Saturday, August 11, 2012

Menu Planning Steps

Have you ever wondered how to menu plan?

Let me say that if the thought totally repulses you, I understand.  I was there.  When I had to plan my entire work day in 15- 20 minute increments (ahem, teaching 6 year olds) the last thing I wanted to do was more planning.  But now that I have children of my own, a different job, a more limited budget, and cannot run to the store as easily whenever I want to, menu planning REALLY helps me.  It keeps our costs lower, keeps dinner timelier and healthier, and me happier.

Since right now I am either procrastinating in hopes of inspiration -or- just trying to enjoy this process more than is natural, I am going to let you in on my thought process tonight.  A thrilling Friday night, right?  Hey, the rest of the weekend in pretty packed, so I gotta squeeze this in.

Here's how my paleo weekly menu planning process typically flows:

Tuesday & Wednesday:

  1. Get the grocery ads from the mailbox and glance through them.  The grocery sales are usually Wednesday through Tuesday, with some special sales anytime between Thursday-Monday. (P.S. The ads are all online, too, if you don't get them.  Just go to the stores' websites.)
  2. Circle the items I want to buy because they are a really good price and we can use them.
  3. Start a list of the stores and corresponding sale items that I want to purchase. 

Thursday or Friday:

  1. Pencil in a menu for the week ahead, based of off any special perishable items I want to buy, what we have, and what I can buy at the stores I want to go to.  Search my Pinterest paleo board, old menu plans from my blog, recipe books, or starred posts in my Google reader for inspiration.  Ask the kids and husband what they would like if all else fails.
  2. Add any additional items needed for these recipes to the list under the best store to buy them, according to cost.
  3. Approximate the total cost and adjust the list and plan as needed.  Cut and rearrange the list if too many store visits are required.
  4. Schedule shopping trips to make sure I have the needed items by the time they are on the menu, and that they will be used before they spoil.

Friday through Tuesday: 

  1. SHOP! (in as few trips to the stores as possible!)
So, you can see, I plan and shop at the week's end for the week ahead.  That is the method that works best with our work/school schedule right now, but I'm sure will continue to evolve.  

Everyone who wants to menu plan has to find a flow that is good for them.  I probably make this process more involved than it needs to be.  You could simplify it if you wanted.  I work well when I have to hammer things out in words... I enjoy the construction of the shopping list and menu planning.  And the whole evaluation, tweaking of the list.  (me <-- weird)

Guess I better go get some thrills and actually plan now.

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