My monthly meal planning process has several components. As I have evolved my system over the past several years, the amount of time it takes to complete this task each month has diminished. Some months, I work my system well, adding recipes I want to try, or old favorites I’m craving to my ongoing list. Other months I get busy and find myself scrambling during the last week to put together a menu for the next month. Life happens. The important thing is that eventually the tools you need to do the job are all in place, and the process is less stressful than staring at a blank sheet of paper each week and trying to figure out what to make. Or, falling into a pattern of having the same meals over and over. If that works for you, then great. I prefer a little more variety.
After I get my list written out on a sheet of looseleaf paper, it gets transferred into my Bullet Journal. At the start of each month I have a spread of pages that I refer back to as the month goes on: a monthly calendar, my menu, a project list for the month, a gratitude log, and a monthly calendar that tracks my college assignments.
It may seem redundant to have a menu board in my kitchen that lists what’s for dinner all month AND a layout in my Bullet Journal that tells the same thing. It’s not – to the extent that I use my monthly layout. Having that page in my Bullet Journal allows me to start planning my grocery list when I am away from my kitchen, but still have access to technology. I can look up any recipes that I’ve saved on Pinterest, and note the ingredients I need from those. If my husband texts me that he’s going to have to work late and will just grab something for dinner; I can decide before I go home if I want to make what I had planned, or if I’m going to run to the store and grab a few things for a quick salad.
The thing I like most about having these monthly layouts, however, is that they allow me to be able to go back and see what dinners we’ve had in the past months. This helps with my meal planning when I get stuck for ideas, and also prevents that “Didn’t we just have this?” problem. Okay, the only one who ever has that problem is me, but you can see what I’m getting at here, right? Once you wipe off the dry erase menu board, that menu is gone forever. Having the layout in a Bullet Journal is forever. Or, at least as long as you keep your journal.
One last thing, that I don’t think I hit upon yet during this series: on my menu board, and in my layout, I use a code to help myself and others with that night’s dinner. At the top right of my menu board, I list what the code means: P=Pinterest, F=Fridge, Z=Freezer, CP=Crockpot. Some of those are obvious: crockpot indicates that it needs to be made in the crockpot, and freezer indicates that it’s a freezer meal and it just needs to be thawed and reheated. If it says Pinterest, that means the recipe is on my Pinterest page, and the name of the recipe usually gives away what category it can be found under (see my previous post for what that is all about). Fridge recipes are recipes I’ve printed out, or pulled from magazines and saved in my daily organization filing system (for you GTD fans, it’s my tickler file). I put the recipe in that day’s file at the start of the month, and as I empty that file into my inbox the night before, the recipe gets hung on the fridge. Other letters are codes for different cookbooks, and recipes without codes can be found in our personal recipe books.
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