Menu planning for a week or more ahead really does take some of the stress out of your day. Imagine not worrying about what to eat for dinner tonight!
Here is Jane’s great way of getting started.
It’s paper-based and dead simple and I’ve been using it for two weeks with great results! You need either a diary or a calendar and some post-its. I’m using the smallest size but it’s up to you. Your goal is to create a collection of dinner ideas (or lunch, breakfast or dessert) that you can use to plan your menus for a week or more ahead. I started two weeks ago by simply writing on a post-it what I had made for dinner that evening and then sticking it in my diary for a week ahead. So a post-it might read, ‘Lamb rump steaks, marinated’ or ‘Spag bolog’. I might also add details of the recipe book I got the recipe from or the online URL so that I can find the recipe easily.
After a week of doing this I had a collection of seven dinner ideas stuck in my diary for the week ahead. For the first time in my life I had a week’s dinners planned. Deep joy! After that, whenever I had a dinner idea I just put it on a post-it note as before and put it on a day some time ahead so that now I have around fifteen dinner ideas sitting in my diary. To put it another way, I have two weeks worth of dinners already planned in my diary with no effort!
The only thing to remember is that once you’ve made the dinner, just move the post-it further ahead in your diary or calendar. My goal is to keep adding dinner ideas whenever I think of them so that I end up with around thirty, enough to have a month’s worth of dinners planned. This system is working so well for me that I just had to take a photo of my diary complete with post-its:
Fine-tuning your menu plan
Once a week, as part of my online shopping session, I look at the dinners that are in the week ahead and check that they fit in with whatever’s going on in our lives. If they don’t fit in, I just shuffle them around. I also make sure there’s variety from day to day and that, for example, I haven’t put chicken dinners on consecutive days. I might also put a reminder in the diary to defrost something ready to be marinated or cooked the next day. After that, I order any ingredients that I need and then sit back, dinners planned and shopping done.
If you want to get really clever you could colour code your ideas so for example dinners could be on yellow post-its and desserts on pink. I haven’t made it to those heady heights of planning yet but I think it would work really well and is worth doing. I’ll be trying out this idea just as soon as I remember to buy some more post-its.
And that’s it! It really is a super-simple, effort-free way to start planning ahead. What’s more you may never ever again hear yourself ask that dreaded question, ‘What shall we have for dinner tonight?’
If you are really stuck for ideas for dinner then keep checking back here or sign up to our RSS feed, because we’ll be blogging about how to come up with ideas for mealtimes. Just for starters, ask your friends and family for their two favourite recipes. Put them on your post-its and hey presto, you’ve got another few days covered. Happy planning