So far this week, we've done a lot of talking about grocery shopping. Now it's time to tackle the other half of the food equation: menu planning.
Don't panic - there is no single "right way" to handle menu planning for your household, so I'm not going to tell you that you've been doing it all wrong! Instead, I'd like to encourage you. If menu planning is something you've struggled with, give yourself permission to start today with a clean slate.
How people plan menus changes repeatedly over time, and different styles work for different people. The best place to start is an honest examination of yourself and your current lifestyle. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I a planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants personality?
2. Do I (or does my family) have a fairly consistent meal schedule?
3. Are there any serious allergies or dietary restrictions in place in my home?
4. How often do I want to shop?
5. How much storage space do I have for food (frozen and dry)?
If you're a planner, someone with a pretty consistent routine or someone with serious allergy concerns in the house you'll likely benefit from a more methodical, specific system. Listing what meals you intend to have each day in weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly cycles will help you stay organized and limit the need to run to store.
If you're more a what-am-I-in-the-mood-for personality or have a variable schedule, OMAC (more on that tomorrow) or a generalized meal plan may work better for you. Setting par levels for primary, partially prepped ingredients (chicken breasts, rice, fish, frozen veggies) can ensure you always have what you need on hand to whip up healthy meals at home on short notice or to match your mood.
Those who live far enough out that shopping regularly is inconvenient or for people dealing with serious space limitations (studio apartments, for example), may find that they need to adapt their habits and routines primarily to cater to those factors.
Check back tomorrow's for Functional Friday feature to find out about OAMC and how it might help you with your menu planning!
How well is your current meal planning system working for you?