It’s no secret that menu planning is one of my favorite things. It’s always on my agenda for the weekend and makes my whole week go more smoothly. As a CSA member, I’ve found that weekly menu planning is the only way to ensure that I use up all the produce we get from the farm each week. Brian and I are members of a variety of groups that meet in the evenings, so I use my plans to make sure there’s leftovers or easy meals on tap for busy nights.
My method of menu planning hasn’t changed much since I first wrote about it in 2010, though now I typically do all my planning in an afternoon instead of throughout the week. In short, I check out what’s on the list of available vegetables from our CSA, scope out the supermarket circulars, and see what I need to use up that’s already on hand. I use that information to generate a menu for the week and add to my shopping list whatever other ingredients I need to make those recipes.
I’ve written a bunch about all the tools I use for menu planning: Evernote, Trello, and Google Drive, among others. It recently occurred to me however, that all my talk of tools and technology and farms may be overwhelming to new menu planners. I’m doing all this writing about menu plans, but I’m not making it as easy for you to use them as I want to be!
So, I’ve created this printable to help you get started. Even if you’re planning already, I’m finding this analog approach helps me create menus that are more mindful and useful. Once filled out, this paper can be easily carried with you to the store or the farmers market and posted on your fridge to remind everyone in your home what the plan is.
The top of this printable features 4 columns. The first column is the one I’m finding the most useful – “food to use up”. Here, list anything that you’re overrun with, or that’s about to spoil. These foods should definitely be included in your menu plan for the next week! The following three columns are for making shopping lists. In my case, I used one for the CSA and two for local supermarkets, but you could use the columns for the farmer’s market, warehouse stores or specialty shops.
The bottom of the printable provides space to list what you’re planning to have for dinner each evening. The space is totally open, so you can list meal ideas, cookbook pages numbers, or meetings or other events that you need to keep in mind.
This printable isn’t free, but if you buy one it will more than pay for itself. One purchase allows you to print the form an infinite number of times, saving you time, spoiled food and missing ingredients.