How many articles have you read claiming they will teach you how to implement menu planning in five easy steps? I call hogwash!
The disorganized need concrete steps to follow and how to get the information they need, in a way that applies to their circumstances. I will demonstrate by using questions to illustrate my point.
Between what’s coming up on the calendar, plans we have outside the home, sporting activities, and family commitments, we lead busy lives. The first problem I run into is missing information. I was lucky when I had the answer to ONE of these questions when I was struggling to get control of our food bill!
- Do you know what you have in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer?
- What is on sale this week?
- Are your recipes accessible in the kitchen?
- Why do you want to menu plan?
- Where will you buy your necessities this week?
Lack of Organized Space
I thought life was difficult when we lived in a small house. Shockingly, when we moved and I had more space, I just made MORE of a mess! I can almost guarantee what you think will solve your problem is the wrong target. How we will get control of our current space is the only consideration that will help us NOW.
- How many counters do you have available to use (as in how many counters are not covered with clutter)?
- Where do you keep your staples and essentials?
- Do you have a stockroom or location for surplus items?
- How many expired items live in your refrigerator?
- How will you incorporate stockpiled items into your menu?
Unclear Idea of Needs and Wants
Determining future needs is a key to both budgeting and menu planning. While you can’t anticipate every future need, you can learn to be prepared by asking yourself some questions each week.
- How many lunches is your family packing this week?
- What items have you run out of this week?
- How often do you need to shop?
- Do you have a plan to use your perishables?
- Which meals will you include in a menu plan- all meals or just dinners?
- Will you plan weekly or monthly menus?
No Decisions Have Been Made
It’s impossible to navigate when you don’t have a well-defined starting point and ending point. The following is a list of basic considerations. Without a clear idea of the how’s and why’s, it is impossible to meet your destination.
- What is your household food budget?
- Are items other than food included?
- Which strategies will you implement this week to lower your grocery bill?
- Are you spending more money or time, and do you want to change it?
- Is commitment to meal planning a family decision?
You Can’t Anticipate or Maneuver Changes
I call this chaos. Some people call it Murphy’s Law. The only way to win is to have a plan and continue to organize. Whenever I let the chaos win (by giving up or giving in,) my situation invariably gets worse! I only thought I had a mess before the emergency!
- How will you handle a loss of electricity for three days?
- Do you have a backup menu if your family gets the stomach flu?
- Faced with a surprise snow day, what will you feed the kids for lunch?
Family Unity is Missing
I believe that if you are menu planning for more than yourself, then the other parties thoughts and opinions must be considered. They must be educated on the cost of their favorite items. A team mentality is an ultimate way to win. This takes work, commitment, education, and a changed point-of-view (which is not easy for anyone.)
- Is the commitment to meal plan a family decision? (Repeated for emphasis! Important!)
- Does your husband expect steak dinners when you agreed to a ground beef budget?
- How do you make substitutions that don’t feel like deprivation?
- Are you meeting each week to discuss what family members want and need?
- Have you determined a large goal that makes it easier to compromise?
Not Defining and Planning for Transitions
Transitions are difficult when they are imposed, instead of chosen. If you are lost due to a dietary change for health reasons, the pressure is enormous. By defining the transition, you can laser focus on the changes necessary to meet the needs.
This is so individual, I can’t cover all aspects. It’s so important, it also can’t be ignored!
- Do you find yourself requiring adjustments for your diet that you don’t understand (diabetic, gluten-free, etc.?)
- Would you like to include more organic foods in your diet, but aren’t sure how?
- Do you struggle to get your family on board with needed changes (dietary or financial?)
- What materials will you use to educate yourself on the nutritional changes required?
As you can see, there are many facets of menu planning that go unaddressed in most articles. While no single post can encompass them all, we can address each question with a long-term strategy to incorporate small changes that will make big differences.
Only when you have all the relevant information can you be successful at planning meals. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Only YOU can figure out what you’re missing and what strategies fit your family.
In my experience, figuring out what I don’t know is a huge leap of progress. I can’t fight an invisible enemy. Disorganization, lacking answers, not having family support, and not knowing WHY you are menu planning cause confusion and chaos. We would love to be a part of your journey to kick these factors out of your life permanently!
Introducing the Bullet Journal
I’ve created a Kitchen Bullet Journal for my own use that answered many of these questions for me. When I was making the journal, it became obvious to me that I couldn’t meal plan because there are too many variables! I was relieved to realize I wasn’t dumb or lazy!
The journal is designed to point out these shortcomings and help us develop a plan for that area. I will show you the four steps to creating this resource for your home: build it, fill it, use it, and refine it. I believe it will make drastic changes in how you use your kitchen.
The first thing I did was whittled my pantry down to 31 ingredients.
If you’d like to see my shopping list, menu plan, and instructions for free, please sign up for my mailing list. We share weekly ideas and tips to make your journal more useful for you!
Please comment on the post with any questions or suggestions you have. This is a continuing education for me and everyone has a piece of wisdom to share! Your tip could make a huge difference to someone who needs to hear it now! You are also welcome to contact us if you’re shy!
Menu Planning Meets the Bullet Journal
This is a concise way to keep all of your information in one location. Even the chronically disorganized (like me) can use this system. It was created with note takers, paper savers, and list makers in mind.
There is always value in reading about how other people menu plan. Tips and tricks are useless when you have no framework to apply them to. The following guides are fantastic articles on how to implement menu planning. The beauty of the kitchen bullet journal is you can take the tips you need, fit them into your personalized system, and leave the information that doesn’t apply or you’re not ready for!
To Share or For Support:
Join our Judge-Me-Not Meal Planning Facebook Group. I’ve gathered a wonderful group of specialists to assist you in your personal journey. We have experts on nutrition, dieting, lifestyle changes, and the basics (that’s where I come in!) We maintain a strict environment that does not allow bullying, shaming, and passing judgment is not tolerated (whether the offender agrees with our assessment or not.) Our intention is to gently educate and boldly encourage you!
P.S. I would LOVE to hear what you think! You are always welcome to contact me!