Try to contain your excitement, people, for today is the day I reveal the super secret and fantastic menu planning methodology I’ve been hinting at for a while, but never explained, and also that I filched off of Simple Mom. If you don’t know about Simple Mom already, I highly recommend her site for the home organizational stuff she has in her archives. She’s got a bunch of stuff that will help you run your house like Martha Stewart on crank. I digress.
Anyway, I read about how Simple Mom does her menu planning months and months ago, and though I thought it was a fantastic idea I was way too lazy to implement it for, like six months. Then, about a month ago I finally did it, and though it was kind of time consuming to do, I’m glad now that I did it because everything’s all organized for like the next year and all I have to do is look at the plan each week to see what I need to get at the store(s). I should note that Simple Mom shows you how to plan for every meal, but I only do dinner because everybody is in different places for the other meals, so it’s not worth it for me to cook.
OK, so here’s what you do:
- If you are not already a member, sign up for delicious and create an online cookbook. Delicious is a bookmarking site that you can use to keep track of recipes you find online, as well as tag them by ingredient. Why does this matter? Well, say you need to make dinner and you have only a few ingredients in your refrigerator–all you have to do is input those ingredients and delicious will find recipes that use them together (provided your recipe collection is extensive enough). Simple Mom talks about how she created her online cookbook here if you’d like to have more explanation.
- If you don’t have a google account,
reasess your lifeopen one and get into Google Calendar. If you don’t already use Google Calendar, you should note that you can create as many calendars as you want: I’ve got one for me, one for Mini, and one labelled “Menu Plan.” A way to keep track of how many meals you have to plan is to look at your calendar for events and cross-check it for days you will be out (or whatever) and don’t need to make a menu plan.
- Open your delicious cookbook. Locate the recipes you want to use and click on the link to the recipe. Copy the URL.
- Open Google Calendar and in another tab and set it to monthly view. Now that you have a recipe you want to use, click on the day you want to make it. After clicking, you can enter the name of the meal, tell Google Calendar it’s for the “Menu Plan” calendar, and then go to “edit event details.” Paste the URL to the recipe in the notes box, in case you need to refer to it later.
- Under “repeats” on the “edit event details” window, choose “monthly.” Actually, you can choose whatever time increment you want, but I use monthly because I don’t want to repeat recipes more than once a month. You can do it every two weeks or whatever works for your family and your cooking expertise.
- Under “reminder” choose to have reminders sent as needed. Generally, I don’t have reminders sent to me unless there is something special I need to do ahead of time for a particular dish. For example, there is a dish that requires me to soak beans for 12 hours before I cook them, so I send a reminder to myself about this the day before cooking Italian White Beans With Pancetta.
And that, my friends, is basically it! I repeat once a month, so there’s no more planning involved unless we decide to rotate a recipe in or out of the plan, which can be done by hand. Also, if you want to change what you’re having one night, but not permanently, then you can “edit event” and choose “this instance only” so that the rest of the calendar is not affected. The best part, though, of this plan is that I sent the link to Mr. Right-Click, so he can look each day to see what’s on the menu. That way, if there’s an objection or he just doesn’t feel like eating whatever is on the menu that day, he can let me know ahead of time.