So yesterday I shared that I feel like my menu planning is in a rut. Experience tells me that with a little bit of pre-planning and some brainstorming with my crew, we can get out of this rut! And by planning the menu a full month at a time, we avoid eating the same thing all the time and can save a lot of money on groceries!
I created the following worksheet to help me (and you!) with getting the ideas on paper and then rearranging them to make a balanced menu each week.
Print two copies – one for the brainstorming process and then one for the “final cut” menu.
In order to keep things pretty simple, I have come up with 7 themes – feel free to adapt for your own family:
- Sunday – New recipe (or anything goes night if we decide to go out to dinner)
- Monday – Slow cooker since this is typically our busiest sports night of the week
- Tuesday – Pasta night – everyone is home and pasta is a nice comfort food
- Wednesday – Quick & Easy – again, another busy sports night with staggered eating times
- Thursday – Family favorite night
- Friday – Kids cook – let’s face it, Mom is tired by the time Friday rolls around and my kids are old enough to start working on their college cooking skills
- Saturday – Grill night – especially when the weather warms up
Next, I interview everyone in the house asking for their favorite from each of the categories. Since there are five of us, building out a month of favorites is pretty easy. If they answer with something already on the list, they have to come up with an alternate. Once I have the main list, I can rearrange the meal ideas into the various weeks to make sure things are pretty balanced – like not eating red meat 4 days in a row and such – and then add side dishes into the mix.
Overall, this takes maybe 30 minutes of your time and can save you hours of frustration over the course of the month.
If your family is having a hard time coming up with their lists, ask them what they would order if they went to their favorite restaurants, pull up menus from their favorite restaurants or put some of your favorite cookbooks out on the table for inspiration.
It works for me! Hopefully it will help you and your family as well!