I plan my menu plan each week. I find it saves me money, time, and headaches after a long day! I will be sharing my own style of menu planning in a future snack, but I wanted to share this Menu Planning Resource with you because I think it has helped me immensely as I sit down to menu plan.
To menu plan before, I would sort through my past menus or bookmark recipes for inspiration. But, I realized there had to be a more efficient way to create my menu plan. I mean, I use and love all the great recipe sites: Allrecipes.com, RecipeZaar.com, Sparkpeople.com (yes, the weight-loss site has a great recipe catalog), etc. Each site allows you to create your own recipe box. But, since I’ve been blogging I have found so many great blogs that share personal recipes that cannot be added to any of those virtual recipes boxes.
So, the need arose to make my own recipe box for menu planning ideas. I wanted and needed something that I could enter each recipe (with a link) in a format that I could sort and catalog. I went to excel to find the solution that will work for me, and it’s working out pretty great so far.
This file includes all of the meals I plan each week with a direct link to it’s original source. If it’s something on my own site (like my yummy Homemade Noodles), I even include the link to it so I don’t have to search for it. But, the best part is that I can include all of the recipes I’ve found along blog-hopping with a link right to it so I can quickly build my menu plan and print off recipes!
The file is very straight forward, but I’ll explain the column headers.
Weekly Menu Y/N
If I am including the recipe, I put a Y in this column. Then, when I am done looking for ideas, I can sort this column and all the recipes I am making are sorted together. It’s just more efficient this way to know what to print off or pull out of my recipe binder each week.
The recipe name – short and sweet.
Just whatever the recipe is: main entree, side, dessert, beverage, etc.
I added this column so I could sort quickly to find the protein source since most recipes don’t start with the protein name. This week, I have a plentiful supply of pork tenderloin I got on sale a few weeks ago. I just sorted by protein for pork and it brought up several recipe suggestions lumped together (and gave me incentive to go find some more recipes to add to my personal list).
And, since my kids sometimes don’t like foods but I love them, I included the likes/dislikes column for my own comments. If I dislike it, it won’t stay on my list. But, if my kids dislike it and I happen to enjoy the dish, then they will still have the dish but I’ll remember that they weren’t fans (and I can alter up sides or something else for them).
I use this for labeling the recipes as crock-pot friendly, low-fat, quick, etc.
Feel free to use the file, I already have some of our favorites included for your to start your catalog (or delete them too – whatever works for your family)! Since this is a google doc, be sure to follow the post I wrote on Using Google Docs. It walks you through the steps for saving and printing the file. It is “view only” file so edits cannot be made to the online version BUT you can definitely save it to your personal system in excel to begin your own Menu Planning Recipe Box!
Hopefully you will find this helps you each week to scan your recipes/meals. You can quickly figure out what you will be eating for your menu by planning based on what you already have in the pantry and freezer!
*Photo Credit autumlovr