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Working at Home and Why Menu Planning is Important

Menu Planning Time SaverBy Holly Reisem Hanna

If you’re anything like me, when late afternoon starts rolling around, the age old question of, “What’s for dinner” enters into your head.  For me this is a daily pattern of frantically searching online for a recipe, finding one that I like and then searching for the ingredients. Often I don’t have all of the required ingredients on hand, so it’s back to the drawing board, searching online and thumbing through cookbooks to find a new recipe, until I’m finally frustrated and I just call my husband and tell him to pick up some take out.

If you really think about it, the idea of having to plan and prepare 7 nightly meals a week or 365 evening meals a year, makes dinner one of the largest time consuming tasks for women (and men).

And for me my biggest challenge as a work at home mom is finding enough time in the day to complete all of my business tasks while balancing quality time with my family.

So what is the solution… menu planning!

Menu planning saves time by reducing the amount of time aimlessly searching for a recipe, looking for the required ingredients and making unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Secondly, menu planning saves you money, because your shopping becomes more focused and impulse buys are reduced.  Additionally money is saved by cutting down on visits to restaurants and ordering takeout food. Lastly, menu planning allows for healthier eating by decreasing impulse buys and by decreasing convenience meals like, frozen pizza and fast food.

There are many different menu planning options available from doing it yourself, using monthly menu guides from magazines to purchasing an online menu planning subscription. The problem with doing it yourself is that it still takes a great amount of time, but you’re able to tailor the menu to your preferences, dietary concerns and budget. With guides from magazines and online menu planning subscriptions you save time by not having to think about what to make, but the meals may not reflect your likes, dietary needs (low sodium diet or allergy concerns) and or lifestyle choices (vegetarian or vegan diet).

Clint Bounds has come up with the perfect solution… Plan to Eat is an online menu planning subscription that allows you to plan your weekly meals by simply adding recipes from your own personal files or by adding recipes from over 100 recipe websites, such as All Recipes.com. After you have added your recipes you just drag and drop recipes to your meal planner and then print your shopping list – voile dinner is planned and you now have more time for more important activities. Plan to Eat also has a very unique feature where it allows users to share recipes with each other – almost like a social networking site for home-based cooks.

Are you ready to start saving time and money?

Plan to Eat offers free 30 day trial of their meal planning service and then charges $4.95 a month or $39.00 a year to use the site. From my own personal experience meal planning has been a life saver, it has saved me time and money, but the greatest thing is it has reduced my stress and simplified my life.

Make sure to check out my meal planning board on Pinterest!

What other menu planning services have you used?


Posted in Time Management

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9 Responses to “Working at Home and Why Menu Planning is Important”

  1. 1
    Heather Stanley says:

    Hi Holly!

    I just started a menu planning service recently and I love it! I agree with you – it has saved me a lot of time, and I am no longer frustrated by cooking. I never understood why I didn’t like cooking and, now I know, I did not enjoy meal planning.

    Cooking can be fun if somebody else does the meal planning for you and generates grocery lists for the recipes you are making. I’m not a planner, but I can read a grocery list, loosely follow a recipe, and find adventure in creating a new meal.

    Great post!

    Heather

  2. 2
    Kari says:

    Hi Holly,
    This is a really great post. I have been posting on my blog about carving out time in my day. I want to make more time for my growing business without stealing time from my family. I use menu planning to help me each week. I keep a master list of all my family’s favorite recipes and then I can just go down the list and pick what we want for the week. I do this on shopping day so that I buy exactly what I need for those recipes. This way I save time and money. When I see a new recipe I want to use I add it to a special column of “new recipes”. When I’ve tried it I decide wether it’s good enough to make the menu rotation.
    I really like your links to the menu planning service. I might try this to mix it up with some new things.
    Thanks for always bringing quality ideas to us!

    Kari

    • 2.1

      Hi Kari,

      You’re welcome! I actually just started using menu planning 6 months ago, and I absolutely love it! I never would have thought it could save so much time, not to mention money. What I like about Plan to Eat is that allows you to use all of your favorite recipes and once you get the initial recipes into your account it’s just drag, drop and print – you automatically get the menu and grocery list.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Holly

  3. 3
    Laura Sultan says:

    Thanks for the cool resource! I’m usually so absorbed in work all the way up to 5. Then I panic trying to think about what to make for dinner. Nothing’s thawed, and the pantry inventory is woefully inadequate.

    • 3.1

      Hi Laura,

      I had that problem too. Then I would try to quickly thaw some chicken out in the microwave oven and I would over do it leaving the chicken tough and dry. I’ve really loved the menu planning and I being able to use a lot of crock-pot recipes which are so easy and simple.

      Holly

  4. 4
    Anna - Penny Sophisticate says:

    Thanks for the post, Holly! I do menu planning every week (and did it when I worked full time out of the house too!) – it saves me daily!
    .-= Anna – Penny Sophisticate´s last blog ..Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken – So Simple, Soooo Delicious =-.

    • 4.1

      Hi Anna & Alice,

      Thanks for your comments! It’s so amazing how just a simple little thing like menu planning can make your life so much easier.

      I’ve also noticed that I make healthier meals now; before I would buy a couple random vegetables and often a our dinner would be missing a nice healthy side because I just didn’t have the ingredients. Now I know exactly what I need and what I should buy – I just love it!

      Have a great day,
      Holly

  5. 5

    This is a lovely blog–so reader-friendly (some are so busy they hurt my head). In my job for a cooking software company I study blogs and one of the happy parts of this assignment is finding great sites like yours. I am so glad I found this! I also agree with your menu planning thoughts. There’s not a crummier feeling than it being 4:45pm and not knowing what’s for dinner. Since I work for the company, I FINALLY decided to try their product (duh!) and it’s saved me so much money and time already! Without sounding like an infomercial, I wanted to tell you about their cookbook software that’s made my menu planning so easy, and it’s simplified my life a ton. FINALLY I can find what I need, when I need it, without having to scour through boatloads of recipes and books! (I’ve included the link in case you are interested.) Lastly, thanks so much for a great blog—your information is really needed!

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