Thursday, September 02, 2010

How I Plan a Menu

I'm a bit crazy about making lists. I make them all the time. It's just how my brain works. It helps me to be more organized and productive. I make lists of things to do, things to buy, things I want, things I don't like, and even lists of things to make lists about. It's an obsession.

For me, menu planning involves a lot of lists. It's a bit of a tedious task, but one I enjoy very much. Here's a little look into how I go about planning a menu and grocery shopping.

First, I make a list of all the meals that I want to make. I've been planning for a month at a time, but this month I decided to only do 2 weeks at a time. I make a list for breakfast, lunch, and supper, sides, and snacks. Some of these are new recipes and some are old tried-and-true recipes.

Once I have my list compiled of all the recipes I would like to use in the two weeks (or month), I start planning them out by day. Sometimes I use an actual calendar, but this time I just use a scratch piece of paper. I try to include a variety throughout the week: chicken, beef, pork, grilled food, etc. I also try to plan the meals so we don't have the same kind of meat two nights in a row. That doesn't always work, but I do my best.

Once I have the meals assigned to specific days, it's time to make a grocery list. I go through each meal, check the recipe (if I need one), and write down everything I'll need for that meal. I do this for each meal and just keep a running list. If something is a repeat, like cheese or meat, I make tally marks by the item on the list to indicate how much of it is needed. You can see this next to the cheddar cheese on my list.

Now, I could call it done at this point. However, if I did, I would be one disorganized, stressed, and chaotic woman at the grocery store. (Please be aware that this is usually the case regardless.) Once I have my master list of groceries needed, I start organizing it into categories. I created this handy-dandy shopping list that is broken down by aisles at the grocery store. This took a few weeks of going to HEB to get everything in the right category, but it makes life at the grocery store so much easier!

The final step is to go through my coupons and highlight the items on my list for which I have coupons. I have found that once I'm in the store and focused on trying to get everything, I usually forget that I have coupons. By highlighting the item, it causes me to pay extra care to actually use that coupon. I clip all my coupons to my list and as I put the item in my shopping cart, I put the coupon with my wallet.

And that, my friends, is how I menu plan and make a grocery list. Aren't you glad you know a little bit more about how crazy I am?

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