When I say menu, do you groan?
Still, it can be overwhelming to think ahead about what you’re going to eat for the next 21 meals. The trick is to just get started. I have an upcoming post that lays out a simple system for menu-planning, but before we get to that, I want to talk about mistakes.
Menu-planning mistakes, that is. If you’re new to menu-planning, make sure you don’t make these common mistakes.
Top 5 Meal-planning mistakes
1. Not making a menu at all!
I’ll admit, there are plenty of weeks when I don’t have a menu in place due to busy-ness or not knowing exactly how our week is going to pan out. But you know what? When 4:30 pm rolls around, I always regret not having a menu to rely on.
Even a simple menu that you have to change is better than none at all.
2. Thinking you have to plan out every detail.
If you’re making a menu, you’re the boss! You get to decide how much you plan out and how much you want to “wing it.” I usually plan just the main dish and maybe a side. When its time to cook, I check the fridge and see what produce needs to be used up and make a quick decision from there.
If you’re only planning one item per meal, the planning goes a lot quicker.
3. Thinking you have to be extra creative.
There is no menu-planning rule that states you have to serve something amazing at each meal. My breakfast menu usually alternates between oatmeal, eggs, homemade yogurt, and toast. I do put this on the menu but only because it I like filling in easy answers 🙂
It’s perfectly fine to put simple items on your menu – at least you’ll be prepared and you’ll have the ingredients in the house.
4. Thinking you cannot change the menu.
Your menu is not in control; you are! If the time comes and you don’t have the time to make what you’ve planned, just swap it out for something easier. If you had a rotten day with a sick kid or you got home late, ditch the menu and make something easier. Just move that meal to another day.
You shouldn’t avoid making a menu just because you feel it will be too limiting for you.
5. Being too ambitious in your meal choices.
The opposite of mistake #4 above is to be too ambitious when you plan. I am guilty of this sometimes.
On Saturday afternoon, I expect I’ll have all the time and energy in the world on Tuesday afternoon to cook up a feast. But I might feel differently when Tuesday rolls around and I no longer feel like making 4 complicated recipes. When this happens, I usually pare down the cooking a bit and call it good.
I try to learn from these lessons and plan accordingly next time.
I have a couple of super simple menu-planning forms for you. The purpose of these forms is to give you a place to start with your menu-planning. Once you’re a pro, you might want to move on to a fancier system.
I do have a menu in place for this week – yay me!
It’s scribbled on a piece of paper and it’s ultra-simple. It’s definitely not going to win me any prizes for creativity. But the menu is healthy, accommodates our various allergies and it won’t make me crazy trying to stick to it. This menu is going to get the job done and that’s what counts.