*Or: Menu Planning Revisited
It seems that no matter what great ‘system’ I have for any given household task, I find myself needing to revisit and revamp it as our family grows and circumstances change. A few months ago it was the meal planning that was in dire need of a work over. I was spending two hours or more a week planning our menu and grocery list. Then another two hours shopping. It was becoming one of my most dreaded tasks, which is a real shame because I thoroughly enjoy cooking.
My prayer was answered one day while visiting a meal planning thread on the Real Learning message boards. I visited E-mealz and browsed the sample menus over and over again. Even if it was only $1.25 per week, I wanted to be sure it would suit our family. Finally about a month ago, I bit the bullet and subscribed.
It is set up so that when you subscribe, you choose which market you want your menu and grocery lists based on. I chose ALDI since it is the place I frequent most often. There is also an ‘any store’ option. Each week I log in and print out my weekly menu and grocery list. From there I add it to our Family Kitchen Binder and tweak the recipes as I see fit. It was noted in the Real Learning thread that it seemed to suggest a lot of convenience foods, which I generally like to avoid. I have been able to tweak these suggestions with my own ideas or use what was suggested, only the homemade version. (Such as mac & cheese or rice pilaf…) This gives me a very good backbone of a weekly dinner menu, which has been a mental life saver for me.
I still have breakfast and lunch to come up with. I have created rotation menus for these meals, which takes a lot of the brain work out if it each week.
I leave a day or two open each week for our own ideas and creations. My daughter loves to cook and often asks to plan a day of meals. I also like to flex my creative muscles in this way once in a while. Overall though, this has been working very well for us. I no longer have to find that chunk of time in my week to whip up a menu, I only have to spend a few minutes tweaking their suggestions. I keep notes on the recipes also, so we remember those dishes we really enjoyed and toss out those we did not. (which has only been one so far!)