I have tried a lot of different menu plans. I used to assign the meals for the whole month by writing what we would eat on the calendar. The problem with that was we didn't ever want to eat what was on the calender the night it was assigned or plans would change and we ended up wasting food. In the past I have planned meals for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Now, to keep things simple I only plan for dinner.
Breakfast is usually cereal, or oatmeal or other things like pancakes, waffles or eggs and we almost always have the ingredients on hand. For lunch we usually eat things like sandwiches, cheese crisps, wraps, mac & cheese....things that don't require a recipe. The only thing I have to really plan for is Dinner and this is how I do it! ; )
I make a list of dinner options. I look in the fridge and see what needs to be used. I try and plan the foods around what we have or what's on sell. Once I have my list I hang it on the fridge so we have options throughout the week. Next I go to the recipe binder and pull the index cards for the recipes that are on the dinner options list. This is a good chance for me to check and see if I need to buy any extra ingredients. If I do need ingredients then I add it to my grocery list (on the side of the fridge on a notepad.)
I love this because when it's time to cook I still have some choice as to what we want to eat, but not 1,000 options. I have easy access to the recipe and know that I have all of the ingredients.
This is working good for our family and the stage we are at right now! I don't have a set day that I make a list, but it seems to happen Sunday night most of the time. When we are running low on options...that's when I make a new options list and plan grocery shopping.
Sometimes I'll make double and throw half in the freezer for nights I don't want to cook. To keep things different I have made a goal to add a new recipe to the options list each time it's created. This week I added the chicken-cordon-bleu-pasta to our list....it was SOOOO yummy and i'm sure will become a regular.
I LOVE these simple magnet clips... When It's time to cook I like to put the recipe in the clip and hang it on the stove (right next to where I usually prepare the meals. ; )
What do you do to plan your meals?