A Family Menu Planning Process

One of my key tasks for January was to complete the family menu plans for the next couple of months. The obvious reason for this is the impending arrival of our fifth child. (As this post is being written in advance, by the time it is published I will be officially over my due date or baby will be born!)

I find that once I sit down to do our family menu planning it is very easy to get into the swing of things and work through a number of weeks. I have a little process that I follow when I am doing a bulk monthly menu planning session.

My Menu Plan Planning Process for a Month.

1. Criteria for the month.

This month I had the following criteria:

  • Healthy but simple food, that means I don’t have to spend too much time in a hot kitchen.
  • Easy meals, that others can cook!
  • Plan one meal a weekend where someone else in the family will cook.
  • One night where I don’t have to cook (left overs) – this doesn’t really happen anymore for us though, as the older kids will eat the food through out the week!

2. Decide on a daily theme.

To create the daily theme I use the below template.

PWK Monthly Menu Plan Template 2015 Matrix 640

I write across the top row what activities we have on that will impact be getting a meal ready, for example this term:

  • Mon we have swimming
  • Tue there is soccer training
  • Thu I need to pick our daughter up from a late sports session

Knowing what activities are on each day is crucial to a successful meal plan – there is no point planning a roast Tues night when I am in and out a number of times and not home until 6.45pm. On Tuesdays I want to have a meal that I can cook in the morning and will be ready to serve or heat and when I get home.

When the kids where younger I also used to have one day a week unallocated, this was generally a Friday and we would just eat left overs from the fridge so (a) we wouldn’t waste food and (b) I would get a night off cooking!

Now with three teenagers in the house, by the time it comes to the end of the week, there is no chance of left overs!

3. Children’s and Husband’s Input

My children are very used to me menu planning, so when I do a bulk session like this I will ask them to give me at least four meals that they would like. I then slot in them into the relevant days theme and I have less to think about! Meals can only be repeated twice in the month and they can only choose one homestyle fast food, like pizza or hamburgers.

I have a template the where the kids can write their preferences down and they pass it around to each other until everyone has had a turn. My husband and I will also add our meals.

PWK Monthly Menu Plan Template 2015 Family Input 640You can download the templates here:

4. Create shopping lists

I create four separate menu plans and shopping lists. A key bonus to having the lists prepared is you can then delegate this task to someone else to do!

What does your menu planning process look like?