Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Planning a Menu Can Be Quick, Painless, and Easy! Part I

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce and Black Beans

When you plan a menu, the week seems to go smoother, you spend less on groceries, and you avoid the 5pm Empty-Stare-Into-The-Cabinet. But, real life often does not afford us an entire afternoon to plan our weekly menu, always coming up with new, exotic, and gourmet meal ideas. But, rotating the same 4 meals can get boring too. Here are some easy tips on getting you started making your own meal plans.
  • Decide How Often You Want To Plan Your Menu
    • Do you want to plan your menu a week out? Two weeks out? Once a month? The most common option is to plan a new menu every week, but I have seen people plan menus a month out with success. I prefer the flexibility of planning every week, but you need to figure out what works best for your lifestyle. 
  • Get Organized
    • I'm a binder person. I like to organize different aspects of my life into different binders. So, of course I have a recipe binder. I like to add full page recipe print-outs or magazine pages into page protectors. You can organize the recipes alphabetically, by meal (ie. breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.), or by cuisine (chicken, salads, sides, etc.) The idea is to have all your recipes in one place so you can be more efficient on menu planning day.
  • Make Planning a Menu Part of Your Routine
    • For me, Saturdays are spent doing chores, (including planning my menu), and spending time with my family. Planning my menu is a "to-do", just like cleaning my bathrooms and mopping my floors. If you make it part of your routine, you won't accidentally forget to plan, and have to swing through the drive-thru Monday night.
Next week I'm going to discuss exactly how to go about planning your menu, with easy and fun tips to get the whole family involved!

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