I menu plan for a few reasons. It saves me money not buying too much food, which ends up getting thrown away. Or having nothing and eating takeaways. I hate to waste food the most because so much of my budget goes on food! Another advantage is that the fridge is periodically empty so it’s easy to give it a quick disinfecting wipe on its pre-fill up day for hygiene. I’m going to do that this morning. Also, I can see what we eat too much of or not enough of nutritional-wise. I do deviate from the plan, but it gives me a bit of relief from not having a clue what to do when i get into the supermarket and buying whatever they want to sell to me.
So how to start? Go to your fridge, freezer, fruit bowl/ vegetable basket and see what is there. Any kinds of leftover vegetables, things in the freezer, just get a quick idea.
Then write down, presuming it’s Saturday, the next 7 days of the week:
Then I fill in the main meal idea first beside each day. I’ve mentioned it before but I really like to use the free Cozi Calendar.
Ok, on Sundays I like to make a traditional roast dinner, usually chicken, pork or beef with roast potatoes and veg. Then on Monday the leftover meat is already made for an easy dinner. So I would fill that in beside Sunday, with maybe pancakes and fruit for breakfast/brunch (we are lazy on Sundays).
Saturday I have a bit more time to cook, and normally do my grocery shopping then too, so I usually prepare my salad leaves in advance then, and maybe some roast veg to have as well for a few days or some soup to freeze. I can also go to the market for fresh fish.
Monday is usually Sunday stir-fried/ in ricepaper pancakes with shredded veg in hoi-sin sauce/in a salad/ in a curry or with some veg…
Saturday to Monday usually writes itself. So there is just Tuesday to Friday to come up with something for. I like to plan in some kind of fish (prawns/shellfish/smoked/pan-fried/steamed fish) once or twice a week and one or two vegetarian days (lentils, tofu, omelettes). Maybe a pasta or minced-meat dish in there somewhere (moussakka, chilli con carne, bolognese, burgers or frikadellen, swedish meatballs, kofteh, stuffed peppers). If you cook one day, there should be leftovers for the next day, so that saves you a day too.
Depending on what i have left over already vegetable-wise will usually give me the idea for what I would like to cook to use them up. If I’ve overspent on the grocery budget I will see what we have in the freezer trying not to buy anything else. When I’m up on the grocery budget I will stockpile pantry items and frozen veg. And the cycle continues.
I got into it via the Orgjunkie website, which even has some printables specially for menu planning that you can slip into a plastic pocket and use a wipeable marker if you are that organised. Which I’m not! Lots of people (including me) post menu plans for the week as inspiration for others. I post it on my blog under “getting organised”. Menu planning, at a guess has saved me around €40 a week off my grocery bill including “disorganised nights” takeaways. Thats €160 per month and I’m really happy to be able to put some of it into our “entertainment” budget for ourselves to enjoy instead.
Do you menu plan? Do you do anything differently?