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Mind mapping is a technique used for brainstorming–it’s something I learned in a blogging course called Content Brew–but I’m finding it really useful for meal planning as well! If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut with your menus, and you need a little shake-up, give menu plan mind mapping a try. Give each category (in this case, a protein like ground beef, chicken, pork, eggs, etc.) a bubble, and list as many meals as you can that use each one. You’ll see at a glance where you have a gap and need more meal ideas. In my case, in the map below, you see that I need more egg/vegetarian ideas if I want to keep up with my goal of eating vegetarian 2-3 times each week. Otherwise, we’ll eat the same thing over and over!
Another option would be to mind map around methods–like stovetop, slow cooker, oven casserole, etc.–since I tend to match my method to our schedule (busy nights are usually slow cooker meals). I only do standing-at-the-stove-top meals when I know I have time to do it.
Once you see where your gaps are, look for some new meal ideas. Magazines like All You have very simple meal ideas. I love borrowing cookbooks from the library and flipping through for a few new ideas. Remember that there are lots of “real people” menu plans at the weekly meme Menu Plan Monday. There are a million ideas out there, so be careful not to get overwhelmed! I like to try a new recipe or two each month around our usual favorites.
When I planned out my 30 Easy Meals for Fall, basically a month-long list of meals to work from, I wanted a variety of chicken, beef, pork, and vegetarian meals. When I start planning for October, I know I’ll want more soups for the fall weather. That’s where the menu plan mind mapping comes in handy! I can now search in cookbooks or online for a few new recipes to try to fill in those gaps.
Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.