I realize the mere mention of menu planning can really put a damper in your day but it doesn't have to. I am probably the odd bird here but I love to menu plan and wait for it...wait for it...I love to grocery shop! Say what!? Yes I do love to grocery shop and I even menu plan and grocery shop for my grown daughter. Just one of the many mom services I offer at no charge.

I plan at least two weeks of meals at a time and sometimes I will even do a month. Of course I have the trusty arsenal of rotating meals but I do try to throw in a new recipe here and there. I have a Pinterest board full of recipes to inspire me. I am a "throw this in and throw that in" kind of gal and it just works. I think part of being a good cook is that I actually enjoy cooking (I told you I was an odd bird).

I feel with my planner at hand menu planning can be painless. With the Menu Planning Add-On Pages* it is even more organized. One of the ways to help with time is that when I am planning I organize my shopping list based on the flow of the grocery store I am going to. Since I shop at the same store every time this is pretty easy to do. If you don't organize by the flow of the grocery store just organize in categories such as "deli," "meat," etc. Utilize a cute paperclip or binder clip to attach your coupons for that shopping trip in your planner and then they will be readily available at checkout. At our store we utilize a lot of digital coupons which is nice so we can clip ahead of time and then if it is a really good deal on something I will buy it for stock items or future meals.

I also browse the online sale ads for my store during my planning phase and base my menu selection according to what is on sale. While I am at the store they sometimes are running specials on family packs of chicken etc so even if I do not need these items I will purchase if the price is right and then the next few weeks of menu planning is based around what I have bought ahead. This will also help to save money in the next weeks as you plan your upcoming menus. I use a food saver since it is just the two of us and buying in family packs saves alot and I can portion the way I would utilize the item.

I also used to write the meals we are having each day in my weekly views when i didn't have the nice "Menu" add on section so that you can always go back months when you need menu ideas and use them again. Having a monthly white board is a good idea so that you can transfer your meals onto the board from your planner so that your  family can see what is for dinner saving you from hearing "Whats for dinner tonight?"

How do you make menu planning easier?

*Menu Planning Add-On pictured is the previous version.

This blog post was written by Debbie Crowder for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. For more information about Debbie visit her blog at www.craftinchaos.com. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.