At first I just did one week at a time. The kids and I would sit down together and they would tell me the different meals they wanted to eat over the following week. I bought a menu note pad for my fridge. It worked, but I found us eating a lot of the same meals. Spaghetti, pizza, & PB&J sandwiches were almost always added to the menu. Therefore we burned out on our favorite foods quickly.
Next I decided that if I could do this every week I could take some time and do it for a whole month. Then I made up this menu.
I then created a master grocery list. I looked a my menu and typed a list of everything it would take to cook or eat that meal. I then divided the list into the common categories found in the grocery store. I considered dividing it into the isles of my most commonly use store but did not like how this limited me to just one place to shop. This is the list that I came up with:
One of my closest friends calls me the "Binder Queen". I love them! I have one for near everything in my life. So why not have one for my menu as well? A picture of my menu binder can be seen HERE.
It has menu cards on the front that can be easily switched for quick changes or to add in a new recipe that is not on my sample menu. I love to try all those neat Pinterest recipes. The inside tabs are: shopping lists, recipes, sample menus, menu cards for breakfast, lunch, & dinner, and a tab to store all the extra cards for quick additions. I also have two clear zipper pouches. The first contains a highlighter, pen, & sharpie marker. The second is for coupons. I am not a big couponer but do hang onto high value and commonly used ones. The binder has magnets on the back to keep it conveniently on my fridge and for easy removal to the grocery store.
We have been using this method of menu planning for about a year and seems to be working ok. Although, I have begun to toy with the idea of shopping for groceries for a whole month instead of weekly. More on that in the future...
If you would like to have better & editable copies of the menu (MS Excel) or shopping list (MS Word) emailed to you, please comment with your email below. I will get them out to you in my spare time. Please be patient though, a homeschooling mom of 7 littles doesn't have a lot of spare time. :-) That is why I created this menu plan in the first place! I love letting organization think for me, thus allowing me more time to love on my babies!