Live Healthy | Live Vibrant

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Weekly Menu Template

I have been creating weekly menus for years. Having been a working mom with lots of volunteer activities and very busy kids, taboot, I learned early on to be efficient in designing meals and making grocery lists. My goal was to get it all organized and go to the grocery store once a week, on Sundays. It has worked well. I never took the time to create a template but always drew lines on a pad of paper, creating a new menu grid for each week. The recipes would be noted and on what page. Now I have added the calories for each serving. Thanks to my husband, he took my updated hand-drawn template and made it into an excel spreadsheet. I love it! I uploaded it as one of my pages on my blog so others can copy it and use it.

This has simplified my life already. I no longer have to take the time to hand-draw each weekly menu grid.  I also went out and bought a 3-ring notebook and 3-hole punched copying paper. Now I don't have to manage multiple pads with old menus. And I will never need to hand-draw a weekly menu again! Now I can review and choose a whole weekly menu, once I have built up a portfolio of them, put any one of them at the top of my Menu Notebook and re-use it whenever I like! For those really busy weeks I can pick a weekly menu and just create a grocery list for that week. I can't wait to see how much time that will save me. In "the old days" I would re-copy menus by hand, over and over again. It was a tedious task and laborious. My husband also gave me the great idea to put a 3-hole plastic sheet protector at the front of the notebook to help protect the current week's menu from my cook's fingers when I am busy preparing a meal. The menus will last much longer that way.

Not only does organizing menus save me overall time and money but it also helps me design balanced meals in a weekly context...and best of all, it helps me keep track of my calories. More and more there are cookbooks out there that plan a meal for you with the calories outlined which makes menu planning really easy. But we all have our old favorite recipes which then need to be made into a meal. The only way I know how to make sure I am honest about amounts of food and calories is to use recipes and keep track of the calories for each recipe. A meal should not be over 500 calories so my goal for each menu is to create a balanced meal for less than that. I am creating tasty meals and sticking to the calorie goal. It really is possible.

If anyone uses another technique that is working, I would love to hear about it and share it. Also, if anyone takes on using my template, I would love to hear about that too...the easier we can make it the more possible it is for us to succeed!