Menu planning is something that the Homekeeper really has to get control of.  Poor planning or lack of planning costs a lot of money! I’ve wasted a lot of money on food using poor planning, so I hope to give you some help that will keep you from wasting money.

First, you need some recipes. These recipes need to be tried-and-true. Look in cookbooks and find a few and try looking online at places like Allrecipes. the recipes there are reviewed and given ratings and you can read comments about the recipes.

Second, you need to determine how many days you are going to plan for at a time. I plan for just one week right now and shop every week. In the past, I shopped once a month. So determine how many days you can shop for and make that the number of days you plan for.

Next, you need something to write on and keep track of your recipes. I use a simple spiral notebook right now. I have used calendars with large write-in spaces for days like this one.

I find it very easy to plan a bunch of each meal then divide them up into days. For example: I plan for a week, so I know that I need 6 breakfasts. I would need 7 but we don’t eat breakfast at home on Sundays.

So I plan out 6 breakfasts and they might look like this:

yogurt and granola
bacon and eggs
french toast
sausage and biscuits
oats, nuts and dried fruit, toast
dry cereal, banana

Then I will do the same thing with 6 lunches and 7 suppers:

soup and sandwich
tacos and apples
burritos, rice
spaghetti and salad
chili beans and rice
cheese, fruit and whole wheat crackers

fried chicken fingers, green beans, rolls
chili, cornbread
scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, toast
beef stew and cornbread
pork and apple stew, whole wheat rolls, green salad
beans and cornbread, green salad
breakfast food like bacon,eggs, biscuits, sausage and gravy. Usually on Sunday evening.

I make sweet things and desserts sometimes through the week too and I have a list each week of what I will make:

cake and icing
rice pudding
homemade ice cream

Finally, I bake our bread and bread products so I list out what I will make for the week and add items needed of that to my list:

whole wheat bread
whole wheat rolls
whole wheat crackers

Now the thing to do is to make the shopping list. I usually have on hand staples and I continually resupply them. Then I buy items each week that I need for the week’s meals. If the items are on sale, I buy as many as I can afford on my budget.

 Once you have your groceries home, put everything away.  I suggest that you try to streamline your kitchen by making work centers. For example, you can make a Baking Center by storing all your baking items together with measuring cups and mixers, oil, spices, flours, meals, etc. It is a time saver and helps you keep your kitchen cleaner and more organized. You can create other work stations too like a vegetable or meat prep station where you store your cutting boards and knives.

Keep a list of your menus on the frig or somewhere you and the family can see them at a glance. Its helpful if your weekly menu is visible to everyone.
Keep your recipes all together. I suggest a simple three ring binder where you can put the week’s recipes in front and keepers in the back. Those recipes your family doesn’t like so much can be removed from the notebook. The next time you make your menu, you’ve got tried and true recipes right there!

Do you have questions about making a menu? Do you already make a menu? What things are important to you when you are making your menus and choosing recipes?