An Adventure in Menu Planning

A delicious breakfast sandwich from Crofutt's in Bayside, TX

A delicious breakfast sandwich from Crofutt’s in Bayside, TX

Chris and I like to eat (see: Just Water for Me), but we’re also saving for baby #2 and generally trying for more fiscal responsibility. Which means we’re going to be cutting down on eating out and I’m going to have to start being very handy in the kitchen. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but after a long day of work I really don’t want to spend an hour or more getting dinner ready (not that this is often possible with a toddler anyway). So I’ve decided that I’m going to start planning our menu for the week and (if possible) prepping ingredients over the weekend when I have a little more time (the ultimate goal would be Freezer Cooking, but that’s a little hardcore for this newbie right now).

I did a little research on blogs (Organized Home and Simple Mom) and websites (Cooking Light and Fruits and Veggies More Matters) and and came up with a plan for how I want to start my menu planning adventure.

Now I’m sitting with all my cookbooks piled around me and a legal pad and jotting down recipes and page numbers. I’d like to buy as much as possible in bulk, because I know that’s more economical, but baby steps right now. I need to figure out if I can handle one weekly grocery shopping trip and consolidating ingredients and recipes so there’s no wasted food.

My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy (Is that a vegetable?? It’d better not touch my hamburger!) I am a pregnant lady with a kiddo and vegetables are a necessity. I’d love to get him to eat more green things, and I think he secretly would too, but that will be a baby steps kind of project as well. I’m going to try and get at least one vegetable in every meal!

Here’s what I did:

1. Make a List: I made a list of all the dinners we have most often. Then, I scoured the cookbooks and made another list of recipes I want to try. I will eventually create an Excel list of all my recipes and ingredients so I can copy and paste each week.

2. Spreadsheet It: I opened up a doc in Excel and made a table (day of the week, recipe, ingredients) and entered in what dinners I have planned each week and every ingredient I will need. I tried to think about using all of the perishable items so I don’t waste anything (ex. If we’re having hamburgers one night I need to buy buns. Since we only use 2-3 buns for that dinner, I’ll plan on using the rest either for lunches or in another dinner recipe that calls for buns, maybe pulled pork sandwiches.)

3. Interpret It: I went through all of the ingredients I will need for the week and made a grocery list  based on what I have and what I’ll need. I only did the spreadsheet for dinners right now, since breakfast and lunch tends to be easier to wing at the grocery store (this is another thing I will eventually add to my menu planning.

Since I’m just starting this adventure in menu planning, I’m keeping it simple. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress and how the family does with this little project. Wish us luck 🙂

Pregnancy Side Note: So far I haven’t had any aversions, but I’m not ruling it out. I’m thinking I might build in some “just in case” fall back recipes to add to the grocery list so I have something up my sleeve if I cook a dinner one night and suddenly find I can’t stomach it.