We’re bringing back the menu plan feature to Frugal Living NW. Each Monday, the four of us (and hopefully some of our readers!) will take turns sharing our weekly menu plans with you! I know, you can hardly contain your excitement. I, for one, love reading what other people are eating for dinner. I also like to watch what people are buying in the grocery store and try to figure out what they are going to make with it. I know, I am easily amused.
For you normal folks out there, you may be thinking : “Seriously? Posting your dinner plans? That’s just… strange.” Remember, though, we are also the people who post pictures of our groceries. Couponers take strange to a whole new level.
For those of you who create weekly (or monthly!) menu plans, you know how simple and brilliant it is. I’ve been doing it for three years now, and I stick with it for several reasons:
- It cuts down, if not completely eliminates, that 5 o’clock my-family-is-starving-and-I-don’t-have-a-clue-what-to-make-for-dinner panic. It also helps with prep work. Don’t you hate forgetting to pull out the crock pot or defrost meat until it’s too late for dinner?
- It streamlines grocery shopping. With store ads and coupons on one side and my laptop and cookbooks on the other, I write out a menu plan and a shopping list at the same time. It takes me about 20-30 minutes on a Sunday night or Monday morning. I usually do my grocery shopping on Wednesdays. No more running to the store multiple times a week for one or two items. Fewer impulse buys and forgotten ingredients.
- It brings variety to the dinner table. Menu planning is the best way to beat that Meatloaf on Mondays theme and the boring dinner rut where so many of us get stuck.
- It saves money by creating menus based on your stockpile and store sales and seasons.
For those of you who haven’t started creating weekly menu plans, take the plunge! You can do it, and what better time to start than a fresh year. Come up with a system that works for you. You don’t have to plan on Mondays. Do it on your payday or grocery shopping day. You don’t have to do a full week. Start with two or three days at a time. Keep at it for a few weeks until you see the benefits for yourself!
Here’s what’s hitting the dinner table in my house this week:
Monday – Simple Roast Chicken, baked potatoes, steamed green beans
Tuesday – Tex-Mex Chicken Salad (using leftover Roast Chicken), tortillas, fresh fruit
Wednesday – Cheddar Corn Chowder, Buttermilk Biscuits, fresh fruit
Thursday – Leftovers
Friday – Dinner Out
Saturday – Breakfast for Dinner: Banana-Cinnamon Waffles, Baked Eggs, bacon
Sunday – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup, apple slices
Ready for more inspiration? Check out the Menu Plan Monday link-up at I’m an Organizing Junkie!
Leave a comment! Do you use menu plans? What are the benefits for your family/budget? What are your favorite recipe sites? Anyone ready to start menu planning for the first time in 2011?
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If you haven’t already, you should visit MakeDinnerEasy.com. This gal posts weekly menus with grocery lists for free. I have tried many of her recipes and they are always a hit.
I am hooked on your site now that this is back! By far, one of my biggest money savers is WEEKLY menus!
Here we are for this week:
Monday: Slow Cooker Tamale Pie
Tuesday: Hot Turkey Sandwiches, Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing
Wednesday: Mexican Corn Chowder
Friday: Baked Chicken Tenderloins, Homemade Mac & Cheese
Loved everyone else’s plans, too!!
So many great ideas already mentioned! To make the planning even easier I bring the tablet to dinner and everyone has to pick what they would like for dinner the next couple weeks. Each person picks 2 meals they’d like This gets me off the hook if someone doesn’t like what’s for dinner and if they don’t care for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow might be their favorite! My daughter always picks a theme night. Picnic night, taco bar…it makes dinner less of a hassle and everyone is happy to help if it’s their night!
A weekly menu helps us to not overspend or waste food. Plus then we don’t have to run to the grocery store if we don’t have anything. Our menu this week.
Monday- Sweet Cream Chicken & Roasted Vegetables
Tuesday – Crockpot Fettuccine Alfredo, Green Salad
Wednesday – Marinated Pork Fried Rice, Steamed Veggies
Thursday – Left Overs
Friday – Go out
Saturday – Clam Chowder in Bread Bowls
Sunday – Gumbo
Some of the sites we love are OurBestBites.com, KimmyintheKitchen.com, Sister’s Cafe.blogspot.com. Love seeing everyone’s menu. They are great for ideas!
Ginger M. says
My three days’ plan:
Monday – Greek Hash
Tuesday – Cha-Cha Chicken Salad
Wednesday – (gluten-free) Tuna Cakes (like salmon cakes… only using tuna)
Ginger M. says
Oh, PS. I highly agree with all your bullet points above about how/why menu planning rocks. After trying different methods, I’ve settled into a twice-a-week planning/shopping system. I was getting overwhelmed with doing a whole week at a time, and also a whole lot of produce was spoiling before I could get to it (as I am single). So now my menu planning consists of just three meals at a time, twice a week. (One day is leftovers.)
Ginger M. says
HA! I, too, love seeing everyone’s menu planning. Glad to see this feature back again. I also look at people’s carts and try to figure out what they are making for dinner (hmmm…. definitely Mexican tonight).
I just started menu planning for dinners and my husband’s lunch! It helps in a few ways: 1) I can make a grocery list (and avoid impulse buys) and 2) my husband can see what’s on the menu for the week for his lunch (the leftovers).
Monday – Chicken and pasta bake, with a butternut squash pasta sauce (using leftover roast chicken from the weekend); spinach salad
Tuesday – Enchilada lasagna, salad
Wednesday – Eating out
Thursday – Sweet and sour pork, brown rice
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Roast turkey breast, sweet potatoes, green beans
Sunday – Leftovers
Yes, I started my menu plans once again as well. I fell out of the habit, and was having too many days of late dinners…not good with four little ones and a hungry husband! Here’s this week’s plan:
Mon – Roasted chicken, stir fried green beans, corn bread
Tue – lasagna, tossed salad, orange slices (garlic bread?)
Wed – German pancakes with strawberries, sausages or bacon
Thurs – chicken pot pie, green salad with apples and cranberries
Fri – dinner at grandma’s
Sat – Sweet & sour baked chicken, rice, peas & carrots
Sun – slow cooker pork or beef roast, steamed broccoli, fruit salad and freezer rolls
I have used a weekly menu plan for a few years now. With homeschooling and working part-time at nights and weekends, I have to – for my sanity! It also keeps me focused on my grocery shopping. I don’t usually plan meals according to sale ads because I mostly shop at Winco. Here’s my menu for this week:
Sun – Leftovers (a.k.a. clean out the fridge!)
Mon – Corn & keilbasa chowder
Tue – Spaghetti
Wed – Nachos
Thu – Poppyseed Chicken Casserole
Fri – Dinner at a friend’s house
Usually I have to make meals at least three days a week that can be reheated by my husband (or sit in the crock pot) while I’m at work. The biggest challenge that I’m finding is making veggies that will reheat well. Everyone seems to be getting a little tired of salad. Any suggestions on reheatable or quick veggies that can be made as sides?
We love the SteamFresh Veggies – with sauce, or without. I save my coupons and stock up when they are on sale. The corn is SO yummy!
I totally use a menu plan, of course got lazy over the holidays but back on it this week and it feels like such a relief.
Mon: Greek chicken pitas
Tues: mashed potato soup
Wed: fish tacos
Thurs: taco salad
Fri: heading to Mom’s, so probably sandwiches in the car.
It’s also really fun hearing what everyone is planning for the week so I can get ideas for next week! Thanks for the post!
Cheryl B. says
Its funny that you posted this. Our family decided yesterday to go back to menu planning. I used to do a whole month at a time. But that would take hours to do. So we are going to try to do a week at a time. I also made a detailed list of freezer contents and pantry contents, so I can use those to plan around for now. Need to get the freezer meat used up before it goes bad. Here’s what we are eating this week
Monday-Pork shoulder roast
Tuesday- Baked Chicken
Wed- BBQ pork steak
Fri- Chili Dogs (my easy day, always plan something super fast and easy this day)
Sat- Chicken again
Kind of boring this week, but need to get things used up from the freezer.