Menu planning for the family is one of those tasks, where the idea of it is actually worse than doing it. It is also a task that is most efficient when you do it for a longer period of time.
I have found a sweet spot of menu planning for four weeks at a time. Over the years I have developed this process not to be one that is solely my responsibility. The whole family makes contributions, so the amount of time it takes me is much less.
The beauty of having the kids input to the menu plan is that it means there are far less complaints about what we have to eat for dinner each night.
The table below shows the steps I take to plan our meals and how long it takes.
If you haven’t menu planned before, I can highly recommend giving it a go. Take the time to note how much time you spend on thinking about meals, constant trips to the shops and procrastinating over what to cook one week. After you have done that, you will see just how much time you can save my menu planning!
|10 mins||Gain the family's input. Each child and dad can choose up to 4 meals they would like to see included in the monthly plan. Meals can only be repeated twice in the month and they can only choose one homestyle fast food, like pizza or hamburgers.
To assist the selection process I have created a template for the kids to fill in and collated a list of all the meals that I have in the menu planner app. You can find them here - Free monthly menu planning template and meal list.
|5 mins||My choice! I add my choices, taking into account what everyone else has chosen to ensure there is some balance across the month.|
|2 mins||Create matrix of activity and meal requirements. The matrix takes into account activities that will impact dinner prep. For example, some days will have meals that I can prepare in advance if we will be out late for after school activities.|
|8 mins||Allocate the meals listed across the days of the month, according to the matrix. At this point I tweak and adjust the meals as needed so each week has a good mix of proteins and veggies.|
|10 mins||Use the Planning With Kids Menu Planner App to collate menu plans and shopping lists. I email the lists to myself and print them out. I have four ready to go for the big shop each week. A key bonus to having the lists prepared is you can then delegate this task to someone else to do!|
|Total - 35 mins||Completed Monthly Menu Plan For The Family!|