Here are the benefits that I have found to menu planning.
- Food does sometimes magically appear on the dinner table. If I have a plan and articulate that plan to the family, my husband and kids can successfully put the meal on the table alleviating a lot of stress for me.
- Saves money. When I enter the grocery store knowing exactly what I need I'm not wondering the aisles plopping food willy nilly in the cart.
- Alleviates decision making. Sometimes at the end of the day I just do NOT want to make one more decision. I know, corn versus carrots isn't life altering but if I've had a rough day it's almost enough to send me over the edge.
- "Whatcha feel like this week?" That's usually the way I start my plan. Family meals are all about the family. I like my husband and kids to have some input into what we eat for the week.
- Check our schedules. Before I can plan a menu I need to know how many days we're going to be able to eat together.
- Check my freezer stash. I like freezer cooking. If I have a well-stocked freezer I usually make sure that one of our meals comes from our freezer.
- Check what I have in inventory. Sometimes I have all the ingredients for a meal already in stock saving me money that week
- Check out bookmarked recipes. Any of my regular followers know that I don't always try a lot of new recipes, my family likes the tried and true. However, as I'm combing through magazines and Pinterest I come across certain recipes that I think my family would like and I'll stick them back for that special week.
My grocery list is kept on my computer in an Excel file (what can I say, I'm an Excel girl!). We buy a lot of the same items every week so I keep a spreadsheet of all items we buy laid out in order of the store. As I identify items I need I highlight them, oddball items are thrown into empty spaces I've left. Once I've identified our meals for the week I inventory the rest of our food like cereal, granola bars, etc.
That's the method to my madness, what's yours?