Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Menu Project

I like working with a menu, but I've never been very good at making them! I've purchased the Menu Mailers from the Dinner Diva for a couple of 3 month stretches, and really liked them. My family liked them as well, but I missed having our favorites.

So, I'm in the process of working on my on rotating menu/grocery planner.

What I did first (2 or 3 months ago... I'm so fast with implementing ideas...) was give everyone in the family that can write 5 little cards (I cut up index cards) on which to write their 5 favorite meals. For us, that's input from 6 people. There was overlap on some of the favorites, but I was surprised at how many different meals were requested.

Recently, I decided it was time to move on with my grand plan, lol! So the other day, I got the meal cards back out, and also went through my recipe box and a couple of cookbooks looking for favorites that had been forgotten.

I'm this quirky mix of "let me touch and feel it" and "let me do it on the computer," so on the computer I figured out the right size for a grid 7 across and 5 down, representing 5 weeks worth of menus. Then I figured out the right size to make sheets from cardstock of little squares to put on the grid, so that I could physically move things around and see how I wanted them. I used different colors for main courses with poultry, beef, "other," and "special."

Once I had the menu grid printed and the little squares with main dishes on them printed (and added a few forgotten favs by hand), I started laying the meals out on the grid. I tried to mix up the different sorts of meals, so there would be a variety.

Here's how the menu grid looks right now:

The next step (that I'm still working on) is to take each week and make a menu/grocery list file for it. The first page will have the meals for the week at the top(not assigned to particular days). Below that will be two columns - one for groceries specific to that week's meals, and another for staples that I need to be sure we have on hand.

Here's my progress on that:

The next pages will be the actual recipes for that week's meals, so that I have everything nice and handy together.

As we work our way through the weeks, I'm sure that I'll want to rearrange and refine things. Because it will be on the computer it will be relatively easy to cut and paste, etc.

I'm hopeful that when I get this done, it will be a good tool for me and my family will really enjoy having their favorites. There are several that didn't fit on the grid, and Jonathan has decided he'd like pizza to be a Saturday tradition, so I'll probably add another week or two. I find myself astonished that I have that many weeks worth of family favorites!


Scott and Lynn said...

Good for you getting it organized! I've done something like this in the past, and it really helps. I usually include a leftover night each week also :)

I'm curious - what's John Denny casserole?

Kim Williams said...

Awesome Job Laurel!
Life feels so much better when I have a handle on the daily chores, this is a great idea!

Hope all is well with you!

Laurel said...

John Denny casserole is, in brief,
Bottom layer - BBQ beans with ground beef; Next layer - cheese; Top layer - biscuit dough.

I know I've strayed over the years from the camp way of making JD Cass. I think at camp they start with pork & beans, and they use canned biscuits for the top. Whenever possible I start with dry beans, and I make my biscuit dough. But the overall effect is yummy either way.

Shawna said...

john denny casserole, that is one of rex's meals that he makes. :) it is a frequent one when I am pregnant, or not here for the evening..I can't stand the stuff. Rex admits it doesn't taste quite like it used to. But the kids gobble it up. :)

I love your organization, it looks great.

Anonymous said...

WOW...and I get annoyed at Steve for sitting down with me on Sundays and forcing us to make a list for the week. I'm very impressed. You go, girl!

P.S. I saw a thing on the news that Ricki Lake is into the whole midwife thing. How's it feel to have her on your side?

Laurel said...

My first response to the Ricki Lake thing was not all that positive, but she really did an amazing job with her movie. If you've seen interviews with her, she speaks knowledgeably and articulately about birth issues. All in all, I think she's proving to be a good spokeswoman for the cause of freedom in birth in the U.S.

MagenRanae said...

I've never even HEARD of JD Casserole! I wonder if it's something Micah misses...? I'll have to ask.