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Need some help in your menu planning? Please download a free seasonal menu planning printable as a big THANK YOU for subscribing. Simply click here to download it!
Here’s my simple 5-step menu planning process …
My approach to menu planning is fairly easy and quick – plus it leaves a lot of wiggle room for days when I do want to cook what my family’s in the mood for. Here’s my simple 5-step menu planning process:
Gather your collection of favorite recipes – either on recipe cards, in cookbooks, or on Pinterest. While you’re doing this, ask your family what meals they love to eat. (You may be surprised by some of their requests!)
Start filling in your seasonal meal plans with your favorite recipes.
I’ve found it’s much easier to assign certain days as theme days – like Meatless Mondays. For my family, I’ve set aside one day a week of a chicken meal, one day a week for brinner, one day a week for an ethnic meal, one day a week for a slow cooker meal, and one day a week for either sandwiches, soup or salad.
As I plan what we’ll have, I just stick to main dishes … then I roll with whatever side dishes sound good or match the main dish well.
I also keep in mind what we’re in the mood for, seasonally speaking. In the middle of winter my family craves lots of chilis or meat and potato kind of meals. In the middle of the sweltering summer, we opt for salads, cold sandwiches, or something on the grill.
Once your meal plan is scheduled for the season, stick in on your refrigerator so you remember what’s coming up each day. Also, when you make your grocery list, add ingredients you’ll need based on your upcoming meal plans.
When you’re in the middle of each week, you’ll know what’s for dinner – and each morning you’ll know what you need to prepare ahead of time. If, for some reason, you’re just not in the mood for whatever you have planned, switch out your night’s dinner plan with something else in the week.
With this simple 5-step menu planning process, I’ve found that I can spend half an hour planning my seasonal menu each three months and then set my meals on autopilot. I love how creating three months planned menus at once is a terrific way to set it and forget it … I have no more 4 p.m. worries about brainstorming what’s for dinner.
I love not having to think about what’s for dinner anymore … and I hope you will, too!