I love to cook. Really. I love picking out fresh ingredients, chopping and preparing them, making my house smell warm and savory. I love all that.
I don’t, however, have is time to cook. And what I REALLY don’t have time for is thinking of what to cook. It’s the dreaded question of “What do you want for dinner?” Which in turn begins a long process of “You pick!” “No, you pick!” before you end up making something that is A.) not as healthy as you would have hoped B.) likely out of a freezer or C.) a drive through, or worse D.) all of the above. (Yuck)
This year, I made a commitment to lead a greener lifestyle and that included eating better. And, now that you all know how I do my grocery shopping, I thought you should see how I put together my meals, starting with testing out this amazing Pin I saw on Pinterest by RobbyGurl’s Creations about making a menu-planning board.
This is the Pin I started with. Doesn’t this board look so pretty? Mine doesn’t look this pretty. But it’s the functionality that matters, right?
To start my menus I began by making a list of all the recipes Justin and I like. I thought of everything–including the occasional frozen meal we splurge for–and typed each meal up. I made sure to include the main course and any side dishes I usually serve with them so I knew exactly what to expect when I cooked each meal.
I found this great calendar board at Target. I loved that it came with pens attached to magnets, this helped me color code my meals too. Blue for chicken dishes, yellow for pasta dishes, green for vegetarian, purple for fish, and red for red meat/pork. I did this so I wouldn’t have a week of all chicken, or a week of all red meat. Plus, I wanted to get into the habit of having Meatless Mondays, so I now knew exactly what kind of recipes I was using each week. I wrote the name of each recipe on an index card that color-coordinated with a pen on the board.
After listing all the meals, I went through and I added a complete list of ingredients for each meal on each card. Now there is no more guessing when making my lists for shopping.
Here’s how I menu plan:
– Every two weeks, I draw fourteen cards from the rings. I make sure there is at least two green-labeled meals, and at least two purple labeled meals. These meals will be for two weeks ahead.
– I then make a shopping list based on the ingredients listed on the slips for the corresponding meal on the calendar. I take the time to physically check what I have at home so I know exactly what to get at the store.
– This amazing board has a strip of cork board. I keep the slips on the fridge to make prep easier.
– When we eat a recipe, we banish the used slip to an envelope on the side of the fridge. This takes care of any repeats week-to-week.
The pros of menu planning are that I’m so much more organized, I’m making my trips to the grocery store so much more productive, and I get to say “YOU EAT WHAT I MAKE AND LIKE IT” much more frequently. Every woman’s dream.
My FAVORITE part is that with all the ingredients listed out on the cards, when I ask Justin to start dinner, he knows exactly where to begin!
What about you? Share your favorite Menu Planning ideas in the comments–I love to hear them!
Thanks for looking!