Menu Planning 101

I've realized lately that I may be a rare breed of human that literally cannot turn off the 'list making' function in my brain. Please tell me there are others who do this?? I have always loved planning, list-making, and organizing. Luckily, this has come in handy with cooking for my husband and I. Every week I plan out a menu of meals for the week that meet this criteria:

1. The groceries for the week must be no more than $50-70 (I've gotta save up for my online shopping habit, of course) 

2. The menu needs to have variety - I CANNOT eat the same leftovers for 4 days straight 

3. The recipes need to use up all my fresh ingredients by the end of the week so I don't waste food, because otherwise when I finally remember to use them 3 weeks later they're gross and moldy. 

My inspiration for menu planning is usually based upon a star ingredient (i.e. "cilantro week") that I wouldn't normally use all up for one meal. It helps to have a place to lay out the plan for the week, like a chalkboard or white erase. I use an adorable print out from Caravan Shoppe and have it framed so I can write on it with a dry erase marker, and easily update it if our plans change. 

Each Monday I'll be posting my menu plan for the week- equipped with links to recipes, an easy-to-follow grocery list, and an "opt out" recipe that you can remove if you want a free night to eat at a restaurant instead of cooking at home. So if you're looking for a cheaper and easier way to feed yourself (or your family!) check back this coming Monday for all you'll need to start Cilantro Week! 

bon appetit