Go here for Worksheet I.
Worksheet II ~ Menu Planning Examples.
Now that you have a list of menus garnered from your family, do some brainstorming. Get out your recipe clippings and your cooking magazines. Flip through and write down anything that seems like it would work for a family meal. Make sure it’s a complete menu!
Go through your list and try to figure out which things seem to be fairly inexpensive. These will all go into one document (do it on your computer if you want and file it under “recipes” as “cheap menus." Here are some examples from my very own “Cheap Menus” list:
Chicken Caesar Salad
Orange and Romaine Salad
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Mixed Stir-Fry Veg with Ginger and Soy Sauce
3 Bean Salad
Pizza [homemade of course – “bought” is not cheap!]
Zucchini in Cheese Sauce
Do you get the idea? Notice that I have included everything I would serve at that meal? Of course you can swap things out, but believe me, menu planning is a ton easier if you start with menus, rather than individual dishes. If you can arrange the menus by type (Italian, Chinese, bean, chicken, etc) the process is even easier.
Next, make a new document that’s “Special Occasion Menus” and on this one put the ones your family has come up with that are not so cheap; they are more Sunday fare, or you would really only make them for a holiday.
Here is an example of a restaurant meal that would be a little pricey to make at home. Note, however, that it would cost a fraction of what you would pay at the restaurant!
Mushrooms and onions
Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Parker house rolls
Here is a Thanksgiving menu:
Roast Turkey with Gravy
Brussels sprouts with chestnuts
Here is a Sunday menu:
These menus are what you and your family like. Cookbooks such as Joy of Cooking and Better Homes and Gardens have menu sections, and you should consult them; but those books have to appeal to a wide range of tastes and unknown desires. Whereas you are free to leave out things no one in your family likes, and put high on the list things they really do like! It’s your own personal compendium, and no two families’ will be the same!
These menu lists are the backbone of your weekly menu planning. For a while, you should consult them faithfully (then you will have memorized them!). These are the food thoughts that send your family heading for the restaurants. If you want to keep them home, this is what you have to make!
Now you are ready for Worksheet III.