Spreadsheet Wednesday: Summer Menu

So, I have a confession.  I am completely addicted to spreadsheets.

The documents folder of my computer is overflowing with charts and checklists for everything from packing for a vacation to planting a garden to feeding a toddler.  It’s really kind of ridiculous, since some of these things take longer to make a chart for than to actually do, but nonetheless, I keep creating them.

But a lot of them are really quite useful, like this one that I’m sharing with you today.  Presenting my summer menu:

As anyone who’s discussed meals with me knows, I really like my menu planning system.  A couple features really make this work for me:

  • First, I plan my meals for an entire season at once. I put together a list of 3-4 weeks worth of meals that involve seasonal produce and other considerations.  Case in point: my summer menu involves little to no indoor cooking.  Yay!  Then I can repeat these weeks of meals until the season is over.  Sure, it’s not as cheap as planning around what’s on sale at the store, but I found that I couldn’t commit the time to planning new meals each week, so this is my compromise.
  • Coming up with 21 meals can be a challenge, so I use “themes” for each day of the week to help me come up with ideas that are non-repetitive.  Except for Pizza Friday.  But everyone loves Pizza Friday.
  • I plan simple meals on Saturdays to allow for the fact that we often eat out on Saturdays.  In the summer they’re all sandwiches, but I use other things in fall and winter.  That way, there isn’t any preparation wasted if we decide to do something spur of the moment.
  • Included on the menu plan is a list of the special ingredients needed for each meal (outside of the items on my pantry spreadsheet , but that’s another week).  That way, when I make my shopping list, I can just write out the ingredients from the next few meals and I’m done.
  • Since these recipes share a lot of ingredients, if something comes up to change our dinner plans, it’s no big deal.  Just use it in another meal, or if it’s less perishable, the next time that meal comes around.

There’s a second sheet in this spreadsheet which includes our breakfast menu (which is constant no matter the season), a rotation of lunches for when I don’t have leftovers, and a list of seasonal desserts I want to try making (that’s the fun part of cooking for me).  I print out both these sheets, keep them in sheet protectors on my fridge, and use a dry erase marker to mark where I am in the dinner schedule.

This week, I’m working on gathering all these recipes into one document, and I’ll post them for you guys when I’m done.  But a lot of these meals go without explanation, and I encourage you to download this spreadsheet, add your own favorite recipes, and see if it makes your summer a little more carefree.

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3 Comments

Filed under Cooking & Meal Prep, Spreadsheet Wednesday

3 responses to “Spreadsheet Wednesday: Summer Menu

  1. Pingback: Spreadsheet Wednesday: Pantry List | Unified Parenting Theory

  2. Pingback: Spreadsheet Wednesday: Coupon Lists | Unified Parenting Theory

  3. Pingback: How to Plan Meals for a Whole Season in Three Hours: Hour One | Unified Parenting Theory

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