This is the first in a series of posts where I will be sharing with you my menu for the week, along with a few helpful menu planning tidbits throughout the summer. We’re starting off with the basics this week, but will eventually make it to planning successful monthly menus.
One of the things that really helps me be efficient in the kitchen throughout the year is my meal plan. I often meal plan monthly because I can save money buying in bulk (and I love saving money!), but recently we have been in such a transitional life phase that I have reverted to planning meals weekly. Not only does planning your meals out in advance save you time, it can also save you calories and money (even if you’re not buying in bulk!). If you’re new to meal planning, I recommend starting weekly. Try asking yourself these 7 questions to help you get started:
1) How many meals (read: dinners) do I need to plan? – Strangely, the answer is rarely 7. Between making plans to go out with friends and trying to eat up the leftovers of a particularly large recipe, you will find that you need to cook fewer meals than days in the week.
2) What ingredients do I have on hand that I need/want to use? – Start by taking a look at your perishables, usually fresh fruit and veggies, and then look at other ingredients that may expire soon or you’re looking forward to eating!
3) What recipes use these ingredients? – If you can’t think of a recipe off the top of your head, try searching my site, other blogs, pinterest, or Google by ingredient: “Recipes with spinach,” for example.
4) What ingredients do I still need to complete these recipes? – Be smart. Pull up the recipe and go through it ingredient by ingredient. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as starting to cook a meal only to realize you left a key ingredient off of your grocery list! Ugh…it’s killer!
5) If I still need more recipes… What recipes have I been wanting to try? – Could be a recipe from a blog you follow, something your mom cooked for you when you were little, etc. Anything that sparks a little creativity and gives you the chance to try something new!
6) If my week will be crazy-hectic… What recipes are quick and easy? – Like in number 3, if you can’t think of any, search the web!
7) Lastly – What ingredients do I still need for breakfast and lunch? – Don’t forget about breakfast and lunch! Being hungry is awful! Plus, from a teacher to all the moms and dads out there reading this, it is extremely important to note that children who eat breakfast have MUCH better focus during their morning classes than those who do not!
Now onto my meal plan for the week!
Monday – Pestobella Pizza Margherita
Tuesday – BALTs or Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce, & Tomato Sandwiches
(Look forward to seeing these on the blog in the near future!)
Wednesday – Fiesta Fresh Fish Tacos
Thursday – Butternut Squash Ravioli with Arugula and Lemon
Friday – Pizza in the North End with friends
Saturday – Date/Exploration Night!
Sunday – Caprese Salad Pita Pockets
I hope to see you all back here next week for another week’s worth of meals and to get our hands dirty with menu planning! In the mean time, how do you menu plan? Got any exciting meals planned this week?
P.S. ~ For more menu planning ideas, visit Organizing Junkie!