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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
~I know many of you have mentioned in other threads that menu planning is an area you'd like to improve.
Just a quick testimonial: I got disciplined in this area about 14 months ago through a grocery challenge thread and then through the 2009 Menu Planning Challenge thread. Over 2009 I'm very happy to say that I've been able to cut waste, shop less, spend less(about 10%) and have been less stressed!
Making a plan is absolutely worth the 10-20 minutes a week it takes to do!
General tips: I like to use a blank calendar printout to plan. http://www.printfree.com/Calendars.htm
I only plan dinners. Breakfast and lunch are leftovers, baked goods and whatever I feel like fixing at the time.
I also plan at least one day for leftovers. I often cook way too much so I need to plan to eat them up(and it's nice to have a night off from cooking!).
And I follow a planning framework. My framework is:

Monday: white meat(poultry,pork, fish)
Tuesday: soup or breakfast for dinner(depending on time of year)
Wednesday:dark meat(beef and processed meats)
Thursday: meatless
Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday:new or rarely used recipes
Sunday: Leftovers, cook's night off

What are some of your tips and strategies for menu planning?

Oh, and be sure to subscribe to this thread after you've signed up! Click "Thread tools" above this post and then "Subscribe". You can check subscribed threads through your "User CP" above left in the blue bar.
Can't wait to see everyone's menus!~
 

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I think I will join this challenge. This is an area I need work on!

BTW, thanks for reminding everyone how to subscribe to threads...I, Personally, sign up for stuff and forget.
 
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One thing that really helps me in this area is to include a column in my menu planner for activities. So I know that if we're going to be running around all day, I shouldn't plan a time consuming meal from scratch. Helps me so much!!
 

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I've been menu planning for about 3 years now and it would be hard not to have any plans to decide what to buy. I can't imagine doing that. I have a list of about 21 meals we enjoy. I use that and what I have on hand to plan meals for 1-2 weeks I can then make my shopping list for what I need. I tend to shop sales so I have things on hand to plan. I guess I plan from the pantry and not the flyers KWIM? I'm not afraid to change the plan within the week if something comes up. Ours tends to go something like this

One soup/bread, sandwich/fry dinner
One chicken meal
One ground meat meal (venison or beef)
Italian or Mexican night
Pizza or breadstick night
Meatless night
Leftovers, FFYS or Breakfast night

My meat meals are usually in a form that stretches the meal ie. stir fry, casserole, etc.
 
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About 18 months ago I got out of the menu planning habit. I am not sure why, it just happened. Need to do this starting after the holidays. It saved me money, time, and energy.
Right now I cook out of my pantry for the most part, but I find that we eat the same things night after night, because I had not through ahead enough to buy the items needed for other meals.
I am also working more now than I was a 2 couple of years ago. Menu planning will help me get rid of the question of what's for dinner tonight. It is amazing how stressful that question can be.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
With planning how do you adjust to what you have to use up, what needs to come out of the freezer etc?
~Some people plan meals and then make a shopping list. That's not how I plan/shop.
When I shop I stock up on tons of loss leaders and great sales and then make plans from what I have in my pantry and freezer. Since I see my selection every week and have a month's calendar in front of me I can easily pencil in everything that needs to get used.
If there's a meal I'm particularly craving but I'm missing an ingredient or two, I just have DH pick those up at Aldi on his way home from work.
I plan a leftover day into my week and if there's still too much I bump another night's dinner for leftovers again or freeze the leftovers for a night I don't feel like cooking.
Does that answer your question?~
 

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I'll give this a try. I have never done this before, but I need to.
 
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I also have a 'prep' column on my form. So if tomorrow is fried chicken, tonight's prep is 'take chicken out of freezer'.
 

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Need to join to get back in control of our meals. Even though DH does most of the cooking, I know that htis will help us both - as well as our budget.

I absolutely hate not knowing what's happening for dinner - by planning ahead my life will definitely run smoother!! and with less stress!!
 
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Right now we do not have any kind of meal planning system. This is something that our family is in dire need of. I will participate with great enthusiasm. Can't wait to get great ideas on meals. We have a very limited meal selection right now.
 

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I think I'll give this a try too. Haven't done this in the past but would like to learn how and start being more prepared and knowing what I will make instead of what do you want? Oh, I don't know or I don't care. That drives me nuts. So in. Thanks for starting this helpful thread.
 

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I'm in for this one!
 
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I think I'll try this too. I don't have a method of certain types of meals on certain nights, but I try to shop when I run low on things and get things that will make meals for the next couple of weeks each time. So right now, I am in the process of using up my 'stockpile'.
 

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Dd went grocery shopping with DH today and came back in shock. She'd forgotten how expensive food is here - and noticed that the prices have gone up.

DH opened the pressure cooker and recipe book tonight (since we are not exchanging gifts this year) - I think this is going to make a handy addition for time and cost management.
 

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I cleaned out my binder ~ I have monthly tabs in it with menu planning and cleaning broken down by, obviously, the month. I wrote down all the meals my family loves that I've made before, pulled a few recipes together and before you know it, I have three months worth of meals to work with. I need to scale things back and look at what I have in my pantry/freezer this weekend and I should be ready to post soon. Thanks for this challenge.
 
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