Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
Yes I did menu plan before having children. Yes I did have more time and energy to spend on food prep before having children, but let’s be honest, they aren’t the reason I don’t menu plan now. They’re an easy excuse, and I’m really tired of blaming them for my lack of ability to say no to other things in order to say yes to better things.
Menu planning isn’t necessarily essential to life or even a worthy gauge for determining my homemaking ability. Some women aren’t the cooks in their house, but rather the husband enjoys the process of creating meals. Then other times, no one in the house likes to cook, but you do it anyway and therefore you share the burden of feeding your family meals.
The point is that every household is different, which means that menu planning isn’t something that is mandatory to be a good Christian homemaker.
Before having children and before my faith was wrecked, I held pretty tightly to this ideal. I liked the box I had created that ensured I was being a good Christian wife. But perhaps this is a story for another day.
3 Reasons Why I Menu Plan
1. In my family, menu planning has proven to be a tool that helps me manage my household well and ensure we’re putting good, quality food into our bodies.
2. Menu planning helps me to steward the health of my family for the glory of God.
3. Menu planning also helps my husband and I share the burden of feeding our family 21 meals a week plus snacks. We both work from home, which means we share the load of preparing meals along with many other tasks in order to be present in our children’s life and live more fully together as a family.
As manager of my home, the bulk of the planning does fall on me. I’m the schedule maker, planner extraordinaire in our home. I’m just not great at carrying out plans. My husband is GREAT at carrying out the plans I make. We make a good team! 🙂
Nevertheless, I need to take control of my menu planning laziness, and start making some changes. Just like when my prayer life was a mess, I am purposing to do something about my menu planning mess. Perhaps you can glean a little bit of wisdom as well to implement in your own life.
5 Steps to Mastering Menu Planning
1. Create a master list of meals
The first thing I need to do is create a master list of meals that my family enjoys.
I have recipes scattered to and fro. I have recipes written on cards in a box kept on my counter top, a recipe binder filled with tried and true recipes, recipe books galore (I even wrote my own), and of course my Pinterest boards filled with must-try recipes.
To be honest, it’s all a little bit overwhelming! I probably need a better system for corralling my recipe lists, but to get started, I’m just going to make a master list of meals my family loves.
2. Determine how often I want to menu plan
Some people like to create a meal plan weekly while others do it monthly. Some people like to create two-week menu plans and others prefer seasonal menu plans. Even yet some people prefer to do it the night before. The possibilities are endless!
Think through what works for you and your personality. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. The menu planning method that works best is the one you will actually use!
Right now, weekly planning works for me because we’re living with my in-loves and that’s how my mother-in-love does it. When we settle into our own home, I’m leaning more toward seasonal meal planning. We’ll see! Don’t be afraid to tweak how you plan your menu from time to time and season to season!
3. Review the calendar
Whatever time frame you choose for menu planning, it’s a good idea to review your calendar.
This is when all your planning comes in handy. Regardless of whether you do your menu planning weekly or monthly, you have a pretty good idea of any major events and activities taking place that you need to consider because you’ve been faithfully planning your time!
- Will you be running errands all day?
- Will you have family in town?
- Do you need to prepare a birthday dinner?
You can also consider allotting extra cooking time on the days when you have very little going on to make a double or triple batch of the meal to put away in the freezer for later.
4. Take inventory
Once you’ve determined what sort of meals you will make, take inventory of your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
- What do you have on hand that can be made into some of your family’s favorite meals?
- Are there any staples that you’ve run out of or are running low on?
I like to make a running list of each of these areas to ensure I’m using up forgotten foods or foods that will spoil soon.
5. Write out your meal plan
This might be obvious, but make sure you write your menu plan out. Whether your scratch it out on some scrap paper or use a pretty printable, capture in writing your plan.
6. Make a shopping list
Once I’ve determined what meals I will make, I need to add the necessary ingredients from my menu to my shopping list.
My Daily Planner has blank Shopping Lists that are perforated. Each page has three columns of shopping lists that you can easily tear off to take to the store with you. When I create my menu plan each week, I just add what I need to one of these pint-size shopping lists, tear off easily, and head to the store.
Once I have that list, the rest of the planning should go pretty smoothly!
Did you know that I turned this series into an eBook (and added even more to it?)
You can now download this entire series plus more in one easy PDF download. Click here to learn more!
This post contains my affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.