Making a menu before you shop will save you lots of money and frustration. No more running to the store at the last minute because you can't complete a recipe! No more running to Fast Food Junkie Store because you don't have anything to serve for dinner, or you don't have time to cook it up! Follow these steps to start making your menus:
1. Print out a blank calendar.
2. Label each week day column with a theme. For example, at my house Sundays are for casseroles, roasts, or bbq. Mondays are for crockpot meals or soup. Tuesdays are for pasta dishes or Italian. Wednesdays are for Mexican anything. Thursdays are for chicken or pork. Fridays are for sandwiches or burgers. Saturdays are for pizzas, bbq, or going out (cooks deserve the day off from time to time!). Choose what works for you, be flexible, and don't forget to allow yourself a day for left-overs!
3. Make your cooking easier by cook-once-serve-twice meals. For example, I will cook a ham, then serve fried ham one night, ham salad another night, ham omelets on another. Just don't serve the meals back-to-back or your family might revolt! Oh, and by the way, although this method seems to be a new idea ("OAMC" or Once-a-Month-Cooking) it's been around forever! Just ask your grandmother!
4. Save your menus! You can re-use them and save even more time! I've known some cooks who rotate 3 or 4 menus all the time.
The less you have to think about your cooking and shopping, the better. Having a plan makes it all come together. As the old saying goes, "Plan your work and work your plan."