How to Menu Plan

I am a huge believer in menu planning and my reasons are simple: I stay within budget and I know my family will eat healthier if it’s planned ahead of time. These two are really my main biggest reasons as to why I menu plan. I definitely do enjoy this process and if you know me personally, you will know I like everything organized and planned ahead of time so planning my meals brings absolute balance to my life.

Everytime I share a post on Instagram or facebook about Menu planning – I get quite a few comments and messages asking how I go about it. I am always asked to show pictures of my menus, and some even have asked me to plan the menu for their family haha (which of course I don’t do cause I don’t know their family’s food likes or dislikes).

The following are my thoughts to get started on menu planning… My hope at the end of this post is that those wanting to try menu planning will be encouraged to do so.

* I begin menu planning for the week coming up on a Wednesday night. My way of doing it is a piece of paper and pen (I like to write things out). You can even invest in a menu planner book so you can look back at all the recipes you have cooked in the past … You can ofcourse pull out your phone and type away. Go with whatever suits you best !

* During the week I save recipes that I think might be a great meal idea. I pull those up when I menu plan, these usually are saved on my phone in some format. These give me inspiration to plan my meals so that I don’t repeat the same dishes over and over again. I also think of the various recipes that I have cooked in the last couple of weeks. I do this to either repeat a successful recipe or to not over repeat a recipe that I have possibly made every week.

* I plan from the upcoming weekend onwards till the following Thursday ( I tend to sometimes leave Friday out based on our plans). I work full time, so it’s only over the weekends where we eat 2-3 meals together as a family. The rest of the time, I take left overs from dinner to work for the following day’s lunch.

* Try to have a mix and match of flavours and cuisine. I have veg, chicken, meat, rice, noodles, rotis all in the mix. Sometimes if my freezer has home made dumplings, or pies, I include those.

* I always think of meals that I can make in bulk in one go, then I divide it in half and freeze it for a meal for a crazy day. I know a lot of you might not prefer freezer meals but it does work for a lot of people especially families with young children.

* As I menu plan, I also write up a list for my supermarket and farmers market list. This includes all the ingredients required for my meals plus other household essentials. Here in New Zealand, we have a fresh fruit n veg market open over the weekends that we go to, so I split my list that way … if you get everything from the supermarket, put it all together. If you are very particular divide it into groups so you are not running back and forth between the supermarket aisles.

* Cook meals that work for the whole family. Right now in 2016 I cook for two adults and a 4 year old … I make meals that work for both the adults and kids taste bud. I don’t try to force my child to eat weird adult food… she’s only 4, and she has a lot of time to learn about all the yummy food out there, so keep your food simple at home … you will get your kids more involved in food and finishing their meals that way!

*How do you know if your menu planning has been successful? Well first of all, if you have planned well, you shouldn’t be wondering what to eat during the week haha… Make sure you shop for all the ingredients in one trip if possible. I sometimes shop for the meat as I go so it’s fresh and not frozen. When you start off it might be a bit challenging for some, but you have to keep at it cause honestly menu planning can be the best thing that has ever happened to you once you have got your system going.

I would love to hear from you if you begin to menu plan. Be sure to leave me a msg!

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