As I noted in my looking back post, menu planning was definitely not one of my strengths in 2012. It was inconsistant, non-existant and just plain hard. Edie blogged this past week about her menu planning process in three parts (one, two, three), and although I really like her idea of using reoccurring calendar meetings as a tool, I came to the conclusion that menu planning is personal. Every household is different, and just because something works in a kitchen in Tennessee, Toronto or Timbuktu; doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you.
Sunday's latest prep
I've been working at it for the last few weeks and here's what i've found works for me so far:
- I plan no more than 3 meals for the week. Life happens and that usually means that we aren't eating together or at home twice a week. Anything more than this also feels like too much pressure.
- Prep your meals, scan your pantry & fridge, write a grocery list and shop once. I used to end up having to stop at the grocery store multiple times during the week because I didn't have all the ingredients for the meal I wanted to make. Shopping to a list also results in a cheaper more efficient trip at the grocery store!
- I don't necessarily prepare full meals on the weekend. I make a combination of full meals and prepped ingredients. For example, this weekend I made the sauce for pasta, so I just need to stir-fry the meat and veggies, a soup and a quinoa main dish. Last weekend I made a chili, prepped chicken burger patties, made oatmeal to go and marinated steak.
- Pre-portion your meals, whether they're in individual portions or meal-size portions, this certainly makes cooking during the week a lot easier!
How about you? Do you plan your meals on the weekend, or wing it throughout the week? If you do plan, what tools or recipes have you found the most helpful?