Menus by the Plan

Menu Planning can be simple or very detailed.
That depends on you.
Above is a photo of my grocery list and an inexpensive menu planner.
Click HERE for a link to printable menu plans.
I prefer a fairly simple method that works for me,
for our life, with a lot of flexibility built in.
A menu plan saves time!
A menu plan saves money. 
By request, I am sharing how I menu plan, along with
some other tips from around the web that may start you on your way
to meal planning in 2010!
Ok so it's mid-January, but it's still the first part of the year. ;-)

Building my menu comes from different sources.
First I check my pantry and frig to see what I have 'on hand', planning meals from those items.
Then I check the Grocery ads.
Many times I will plan around meats that are on sale or simply stock up. I use a lot of boneless chicken because it's easy. Make a list of every ingredient you will need to complete meals. Ever just wander around the grocery store with that glazed over blank look trying to come up with dinner ideas?  I have! But now I can giggle at those with the Deer caught in the headlight expression.  Having a list will save you TONS of time in the grocery store!  And extra trips back to town in the middle of the week for that one item you don't have to complete your meal. I've found planning also saves me money by keeping me out of the stores as often. I keep a running 'what we need' list on the frig. If we run out, we add it to the list.
If you eat leftovers (some people won't) then plan a next day meal from those. My favorite is a boneless pork loin.  I have made several different meals from that one meat in a week. Roasted Pork, shred leftovers for BBQ sandwiches and brunswick stew. Enlist ideas from your family!  The kids loved having their 'favorite' meals added into our menu rotation. Have some fun with it!  Add in Breakfast for dinner, Snack/finger food night, around the world dishes (Mexican, Italian, Chinese nights).  Another favorite at my house is Pizza night.  Usually this happens on the weekend (Friday or Saturdays). This also allows for me to skip my night of cooking (order in).  I've also found some easy and fun pizza variations. Our favorite is Pizza Rolls.
Photo from Cottage Sisters
Everyone gets to build their own from their favorite ingredients. 

But Sherri, menu planning takes too much time!
Maybe the 1st time or two; after that it's 30 minutes or less!
How do I manage it in a short amount of time?
It is now a routine (habit forming).
I keep that running grocery list and just add to it what I need to complete the meals.
I recycle weekly menu plans and use meal ideas from our family favorites master meal list.
I get ideas and inspiration from the web!
Each week there are hundreds of ladies that share their menus, along with recipe links at Organizing Junkie.
Also linking into Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family, because this REALLY helps our household work easier!

So how about it?  Will you TRY weekly menu planning?
To help you out I will even post my humble master meal list.
Look for it sometime this weekend.


  1. Hi Sherri! I suspected other shoppers were laughing behind my back as I wander the aisles back and forth "looking" for dinner!

    I did pick up one of those cute little menu planners at Michaels and the one week I actually used it was wonderful. I NEED to do it on a regular basis! We're eating out way to often and it's kill our waistlines and pocketbook. Thanks for the reminder, it really does make evenings run smoother.

  2. I am using my meals rotating on the google calendar feature. I can pull ingredients and directions from online recipes and it will e-mail to remind me as well. In anyway, having a plan is key. I am lost if I have no plan when I get to the store. Great post! Thanks

  3. I have been hearing a lot of good things from you ladies who menu plan and shop accordingly. I think the proof is in the pudding. I am going to give it a try. Thanks for the tips, Sherri!


  4. Thanks for the encoragement on meal planning. I'm a new wife and mother, and I've always loved to bake, but cooking...not so much. Not really at all, actually. I have about 7 recepies that I use over and over 'cause they're easy, but the truth is that we kinda eat like single people most of the time. You know, snacks and cereal, haha! My husband's a good cook, lucky for me. But if you've got any easy recipes up your sleeve please share!

  5. You are so right about it saving time and money! I have been a meal planner off and on, but it's always so much better when I'm "on" both, for my wallet, and for my scale!
    I hope your holidays went well and you had a wonderful new years! :) Hope you're feeling better

  6. Good brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.

  7. I have just started doing this and it does save both time and money, oh and frustration! thanks for all the tips. I never would have thought to plan according to what's on sale at the grocery store! I'll have to start actually looking at the grocery circulars when they come in the mail...

  8. Something I love to do with leftover roast pork is to make green chile. Walmart has these plastic packages of frozen green chiles, and there's an easy recipe on the back. Get yourself some tortillas and it's dinner -- we love it!

  9. I love your blog and how reader-friendly it is (some are so busy they hurt my head). Anyway, in my job for a cooking software company I study blogs and one of the happy parts of this assignment is finding great sites like yours. I am so glad I found this! I can relate to your thoughts on meal-management, etc., and since I work for the company I finally decided to try their product (DUH!) and it’s amazing! Without sounding like an infomercial, I wanted to tell you about their software recipe software that’s made my menu-planning and shopping a breeze. FINALLY I can find what I need, when I need it, without having to scour through boatloads of recipes and books! (I’ve included the link in case you are interested.) Lastly, thanks so much for a great blog—I love your information and how reader-friendly your site is!

  10. Sherri, I have just started doing this a couple of months ago. It has made things so much easier in my life! I don't have to be "surprised" by dinner anymore. I pretty much sit down at the beginning of the month with 2-3 cookbooks and my computer. I pull up a calendar on the computer and input dinners for every day. I include lunches, too, thought I don't stick as strictly to lunches.
    My husband gets paid on Wednesdays, so I do my grocery shopping for the week on Thursdays. We budget $50 per week for groceries (family of 3), and pretty well stick to it, with maybe a milk run later in the week.
    I keep my calendar on the fridge for all to see, and just take it down and make my grocery list weekly. It makes things SO much simpler, and we are much less likely to go and spend $20 on dinner out!
    Thanks for the tips, and the recipes! Oh, and I use like crazy now!


Thanks so much for stopping by to read my blog! I appreciate and read every comment. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE! ~Sherri~

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