might look like in a month.I threw this together pretty quickly, but here is something to get you started in case you are a visual person and want to see what it looks like:

I promise once you do this you will be hooked. If you do it, let us know how it goes!


Tera said...

Great idea!:) Thank You, Thank You

Katie McCaul said...

LOVE IT!!! i seriously need help:) thank you.

trudy...{and jamo} said...

Thank you! Love it!