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Kitchen Chat, Week Two: Menu Planning

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Good Monday morning, my friends ... I hope this post finds you well!

Welcome to week two of Kitchen Chat! I have a fresh pot of coffee waiting - as well as a hot pot of tea - so please pick your poison and pull up a chair. Care for a warm slice of banana bread?


This week's topic of discussion is menu planning, and that's just a huge area to explore, but here's what I want to know ...

What are your feelings on menu planning - is it something you do (or avoid), and if so, do you enjoy it? Or does it drive you crazy, and how so?

What works well for you? What confounds your menu planning?

Do you find any websites or books helpful? (Please name names.)

What's on your menu plan this week?


Menu planning

I do try to menu plan as much as possible - I love to be as organized as I can, especially in areas that directly affect my everyday life. A neatly arranged linen closet is wonderful, but at the end of the day it doesn't contribute to my well-being. Having my family's meals figured out and ready to go? Now that makes me (and them) happy. :)

I've talked about menu planning in the past (archives here and here) but I think menu planning is one of those things that we can hash out repeatedly. I'm always looking for new ideas - trying to do it better or make it simpler and shake things up now and again. Because goodness knows, my meal plans get tiresome!

So my overall feeling about menu planning is - it interests me (absorbs me, even) but it also drives me crazy because it's hard to keep on top of it. If I don't devote adequate time to menu planning, it all goes awry and then the kids are asking me what's for supper and I just have no idea. Or I'm spending way too much money on take out and/or ignoring good food in the fridge, which will soon evolve into science experiments.

I'd say time constraints confound my meal planning most of all (not taking or having the time to put thought and energy into it), whereas what I've found to work well is ...

1. Having a dinner plan in place before shopping (thereby shopping for items that will make dinner-making easier and more efficient). At least one week planned is a hope, but a whole month is a goal. (And having a list of my family's favorite/regular meals to work from is also helpful.)

2. Coordinating with our calendar as I write out the week's menus. I can see what nights somebody might be out or late coming home - what nights are better for more time-consuming meals vs. nights that demand something simple. And of course, any seasonal or holiday events that dictate a special meal.

3. Having a well-stocked pantry, fridge & freezer - for obvious reasons. This might be a topic for a whole separate post.

4. I think that's it.


Websites - I love the Taste and Tell blog as well as Skinnytaste.com - they both feature really fantastic seasonal and holiday recipes. I don't do Pinterest (yet), but I have "liked" a lot of food-related pages on Facebook, and get a lot of recipe ideas in my news feed. And of course, there are my magazines - by their very nature they are great for seasonal ideas.

 And finally, my menu plan this week:

Monday: turkey kielbasa with roasted potatoes/carrots/peppers/onions 

Tuesday: homemade pizzas, vegs & ranch dip

Wedesday: grilled panini (cheese/turkey or ham) and squash soup

Thursday: TBA

Friday: cheese ravioli, lemon-butter broccoli and parsnip pie

Saturday: chicken caesar kabobs, ice cream & raspberry sauce

Sunday: Irish Brunch - still working on menu!


So there is my take on menu planning, my friends ... I'd love to hear yours! I think there is much more I could say, so I will probably jump into the comments when and as I can.

Remember - in addition to leaving your thoughts here, you are welcome to use my Kitchen Chat button (generously dontated by the lovely Divina!) and link back here from your own blog. Perhaps you'd like to do a post of your own? Maybe you've written about menu planning in the past? Any way you want to share, I'm all ears!

In the meantime, have yourselves a good Monday, and thanks so much for stopping by! I'll see you here again very soon ...