Search Results for: menu planning

No-fail menu planning

Last year I wrote two posts on menu planning that were two of the most popular posts on my blog the entire year.

If you didn’t see them, here’s post 1 and here’s post 2.

The reason I go on and on about this is because it is such a game-changer when you make it part of your weekly routine.

Today I want to give you two methods of menu planning that are truly very easy.

Base your meals on the protein. E.g.

Monday – legumes like lentils or kidney beans (chilli con carne using just kidney beans served over rice or baked potatoes)

Tuesday – chicken (chicken breasts, chicken a la King, chicken curry)

Wednesday – fish (grilled fist in the oven with chips or mashed potato)

Thursday – chicken again (add a second night of the protein your family likes the most, and if it’s chicken, choose from the list above)

Friday – cheese (pizza)

Saturday – eggs (breakfast for dinner, or quiche)

Sunday – beef (stir fry, steak, etc.)

(of course, I only plan for 5 nights and there’s usually enough in the fridge for the other two nights)

OR

you could do the same as above around the carbohydrate

Monday – rice

Tuesday – potatoes or chips

Wednesday – pasta

Thursday – wraps

Friday – pizza or bread-based

(this is mostly how I menu plan because I get bored eating the same carbs two nights in a row)

OR

you could plan meals around the type of dish

  • Oven bake
  • Casserole
  • Slow-cooker
  • Stir-fry

I hope I’ve given you some new ideas.

But even if you have a good system going, try planning using one of these 3 plans occasionally to jazz things up in the kitchen.

Will you let me know in the comments if you give it a bash? I’d love to hear.

But also, as we’re in summer in South Africa, please let me know your favourite meals to make in summer.

How I do menu planning, and what I cook for my freezer

Have you read my post on why you should consider menu planning?

 

I do my menu planning weekly but if you’re more of an all or nothing person, you might want to just plan a month’s worth of meals and get it all over and done with at one time.

Weekly or monthly menu planning for you?

I feel like I’m doing that thing with my kids where I say “cucumber or tomatoes?”

IMG_0929

A couple of ideas on ways to approach menu planning:

  • have a theme for each day: mince on Mondays/ chicken on Tuesdays/ vegetarian on Wednesdays/ fish on Thursday/ easy Friday (pizza/ eggs/ soup)
  • cook a certain number of nights and use freezer dishes for the rest
  • delegate certain nights to your spouse

How I do it

1. Generally, D does supper on Tuesdays and Sundays. The trick when you delegate is you are not allowed to say a single thing except “thank you for the lovely supper”. They will stop if you nag about anything. Tell yourself the kids will be fine without vegetables for 1 – 2 nights. I don’t write anything on my menu plan except “D”.

Sundays is usually toast with peanut butter, cheese, etc. and this is (sadly) the kids’ favourite meal of the week.

2. According to my daughter, we always have rice on a Monday (I checked my menu plans and turns out, she’s right 🙂 I haven’t intentionally planned it like that, but I do like rice/ pasta/ rice/ potatoes/ bread-based within my 5 meals.

3. We very rarely go out for supper because 1) I can whip up a pasta quicker than us getting ourselves sorted and to the nearest place and waiting for our meal 2) we prefer lunches out

4. I cook a lot on the weekends. Not every weekend, but about one or two weekends in a 5-week period. That feels about right to me. I may make 3 meals but I cook double so that’s 6 nights’ suppers sorted.

5. Leftovers. Don’t discount the leftovers. Those meals I cook on the weekends last longer than I anticipate because often we don’t have to have the 5th meal of the week because there is enough leftovers. Sometimes I’ve had supper out, sometimes D only wants half of his supper because he’s home later, and so on.

Meals that freeze well

Some people think potato or pasta doesn’t freeze well. I have done both and the meals are still perfectly fine. I think the trick is to not let it thaw forever out on the counter because your food will get watery (yuck!). I put it in the microwave to defrost it a bit for about 6 minutes (that’s two presses of the quick defrost button on my microwave) and then straight into the oven to crisp up.

  1. Cottage pie
  2. Baked pasta dishes. When you cook one dish to have “fresh” on the night, do another dish for the freezer. Put it in the casserole dish, put some cling wrap (Saran wrap) on the top, and into the freezer.
  3. Rice
  4. Curries
  5. Bolognaise
  6. Chicken a la King
  7. Taco mince
  8. Chilli con carne
  9. Chicken and broccoli casserole
  10. Soup and the rolls 🙂

and so on (share your ideas in the comments please)

IMG_0930

Do you menu plan? Weekly or monthly?

Do you cook freezer meals? Which ones are your favourites?

{31 days of enough time} Menu planning, even for spontaneous people

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – menu planning saves me HOURS of time every week.

I started menu planning in 2006 when I “met” Laura and her Menu Planning Mondays, and I haven’t looked back since.

Menu planning is how I have enough time during the week for blogging, playing with the kids, going to Spanish, cooking healthy, nutritious meals, etc.

31 days of enough time |www.OrganisingQueen.com

My new job means I have an additional 20-minute commute both ways… and I don’t like to eat late so menu planning has become a foundation for my organised home. I’ve committed both to myself and our nanny that I will always have the entire week’s menu planned out so that she can prepare anything we’ve agreed on. For instance, if I put “chicken a la King, rice and carrots” on the menu, Nanny S knows to cut up carrots and have them ready so I can just cook them.

I’ve always batch cooked so I have a number of meals in the freezer at all times. The key is to keep the freezer inventory up to date so I know when I need to cook a new batch of food.

As an indication, I planned out a full two week’s meals without needing to cook anything new….that kind of pre-cooking won’t work forever but I definitely like at least a week’s worth of meals in the freezer.

31 days of enough time |www.OrganisingQueen.com

Did you know that meal planning works for both structured and unstructured people?

Here’s how you do it:

  1. For the structured people, simply make your meal plan for weekdays or the full week. Shop for all the groceries and then try to stick to your menu as closely as you can. If you feel like switching things around, there is still the freedom to do so.
  2. For the unstructured people, make a list of 5 – 7 meals and make sure you have the ingredients for all of those meals. On the day, see what you feel like cooking and do it (then cross off that meal). Do the same thing every day…. or not (it’s your life; don’t feel pressured and definitely don’t feel guilty for not making one of the meals on your list if you no longer feel like doing that one). Benefit – you have a loose plan but you’re not tied down to a specific meal on a specific day.

Do you menu plan?

How does your system work?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

PS There’s a menu planner in the free Time Management Purpose Pack.

the most common menu planning obstacle

I’ve had some beautiful experiences this week and have been stretched and challenged 🙂

Speaking of being stretched and challenged, it seems that this is the most common menu planning obstacle.

This is normally how it goes.

I suggest menu planning as a way to save time DAILY in your home schedule (it saves me about 3 hours of faffing around when I do make a menu plan) and about half the people say…

Food

But Marcia, I hate to be so structured. Where’s the spontaneity???

First of all, there are two types of people in the world – those who like plans and those that rebel against them.

Which type are you?

If you’re type 1, you probably like the idea of a menu plan and maybe just need some ideas but mentally, you’ve bought in.

For the type 2s, here is my answer:

Don’t think of it as a PLAN.

Think of it as a number of suggestions for meals you could cook at home, if you chose to do so.

The word “plan” is removed and no-one’s squashing your spontaneity.

All you know know is that you have 5 days’ worth of ingredients to prepare 5 meals.

You could cook meal 3 on the Monday or defrost meal 2.

Whatever takes your fancy!

Does that help with the spontaneity element?

I hope so… because writing down some “meal suggestions” really does help 😉

 

You ask, I’ll answer – easy menu planning

Nta asks…

I would love to menu plan but haven’t had much success with my current method.

Can you suggest a structure that’s easy so that I can maintain it long term?

IMG_0731

Self-portrait while on holiday in Ballito

I believe in very loose menu planning.

What that means is that I plan to have meals for about 5 days but I move the days around as things take my fancy or according to the weather.

I do aim to cook 1 – 2 new recipes (from my Pinterest boards) every month but for the most part, my family has about 15 – 20 meals we all LOVE and we rotate these every month or so.

I might have these 5 meals planned:

  • M – chicken stir fry
  • T – pasta bolognaise
  • W – tuna rice bake
  • T – sausage and tomato casserole
  • F – lentil and vegetable soup with garlic rolls

If Tuesday is particularly cold, I may do the soup then instead of on Friday.  If I’ve had to work late on Monday, instead of all the chopping that stir-frying involves, I may do the pasta instead.

The point is to have the freedom within a bit of structure.

This might or might not work for you.

I also like the following idea in theory. I say in theory because I get bored with food very quickly so I need lots of flexibility.

However, you could have a system like this where every week you have a dish from a category:

  • M – chicken (plan any of your repertoire of chicken dishes)
  • T – fish
  • W – vegetarian, maybe with kidney beans/ lentils, etc
  • T – pasta
  • F – pizza

Readers, do you have any tips or tricks to help Nta?

Have you made your menu plan for this week yet? It’s not too late!

{31 days of easy organising solutions} – menu planning

Menu planning is undoubtedly one of the quickest and easiest ways to save time and money in your home.

If you don’t already do this, I want to encourage you to just try for a week  and see if you don’t love it.

One of the things a lot of people say is that menu planning prevents spontaneity.

I overcome that by doing my menu plan for the work week (M – F) and then on the weekends we finish everything else in the fridge 🙂

I also swop the days around if I don’t particularly feel like the Tuesday meal on a Tuesday.

The point is knowing that you have the ingredients for 5 meals and not having to waste time and energy making decisions.

Do you menu plan? How has it worked (or not worked) for you?

My book, Live Organised, will help you to find your organising style so you can put systems in place to get more organised.

 

Menu planning saves you time and money

Do you menu plan?

Menu planning is probably the one thing I do that saves me the MOST time every week.

It’s also going to save you money when you start using up all the food in the freezer and in the back of the cupboards.

Just a week ago, I was organising my little bags of cook-in sauces, soups, etc. When I organise, I take the opportunity to clean at the same time.

As I was cleaning it all out, I found a bag of Thai curry sauce. That week I put beef on the list and made the meal. I love clearing out old food; don’t you?

Note – you should always plan your menu before you go to the shops to do your grocery shopping 😉

30-minute rolls from My Pinterest Projects board

Here’s the process I like to follow:

1. Go to your freezer and cupboards to see what food you have that you need to use up and make a list.
2. Do you have all the ingredients to make meals? If yes, great – add the meals to your menu plan. If not, put the balance of the ingredients on your shopping list.
3. Write out a menu plan for a week (if you do weekly shopping) or longer, using recipes to use up that food.
4. You may need to get creative. I love cooking when I have to use up odds and ends because it forces me to get creative and be resourceful. The other day I made a pasta dish with one chicken breast and some veggies… to use it all up so it didn’t waste.
5. Add any items that you need additionally to your weekly shopping list and do your shopping.
6. Stick the menu plan to your fridge.
7. You don’t necessarily have to cook the Monday meal on Monday. Swop them all around if you must (and I do!). The point is to know which meals you can make that particular week.

Now you don’t have to rack your brain every night wondering what to cook.

You have a PLAN.

Another tip that will save you lots of time is to cook something on a Sunday afternoon. This meal is not for eating that day, but for freezing.

When you have a busy day it’s easy to just defrost the meal and have a healthy supper on the table in minutes.

We went through a stage where we didn’t buy any meat for two months while we finished everything in the freezer and started on the cupboards. You see, we all get into a habit of buying the same groceries every week without checking if we really need it.

THIS WEEK’S COACHING CHALLENGE

1. If you’re not already menu planning, I’d like to encourage you to at least start. Do so for at least a week or two and let me know how you like it.

2. If you already do menu planning, then your challenge for this week is to only buy perishables and eat from your freezer and cupboards as much as possible.

3. If you need help or support, contact me for a once-off coaching session to help get you unstuck or book a free get-acquainted chat with me to see if we’re a good fit for a monthly coaching relationship.

Do you menu plan? How has that saved you time and money?

PS My friend, Laura, does a weekly round up of menu planners. I don’t participate anymore but I did for a good few years when I first started. Join in if you want some accountability. But PLEASE set a timer before you start browsing recipes – this is meant to save you time 🙂

Feature Friday – menu planning

Feature Friday is an occasional highlight of something that works in my home/ life.

I love menu planning.

It saves me such a lot of time and helps us all to eat healthier and shop better for groceries.

Here is my favourite little magnetic menu planning board (South Africans, I got it for R30 at Mega Mica about 3 years ago and it’s not actually intended for menu planning – I think it’s for kids’ homework).

I start off by cleaning the whole thing.

I then check my freezer and see if there’s anything I want to use up or if there are freezer meals that need eating.

Add those to the board.

Then I make sure we don’t eat any one carb two nights in a row (I like to switch things every night).

I only plan for Mon – Fri and on Saturdays and Sundays we fly by the seat of our pants.

Not really, I just felt like saying that.

We usually use up any leftovers or I’ll do the quickest thing which is a pasta.

Notice our meals are on top and the babies’ meals are on the bottom of the squares.

The babies eat what we had for supper the previous night since they eat at 5 pm and I’m not even home from work then. Except when we have spicy meals like curries.

And that’s it.

Easy-peasy menu planning.

 

I don’t consult a lot of recipe books except when I’m uninspired which is fairly rare because I do love food.

I have set myself a little goal this year though; I’m to try two new meals every month. Of course, all these new things are always cooked on the weekends which is the only time I have more than 30 minutes to spend in the kitchen.

Do you menu plan?

Do you cook the same things or do you like trying new recipes?

P.S. Are you joining me for Spring into Organising?

Save money on your groceries by menu planning

pic from the Household Organising File

(part of the Organise your Home ecourse) 

 

Do you menu plan?

Menu planning is probably the one thing I do that saves me the MOST time every single week.

It’s also going to save you mo.ney when you start using up all the food in the freezer and in the back of the cupboards. Oh, and not doing so much impulse shopping.

Note – you should do your menu planning BEFORE you go to the shops to do your grocery shopping 😉

Here are the five steps I use:

1. Go to your freezer and cupboards to see what food you have that you need to or want to use, and make a list.

2. Write out a menu plan for a week (if you do weekly shopping) or longer, using recipes to use up that food.

3. Add any items that you need additionally to your weekly shopping list and do your shopping.

4. Stick the menu plan to your fridge.

5. Follow the plan to the letter, or move things around and have Monday’s meal on Wednesday, etc, etc. At least you have the ingredients for all the meals available.

Now you don’t have to rack your brain every night wondering what to cook.

You have a PLAN.

Another tip that will save you lots of time is to cook something on a Sunday afternoon. This meal is not for eating that day, but for freezing.

When you have a busy day it’s easy to just defrost the meal and have a healthy supper on the table in minutes.

We went through a stage where we didn’t buy any meat for two months while we finished everything in the freezer and started on the cupboards.

You see, we all get into a habit of buying the same groceries every week without checking if we really need it.

If you’re not already menu planning, I’d like to encourage you to at least start. Do so for at least a month and give it a good go. If it REALLY doesn’t work with your personal style 🙂 then so be it.

If you already do menu planning, then your challenge for this week is to only buy perishables for your next shopping trip and eat from your freezer and cupboards.

I’m IT and I’m menu planning


I’ve been tagged by (if memory serves me correctly) 3 people – My Precious Pennies, Diane and I know there’s someone else???

Are you SURE you want to know my weirdnesses, people???

Here we go:

  1. I love singing along in my car (LOUD) and I really don’t care WHAT people think of me.
  2. Another love of mine besides handbags is Rod Stewart and guess what? He’ll be in Johannesburg in December so we are DEFINITELY going. I’ll also be able to cross another thing off my life list.
  3. I’m highly productive yet have no problems kicking back and TOTALLY relaxing. You’ll find me in bed until 11am most weekend mornings. I feel no shame whatsoever – in fact, I think I’m really blessed to be able to sleep, literally, like a baby!
  4. I’ve never had a pedicure.
  5. My favourite drink is water. Yes, really! And you can usually find me with an apple in my handbag.
  6. I seriously love talking about goals. I was talking about goals to anything that would stand still and listen YEARS before it became popular 🙂
  7. I am still utterly amazed by the internet. Every time I’m on a coaching call or teleseminar, I think “wow”. Here I am in Jhb talking to people ALL over the world. I really get a kick out of that.

Okay, now it’s my turn.

I tag Beth, Suzanne, Ariane, Megan, Janet, my wonder twin in computer organising, Laura and Laura Williams.

I had such a lot of lovely emails last week about posting links to older posts so I thought I’d do the same today.

Here are some posts to help you organise your blogging:

  1. Declutter your feed reader
  2. Saving time while blogging
  3. Blogging smarter


Download the PDFs with tips from Organising Queen blog readers on decluttering and saving time.

So…my menu for the week

Monday
Stirfried veggies and rice with chicken

Tuesday
Wholewheat rolls with meatballs and salad

Wednesday
Pasta salad with kidney beans and chicken

Thursday
Pizza potatoes

Friday
Supper at our friends’ house

Don’t forget to visit on Friday to show off what you declutter this week. The Mr Linky will be up at 12am EST so get ready 🙂

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