I realize that not everything that works for my family will work for all, but I think the point of most tips, advice or helpful hints, is to make them your own. Tweek and reshape until they fit your family and the atmosphere of your home. Meal planning is no different. I've seen plans out there that are elaborate, including shopping lists and directions, I've seen month long menus, or cute chalk board wall hangings for the creative doodler. None of those work for us. We settled on a simple two week plan we made ourselves and hang it from a clothes pin on a cabinet by the stove. Fancy, I know, but it works for us.
For me, the whole idea of the menu, is not to tie us to a particular meal on a given day, but instead to give me about six meal ideas to use when they work within the week. With a family of six, you never know when a trip to the doctor, a late day at work for Scott, or a rained out ball game will completely change the look of our weekly dinners.
Here's how this works for us... Over the weekend, we fill in the date and the coming events, such as church, ball games, gym days, or evening meetings. Then we check the weather....are there any definite opportunities to grill? If so, that's a priority. We always have a Mexican night, either something easy like nachos or I might try a casserole, or burrito dish. Next, we ask the kids for input, which usually boils down to a hotdog, pizza or spaghetti day. Finally, we fill in the rest of the days, knowing we will likely eat out at least once every ten days or so. Our method for this changes with the seasons. In the cold weather months, I'm more willing to try a new Pinterest dish every week, or have one soup or crockpot dish a week. When it's warm out it's less appealing to be stuck inside cooking, so we will have a sandwich night, or an easy skillet chicken with vegetables and pasta. To fill in the gaps, I try to have one meal a week that leaves us with tasty leftovers, like fried chicken or chicken tetrazzini. We have the grocery list with us while we meal plan so we can easily add needed ingredients.
Once the menu is made, it's always subject to shift or change, but for the most part, we have what we need and a plan in place, so I'm not standing around at three in the afternoon tying to figure out what to feed the fam, which believe me, happened often enough to realize the need for a menu!
With that, I bid you good day and happy planning!!