My two week menu rotation is a surprisingly controversial topic. It works great for our family, but I certainly don't expect it to work well for every family. A system of organizing your food some way can work well for every family, though. Here are the ways we organized our menu to figure out which foods went where.
Most of our schedules look the same week after week. Our schedule looks different than most, as my husband works both first and second shifts and he has a class schedule to wrestle with. This effects how much prep time I have with each meal. There is one day each week when we have dinner early and I go with him to class to shop in "the big city." We need a lighter meal on that day. When he works second shift, I don't plan on making a crock pot meal for lunch. My most time consuming meals are when he works first shift and I have all the time I could want to make a meal.
You may have work schedules to keep in mind, as well as any kids activities and your own schedule of errands.
By Cooking Method
Anyone still do the old fashioned baking day? If you bake, it is a good idea. It will save on the electric bill and save time. It is much easier to make a batch of muffins when the flour is already out for making bread. This is a perfect day to throw together a pizza or casserole for dinner.
This can overlap with deciding based on time. If you know you won't have time in the evening for meal prep, throw some food in the crock pot in the morning.
By Main Dish or Ingredient
In our family, we have ham night, chicken night and Mexican night. Ham night is Sunday because it is a Sunday tradition. Mexican night is Saturday. It is both my husband and my favorite night, because we love Mexican food. Chicken night is Wednesday because I have time to make an elaborate dish if I want to or, if I am exhausted, I can serve a simple meal of chicken, potatoes and veggies.
If you have something in the back of your cabinet or produce drawer that you are afraid will go bad, incorporating those into your menu is a good idea, too.
Here is our menu, simplified in these terms:
Sunday: ham night
Monday: full hour prep time
Tuesday: full hour prep time
Wednesday: chicken night
Thursday: light meal
Friday: crock pot day
Saturday: Mexican night
If this isn't something you already do, it may take a time investment to figure out, but it saves a ton of time in the long run. Especially if time is your greatest obstacle to home cooking, figuring out what you can do with the time you have will be an advantage. Even if you just make everything in your crock pot, there is still a ton of crock pot meals to satisfy your family.
How do you decide on a menu plan? If you have trouble menu planning, what's your biggest obstacle?