It is the end of the year and many people are setting goals for the New Year. Even those that don’t set goals often spend time evaluating what is working for them and what isn’t.
Food and cooking is a big part of our lives. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and a big portion of our budgets are spent on food.
With the New Year starting soon it is a great time to look at what is working and what is not working in the kitchen. It is a good time to get things back on track. One of those things may be menu planning.
There are a lot of thoughts on menu planning. Some love it. Some don’t. Many have tried it, but have found that it just doesn’t work for them.
When people say that menu planning doesn’t work for them I often realize that they tried to put menu planning in a box of rights and wrongs.
Successful menu planning is all about making it work for you.
When menu planning doesn’t work it is often because people tried to menu plan how someone else told them to menu plan.
The best way to menu plan is to make it work for your needs at that specific time.
That is why my number one tip for menu planning is to make it work for you. If the plan doesn’t work for you there is no point in having a plan.
What works for someone else might not work for you. What works this year might not work next year. Make your plan fit you and your family’s needs.
Saving Time and Money
Menu planning is something that we often hear about doing to save money. Many people plan their menu around sales and coupons.
I agree that menu planning saves money. The main reason I started menu planning years ago was to save money, however now I menu plan because it saves me both time and money.
If I have a plan done ahead of time, I don’t panic at 5:00 looking around the kitchen, opening every cupboard to see what I can throw together for dinner.
If I have a plan I don’t make extra trips to the grocery store which end up costing me more time and money.
If I plan I can make recipes around seasonal items and things that are on sale.
If I have a plan, I know what we are having and I can get right to work on cooking dinner. The time it takes to sit down once a week or several times a month to put together a plan, pays off in the end.
Menu Planning Helps You Eat Healthier
Not only does menu planning save time and money, it allows you to eat healthier without putting much thought into it.
If I plan meals ahead of time I tend to make them more balanced. If I don’t have a plan, I find all too often that the fruits and vegetables get left out. I either forget to buy them or I forget to use them.
It is much easier to plan out what fruits and vegetables we are going to eat during the week.
What If I Have Tried Menu Planning and It Doesn’t Work For Me?
I tend to be a person that likes schedules, but I know many people are not. Not everyone likes a plan or routine.
My plan works for my family, but it may not work for yours. Don’t try to do what I do, figure out what works for you.
We eat at home almost every meal, but you may not. Maybe you work full time, or have no children at home. You might have a schedule that is continually changing.
I like to plan two or threes meals a day, seven days a week, but you might not eat that much at home. If that is the case, just make a dinner plan. If breakfast is the meal that you struggle with, then start with just planning breakfasts for the week.
If you tend to have really busy weekends and do not want to be locked into a plan, then just plan Monday through Fridays.
What If I Don’t Like To Stick To A Strict Plan?
If you do not want to plan a specific recipe, just put the meal type on the plan?
If it is easier just put Mexican or pasta on the plan instead of a specific Mexican recipe. This will give you a little more room for change.
You can also plan theme nights. Many people find this an easy way to menu plan because it gives you room to be specific some weeks and less specific other weeks.
Have Mondays be soup and sandwiches. Tuesday can be tacos or Mexican. Wednesday plan for pasta, Thursday meatless, Friday pizza night, and leftovers on Saturday.
This is your plan; you can do what you want. There is no right or wrong way to menu plan.
Menu Plans Can Be Changed
I think too often people avoid menu planning because they do not like to be locked into a plan, but do not look at a menu plan like this. Menu plans are not set in stone. They can be changed.
Many times life happens and my plan changes. We all have sickness, doctor appointments, broken down vehicles, kid’s schedules, etc. That is to be expected, just go with it when that happens.
You are not failing if you don’t stick to the plan every day of the week. It is okay to relax with your plan if needed.
It is okay to take a week off of planning. It is okay to change up the nights or to make something else when you need to.
Successful menu planning is all about making it work for you. Make it fit your schedule. Make a plan that is for the season of life that you are in. Put recipes on it that our easy to make and that your family loves.
Make you menu plan work for you!
Free Menu Planning Printable!!
Several years ago I offered a free menu planning printable. That free menu planning printable is still available. This is the menu plan that I still love and use. You can get your free copy here. Just click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the post.