Not having a menu plan makes home cooking difficult. A menu plan doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are various ideas for jump starting your planning. They’re nothing fancy, but they accomplish the goal of planning ahead. They provide:
- an accountable plan
- using ingredients already on hand
- ensuring variety and balanced meals
- frugality by being prepared with at-home choices
- taking into consideration the events surrounding each day
You may feel like your family’s daily schedule just does not afford the possibility to eat at home. But planning ahead can be done by scheduling easier meals for those busier days. Foods prepared ahead of time help with that. Also, knowing what is up next helps me to have pre-cooked ingredients thawed and ready to toss together.
The old saying, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail,” is often true with the intentions for feeding our families. Menu planning tools are plentiful and varied. Here are some of my favorite formats.
Take A Look At This Sample
Your menu plan can literally be as simple as opening an Excel document (or cell phone notepad, or scrap of paper!), plugging in a few column headings, and typing what you want to make. This one doesn’t even have days assigned, but it has 8 meals, planned out and ready to be made:
These printable plans provide a springboard for getting those meal ideas onto paper to develop a solid plan. This simple grid printable has days of the week and spaces for meal basics as well as what activities the day entails.
The second Menu Plan has a place to consider what you already have on hand and for your grocery list.
Another Menu Planning Strategy
I often take a piece of card stock or colored paper and make a written plan for the upcoming week. Colorful pens and maybe some doodling make my finished product something I have fun looking at when I’m consulting it over the next several days. My planning session includes assessing what is in the refrigerator, pantry, and freezer so I can use some of the supplies I have already painstakingly prepared (such as batch cooking meats) or pantry supplies I have already gathered. I also have a section for groceries needed to round out a meal so they can be picked up on a quick run or added to my next big trip.