I've had several people (including "real life" friends) ask me how to menu plan. Today I'm going to share how I make a menu. :)
Most of the meals that we make have to pass a "criteria" of sorts...Easy, healthy, basic ingredients that we have on hand, and it has to taste good :)
Start off by writing (or printing out) a blank menu for the week (or month.) Be as vague or specific as you want to be. If you have never menu planned, start just with dinners. If you want to be specific, you can plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
I usually write on my menu any events that may be going on that week. Writing in our appointments, functions, etc. helps me to know how much time I may or may not have for any given meal.
The first step in menu planning is to take an inventory of the items you have on hand. Make an inventory for your freezer, fridge and pantry. See if there are any things that need to be used right away. (Even meat & veggies in the freezer need to be used up.) Come up with as many meals as possible with these items you have on hand. Plug them into your menu.
The next step is to take a look at your grocers sales flyer. If there is a really great sale on beef, then I think of the different meals I can make with that beef. (Roast, steak, kabobs, soups, stews, casseroles etc.) This is how I finish off my menu plan.
I also try to have one or two meals in my back pocket, ready to whip out on a crazy night. It's much better to have a home made frozen dinner, pizza, pasta etc. than to head to McDonalds.
Once you get a stash of menu's going, it's very easy to re-use different recipes. ;)