Sunday, February 3, 2013

Menu Planning Made Easy

While working on my menu planning board, I thought of another idea to share with you.  Problem is I have SOOO many thoughts/ideas around menu planning that either this could be a REALLY long post or I am going to have to break it down into several posts.  I'm going for the several posts idea, although this will still be a long post!

So this post will be about the websites/blogs that can help make menu planning easier for you.  Some of the sites go so far as to prepare not only the menu for you, but also a shopping list based on what is on sale that week.  If you aren't into couponing, at least by buying items that are on sale, you can save your family significant amounts of money each month.  And, buy multiples of items that are on sale and store in your pantry or freezer so you don't have to pay full price next time.

I do not take advantage of most of these services however I have done a trial period for a few and have incorporated several ideas into my system.  Since I already have a large stockpile I like to use what I have on hand.  I'm also a fairly picky eater and sometimes just don't care for the menus they have planned out.

Below is a list of some of the sites I've discovered that do the menu planning for you.  Some are free and many have a nominal fee (check them out via their trial period if offered).  Some offer just basic menu planning for a week or a month at a time (WHOA!) and others will create your shopping list for you.  Some even have pretty printables you can download and print to write out your plan for the week.  Be sure to check out their recipe pages too for even more ideas.

If you know of a menu planning site/service that should appear in this list, please send me their link and I will add it.  If you need more ideas, go to Google or even better is Pinterest and type in Menu Planning in the Search box.  Be prepared to spend a few hours looking through all the sites and on Pinterest understand up front that you will go off on many tangents as you keep clicking on pins not related to menu planning.  Don't say I did not warn you!!

5 Dinners 1 Hour
Chocolate on My Cranium (no menu planning but lots of delicious recipes)
Crockin Girls (just starting to post menu plans but check out their recipes!)
Deals to Meals (menus based on what is on sale that week)
Eat at Home Cooks
Jamie Cooks It Up (she has some great monthly meal plans)
Oh So Chi Chi (Great Menu board tutorial)
Menus for Mom
Once A Month Mom (Now this is SERIOUS menu planning - holy grail of menu planning)
Semi Homemade Mom
Shrinking Kitchen (Healthy meal plans)
Six Sisters Stuff (they have just started posting menu plans, but check out their list of recipes!)
Sout hern Mom Cooks (lots of printables too)
The Fresh 20
The Shabby Creek Cottage (simple menu planning printable)
Whipper Berry (LOVE this Chalkboard menu planning board - this is the one in the picture above)

My advice to you is try a few of the services and then start small.  Plan a week at a time rather than trying to plan out the whole month.  Also be flexible. Sometimes you will forget to pull out the roast to thaw, just switch days then. Sometimes you will decide to eat out or just are not in the mood for whatever you planned.  It's ok!  This is a plan, it is not set in stone.

One more piece of advice, do a Google search before buying the paid services to see if the service you are interested in is offering a code (usually promoted on blogs).

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