Saturday, August 14, 2010

Menu Planning Diane's Style

I have been menu planning for at least 30 years. My mother was a great menu planner. Anyone on a budget or who does grocery shopping is already menu planning to some degree, but we could all do it better.

For me, the first thing I do is have a good pantry of basics. Ideas for that will come in a future post, but without that pantry, your last minute changes (and all who menu plan have to be flexible) will cost you in calories, lack of nutrients and big bucks of fast or prepared foods.

I plan one to two weeks at a time and usually start on Wednesdays. That's when the coupons and grocery store circulars come out. I choose my proteins first. I find what's on special, look in my "recipes to try file" and pick a few new ones that I want to try using what is on special.

Then I check my calendar. ONLY KEEP ONE CALENDAR!!! For all your family and work commitments. I look to see what days I need to cook fast, what days I am busy all day and need a slow-cooker to greet me when I get home, what days I will be away for meals and what days I will be entertaining. I play mix and match with the recipes I chose in the previous step. Sometimes I will do something like write down slow-cooker here or big roast and leftovers here.

Then I make my shopping list. After the shopping list I shop first in my pantry and cross off what I already have. Or if that item is running low I will then know to replace it and leave it on the list. Then for me, since I have almost all of my groceries delivered. I log in and start choosing my items. I can then see what I will have to go get myself.

I write my menu plan on the same calendar with all the other commitments. I include in the menu plan what I will take out of freezer or what I will do with leftovers. I also do some planning like Robin Miller on the Food Network. (She is the person who cooks/chops/seasons/once for 2-3 meals at the same time.)

Anything better than what you are doing now, is an improvement. Try just planning 2 meals a week. Or if you already do well on the weekends, try 2 meals during the week.

How do you plan? What do you do now? Share your ideas, concerns or issues.

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