My menu planning system

I love menu planning and grocery shopping.  I am constantly flipping through cookbooks or searching Pinterest for good dinner ideas.  That said, it has taken me a long time to come up with a menu planning system that works.  I’m sure that many of you have experienced the same struggles and frustrations that I have.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have walked in the door from work to my hungry and impatient family knowing I have to make a meal from scratch.  

Mondays and Wednesdays are busy nights for me, therefore the menus are constructed so that I am basically reheating and assembling dinner on those nights. The menus always include from one to three meatless meals per week.  I love meat and don’t see any harm in eating it most nights, but it’s easier to stay on budget if I plan a few meatless meals.  For the same reason, you will see that I implemented the “meat as condiment” concept in some of the meals.  I typically only have one night where meat is the shining star. I also try to incorporate lots of vegetables into each meal.  You will often see veggie side salads and green beans on my menus because that’s what my family likes. 

Here’s my system:

  • Sunday – “meat as main” night (make extra) 
  • Monday – take leftover meat and use it to make something else 
  • Tuesday – make something big like a huge pot of soup or large casserole
  • Wednesday – straight up leftovers night
  • Thursday – anything goes (another vegetarian meal or something with little meat)
  • Friday – same concept as Thursday
  • Saturday – off

I already have next week’s menu ready so I’ll post it here to give you an idea of how it works. 

  • Sunday – roasted chicken breast, mashed sweet potato, green beans
  • Monday – warm chicken panzanella salad (using chicken from Sunday)
  • Tuesday – vegetable soup with corn bread
  • Wednesday – leftovers
  • Thursday – shepherd’s pie and green beans
  • Friday – black bean enchilada bake
  • Saturday – off

This particular week has three meatless meals.  One thing to note: I try to spread out the meatless meals over the course of the week.  Greg is cool with vegetarian meals, but too many in a row and he might grumble. That’s why I planned shepherd’s pie between vegetable soup and black bean enchiladas. 🙂

So that’s my system.  I have been doing it this way for months and it works great.  You could totally adjust it to your schedule.  For instance, if your busy nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays then make the “meat as main” on Monday nights and the pot of soup on Wednesday nights. Obviously things don’t always go as planned, but at the very least I make sure the schedule for the busy nights stays in tact. 

Over the next few weeks I will do a series of posts and share some of my tips for grocery shopping on a budget and couponing (not my strong suit). I’ll start posting the weekly meal plans with printable shopping lists on Sunday.   Next up, I’ll be doing a post with toddler meal ideas.

It goes without saying that I am no expert.  I simply use this blog as a way to share ideas.  I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas that work for you!


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