Google Calendar is a great online tool. Besides using it to keep track of your busy schedule, you can also set up calendars to use as journals, menu plans, blog planning, birthday reminders, and even school calendars or schedules. I like to set up each of these as separate calendars so that they show up in different colors and they are easy to toggle on and off individually.
My “Menu Plan” calendar usually has all three meals planned out, because then I don’t have to think about it. My already-thought-out plan for the day then includes all the necessary eating, and I’m not left at a loss before my coffee in the morning, when noon strikes after a full school morning, or when 4pm sneaks up on me. It helps to see that meals are planned, so I don’t have to think it through over and over again.
The great thing about using an online calendar for menu planning is that I don’t have to type out “oatmeal” or “granola” a zillion times, because I can set it as a repeating event.
Menu planning on the calendar has had a couple unforeseen advantages: When I buy something that has to be used within a certain amount of time, I just put it on the menu before that time. I bought two extra extra-cheap turkeys at Thanksgiving time and spaced out on my calendar when I would cook them. Then, when the after-Thanksgiving recipes started coming out, I chose one per turkey as a big-freezer-batch plan, and added that to the calendar after the turkey day and subsequent turkey-broth-soup day.
My favorite feature of the online calendar for menu planning, though, is the ability to drag and drop dinners. So life happened and I served a short-cut, plan-B meal instead of the plan? Just drag that meal to tomorrow or next week! Tonight’s dinner had a bunch of leftovers? Just move tomorrow’s dinner plan to the next day or next week! Forgot to soak the beans? Just start them now and swap tonight’s meal with tomorrow’s.
Couple this technique with my Simplified Dinners method, planning and preparing dinners a breeze. It was a huge blessing during my pregnancy with baby #5, when I seemed to have fewer available braincells for planning, shopping, and cooking. I have my list of dinners that use only the items on my basic master pantry list. Now my grocery list is only about replenishing my basic supplies rather than being dependent on menu planning. And I have a resource list of dinners I can make, knowing I have the ingredients on hand. Simplified Dinners has truly been a lifesaver during these busy years of homeschooling, babies, and toddlers!
What sort of calendar or system do you use to keep track of your menu planning?