It seems like every where you look there are calenders filled with menu plans, even people who will do the menu planning for you, for a cost. Menu planning doesn't have to be intimidating. I'll admit it has taken me about 6 months to get a system that works for me, and when I first started it took about 4-5 hours to find recipes, write the menu plan, write the ingredients, get my list together and get ready to go shopping. It now takes less then an hour, and the only list I have to really write anymore is for items that aren't on my list. I also take notes of what stores have what sales on the items I'm looking for, so I can try to coupon match to save even more money. If you are just starting out here are a few tips to make your menu planning a little smoother and help save time & money.
1. A Blank Calender: You can download and print a blank calender or I bought a blank 12 month calender from dollar tree. Make spaces on each day for breakfast lunch and dinner.
2. Write a list of meals- from family favorites to quick and easy to crock pot meals. Use the quick & easy and crock pot meals for those days when you don't have much time or energy to cook or meal prep.
3. When making your grocery list separate items into different areas of the store (Deli, Dairy, Meat,Produce,Frozen, Ect.) filling in your list and shopping with be easier and quicker since everything is in order and you won'd run around the store getting things you forgot.
4. Fill in your calender. I usually use the same breakfast 2-3 days a week and just alternate. The same with lunch.
5. Go shopping!
One of the great things about menu planning is the fact that everything is planned. I have a plastic tub in my fridge that I use for my meat for the next few days. I take out what's needed for the next 3-4 days, so no waiting for things to defrost!