Food & Fitness

How to Menu-Plan

I weighed in yesterday morning at 3 lbs less than Saturday morning – go me! Nutrition is one of the most important things we can improve upon when we want to get healthier and/or lose weight. And good nutrition means planning menus.

I love planning menus but got rather bad at it over the holidays – and of course we didn’t really have the option of menu planning when we were in New York. But now that I’ve started my nutrition challenge, it’s really important that Mr. Science and I plan our menus together. First of all, we need to make sure that I’m following the challenge, and second of all we need to make sure that we both enjoy the meals we make. After all, what’s the sense in a nutrition challenge if you don’t enjoy it?

flowersHere’s how to plan your menus:

1) Gather together your resources. For us, this means our cookbooks. You might also find that online recipes work better for you, but personally I quite prefer holding a cookbook in hand :) Since January’s nutrition challenge is Detox, we chose five or six cookbooks to look through: the Looneyspoons Collection, three Tosca Reno books, The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, and a Light & Easy Cookbook. Then Mr. Science and I set aside some time to sit on the couch and go through each of the books, practically cover to cover (leaving out the meat sections and the baked good/dessert sections). Whenever we found a recipe that fit my criteria and looked tasty, we’d show it to the other and then we’d write the title of the recipe and the page number (and cookbook!) in a notebook. By the end, we had easily a couple dozen recipes that we liked the looks of.

2) Get out your calendar. Next, get out a calendar that everyone in the house can see. Go through the recipes you picked out and figure out which ones you’d like to make and eat this week. Keep in mind ingredients – if there are a couple recipes that call for mushrooms, for example, it’s a good idea to make them both in the same week. That way you know you’ll use everything in your fridge without ingredients going to waste. When you’ve decided what you’d like to eat for the next week, write down the recipe name, the cookbook it’s from and its page number on the calendar square. Don’t forget about leftovers, either! Be sure to factor those in where they’ll fit.

3) Make a grocery list. Now you know what your meals will be, so it’s time to collect your ingredients! Go through the recipes, figure out which ingredients you have on hand and which you need to buy, and write up your grocery list. Go on your shopping trip to get everything for the week (or at least for the next few days) so you won’t have to worry about missing ingredients for any of your meals.

And that’s it! From there you have all your tools at hand to cook brand new recipes. Choose your menus every weekend for the rest of the week so you know what it will all look like.

Are you a menu planner?

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4 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I like to try and plan menus – sometimes I get a whole week, other times only the next day. Life is simpler when I do make myself do it though, its so much easier to know exactly whats happening for dinner.

  2. Gena

    I plan out my entire menu for the week. Usually on Saturday morning I sit down and think of what meals we want (with GP’s input), then scour my cookbooks to fill in any missing days. From there I build my grocery list, and we all hit the store Sat or Sunday. I try to plan at least one meal (like a baked pasta) that I can make in advance and heat up on nights when I work later or just down feel like cooking! The planning ahead really makes it so much easier! No need to dig through the pantry and try to figure out what I can throw together at the last minute.

  3. Tobias Sebald

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