One of the most efficient ways I’ve found to help with meal planning, especially around the holidays, is by creating a basic rotating menu. I have a five-week rotation, all typed up on the computer, complete with a pre-printed shopping list. Like this:
It takes a little while to set this up at first, and sometimes it feels like a challenge to come up with enough meals (that are liked by the majority of those in residence) to fill a four or five week plan. But here’s the pros:
- it saves time in the long run
- it also saves sanity when you realize there’s nothing in the house and you have approximately three minutes to pull together a menu and list before you have to head out to the orthodontist, the cello lesson, the post office, and the grocery store.
- it’s a start. I know I’m not the only one who can keep going forever on a project once it’s rolling, but getting started? Gah! With menus all set, that first big step is behind you.
- It gives you a beginning point. You can add or subtract meals as needed, depending on what’s on sale, how packed your schedule might be, and that sudden craving you’ve developed for beef stew. (Mmmm, stew.).
I build in some flexibility by pre-planning only 5 meals per week (Hello, weekend leftovers!) and not assigning meals to days until the week is upon us and I see what lies ahead.
I don’t always remember to use my menus, but when I do, it’s a major sigh of relief. Have any of you ever tried doing something like that?