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There are a few different approaches to planning your menu. I thought I’d share my method first, and I’d love to hear how your method differs!

First, I write down all of our commitments for the week that affect the meals that we’ll be eating at home, taking with us on the road or eating out.

Next, I begin filling in the breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are staples in our home: peanut butter & jelly, cereal, homemade pizza, etc.

Once these are filled in, I begin adding additional meals to the plan. Our family has a heavy preference for Italian, so I have to consciously look for other cuisines or we’ll end up eating pasta every night! I try to choose from our favorite meals and add in at least one new recipe for us to try as well.

Plan to Eat has really simplified this part of the process for me because I now have a recipe book of all of our favorite meals as well as the new recipes we’ve tried, and I don’t have to sit on the couch chewing on the end of my pen as I try to come up with meal ideas. I keep a folder of recipes that we’d like to try on my computer, and I import them to Plan to Eat as I add them to my meal plan.

Once I have my menu planned, it’s time to make my grocery list. Before Plan to Eat, I would start by writing down all of the staples I need: milk, eggs, produce, etc. Then, I would make notes next to each menu item of the ingredients I needed to get from the store.

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Now, I simply click over to the Shopping List tab, mark off any ingredients that I already have, add any from my Popular Items list and I’m ready to go.

I planned for the full month of June in the beginning, and I loved having it all done. In July, we’ve been so busy that I haven’t really been planning as steadily as I’d like, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track for August!

How do you meal plan? What’s the hardest part for you?

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