Getting Started is easy, you just have to to gather your ideas. First, you’ll need a few supplies, and then you’ll set up a notebook. Within a short time and with little effort you’ll have your own Sticky Menu Plan and the more you use it the easier it will get. (Of course, if you don’t want to set up your own notebook just yet, you can just follow my blog for ideas and recipes.)
•a calendar; I use a printable weekly one from calendarlabs.com
•plastic sheet protectors
•some self-stick notes, like Post-its: I like the page marker style, but you can cut others to size
•tabbed dividers are helpful
•And you’ll need a ring binder for it all
Over time, my notebook has evolved into a personal guide with multiple sections, but you can start very simply with just the heart of The Sticky Menu Plan. Let’s start there!
First, think about your calendar. How does your week work? Do you work outside the home on certain days? Do you have children with sport schedules? Try to decide which day is best for you to do some cooking and prep work and start your calendar from there. Right now, I start my week on Sunday when I like to cook my biggest meal of the week. It’s a foundation meal, usually based on my main meat purchase of the week. I think of it as the trunk of a tree; other meal selections branch off of it. I also know that on many Wednesdays and Thursdays I just don’t have time to cook anything at all,so I try to plan for that, too. Eventually my week begins to assume a structure of sort which I use as a general guideline, but more on that later.
Next, think about all the meals that your family enjoys. Start jotting them down. I began my notebook with separate pages for different types of main dishes like “meatless” or “beef” or “soups & stews”. I then put each of those pages in a plastic sheet protector. As I prepared any of those meal choices I would write the name of the recipe on a sticky note and stick it to the appropriate notebook page and The Sticky Menu Plan was born! Now all I do is take a few minutes each week to sit down with my weekly calendar page and leaf through my pages of choices. I place a sticky note with a recipe choice on each day of the week. I have two extra stickies for “leftovers” and “freezer food”.
Now I have a menu for the week. I can plan my shopping lists and my time, but it’s not set in stone. If something comes up I just slide my stickies around. There is always an option available to me.
I keep sections in my notebook for past calendars to use for inspiration, a freezer inventory, and frequently used recipes which are also in sheet protectors so I don’t have to go look through my cook books. If you don’t want to include recipes in your notebook you can jot the source book & page at the bottom on the sticky. I use tabbed dividers to file the recipes in the appropriate catagory, like “beef” or “sides”.
Just for fun I’ve given names to my days of the week. It’s my silly way of making sure there’s variety in my menu. “Meatless Monday” can be any day of the week, but Monday, the day following the Sunday meal, is convenient. Many veggies that are included in a meatless meal can be prepped along with those in the Sunday meal, making a simple dinner half way done. “Tour the World Tuesday” was originally Taco Tuesday, but I wanted to include the variety of all cuisines. Update! Tuesday has morphed again. Now it’s “Try Me Tuesday”, a day to try something new, whether a new recipe or a new ingredient. “Whatever Wednesday” takes advantage of the main meal protein from Sunday. Sometimes it’s a new recipe, but Wednesday is also the day by which you need to use up any leftovers from Sunday. As a bonus, I try to use Wednesday as the day to clean out the fridge in anticipation for Thursday’s trip to the stores. “Thankful Thursday” is the day to be thankful for meals you have stashed in the freezer. Many recipes make more servings than will be eaten in one meal and others are easily doubled. Take advantage of your freezer and have your own stash of fast food. “Fishy Fridy” is just what it says. We all need to include fish and seafood in our diets, so following Fishy Friday insures that it is included at least once a week. Saturday stays simple. I try not to cook much at all so we can have a day of play. We might just have soup or sandwiches. Keep it simple.