I used to open my cupboard doors, stare into their depths, and sigh, “What can I make for dinner?” I’m definitely not the creative type that can whip up dinner without a recipe, and I hated that feeling of not having a plan. After Eric and I got married, we brainstormed different ways to do menu planning to make dinner hassle-free.
We decided to assign different themes to the days of the week. This method calls for variety, while at the same time, limiting choices to make it easier to decide what to eat on any given day. Of course, we don’t always stick to these themes, and some dishes fall under multiple categories. We just roll with it.
Monday is “Ethnic Day” – delicious pastas and curry dishes. Tuesday is “Soup/Salad Day” – soups for winter, hearty salads for warmer weather. Wednesday is “Rice Day” – really any grain: fried rice, risotto dishes, and quinoa. Thursday is “Korean Thursday” – where Eric cooks the food of his homeland, like spicy jjigaes or noodles. Friday is “Sandwich Day” – although its more for foods that wouldn’t necessarily be good for a brown bag lunch to take to work the next day, things like sandwiches, baked potatoes, and the like. **We reserve the weekends for a more flexible eating plan, since we usually go out. I might make bread or vegetable stock, depending on what we need.
In the beginning, I had a hard time sifting through the many cookbooks, blogs, and websites to find ideas. I began to use Evernote to catalog favorite recipes. Usually, I compile my recipes from blogs online. It’s super easy: find a recipe (love it when there’s a picture!), then copy and paste into Evernote. I even type my own notes on the bottom, in case something doesn’t work, or I added my own twist to the recipe. On the occasion that I find a recipe in a cookbook or magazine, not a problem. I just take a picture and insert it into Evernote. This system is perfect for browsing through recipes quickly. If I add a recipe using my iPad, it’ll sync across all devices, which is super convenient. I also have the app on my phone, in case I need to look up a recipe in the grocery store. I could sing Evernote’s praises for a while..
The fun part is picking recipes, finding new ones and rediscovering old recipes. I browse through Evernote to look at the ingredients that I’ll need, compile a grocery list, and stock the cupboards for the week. This system has saved us so much time and effort, plus it helps us stay within our grocery budget.
This system works for us. Thoughts on how you do menu-planning?