Sunday, March 24, 2013

A really long post on my menu planning ephipanies

I have been working on my menu planning system the last few months.  I think I finally have it figured out.  I, personally, do not like the "weekly meal plan".  It worked okay for us in Korea, but I sometimes find a new recipe that I want to make next week, or I want to reschedule a yummy meal we just ate.  This is going to shatter the earth, ya'll.  I print a calendar (really, it is 5week x 7 days graph that looks like a calendar) off each month.

So mind-blowing, I took a picture of March's Menu
It hangs on the side of the fridge - it rocks my world.  Once a week, I take it down and menu plan on it.  Then I hang it back up.  The main thing that I love about this system is that at the end of 2013, I will have 12 blessed sheets of paper that list ALL the meals we have eaten.  12, not 52.  Praise the Lord!

Anywho, I have now been doing this for 3 months or so.  I collected the good meals we have eaten in the last 3 months and categorized them on a piece of paper.  I have listed the "special ingredients" that I need to make each dish (things you would not find in my cupboards on a regular basis).
I like this piece of paper for several reasons.
  1. If I want to make Egg, Cheese, and Sausage Bake, then I know I need parsley.  I also see that I use parsley in Shrimp Salad - perfect!  Let's eat those within a week of each other and not let the fresh parsley go bad in the back of the fridge.
  2. If I need to pull together a meal quickly, I can survey my fridge and cupboards, see what I have, and refer to the piece of paper to see what I can make with ingredients on hand.
  3. It includes pretty colors.  I like pretty colors.
  4. When I am trying to menu plan for a week, and my brain is stuck, I can whip out this piece of paper and see what looks good, or what meal make sense to make for this week (see #1)
  5. While menu planning, I can check the store ads online and try to make frugal meals with what is on sale...I have not tried this yet, but it seems like a good idea in my brain. 
My plan is to update this every 3-6 months with new recipes we have tried and liked.  My goal is to have chicken (or beef, or eggs etc) take up an entire page or half a page someday.  Then I will be menu planning queen!  And I would like the day of entire page of chicken be in the next 5 years (that is before we have kiddos and our life gets crazy.  Having kids = craziness.  I do learn things whilst nannying ya'll...sometimes craziness = fun and sometimes craziness = not having time to search the internet and cookbooks for lots of fun new recipes because Someone wants a sippy cup full of milk and Someone Else wants to know how cereal is made, Someone else is practicing the piano with much gusto, and the phone is ringing).

I think the best thing about this is that I know it works for me.  I have read a lot of blog posts about how meal planning works for other people.  But I have never read a blog post that clicked for me, "Like that would totally work for me!".  This (so far) has worked.  Hallelujah!

I am working on getting this into a google doc so ya'll can access it.  It is slow going because google docs does not like me.  I will link it when I have it.


  1. This is great! I could really use a system like this. Food planning usually means I'm running around the kitchen around 5pm trying to figure out a recipe that I can make with the ingredients in the house. Frankly its a huge stresser!

    1. I am not sure what it is like in Kenya, but in Korea, I did not really have to meal plan too much as we ate the same 10 meals or so all the time. But in America, there are grocery stores that rock! I am sure you will get into a new rhythm that works well for your fam once you get settled in the States! In Korea, we would say, "Fighting!" It is a combination of good luck and work hard or something like that. Fighting Jen!

  2. This is awesome Alissa. I want to try something similar with my lunch meals at work. I don't think I can do dinner as yet since I just moved back in with my parents and our eating habits are miles apart from each other. Thanks for the inspiration....