Back to school season feels a bit like New Year’s. Time to make goals/resolutions. Time to get back to a regular routine and schedule. I hope menu planning is on everyone’s list of goals for this upcoming school year.
I know that menu planning seems like a time-consuming, painful task. I do my planning on Tuesday nights, and I kind of dread that time. But I do know that it saves me time and money in the long run. Here are some tips to make menu planning easier and more useful.
– Have pre-set dinner nights. At our house, Wednesday is breakfast for dinner, and Tuesday is leftover night. It is incredibly nice to have two nights I don’t have to think of an idea for dinner.
– Look at your calendar while planning. Don’t plan to make a lasagna from scratch the same night that you have 3 places to be. Planning quick dinners for nights with full schedules will save you headaches and fast-food runs.
-Don’t plan too much at one time. I think one week is plenty of time to plan at one time. Fresh produce won’t last too much longer than that. Plan less time and you’ll be running to the store frequently. But plan the amount of time that works well for you.
– Have contingency meals. I try to plan an all or mostly pantry or freezer meal at least once a week. (Example: Spaghetti with meat sauce and steamed veggies where the meat sauce and veggies are waiting in the freezer.) Then, if something comes up, food isn’t going bad. I can even move that meal to next week, making one less meal to plan!
– Involve your family. Ask your spouse and kids what they want to eat this upcoming week. If they picked it, you might curtail mealtime battles by reminding your child that he/she requested that meal.
– Post your menu somewhere visible. This will remind you what in the morning what is ahead for the day and help prevent the “what’s for dinner” questions from hounding you. It doesn’t have to be fancy, as my menu board above illustrates.
Hope this helps and happy menu planning! Please share any other tricks you found to help in the comments.
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!