Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Managing the Home: Meal Planning Worksheet

Now that I am not breastfeeding every two hours I have more time to get back to what I have really learned to love, home management!  I got this title from Simple Mom and if you haven't read her blog, stop reading mine right now and head on over!!

My most recent creation is a new way to plan my menu and grocery list.  I have used it for two weeks now and after a couple of modifications I think it will work quite nicely for our family.  I've uploaded a version of it to the web so you can see it, download it, and make it your own! 

The problem:
This Menu Planning Worksheet has two parts: a weekly menu and a grocery list.  I started out with a planner that Betsy and I had from freezer cooking and modified it to fit on one sheet of paper.  My trouble with meal planning before this was not being able to plan our menu and a grocery list on the same sheet of paper!  My planner is the size of a half-sheet, so to have a worksheet that could fit in my planner was a must! 

What finally made me search for this option was my husband trying to write down what we need on a sheet of note pad paper.  When I make out my grocery list I group the items by category and in the order in which I will find them in the store.  When you are shopping with two under 4 it is handy to have the list pre-organized for quick glances at the list (especially when you are hiding said list in your purse in the cart so that the little grabby one year old doesn't eat it)!  When Philip would try to start a list for me he would just list all the items at the top...now that I have a pre-organized list ready to go he can add things where they are appropriate.

So how do you use this planner?
  1. Print out the worksheet and fold it back on it self so you are only looking at the menu planning side.
  2. Fill out the "Need to use soon:" portion of the worksheet (bottom left) by doing a quick scan of your fridge, freezer and pantry.  Make a list of some items that you need to use up this week and try to incorporate these items as you plan your entrees and sides.
  3. On the left you have six main blanks to fill in what entrees you would like to serve for the week.  I only included six because for at least one night of the week we have leftovers or we eat out.  Under the name of the entree you can list the cookbook (or website) it is from and the page number.  On the right side of the menu planning you can also list sides you plan on serving.  
  4. In the menu planning section there are three options for each entree.  Use these to indicate if an entree needs to be used early in the week (because it includes some of the "Need to use soon" ingredients), has ingredients in the freezer (which will need to be thawed ahead of time), or will have no left overs.   This no left overs option is important for me because Philip eats leftovers for lunch and so I need to plan accordingly.
  5. As you pick out your six entrees and sides begin to fill in your grocery list.
  6. Go grocery shopping!!  Your list is already divided by sections of a grocery store so this should make your shopping experience more efficient! If you print your menu planning worksheet out ahead of time and post it somewhere accessible family members can list stocked items as they run out.
  7. During the week glance at the menu planning side of the worksheet and just simply pick from your list of options what your family will be having on any given night.
I hope this worksheet helps some of you home mangers out there.  If you would like a Word copy of the document so that you can more easily manipulate the table please email me at boudreauxb at gmail dot com.

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