Saturday SOS—menu planning

Organizing is all about saving you something…saving time, saving space, saving money, and even saving your sanity. One easy way I’ve found to save myself all of these things is to menu plan.

The gist of it is that you make a list of meals you’re going to eat for a week (or until the next time you know you’re going to the store). I always go grocery shopping on Saturday, so I usually make my meal list on Friday or Saturday for the rest of the week. Then I generate my shopping list from my menu. Here’s an example from this past week’s menu:

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Here are the reasons you, too, should start a weekly menu plan:

You will save time. While you’re in the store, you will have a grocery list made out specifically for the things you’re going to cook in the coming week. You’ll know exactly what you’re shopping for and you won’t have to waste time in every aisle trying to decide what you want. You’ll also save time every night at home. When you come home in the evening, you know exactly what’s for dinner. You won’t have to spend time thinking about what you’d like to cook. It’s already been determined.

You will save space. Since you have a shopping list based on a specific menu, you won’t be tempted to buy a bunch of food you don’t really need. You’ll only bring home ingredients you need for that week, thusly saving space in your fridge and cupboards.

You will save money. While you’re at the store, you’ll be less inclined to impulse-buy. If you really stick to your list, you’ll only put things in your cart that you really need. You’ll also save money at home. When you’re making out your weekly menu, take a look at what you already have on-hand. If you have 3 boxes of pasta, choose a pasta dish to make one night that week; that’s one fewer thing you have to buy to make a good meal.

You will save your sanity. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to come home and use my brain power on after work is, “What in the world am I going to make for dinner?” Already knowing is a huge burden off my shoulders. With a menu plan, you can also avoid those times when you were intending to cook hamburgers tonight, but you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer the day before. Since you have all your meals written out (preferably in a visible spot—we keep ours on the refrigerator door), you can check the night before if anything needs to be prepped for dinner the next day.

I got my magnetic meal planning notepad from a free giveaway from Betty Crocker—I’m not sure what I’ll do when it runs out! You could always make your own menu plan template to fit your needs, but here are a few printable options that might be of use to you:

1) Here’s a creative meal planner from futuregirl, complete with fun illustrations and including a column where you put reminders for the next day’s meal (“take the steaks of out the freezer”).

2) Here’s a clean, easy-to-use menu planning template from one of my favorite blogs, I’m An Organizing Junkie. It even includes a spot for “recipe source” (which is always good for me to note so my husband doesn’t have trouble figuring out which cookbook the recipe is in when he’s trying to be sweet and start dinner without me).

3) There are some great meal and menu planners available at Vertex42—they have different formats to choose from (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.).

4) There’s a detailed menu plan template over at Unclutterer that has space to write in not only dinner but breakfast, lunch, and snacks as well.

I hope this helps you in your future cooking and shopping endeavors!

What do you do to save time, space, money, or even sanity when it comes to your meals?

 

5 comments:

Laura said...

Hi, I love your list of reasons to menu plan! I totally agree, menu planning has been such a lifesaver for me.

Thanks for including my link!

Laura

Misty Bourne said...

Laura,

You're so welcome--it's a good resource! :) Thanks for the support!

Crystal said...

I'm attempting to leave a comment for the first time EVER, and crossing my fingers and toes (which makes it hard to type and to walk) that it turns out right ... ...

I love this idea also because it helps my family not to eat fast food/take out as often, because we always have everything that we need on-hand, and I wouldn't want my fresh veggies to go bad before I get to use them. :) I eat SO much healthier since adopting this technique into my life. ;)

Love ya Misty!

Misty Bourne said...

Crystal,

So you save your HEALTH by eating predetermined, good-for-you meals, and you save MONEY 1) by eating the ingredients you actually bought because you stick to your meal plan and 2) by not going out to eat.

You are such a smart cookie--I didn't even think of those. ;)

I love you, too, Cree! Thanks for the encouragement. :)

futuregirl said...

Well, I'm super late to this party, but I wanted to thank you for including me in your post! xoxo!


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