I’ve decided to start showing a bit more of my menu planning process… my “Food Chores”. A few days ago my friend Kristen asked for some menu planning tips. My response was:
“The number one thing that helps me is regularly bookmarking favorite recipes that I find online or keeping a list of recipes from cook books that I can reference easily without flipping through hundreds of pages. Also, planning my menu with my family’s calendar nearby so I can know whether to plan quick meals for a busy day or if I’ll have more time for a complex meal. I also write in “food chores” on my menu plan. I look at the upcoming days and figure out if I’ll need to do some food prep ahead of time, then I write that food chore on the previous day’s spot to remind me. A while ago I realized that the main reason that I ever skipped a planned meal and went with a frozen or take-out option was because I didn’t have enough time to make the planned meal. The food chores on the previous day have helped tremendously. Even if it’s only getting veggies chopped the day before and thawing the chicken, that saves a lot of time and keeps me on-plan.”
In the past I haven’t written out my preparation notes here along with my menu plan, I keep them to myself. However, since several of my friends have asked how it is that I stick to our menu plan, I feel that I should publicly share my trick. Food chores include anything I need to do in my kitchen with food. It’s usually preparing for the following day, but sometimes I need a reminder to make cookies or something too. I add the food chores in wherever I know I’ll have time. Sometimes it’s between lunch and dinner, sometimes I know I won’t have the time until after dinner. Very very rarely it’ll be one of those get-yourself-up-really-early kind of days and I’ll write a chore in before breakfast.
Lastly, I have to admit, my menu plan is not just this typed-out version here on my blog. I keep it on a little magnetic dry-erase board on my refrigerator. If I need to make a change depending on a schedule change or something, I can do it easily. Also, if my blog were to be down for some crazy reason or my internet go out (gee thanks daily Southern summer thunderstorms) I won’t be lost in regards to what we’re supposed to be eating.
Monday, June 11:
Lunch — Hot dogs on the grill.
Food Chore — Dinner to Carey and family. Welcome baby Jackson!
Dinner — At the galley with Jason. The boys LOVED this.
Tuesday, July 12:
Lunch — Fend for yourself, I’ll be at playgroup then shopping at Sam’s Club.
Wednesday, July 13:
Lunch — Chicken fried rice.
Dinner — Pizza casserole and green salad.
Food Chore — Slice/marinate meat and julienne carrots for bul-gogi.
Thursday, July 14:
Lunch — Bul-gogi and white rice.
Dinner — Grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot chips with ranch dip.
Food Chore — Prep crock pot for lunch.
Friday, July 15:
Dinner — Date Night, belated anniversary celebration with my wonderful husband.
Saturday, July 16:
Breakfast on the road, lunch and all-day snacking at Presley’s Outing with our Sunday School group.
Food Chore — Prep lemon rolls for breakfast, thaw ground beef.
Sunday, July 17:
Breakfast — Sticky Lemon Rolls.
Linner — Sloppy Joes, fried potatoes, and fruit.
Dessert — Tammy’s Chocolate Cake.
One last little confession/tip: My menu plan is color coded. Some people I know will laugh at me for this, others will completely understand the importance that I put on it. Breakfast is blue (on the days that I plan it, usually we just have cereal or toast), lunch is green, dinner is purple, and food chores are red (they stand out really well from the rest so I can’t miss them). As you can see, my board is kind of small (about 6′ x 9″) and I can’t quite fit everything onto it with my loopy wide handwriting. I fit what I can on there, try to get the most important stuff written up, and then flesh it out more here on the blog and add the recipe links. However, I think I need a bigger board. 🙄
Do you have any secret tips that you use to keep yourself on-plan with your menu? Some of us put in a lot of work to put together a tasty menu and I know how aggravating it is when something throws you off your game and a trip to a fast food restaurant or a delivery pizza becomes your meal.