I always make weekly meal plans for my family. Making a meal plan works wonders for me. I usually make up a month's worth of menus at a time based on what I have in my stockpile.
On Sunday afternoons I take about 4 hours to cook and prep my meals for the week. I usually cook 3 main dishes and prepare the rest.
We eat 1 of the 3 cooked meals that night and then I place the other 2 in the refrigerator for Monday and Tuesday night.
I am not a big fan of leftovers at all and neither is my husband. I have figure out how to trick us (because it's all in our heads). Placing the Monday and Tuesday night meals in the refrigerator has a sense of leftovers meaning that it's not as good reheated as it is hot off of the stove. Since we haven't eaten that particular menu item it doesn't seem like a leftover to us. Call me crazy but this is just how we work! lol
I keep an inventory list of the things that I buy using a simple excel sheet. I don't even organize the list. When I buy something I just simply enter it into 3 columns. One column is for the quantity, one is for the item, and one is for the date that I purchased it. I don't enter expiration dates because I know by the item how long it will last in my head.
When I make my menu plans I pull this list up, make the menus, and write down items that I may need to purchase that week on the side.
I try to keep this part of my life as simple as possible. We eat out once per week which means that I am either cooking or preparing 20 meals each week. I have a huge stockpile and the inventory helps me keep track of the monstrosity without loosing things to expiration dates.
Here are a few templates that you may be interested in using...they really do simply your life!
Weekly Menu Planner #1: This is the one I use!
Fancy Menu Planner #2
Weekly Menu Planner #3:
If you have any great menu planning articles or free printable menu planning links be sure to let us know!