My Menu Planning Gameplan

Okay, so I haven’t actually used this yet, but I came up with a plan for menu planning (heh) that I thought I’d share in case it helps someone else out.  I have recently discovered Evernote (thanks to Mary-Heather) and have been using it for recipes and shopping lists.  It was so handy over the holidays because it syncs to my phone and my iPad so I could always have the recipes I needed handy depending on which device I could find at the moment.  I’ve been reading about people making menu planning binders and such, but that seemed like a lot of work to me, so this is my version of a menu planning binder.

Step One – Gather Recipes

I get most of my recipes online, so I’m clipping all of my commonly used and some newly discovered recipes into Evernote.  I’ve set up a few categories for the recipes.  When I use the little elephant clipper button that is loaded into my browser, I find it easier with many recipes to highlight them first.  Then, I don’t get all of the commentary, I just get the ingredients and instructions.  Also, If you drag and drop two Evernote notebooks together, it will put them under the same heading that you can rename (I renamed mine menu planning) making it very easy to find everything you need.

All Notebooks - 39 notes
Step Two – Make Weekly Menu Grid & Add Recipes to a Weekly Notebook
I made a little menu grid that I will use every week.  It lists the days of the week and the category for that day.  I copy and pasted the grid with that information to another note to create the plan for every week before I filled it in for this week.  Then, I filled it in with the meals for this week that fit each category.  You can make a grid using your chosen dimensions pretty easily in Evernote, I pointed to that option below.
Beside each menu item, I put the points amount as I’ll be doing Weight Watchers in January (along with the rest of the world with new years resolutions to eat better) 😉 so that’s what the numbers there represent.  You can see I added in a couple of leftovers days and also put the slow cooking day on the night C1 has swim lessons as I know I won’t have time to cook that evening.
As I went through each of my menu categories deciding what we’d have each night, I copied those recipes into a “Recipes for the week of 1/1/2011” note so all my recipes for the week will be there and handy.  You can do this by control clicking (or right clicking) on the note and choosing to copy it to another notebook.
Step Three – Make Grocery List
The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to copy all of the ingredient lists into the bottom of my menu note and then remove the stuff I already have and sort it.  I made a little grid that is in the order of my grocery store and filled in the ingredients that remained after I deleted all of the ones I already have.
I estimate the set up of all of the recipes and the grids, etc. probably took me an hour or so.  I’ll continue to add recipes as I come across them.  The actual selection of recipes for this week’s menus and the making of the grocery list took about half an hour.  So, there is a bit of work involved but I think this is going to make things much easier for me throughout the week to have a plan.  Also, I plan on saving these plans in evernote and then using them again after some time has passed.  If I can create 10 different meal plans and just cycle through them, my weekly work will be significantly diminished.
I’ll keep you posted on how this goes for me.  Let me know if you try something like this and have any tips as I’m just figuring this out as I go along.  🙂

3 thoughts on “My Menu Planning Gameplan

  1. I had no idea you could create a grid in EN- I am totally trying this! I do something similar to save recipes but hadn’t gone the next step. (I also tag all my recipes with WW points.)

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