Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning

It's come to my attention that not everyone does things the same way I do.  It was what Oprah calls an "A ha" moment for me.  I have heard various menu planning ideas over the years, but most often I find that people have no plan at all.  I have been using a form of this system for over a decade, but just recently combined it into one pretty package.  I will show you what I do each week then you can download the Excel files to customize them for your family or print the PDF file versions if you just want to print and write on them.

The numbers below correspond to the numbers in the picture:
  1. To make it more personal, change "family" to your family's name if you are downloading the Excel file version.
  2. Insert the dates here.  I find it easier to plan my family's schedule by keeping Saturday and Sunday together, so I start my week on Monday.  You can change the labels here if you would prefer a different format.  
  3. This is where I enter all the appointments and plans that we have.  This calendar gets printed and put on our fridge where I will hand write any appointments that come up later.  In general, I put special days like birthdays or holiday on the first line, morning items on top, evening items on bottom and all-day events in the middle.  You could also color code these by person.
  4. Here is where I look at the events for the day and come up with a dinner menu that will match the energy level I will have.  For example, Tuesday is a very busy day for me, so I picked a "heat and eat" type dinner with virtually no prepwork.  Wednesdays we have a potluck at house church so I just enter what food items I am bringing (FYI - "bp cupcakes" are banana pudding cupcakes....makes you want to come to our house church, huh!?).  Thursday and Friday we will be out of town, so we will be going out those days.  
  5. This is not an exhaustive list of what I do each day.  Just a couple things I want to make sure we do.  This could include items I need to mail, errands to run, people to call, etc...  I don't schedule chores on Sunday because everyone needs a days off, that is why it doesn't have a chore box.
  6. I primarily use this to write down things I need to know for the following week.  For example, If the following Friday I have a play date, I would write "Play date with Jude at 10 AM on 4/6" in the notes box under Friday.  I also use it for phone numbers I may need, Redbox rental codes and anything else I need to remember.
  7. This is a running list I keep of things that we run out of.  It works best if you can train everyone in the family to write things on here they need that way you can give it a glance each time you leave the house to see if there are things you can get while you are already at the store.  When you get home, cross them off the list.  Anything left at the end of the week, goes on the grocery list for the following week.
This brings us to the next step, the grocery list:

My list is organized for the store I shop at most (Bentonville Walmart).  I find it most effective to get all the non-food items first since they are spread out all over the store.  These items I write in the "miscellaneous" box.  Then I start in the back of the store and work my way to the front.  If I only need grocery items, I do it a little differently, but that will be another post for another time.

Notice I also have a column for "Sam's Club."  There are some items that I know are always better to buy at Sam's, so I put them in my list from the beginning.  I go to Sam's Club first to shop and take notice if there is anything else on my list that may be better to get there as well. 

This whole planning process usually takes me about 15 minutes (1 hour if I do it when my two year old is awake), but saves me hours throughout the week.  In a future post, I will show you how I grocery shop to make it a fun field trip rather than a dreaded chore.  What tips do you have for menu planning?

Calendar and Grocery List
Click here to download the Excel file for both documents
Click here to download the PDF version
Grocery List
Click here to download the PDF version

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