Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Menu Planning vs. Eating Pasta 5 out of 7 Nights

I thought I would take a month off of menu planning for a change of pace and because July was filled with holidays such as the 4th, my anniversary and my birthday. Unfortunately, as a result, the food offerings have been slim pickings at times, we've been eating out a lot, and our home-cooked meals lacked real excitement.

I am returning to planning out our dinners; if anything, this 1 month without it reminded me of the benefits to planning ahead. With one month at a glance, I can see what we're eating for dinner each day plus can use it as a guide for what to buy. Generally I only have to plot out about 23-25 dinners.

Here are some tips and ideas for menu planning and food preparation. Set aside time to plan out what dish you'll serve for each day. Write down on a calendar what you are going to have, even if you plan to eat out. You can plan for a week, 2 weeks or a month -- whatever you choose. I use a monthly blank calendar that I print off a website. (try:

To pick the dinners, there are a couple of methods. You want to aim for dishes that the whole family loves, are easy to make, take very little time, and use ingredients that you are familiar with and have on hand most of the time. You can have a rotating menu where x number of meals repeat over and over. For example, Monday can always be pasta night, Tuesday is a casserole, Wednesday is grilling out, etc. It could be the same 30 days of meals cycling over and over each month. Plug in a few days that someone else has to make dinner (i.e. husband's or kids' choice). Or, if you're ambitious, you can plan according to the grocery store specials and then figure out how many days/dinners are left to plan after that. Be sure to note days that you already have plans (a party, eating out with family, etc.) and include a few days for "leftovers" and "order out" or whatever suits you.

Then, only buy what you need to make that calendar possible; make the grocery list from the completed calendar. If it is available, order groceries by phone or online (delivery in my area: Use bulk warehouse stores to stock up on a reasonable amount of basic, non-perishable staples, and establish a pantry area for storing backup items. Obviously you will still have to pick up the occasional bread, milk or juice along the way, but the majority of food items needed to prepare the dinners will already be in your house.
Bon appetit!