How to Start Menu Planning – with free printable below
I have said before we are on a budget right now ( who isn’t !? ) and part of my money saving plan is to Start Menu planning or Meal Planning.
The logic behind menu planning/ meal planning is simple.
- Menu planning saves money – as you only buy what you need
- It saves time – no running to the shops
- Also, saves dinnertime panic – we have all been there !!
- It stops waste – less food gets thrown out
Step 1 to start Menu Planning- Make a list of meals your family will eat
List out the meals your family eats regularly and love, try and come up with something that each family member loves, some things you know are easy to cook. Things that are cheap and cheerful too. You can make this a fun family activity that your whole family even the youngest can join in.
My family list involves things like
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Slow Cooker Chilli
- Steak and Guinness Stew
- Beef and Black Bean Sauce
- Tummy Warming Beef Casserole
- Roast Chicken
- Chicken in white wine sauce
- Easy Chinese Chicken
- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Fajita
- Skillet Chicken and Potatoes
- Bacon and Chorizo Gratin
- Glazed pork chops
- Spicy Pork Casserole
- Sweet and Sour pork
- Chorizo and Garden Veg Pasta
- Minted Lamb Chops
- Lamb Saag ( lamb curry with spinach )
- Lamb Hotpot
- Shepard’s Pie
- Vegan Butternut Squash and Spinach Korma with Quorn
- Tummy warming Veg Casserole
- Quick Vegetarian Rogan Josh
- Tasty Root vegetable Gratin
- Breakfast for dinner
- Effortlessly Easy and Tasty Tortellini
- Pizza – home-made
- Bacon, Chorizo and Spinach Easy Cheesy Pasta
- Baked Potatoes and toppings
Now, this isn’t the full list it is only an example and a small one at that.
Step 2 – Take an Inventory
Take a quick inventory of your cupboards, fridge, and freezer these printables are available in my Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning below.
Thankfully after organizing my Fridge I know what it contains, no more unidentified frozen objects !!
Step 3 – Compare what you have to your meal list
Go through your Family recipes list and pick meals using ingredients you have already, then meals you have the makings of but will need a couple of ingredients.
To show you what I mean here is this week’s Menu.
On Monday we had Bacon and Chorizo gratin which I had the ingredients for from the week before.
As you can see Tuesday we are having Slowcooker Spaghetti – I had minced meat in the freezer which I defrosted and the other ingredients are all in my store cupboard.
Wednesday’s dinner will be Hunter Chicken which I prepared for my slow cooker when I did a big freezer fill last week.
To see how to make freezer meals when you are short on space click HERE. It will be popped in the slow cooker tomorrow morning and dinner will be easy.
Enchiladas and Salsa will be made with my Slowcooker chilli
My butcher makes the most awesome burgers from steak mince and they are so cheap – with home-made buns and wedges, you can’t go wrong.
We are having Quiche and Salad
And on Sunday we will have Lamb chops as they are on special in the supermarket
This Brings me to Step 4 – check what’s on special offer.
This is so easy these days with every shop having a website. Check what meat and vegetables are on sale and pick recipes during the week that use those specials- saving yourself money.
Why don’t I plan Lunches and Breakfast
You may notice I don’t plan Lunch or Breakfast – you can of course if you like, but as breakfast here is mostly cereal or toast based. I also have a supply of lunch things as I have the fussiest teenager in Ireland, who brings the same thing to school every day no matter what I try, you can see there is not much planning needed there.
Can you change things up?
I change up things every week so my lot don’t get bored, so if we have Spaghetti this week we won’t have it next week. Also, my menu is not set in stone so if plans get re-arranged I can swap dinners about, I just know there are 7 dinners at least planned for that week if they are needed.
I know it seems like a lot of fuss but it takes me 10-15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon and I have a shopping list ready which I put on my phone and know what I am doing for the whole week – life is simpler and food is not wasted – Win -Win 🙂
If you are looking for more Organizing Post you can check out these posts below
- Tips for organizing a fridge on a tiny budget
- Family Friendly Meal Planning on a Budget
- Try a Meal Planning Monday Spring Menu
- Saving Money with Meal Planning Monday
You can also find more Menu Planning Posts every Monday where I share my menu for the week and recipes and hints and tips for saving money.
Or you can sign up for my Snapshots and Snippets Newsletter and get access to my Beginners Guide to Meal Planning