What is Menu Planning? - Basics & Importance

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  • 0:03 Menu Planning
  • 1:06 Basic Considerations
  • 2:19 Basic Steps
  • 3:26 Importance
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Deciding what to eat involves so much more than grabbing whatever foods are available. In order to provide a quality meal, it takes some planning. In this lesson, we'll learn the basics of menu planning.

Menu Planning

Meet Melanie. Melanie has just started a new job as a nanny. Some of her duties include taking care of the children and household. In addition to the normal household duties such as cleaning, Melanie is responsible for menu planning. Melanie has never had to plan meals for anyone other then herself and usually just grabs whatever she had in the cabinets or refrigerator, often eating on the go. But Melanie knows that in order to be good at menu planning, she needs to know what it is and why it is important.

Menu planning is the process of deciding what you will eat for each meal, including main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. It also entails knowing how many meals to plan for and when to serve them. Daily activities and scheduling variations may complicate the menu planning process. Knowing what types of foods can be prepared according to the activities and schedules for a particular day is an important part of meal planning.

Basic Considerations

So what are the basics Melanie needs to learn in order to be a good menu planner for her new family? Let's take a look at the kind and quantity of meals, timeframes for preparation and eating, and budget.

Kind and quantity of meals: In order to be good at menu planning, Melanie needs to know which meals she is in charge of, for example, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Will she be planning all three major meals? She also needs to know how many of those meals she'll be planning. For instance, if she's in charge of dinner, how many will be eaten at home or out?

Melanie will also need to keep in mind the timeframe. This refers to how much time is available to make the meals, especially if you'll have to squeeze them in between activities. Melanie needs to know what her employer's week consists of so she'll know how much time she has to prepare each meal. This knowledge can help her decide if the slow cooker needs to make an appearance during the week or if she will be making meals ahead of time.

Budget: Knowing how much money is available to spend on groceries is important for menu planning. Melanie needs to make sure her employer's budget covers all of the ingredients required for each meal.

Basic Steps

Next, let's go through the steps involved in menu planning. Here, Melanie will learn what to do:

Step 1: Write down dates and ideas. At the beginning of the menu planning process, Melanie will write out the days of the week and the ideas she has for meals each day.

Step 2: Find recipes. Once Melanie has some ideas about meal choices, she can look for recipes.

Step 3: Collect and save recipes. When Melanie finds a good recipe, she can add it to her collection. This will help with future meal planning.

Step 4: Finalize the menu calendar. After tallying the days and number of meals and coordinating them with recipes, Melanie can complete a finalized menu calendar. This gives her something to refer to all week.

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