Planning a weekly menu helps in so many ways. First if you are on a diet, you won’t have to guess what’s for dinner and feel tempted by bad choices. Second, it helps save money at the grocery store, and finally, it saves you time during the week. You already know what’s for dinner so you don’t have to stand in the kitchen with your family starving, trying to come up with ideas. But the hard part is knowing where to start with weekly menu planning. Luckily, I have put together these tips for weekly menu planning to help you out.
1. Know What You Have on Hand
The first tip for weekly menu planning is knowing what you already have at home. You want to use what is in the cabinets or freezer first. Chances are you can easily make at least one or two meals from the things you already have. This also keeps you from wasting food, so you're ultimately saving money!
2. Know What’s on Sale
Next you are going to want to check the sales ads. Sure, you can skip this tip for weekly menu planning, but then you are on your own for coming up with ideas. Looking at your grocery store flyer doesn’t just tell you what’s on sale. It is also the best place to get ideas for your weekly menu. If there is a great deal on stew meat, you can beat I will be serving it at dinner one night this week.
3. Figure out Your Schedule for the Week
We all know some nights are busier than others. In fact, some weeks are busier than others. Before you plan your menu, check your calendar. Chances are you won’t be able to cook a gourmet meal on the night you have dance lessons, soccer practice, and a PTA meeting. That’s a night to plan for sandwiches or spaghetti.
4. Plan a Couple of Easy Meals
Have a couple of easy meals on standby, even if they aren’t included in your weekly menu plan. Grab a frozen pizza or a couple cans of soup just in case something comes up during the week that makes it hard stick to your planned menu. If you're into freezing food (more on that in a minute), you can also create easy meals that way, because you'll just have to pop your meal in the oven or on the stove top.
5. Create Theme Nights
My favorite tips for weekly menu planning involve creating theme nights. Around my house Mondays are always pasta of some sort. It’s a busy night around here and pasta is quick and easy. When I plan my menu I don’t have to think too hard about what to cook on Monday. It’s really just a choice between marinara or alfredo.
6. Double Recipes to Freeze
Some recipes I will create more of and freeze. The extras I can add to the menu in a couple of weeks as a quick meal. Casseroles are good to freeze. I usually cook them all the way through and then place in the freezer after they have cooled down. Be sure to mark the container with the date and what's inside.
7. Create a Routine
One tip to weekly menu planning is to create a routine. I grocery shop the day after the trash goes out. That means the day before trash day, I clean out the fridge by getting rid of all the spoiled food. It gives me a chance to see what I have on hand. The day the trash is picked up, I make my menu for the week and plan my grocery list.
Creating and following a weekly menu plan has been a life saver for me. It’s just one more way I keep my family organized and chaos free. I hope these tips for weekly menu planning will help you out too. Let me know if you give them a try and how it works out.
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