Menu planning is a great way to maximize time and keep nutrition inline. I can be very type-A. I love organization. I love to have a plan, for everything! Back to school time gives me an opportunity to reorganize many aspects of my family’s schedule. With the more structured scheduled during the school year, I plan our weekly dinner menu to save me time, plan healthy meals, have variety and save some money.
Earlier this year I made a menu planning board. It is one of the most useful DIY project I’ve ever made. I’ve also learned to rely on some great websites to help me plan each week’s meal. Do you have a favorite recipe site?
My 4 Steps for Planning a Family Dinner Menu
- Pantry & Fridge Check - What do you have on hand? What proteins? I tend to drive my menu based on proteins, and I obviously want to use what I have before I spend any money.
- Grocery Circular – Now that the protein has been selected I’ll pull out the circular & coupons – in either paper format, online or as a mobile app. I look for good deals on protein first. Again, proteins drive my menu planning
- Recipe Ideas- Now that I know the proteins I’ll have, I begin selecting the recipes. I’m a recipe girl. I love to try new ones all the time. I’ll also take requests from the family. I use a few favorite recipe sites to keep our meals tasty and healthy!
- SkinnyTaste.com – If you’ve been following me for some time you know how much I adore Gina’s recipes on SkinnyTaste.com. I have made dozens and they have all been delicious and healthy. I make her baked chicken nuggets for the girls – all the time! My husband loves the Dijon Herb Pork Chops and tonight we’re having her Peruvian Chicken!
- WeightWatchers.com- I need to keep track of what I’m eating. I’m a bit obsessive with measuring my food – especially when I’m first starting out in a healthy eating run. I keep a food scale handy and measure and record nearly every drop of food that enters my belly. I love the Weight Watchers mobile app too!
- EastingWell.com – A favorite healthy eating magazine. Their recipes also teach me new cooking techniques and new foods. I was first inspired to make the stuffed peppers from an edition of the magazine.
- Record & Display - I use my menu planning board to display our weekly menu. It hangs in the kitchen so all can see (but not touch!) I also keep a stack of menu planning sheets handy in my office to jot down new recipes I see for the following week. You are welcome to download the menu planning form I have created.
Planning a weekly family dinner menu is a smart mama move. The time spent preparing the menu will save you time, money and calories and you prepare your meals early enough to make smart, healthy decisions. Making a family menu doesn’t take too long.