Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Two years ago I began making weekly menus, it worked well.  Last year I didn't and well, it made the year a little harder, so this year I started again.  It is a good habit for me and keeps me honest in the kitchen.  When I plan my menus, I rarely will try to get away with not cooking and we also eat more of a variety as I get less in a cooking rut.

Long time ago (when I was in a cooking rut) and didn't know what to make, David helped me typed a list of the meals we generally eat.  I still have that list with pencil additions and that stays right inside my notebook where I plan my meals.  It helps to look at that so I'm not staring at a blank page when planning the week's menu.  The list is categorized into Meats (with subcategories of the different kinds), Side Dishes, Vegetables, Fruits, Breakfast Meals, Soups, and Crockpot ideas.

If you're new to menu planning and would like to try it, try this step first.  By listing the meals that you know your family likes, you have something to look at each day and can pick what to make based on what's in your fridge/freezer/pantry, what's on sale, and what sounds tasty.

The next step I took was then to say on certain days it would be a certain type of meat.  So for example Monday's might always be chicken, Tuesday's beef, Wednesday's pork, etc.  You can do this however it works for your family and budget.  Depending on the day, I knew what meat to get in and fixed one of our meals from the master list adding vegetables and sides to go along with it.

After awhile of that (like a year or so), I dove in and began the weekly menu planning.  At first I took a pre-made chart from Donna Young's website and it worked fine for awhile.  But this year, I asked David to make me my own chart.  So he made it for me.  It is a simple four column, 8 row grid.  The top row is small and it has "Breakfast," "Lunch," and "Dinner" in the second through fourth columns.  The first column is blank in the first row but has the days of the week in the next 7 rows.

Now since Kristi asked, here is the menu for this week:

Leftovers from freezer

Meatloaf/Mashed Potatoes/Green beans

Red Beans/Rice/Bread
Lenten supper @ church

Shepherd's Pie/fruit salad
Sunday Chicken Supper

Homemade Pizza

Greece Day, you'll have to wait to see what I make for this day :-)

Coffee Cake
Biscuits and gravy

A good thing for me is that this list is a guide, I'm not a slave to it.  If we have more leftovers than I thought we would, I simply will use them up and not make a meal listed till a future time.  Also, I switch things around depending on what the day happens to bring.  But, for me, by having this list, it is so much easier to adjust to the normal goings on of unpredictable life if there is a plan to work from.

I also have been saving the menus and that also helps in each weeks planning to look back and see what I've made in the past and could make again.

Happy planning and eating!


Kristi Heinz said...

Thanks so much! This is helpful and something I should really strive to do. Now if I just had your recipe box too :0)

My friend is Greek. She has so great recipes that she makes. She is really good at spinach pies. I LOVE them. They look quite easy. She also makes baklava tha is to die for. Let me know if you want me to get some recipes from her

Maria said...

Menu Planning is how I survive.
Once Rick and I made a velcro chart so we could list the entree and sides on it easily.
Have not used it in years though...
Too many pieces.
When I plan, things just go better.
I meal plan around the sales flyer for the coming week.
You have such a treasure trove of canned and preserved items to add to your meals. Yummo!
Great Post!

The Bean Woman said...

I do something similiar also. I look through my reciepes and deciede on two or three for the week. Make my grocery list accordingly and then deciede each morning based on time what to make for dinner. With my physical restrictions, if I don't get something going for dinner by 3pm, well, then fast food it is! And with teenagers with crazy schedules, sit downs are impossible. I can just hear the howlers now, "what, no family meals!?" - trust me. We get plenty of time together and don't need a meal to do it...

Karen said...

When we ate "Greek for a Day" a few years ago, I made fabulous ground turkey, Feta cheese, and olive sandwiches. The kids still request them.

I plan my meals for 2 week periods. It gives me more variety and lets me plan more "new" meals using planned left-overs.