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  • Writer's pictureTraci Hiebert

Menu Planning in Bite-Sized Pieces

It's August and we are right around the corner from the second New Year...September. In Montana, September brings cooler temperatures. We call it Indian Summer but let's be honest, our eight weeks of pure bliss known as summer in Montana has evaporated along with our stamina. We have stayed up late, gone camping and watched our grass turn yellow (Oh sorry! That's just me?) and now we are faced with school supplies, re-commitments to the gym, and the dreaded menu planning.

Menu planning is daunting! I have tried several methods before landing on this system. I have found that the secret is to break it down into categories and be realistic. Do you really cook seven nights a week. I don't. Try the method below. It takes about an hour at the most and you will have a month of menus, maybe even six weeks and it will get you through an entire season.

You can use Excel or Google Sheets.

Fall menu plan using Google Sheets

I used Google Sheets because I can access it at the grocery store from my iPhone.

STEP 1: In the first column, create seven categories of food that you or your family actually eat. Don't forget my personal favorite, leftovers. Pencil in one night a week that you dine out or eat popcorn for dinner. That leaves only five categories. Here are my fall categories: Mexican, Instant Pot, Easy Peazy, Leftovers, Asian, Free-for-All Friday, Subway Saturday. Yes, we eat at Subway at least once a week. Everyone can find something they like under $20 which is our weekly dining out budget. Winner! I have one client that chose meat types like beef, chicken, pork and then added an Easy Peazy night and a double the dish night. Pro Tip: Doubling just one dish each week will give you almost a whole other week of NO COOKING. Can you hear the anthem to Rocky in the background?

STEP 2: Bring out your recipes , Pinterest or ask your family and just fill in the blanks. Most of the time you will find that you have more menu ideas and can easily add a couple more columns and have a 6 week menu plan. My non-computer friend did this same thing with sticky notes on a blank sheet of paper. There is no wrong way and the options are endless while bringing an end to "What's for Dinner?"

STEP 3 for Over Achievers Only: If you want to take it a step further, spend about 30 minutes and type up a document that lists the needed ingredients next to each menu for the week. You will end up with four pages, one for each week. Save it to Google Docs and never be without a grocery list again.

RESULT: Four to six weeks of menus your or your family will actually eat while reducing mental overwhelm and increasing time for you to do something you love instead.

If your still intimidated, set up a friend date and do it together or contact me and we can schedule an online Face Time session.

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