Friday, 7 March 2014

Menu Planning

There are plenty of benefits to be gained by menu planning including saving money, creating less waste, saving time, a sense of calm when it comes time to cook dinner and many more.  There are also lots of different ways of menu planning and as many web pages to match, and I think they all have something to offer.

As far as menu planning goes finding out what works for you and fits in with your lifestyle is very important, in fact it is the most important thing.  Because lets face it menu planning is supposed to make you life easier not create another job for you to do.

I like to menu plan because I find that it gives me all the benefits I listed above and it means that we eat healthier as there is nourishing food prepared rather than trying to find something quick to eat because I was not organised.

In our house I only menu plan for dinner and baking and my week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday because I have Wednesdays off and that is when I shop.  Do what ever works for you.

I think the most important part of menu planning is actually knowing what you already have on hand.  What is in your pantry, freezer, fridge and garden.
Now that you know what food you have on hand what is there than needs using up?  What odds and ends are lurking about in your fridge?  What do you have lots of?  For example multiple tins of creamed corn or tuna, zucchini going great guns in the garden or dozens of eggs.

We are fortunate enough to live on acreage and have raised both chickens and cattle for meat so we have a couple of chest freezers to keep it all in. I keep a list of  the meat that is in them attached to the outside so that things do not get forgotten or lost buried in the bottom.  As I take things out I cross them off but if you are working from a smaller freezer this may not be necessary.

My main tool for menu planning is the small whiteboard that I have on out fridge in the kitchen.  It comes with magnets on the back and you can pick them up from somewhere like Office Works.
I use a permanent marker and rule off a couple of columns on the right and a small section on the bottom left.
The columns are divided into 7 section for the days of the week.  In the right hand one I list the meals we are having and in the left hand column I list the tasks that I need to do on that day.   At the bottom I record the dates that the animals need worming, flea treatments etc and the large area on the left is where I record the shopping list.

The entire whiteboard

It is this left hand column that really makes the difference to me.  I record if I need to get meat out of the freezer and any baking or other preparation that I need to do.  
One of the things I am doing at the moment is making up meals and freezing them for my brother and sister in law as they are expecting their first baby this week.

You can see that this weekend when I have the oven on to make muffins
I will also be using it to make breadcrumbs.

At the bottom I record the dates that the animals need worming, flea treatments etc and the large area on the left is where I record the shopping list.

All the treatments for the dog and chickens plus changing the cockroach baits
which sadly in an old house like our are a necessity.
I think the reason this works so well is that is is highly visible, located in a place that you are frequently near and is simple and easy to understand even by husbands and kids.
It also gives the other members of the house hold the opportunity to add to the grocery list, regardless of if you actually buy these items, like when my hubby writes orange cordial it "accidentally" gets forgotten.

So this is what works for me, do you think it would work for you?
Do you have your own system?  How dies it differ?
What tips do you have for menu planning?


  1. Oh that is so clever and organized. After christmas I was loosely planning my menu for the week and then slowly slipped out of the habit. Just this week I decided it is something I need to get back to doing. Maybe your idea of a permanent board is something i should try, thanks for sharing it.

    1. Hi AA, I have tried doing it on paper and it just did not work as it was easy to misplace and forget to follow it. This is in your face all the time.

  2. Thats an awesome system - i have a similar board was wasnt using it for anything so practical. Ill give it try on the boys and see if it works.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and i appreciate your comments. Please do drop by into Ballarat when you are on your trip. There are about 5 of us bloggers, very close (including rabidlittlehippy, Miss Townmouse, Gav &Kim from Greening of Gavin etc) Imagine having a coffee together. Oh how we shall chat.

    1. Hi Lynda, it works really well for husbands and I would imagine for teenagers too as if you have to go out they know what is for dinner and if it is leftovers they do not resort to making something else instead of using up the left overs. That lure of coffee and conversation sounds great and I will keep you posted once we get to that stage.

  3. Hi Fiona, I really like your menu plan sheet - especially the area where you can write what to pull out of the freezer and the notes at the bottom. I'm hoping to get a small board like this for my fridge but until then, paper will have to do. Thanks for sharing this system.


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