Menu Planning 101

Menu Planning is a pain. I have done weekly menu plans, dinner plans only, detailed daily menu plans, and no menu plans at all. Every time I end up quitting because it’s too much of a pain to keep up or I get tired of doing it. I’ll admit it is definitely a time drain. With children, exercise, and activities it’s hard to find extra time for things like creating a menu, but I want to lose weight. The best way to do that is to have a menu plan so it is easier for me to track what I’m putting in my mouth and know I am eating healthy meals. It is so worth every extra minute you don’t have to spend doing this. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to lose weight or needed to track your nutrition. You can make sure you are eating your 5 a day fruit and veggies. You are getting enough protein. You are not eating too many carbs. All of these things are easier to track when you get it all written out on paper.

Where to start – I started by finding a template I could use to fill in the correct number of meals. I wanted a spot for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and 2 Snacks. I have been using this one for now.

Menu Template

I would love to have a more permanent one on my refrigerator someday but for now the template works.

Planning Day – Set aside a day to plan out the menu every week or once every couple of weeks. How often you do it is up to you. I like to do it every Monday night, and I go grocery shopping every Tuesday. I buy a lot of fresh produce, so I find that I need to go grocery shopping every week. However, I know that’s not convenient for everyone so adjust to do what works for you, but make time for planning. It will be worth it.

Breakfast – I rotate our breakfasts between 5 different meals and just keep them the same from week to week. I find that this adds enough variety for my family and we actually enjoy it.

Lunch – For 5 days out of the week, we keep the same lunches for the most part. Sometimes, I mix them up, but not too much. We aren’t big lunch people, just simple meals for lunch. Sundays are always different. Every other week we do something different. First and Third Sundays we go for a hike and Second and Fourth Sundays we go to the beach. This makes lunch something that we need to bring with us as a picnic style meal. I try to vary these meals. We also have a leftovers day once a week.

Dinner – I like to try new recipes for Dinner. The last two weeks I have had a Mexican Food night and Italian Food Night, but that’s not always the case. There are a few meals that I would never dare to remove from the menu. My daughters favorites are not to be messed with or else. lol

Snacks – I have 2 Snacks per day on the menu. Sometimes I have time for both and sometimes, honestly, I do not have time. I try to keep snacks easy to prepare for everyone, so each person can make their own snack.

Time Saver Tip – After you have the first template filled out for your first week, save it. Do not delete it! When you need to make up the next weeks menu, pull it out and edit it. You may find you don’t want to change some things and maybe only a few things. It will save you a lot of trouble and time.

If you are curious about my meal plans, I will start posting them soon.

Please remember to include foods you like and are going to eat in your menu plan. If you don’t like green beans, then do not put them on your dinner menu. You will not eat them and will then look for an excuse to get around that meal, believe me I know because I’ve done it. Also be willing to try new foods at least once. It will give you new ideas on healthy recipes and you may find a meal that is a new favorite. We have had this happen multiple times.

Make sure you are including enough calories for you. The best way to figure out what’s best for you is to speak with a professional dietician or nutritionist. There is a lot of information out there, but remember each person is different. You not only want to make sure you are not eating too much, but you never want to eat too little either. If you eat too little then your body will start to eat your muscle tissue in order to get the nutrition it needs. I am not a dietician or nutritionist and nothing I write here in my blog can take the place of professional advice.

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