Menu Planning for the Win

On my death bed, as I list out the regrets in my life, I will write “Should’ve Started Menu Planning Earlier.” I kid you not. One of the best budgeting and time saving tools is menu planning and please don’t complicate it. It takes five minutes, tops. A paper and pencil will do. Level one menu planning looks something like this:

Mon– tacos

Tues – lentil soup & bread

Wed – steak, potato, side salad

Thurs – leftovers

Fri – pizza (something easy at the end of a long week)

Sat– salmon, rice, broccoli

Sun– crockpot chili, cornbread, steamed spinach

Stick this on the refrigerator so everyone can see it and admire it for the intricate artistry.

The basic rule of thumb is to include a protein, starch and vegetable in each meal. Nowadays, the veggie is supposed to take up half the plate, the protein and starch should be palm-sized for portion control.

When you get comfortable with level one, you move to level two.

Check the weather for the week

and write it down by each day, so you’re not making creamy broccoli and cheese potato soup when it’s 95 degrees out.

Quickly scan your cupboards and refrigerator

to see what items you already have. Use them in your menu plan. Allrecipes.com lets you search a recipe by ingredient. Use the rest of the missing ingredients for your grocery list (Please tell me you’re using a grocery list to shop because otherwise I guarantee you are wasting money if you do not use a list. Also, eat first. Before you go grocery shopping, I mean. And keep your grocery list on your phone so that you always have it. Are you at information overload? Then go back to level one at the top of this blog post and stay there.).

Glance at your schedule

for the week. Your teenager has a basketball game on Wednesday? Leftovers, a made-before-the-game crockpot recipe, microwaveable frozen dinner, or fast food run it is, then!

Quickly look through those annoying grocery sale flyers

you get in the mail each week. Pork chops on sale? Mild weather forecast for Sunday? Fire up the grill!

Buy enough food for the whole week

so that you’re not having to run back to the grocery store multiple times.

Let your cupboards and pantry get bare

before grocery shopping. It’s odd looking and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way I’ve found that my family will eat whatever is left. In other words, they will not eat the carrots and celery if chips and dip are available. Savvy?

Okay, that’s probably enough. You know me, I have more info and tidbits but I’ll save those for another day. I hope this makes your life better. It has mine. Please let me know how it goes!

6 Replies to “Menu Planning for the Win”

  1. Again another good tip idea. One more through is to buy a seal a meal devise, (got mine for $29 bucks $50. off special deal) and I love it. When you cook for just two you can have lots of leftovers and with seal a meal I can freeze the extra meals and bring out as leftover when I need a quick meal for us. Enjoying your Better is Better ideas. Keep them coming.

    1. That’s a great solution for less food waste. I’ll have to remember that for future reference. As you know, I’m lucky to have leftovers with two teenagers in the home! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  2. If this is level one am I on level 0.5? I make one thing and heat it up all week! One meal for lunch, one for dinner. If it’s boring so what? Andy Warhol ate the same thing for lunch for 20 years.

    1. Love it! I fantasize about eating the same thing and will probably try more of that when my kids leave the house. I can imagine the protests. Since I’ve been responsible for feeding a family of four, I’ve tried to include variety but it takes a lot of time (again, the perfection thing comes to mind) and energy. I should give it a go as an experiment. If I get protests then they can make their own food. Or even make the same dinners Mon-Sun on repeat. Something easy. I’ll report back!

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