Menu Planning

My New Year's Resolution was mainly to get organized.  Maybe because it was so broad, I'm having a bit of a hard time with it.  However, I think I may have finally gotten the Menu Planning down.  I have been lurking around on the Organizing Junkie's website trying to get ideas on what to do.  She has some really great stuff on there, so definitely check it out!  From home clutter and time management to menu planning. There are even downloadables to make your life easier. I could spend hours on  her site, except then I wouldn't get anything done.

For the last two weeks though, I have successfully planned out a menu and actually followed it.  The first week I only managed dinners, but the second I also added in lunches.  Coming from a work environment where I had the option of eating out or at work was much less stressful.  Not that I would figure out dinner more than a day or two in advance, but at least I didn't have to worry about lunch as well!

My short term goal, which I have accomplished some of, is to enter all the foods that I like or am interested in trying, into a spreadsheet. Thank you Google Docs.  I have columns for dinner, lunch, sides, appetizers, breakfasts and desserts.  Right now they only have where to go find the recipe.  For example, on my e-mail, a handwritten card, a cookbook, a website, etc.  My longer term goal will to either type out all the recipes or scan them in and make an online search folder to link them or put them in a notebook with tags.  I am constantly going back and forth between using the computer and writing things down.  I love to use paper, but I also love to lose it. :-)  My husband jokes that he should pin my grocery list to my shirt because half way through shopping, I've lost it. Which makes online grocery shopping (Coop and LeShop) easy, except if they're out of stock you don't get something you may have needed for dinner that night and will still have to go out.

I definitely suggest writing something out for your menus if you would like to have less stress at dinner time.  Last week I was trying to figure out all morning what to cook.  I finally remembered I'd made a list (where to find it? - It was in a cookbook of course) and looked at it.  I was thrilled that there was something written down for dinner that night that didn't have to be thawed out, but then wondered if I even had the ingredients.  I opened the fridge, and low and behold, there was everything I needed. It was amazing! So now I am a bit more excited about doing the plans.  When I get really good, I will put in what needs to be taken out to be thawed for the next day as well.  Though this may not happen as much as I just bought two vegetarian cookbooks and am looking forward to trying a bunch of new things.

I will probably end up with both an online version of my menu planner and a paper one that I can have in the kitchen so that the kids can help feel part of the planning by choosing things.  When this is accomplished, I will be happy to share. (It may take awhile as I have a lot of recipes to add).

Do you have any menu planning tricks to share?

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