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This works for me… master menu plan

September 14, 2010

I’m putting this out here, at the risk of seeming a little crazy, over-the-top, psycho about organizing.

I hate figuring out what to make for supper. I enjoy cooking; as long as you tell me what to cook I’m quite happy to do so. Deciding, on a weekly basis, or worse, on a nightly basis, wears me out. I tend to choose an entree and grab a can of green beans. So I decided to take whatever block of time was necessary and plan a huge chunk of meals.

Here’s what I came up with: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtPdtkCEDhHSdGVfaHZIenYtdXM0dzBVYXhmcFcwMFE&hl=en

I started with a basic menu plan: Sunday night – pizza, Monday night – soup, Tuesday – fish, etc. then made a spreadsheet with those categories. I started filling the blanks in with food we like to eat, then pulled out my favorite cookbooks to match recipes with menus. I also spent some time browsing recipes for foods we would enjoy, but I don’t usually think to prepare. I have the most wonderful manicotti recipe, but rarely make it, and it’s actually pretty easy. I just don’t think about it.

When I realized I would be referring to about six cookbooks, yet I owned at least forty, I set those aside. I’ve got a few to give away to kids, and I’m taking the rest to Wednesday night Bible study for the women there to go through, and hopefully take home.

I noted a few recipes that are well suited for having company over. The appetizer section isn’t filled out yet, but I’ve jotted down some ideas – cheeseball, spinach-artichoke dip, pinwheels, etc. The bread section at the bottom will be filled in with quick breads, coffee cakes, rolls and such. I’ll be using those for brunches, Sunday morning breakfasts, holiday baking, or filling the freezer with made ahead breads I can take when we visit the kids or someone drops by.

It took me a good block of time to get this done, but already in the first week it made planning my weekly menus a snap. I think we’ll eat a bigger variety of foods, not to mention the shelf space I gained cleaning out all those cookbooks I wasn’t using.

If I saved the Google document right (and it’s my first Google document ever!), you should be able to modify it to fit it to something that will work for your family.Β Let me know if it helps you any, or if you just think there’s medication for this type of thing!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Jackie permalink
    September 14, 2010 7:17 am

    Wow, pretty impressive

  2. September 14, 2010 8:02 am

    I think you are brilliant. But I’m partial. I am just like you … love to cook … just tire very easily of trying to figure out WHAT to cook. And if I ask the Butler what he wants for dinner next week as I’m planning, he answers, “TACOS!” every time. He’s no help at all πŸ™‚

    • September 14, 2010 9:52 am

      You will note ‘tacos’ is on the favorites list. A husband favorite too, especially if I give him four or more. Which is probably at least one too many. I realized I wasn’t cooking with much variety, was wasting a lot of time refiguring out what to cook, and making boring side dishes (his choice is always, always, always tater tots so our husbands would probably connect pretty well!). It was time consuming but I feel very equipped now, whether it’s weekday meals, having company over or taking a dish to a potluck (we have two of those in the next two weeks). Thanks for not thinking I’m looney. πŸ™‚

  3. September 14, 2010 12:16 pm

    Wow! Very impressive!

    My poor family… they threaten to grow feathers and sprout wings if I serve them chicken again. They would be so thrilled at a menu plan like this.
    I definitely agree that having a plan and not having to figure out what is for dineer at 5 is so nice, I just haven’t gotten back into the school year routine of planning meals again, yet.
    Once again you have inspired me, so tonight I’ll tackle that chore (although I think it may still consist of mostly variations of chicken- ha!)

    • September 14, 2010 1:48 pm

      Kelly, chicken is gracious in that it can be easily disguised – shredded with bbq they might not know it’s not pork. Throw some taco spices on it and make a taco salad. Much of the time Don thinks we’re eating beef we’re actually eating ground turkey – in meatballs, soups, tacos, even meatloaf! It’s hard to resist boneless skinless chicken breasts at the grocery – they’re just too easy to turn into dinner. I’m so delighted with my new menu plan – I printed it out and taped it to the inside of my grocery cabinets!

      • September 15, 2010 6:55 am

        Have you ever seen The Dinner Doctor cookbook? I pulled it out last night looking for easy week night recipes and wondered if it was one of your 40:-)
        I love it because it incorporates convenience items (like bagged salad mixes or rotisserie chicken) which are perfect for school nights full of activities. It also has a nice variety of entrees, so it is a nice “go to” book for menu planning. I’m on my way- thanks for the motivation.

  4. September 14, 2010 12:41 pm

    Wow! Great job!! It’s things like this chart that make my heart go “pitter patter.”

    • September 14, 2010 1:49 pm

      Ahhh, another ‘loves to organize’ person speaking. I really think organizing is the best gift, if it’s used to clear the way to the truly important things in life, rather than it becoming that. I’m organized but a bit messy because I’m usually busy creating something and creativity is rarely neat! My engineer husband is tenderly patient with me, thank goodness.

  5. September 14, 2010 1:58 pm

    Thanks, Mama. Love it! Definitely printing this one out. πŸ™‚

  6. September 14, 2010 2:36 pm

    Seeing as how I’m apart of the younger generation I don’t really use cookbooks. I have few Paula Deen ones, since I was on her show and she is my favorite! I do use foodtv.com a lot! I love your idea to set everything up in categories. This will help a lot with my family meal planning. Thanks.

    • September 14, 2010 3:01 pm

      You got to be on Paula Deen’s show????? Oh my am I jealous! Did she have her dog there in the kitchen with you guys? I absolutely love her life story – how her ex-husband must be kicking himself over leaving her. And you’re right – the web has so many resources. I go to http://www.allrecipes.com any time I need a quick recipe. Thank goodness for the web, huh?

      • September 14, 2010 5:47 pm

        Yes, I was on Paula’s Party, the sandwich edition. I was pregnant with our daughter at the time. And it was in Bubba’s restaurant and we got to meet the entire family! So fun! That was my Christmas present from my husband.

  7. September 14, 2010 4:35 pm

    Boy, what a great idea, Bev. I use a spread sheet to keep track of the foods I have in my various storage areas, refrigerator freezer and freezer. That way I always know what I have and nothing get buried or lost!!!

  8. September 14, 2010 6:44 pm

    Ok, you are just so smart! I’m digging through years of collected cookbooks and only typing out those I have tried and loved. All are then going into binders. I’m looking forward to some shelf space, but oh my gracious it’s taking forever.
    I need to take it one step further and print out your sheet for inspiration. I get so weary of coming up with what to fix every night.

  9. September 15, 2010 1:46 pm

    Love this! A while back, I made a list of 35 or so meals that we like, and just started rotating them. But even so, I get bored and want to try new things. So now that I’ve found even more meals we like, maybe I need to try a structured rotation like you have…

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