Creating a menu plan can be a daunting task for one person.
Involving family members in the process can embolden that person and provide lots of family fun.
That ensures that each person's desires for meals are appreciated as well as their ideas.
Without a thought out mealtime plan, we cooks are often asked, "What's for dinner?" To which we reply, "I don't know".
With menu planning, your family can know what's for dinner without asking.
They can look forward to happy, exciting meals.
First, set a date and time for everyone to come together.
If everyone is home on a weekend afternoon or evening, that is a perfect time for planning.
Serve some favorite refreshments and make it fun.
You will need to take notes.
Use something as simple as a pen and paper or an online app of your choice.
A calendar is handy for posting your plan on your home bulletin board or refrigerator.
Start planning with your main course. (Course here is for planning purposes and not indicative of a formal meal.)
You can start with any course you want.
It is wise to begin planning your menu around foods your family likes best.
For instance, if they like to eat chicken three out of seven days a week, jot down chicken in your calendar for those days.
No need at this point to consider various recipes.
Do your fine tuning after you have your outlined plan completed.
Go through seven days with each course.
For this purpose we will use six courses
1. Main dish
2. Sides (as many as you prefer)
Any others you want to add such as appetizers or a soup.
Now you are ready to fine tune your work.
Consider you health. Take into account special needs of each family member.
You will want to ensure your menu plan contains plenty of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
When you have gotten this far in your planning, the cook may want to continue alone.
He/she usually knows what recipes the family will enjoy most.
Plan the method you cook these meals according to you and your family desires and activities.
If you go to the gym for an hour every Thursday evening and can't spend the whole evening preparing dinner, adjust your menus for that or any other special activities.
Many meals can be precooked and heated for those spacial times, also.
Thank goodness for microwaves.
Now it's time for making out your grocery list.
Take an inventory of what you have on hand.
Consider what's in the refrigerator, freezer, pantry or stored anywhere.
Even what's in your garden, if you use it.
Remember items that may be required in a new recipe you want to try.
Check out my Site Map for recipes and ideas.
I also recommend you check this site's "What's New" box often.
It is located on the Home Page in the top right corner.
When shopping, it saves time and money to do it only once a week, if possible.
Plan or adjust your menu to utilize any fresh or perishable groceries you may pick up.
Also, be flexible with your shopping list for foods on sale to help you save more money.
My store always has items on sale in the store that are not advertised ahead of time.
If I plan to have a broccoli casserole and fried chicken on Monday night and I find that cabbage is on sale for 29 cents a pound and ground beef is half priced, then I might change that day's menu to stuffed cabbage.
The keys to successful menu planning are to be conscientious, flexible and to persevere.
Some tremendous benefits of a menu plan include saving time, money and effort.
The most important benefit, in my opinion, is that you have a well fed and happy family!