So, last week, we discussed why menu planning is a must-have for the busy mom’s home management arsenal. Now that you know that it is important to menu plan, let’s take a look at the different types of meal plans that you can play with. Fun, isn’t it?!
Let’s get started, shall we?
The Weekly Dinner Plan
Simplest and easiest to put together, for this menu plan you just need to put together a week’s worth of dinners. So, 7 days equals 7 dinners. A sample menu for this meal plan looks like this:
Monday- Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday- Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday – Burritos
Thursday – Leftovers Buffet
Friday – Grilled Chicken, Clear Soup and Green Salad
Saturday- Let’s Order In
Sunday- Homemade Burgers or Pizza Night
This is just an example. Need more inspiration, check out 7-Day Menu Planning for Dummies or Menu Plan Monday over at I’m an Organizing Junkie
The 2-Meal a Day Plan
Let’s say you want something that’s more planned, more detailed. Great! Take a look at the 2-meals a day plan where you plan both lunch and dinner, for the week. So, you plan 14 meals a week. So, you’ll have a plan that will look like this:
Monday – Lunch: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese
And so on for all the other days of the week. The advantage of this plan is that it makes life so much easier when you’re eating all your main meals at home or taking lunch to work. You never have to think the night before or worse, in the morning about what to make for lunch. You already have a list ready and set, done your grocery shopping accordingly and so, can simply make what is on your menu plan easily!
I use a variation or rather extension of this plan and include Breakfasts, Snacks and Desserts too.
The Finish-What’s-in-Your-Pantry Menu Plan
If you do your grocery shopping from a standard, grocery list each month, you may have a surplus of certain food items in your pantry. This menu plan helps you to use what you already have. I usually make this type of a menu plan right before we plan to travel for a long time and so, need to finish perishables or dry supplies that may be nearing their Use-by dates. Here’s how to make this menu plan:
1. Take an inventory of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator. Pay special attention to items that are perishable or nearing their “best before”dates.
2. Collect all your cookbooks and open up your favorite recipe websites. Mine include Allrecipes and Good Cheap Eats by the ever-amazing Jessica Fisher.
3. Mark or bookmark, as the case may be, recipes that use ingredients that you already have and need to use. Write them down for lunch or dinner and voila, you’re done.
Note: You may want to mention where to find a particular recipe on your menu plan as well. Will save you a lot of time searching for it. Ask me how I know!
Finding a Plan that Fits Your Family
So, how do you know which plan would best fit your family? Take a look at your lifestyle, schedules and your family’s needs. If you are all out of the house after a standard cereal breakfast and don’t need to carry your own lunches, then a simple 7-Day Dinner Plan would be best. If you’re a SAHM with a baby and toddler, you may want to make a detailed 2-Meal or even, 3-Meal a Day Plan. If you have a family member with food allergies or a medical condition, you may want to go the whole hog, like I do, and plan all meals, snacks and desserts to save yourself a lot of undue stress while eating healthy. There is no one right answer. You know your family and your schedule the best, so plan accordingly.
Save Time When Menu Planning
Regardless of what type of plan you choose, you do need to devote a bit of time to it. However, using a few smart resources can help you save precious minutes. Since you’ll be drawing up the same plan every week, here are a few things you can do to save time:
- File all your old menu plans in your home management binder, under the Meal Plans tab.
- Use the premade menu plan sheets in the Organizing Life as Mom eBook to create your menu plans in fillable fields. You can print it out if you like seeing it on the fridge or do what I do and just let it be in the eBook and refer to it each morning. Save time, paper and energy.
- Keep a running list of favorite family meals and when stuck for choice, simply pick items from that list.
What type of a menu plan do you use to make eating healthy easy and stress-free?
Don’t forget to check out the other posts as well as comments for the posts in the Menu Planning for Busy Moms series for ideas, tips, and inspiration.
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt
Next Up: Resources for Menu Planning for Moms