Preparing A Weekly Menu

Grocery shopping is a necessary activity whether you cook or not. Unless you eat out all the time (expensive), or retain your own private chef (lucky), grocery shopping is something we all have to face. I thought I’d share what I do in preparation for my weekly trip to the grocery. It works for me, maybe it will work for you too?

1. Every week hang a preprinted grocery list on the front of your refrigerator. When you run out of a staple, circle that item on the grocery list so your brain doesn’t forget. Use this same list when you make your weekly menu. (Note about my preprinted grocery list: The order of the ingredients matches the aisles of the grocery store where I shop. The food isn’t organized in specific categories. In my grocery store the toilet paper and paper towels are not in the same aisle as the napkins, so on my list they are in different aisles, rather than in a section headed “Paper Goods”. My list also contains mostly ingredients, not many processed or ready-to-eat foods. For these reasons you may need to customize the list. Let me know if you see anything I need to add to the list.)

2. One the day before you head to the supermarket gather the following tools: the preprinted grocery list that’s hanging on your refrigerator, weekly bones of our menu guide, weekly ads for your supermarket, a copy of your calendar, and your favorite writing instrument.

3. Using my suggested “bones of our menu” (or write your own), make and take the time to create a complete menu that includes all the food you’ll need during the upcoming week: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and if necessary, party food, special occasion meals, or food for a potluck at work. (Yes, you might have to make time. Even if you have to get up from reading this blog – go make some time to write your menu.) Make the menu as complete as possible. Having on hand all the food you’ll need for the upcoming week depends on the thoroughness of this menu. If you’re preparing a new recipe (and I limit myself to one, at the most two, new recipes a week), include all ingredients you need to buy. Try to remember to ask the others who live with you if there’s anything they know you need. It’s quite possible someone has emptied the peanut butter jar and you haven’t noticed.

4. Glance through the weekly ad for your supermarket and if pork tenderloin or chicken breasts are on sale, work those into the menu. Take advantage of 10/$10 specials, but only buy 1 or 2 at $1.00/each. Saving money at the grocery is a lot like painting – it’s 3/5 preparation. Prepare a thorough list and know what you’re going to buy, and by all means, know what’s on sale. Use coupons for items you normally purchase. Try not to let coupons lure you …

Bones of Our Supper Menus

Creating a basic weekly outline for supper helps me with my grocery shopping, because my secret to being an active cook, and not a food assembler, is having ingredients in the house. When I think of our upcoming week in terms of these “bones”, I end up cooking meals with more variety. I particularly enjoy Sundays, making an extended amount of time in my kitchen to try or develop a new recipe and perhaps even bake a seasonal dessert. I love the word supper. It’s super! To me, dinner is that meal served on Sunday afternoon.

Monday – Pasta Feast

Tuesday – Legume Creation

Wednesday – Meat/Poultry Night

Thursday – Soup or Fish Extravaganza

Friday – Pizza (mostly homemade, sometimes delivery)

Saturday – Market and evening activities dictate (have I been to a farm market or our city fresh market? Is a babysitter coming? Can we grill out? )

Sunday – New Recipe and Dessert …

Why Do I Share "What We Ate This Week"?

For the past few years I’ve kept a log of all the food I cook. Yes, I write everything down in a little notebook. Not that high tech. When I create a new dish without a recipe I write it down. When I prepare a new dish with a new recipe I write it down, along with the source of the recipe. Whether I make Red Beans and Rice, Barbecue Chicken, or Blueberry Muffins, everything is documented in the book. Now my method of organization uses this blog as an electronic list. Maybe it might inspire you to try something new. Maybe it might make you mutter to yourself, “she doesn’t really cook all that”, or “wonder what the kids eat?”. Maybe I’ll reach a point where I can provide recipes, or shopping lists, to go along with the menus. I’m a long way from reaching that point, so for now I’ll just share the menus. Use as you wish, or not. Thank you for your support.…