Today I have been working on developing a simple menu system for our home. It is quite simple and makes shopping easier. To begin, I developed a simple menu card. Essentially it is an index card cut in half and labeled with a simple menu plan for each meal. At times our home does not flow on a typical three meals a day plan, but knowing that a pre-made plan is created really takes a lot of pressure off of deciding what to make each day.
Here is a sample of what a typical menu card may look like:
To begin with I decide what meal the menu will be B/L/S (Break fast Lunch or Supper).
Next I choose a main dish (MD). Then I choose a side dish (SD) and bread (B). The (D) may represent either a drink or a desert or both.
After choosing what basic foods I will be serving at the meal, I indicate where I received a recipe for the dish. The box on the far right has a location for that purpose.
Following that, I indicate how long each dish takes to prepare. That way I can easily glance at the card and plan my days accordingly. On the right side of the arrows I have a location that indicates how much "hands on time" I have to dedicate to the dish in order to prepare it.
Finally at the bottom of the card I have indicated which foods I may need to make in advance a day or two and/ or have the option of doing so.
After the entire front side of the menu card is completed, I compile all the recipes I will in include in the meal and then I create a "mini" shopping list on the back of the card. That way I know what ingredients I will need for the meal.
Here is an example:
On the back of the card I would create a "mini" shopping list. For example this menu card would include : Lasagna noodles, Spaghetti Sauce, Cottage Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Ground Beef, Beans, Sugar, Yeast, Honey, Dry Milk Powder, Oil, Salt, Flour, Milk, Garlic Powder.
After I have completed several menu cards I can easily use the cards to create a weekly menu plan. As long as all of the cards contain favorite meals....I should not have to worry about complaints at the dinner table.
My weekly menu plan can be developed easily by using a simple envelope system (yet to be completed) or hand written. I can then glance at the back of each menu card to develop a shopping list by comparing what is already on the"mini" shopping list to the big shopping list and to what we already have in the cupboard. Following the creation of the shopping list I can create a day to day plan for food preparation so that meals are not late or spread out and all the good dishes may be served at each meal.
Note: I do not indicate amount of ingredient needed on the shopping list so that adjustments can be made for larger family sizes as God chooses to bless us ;)
In the future I hope to have a simple list of ingredient cost....so that I can create more cost effective meals. Also, I hope to develop a computerized mini program that helps me add recipes, create menus and shopping lists easily and effectively. That may take some patient timing.