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Menus and Food Planning

Wow!  That title just doesn’t sound very interesting does it?  However, I have always made weekly menus and then created my shopping list from my menus.  I do an inventory of my pantry and freezer and keep it with my calendar that I use for my menu planning.  It is just something that I write out on a legal pad and refer to when I am making my menus and my weekly grocery shopping list. I will title one portion of the page as Pantry and then list the staples I have in my pantry such as pasta, brown sugar and flour.  I then have a heading of Freezer and inventory the items in my freezer.  This is a way to check and use an item in the freezer that might be more perishable and I can create a dish incorporating it into my weekly menu. I have tried to go into the store without a list and shop and it is just beyond me.  I have been doing it this way for 40 years and it just works.

A couple of years ago a friend told me she created a list of all the things that she prepared for meals.  I thought that was a good idea and I have been doing the same thing for a couple of years.  I revise it every January and I put it in a table form on my computer.  It is written in a way that I understand it and may include what I serve with the main dish or it may just be hamburgers or beef stew to remind me of one of the meals that I prepare.  This is the document that I just prepared for the new year listed below.  If I have an abundance of chicken, I can quickly refer to the list and see suggestions for the use of my chicken. It only takes a few minutes to do this and it helps a lot when you are in a hurry or just have a brain freeze and absolutely can’t think of anything to prepare.

Menus IN Table Form

This year at the very bottom of this document I have made a notation called:  Things I want to make

As I was going through my recipes in December for this blog, I realized there are recipes that I have stored away that I haven’t made in a long time and I really should make them again.  Even as I typed this list I saw my Manicotti recipe and realized I haven’t made that in a very long time and it would be a great dish for Valentines that will be arriving shortly.

I use a monthly calendar that I purchase at Dollar Tree for my menus and list what we will have each night.  Each week when I prepare my new list, I look at the previous week to see if there is something that I haven’t prepared for some reason and have the ingredients to cover one of the meals in the upcoming week.

When I started to update my menu list for this year, I looked at my calendar for the entire year of 2011 and wrote down any recipes that I have recently incorporated into my meals for the past year. I also get ideas for what I am going to prepare from browsing through my cookbooks to write this blog.  Sometimes just a word or comment from someone can trigger my throught process of something I would like to make.

This may sound very time consuming and tedious if you haven’t ever done this before.  It really isn’t after you get into the process and take the different steps at different times.  After I lost my job when the economic downturn started in 2008, I now use the above procedure and then sit down and go through my coupons to see if I have any that I can incorporate into my shopping list for items I need to purchase.  When I make my shopping list I put an Asterisk beside my items that I have a coupon for.

When I post again on Wednesday, I am going to list some of my menus that I use on a daily basis that are geared towards helping my husband control his diabetes.  I hope you can incorporate some of this into your planning.  I remember the frustration I experienced when I had a full time job and a family.  There were days when I just did not want to even here the words, ” What’s For Dinner or as we say in the South, Supper?

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