Conquering Menu Madness
Do the innocently
asked words “What’s for dinner,” drive you mad?
You are certainly not
the only one!
Every night, it is
like we are caught on the track with the dinnertime train headed
right for us. It is almost like it’s a surprise that it is
dinnertime….yet again. If you feel like you are constantly
reinventing the wheel, then its time for you to start taking
advantage and organizing your own creativity.
Everyone knows that
it takes less time, less money, and causes less stress to plan a
week’s worth of meals and grocery shop only once for the week. That
is so much easier said than done.
The problem does not
at all lie with the grocery shopping and hauling in the bags. The
problem lies with coming up with a week’s worth of meals. Sometimes
it is hard to answer that one question of “what’s for dinner” much
less come up with a week’s worth of dinners. As much as we like to
cook, with family activities, it is not possible to take the time to
try a new recipe every evening.
The solution to those
times when you feel deprived of ideas or are in a time-crunch is to
develop your own notebook of menus.
For most people, if
they write a week’s worth of meals down and post it on the fridge,
at week’s end, it goes in the trash. Instead, it needs to be kept.
Would your family really know if you repeated a week you did two
I wouldn’t take a
million dollars for my menu binder (okay, maybe I would take a
million dollars but you get my point!). It contains meals I know how
to make, recipes I have tried and my family likes. It is customized
just to suit me.
Here’s how to get
Purchase a 2-inch three-ring binder
and a package of sheet protectors. Place the sheet protectors in
the binder. Label your binder “My Menus.” Labeling everything is
one of the keys to staying organized.
Each week, save your menu. It
doesn’t have to be fancy. It might be scribbled on school
notebook paper, typed on the computer, or even have phone
messages written on it. The important thing is not how it is
written but that it is saved. Slip it into the sheet protector.
Before saving the menu, be sure, if
you used a certain recipe, to note where to find that recipe.
Note the website or cookbook so you can find it again.
Divide by season. Unlike recipes,
which require lots of dividers, I have found menus really only
need to be divided into cold weather meals and hot weather
meals. Seems like we are either on a soup/stew/hot casserole
binge or a salad/grill out/keep cool plan. Dividing the menus
into meals for hot or cold weather seems to work fine.
Don’t give up. It will take awhile
to accumulate a batch of menus. Keep adding to the book. Pretty
soon, you’ll be able to turn to it when in a hurry for ideas. It
is also handy when passing the task to someone else in the
family for grocery shopping. They can easily gather ideas for
Of course, I like to try new
recipes and work them into my menu plans. I also seek new menu
ideas. There are some great dinner party menus on this site.
You’ll find inspiration in them at