I have a method that I use for menu planning in our house. I have a notebook which contains a menu for six days on each page. I have about 12-15 pages. That is about 75-90 main recipes total. Each page has a variety of meals. For each week there is usually a meal with the main entree of beef, pasta, pork, fish, vegertarian and chicken paired witha grain and veggie. If all of these aren't covered than whatever is missing is usually replaced by having chicken additional days. (My fave protein)! I just rotate in no particular order through these recipes. I have listed where the recipe are located under the title so I know where I can find them easily. If there is no location, then it's my own personal recipe that I know from memory. Also, I have a dessert listed every two days. So we will have the same dessert two days in a row or if there is no dessert it is replaced with fresh fruit.
I must mention that each week there is a "REALLY" simple, casual recipe on one of the days. For example, this week it is Pesto Chicken Panini's on focaccia bread. I am pairing it with homemade baked potato soup. The paninis are easy peasy. Simply stacking the ingredients on the bread and cooking long enough on the George Foreman grill to melt the cheese and heat thoroughly. Also, this week I am making this Cherry Chicken Salad. I am taking the easy way out and just buying a rotisserie chicken to make both of the recipes. Cuts down on time spent actually cooking. All I have to do is chop some veggies and mix with the remaining ingredients on both days! How clever?
A great thing about this system is that you have a list of what you are making for an entire week right in front of you. You can look at the weekly grocery sales ads and choose a weeks worth of meals from your notebook and choose based on what is on sale that week. Genius! It cuts costs and lets you plan in advance. I find that this system saves me so much thinking. I am making my grocery list much earlier and sticking to it because I really do not need anything more than what is on it to feed the family for an entire week. Most of the recipes I use include pantry items that I already have on hand, so I just need to get the proteins and veggies I need. The only items I tend to buy not on my list are household items or the things Clint needs on a weekly basis which consists of a gallon of chocolate milk and white milk, tons of protein bars, a loaf of bread, peanut butter with omega-3's, a bunch of bananas, a dozen eggs that he boils, Gatorade and Ensure protein drinks. This is literally the list of items he takes to work with him every week! He is so healthy and disciplined. I am so lucky to reap the rewards of it...he's so smoking hot.
Back to the subject of menu planning.....
You are probably wondering why I don't have seven days listed on each page rather than six. I only do six because there are usually left overs from one of the days or we are simply not home or go out to eat.
I am wondering if anyone else has a method for menu planning different than what I described above? If so, I would love to hear it.