Menu Planning


Post by community member:

What is menu planning? Planning ahead of time (usually by either week or month) what meals you’ll cook. Meal planning makes life easier when it comes to the end of the day. We all know that–I just wish I did it! I rely a lot on the canned meals in the pantry.

Look what’s in Mom’s old cookbook–menus by the month.

There are 30 different menus all planned out, all the way down to what to drink, with a special Sunday Dinner. April’s Sunday Dinner is Roast Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce.

I need a roast lamb!

It reminds you when the smelt should be running, too. I do miss smelting–I never remember when it is.

When we were kids, smelting was in April (right around Mom’s birthday) and suckers ran in May (right around Mother’s Day). Mom did not appreciate our gifts of buckets and buckets and buckets of fish.

Luncheons, too. Don’t forget April Fool’s Day!

  • Hard-cooked Eggs in Jellied Bouillon
  • Meat Loaf in Blanket with Mushroom Sauce
  • Vegetable Salad
  • Fresh Strawberry Tarts

That’s just for lunch. Hmmm, not really sure what to think of the Jellied Bouillon, though…

And don’t forget the lunch desserts…mmm…luscious shortcake with berries.

I think we need less snow than we have now.

Now if these dishes were just common, I could open this book every week and pull out 7 different meals and be done with it once, do the grocery shopping once, know what I was going to have on Friday way back on Monday. Wouldn’t that just be heaven…sigh.

Do you menu plan? Or do you go willy-nilly the way I do?

Join the Menu Planners Group!

Cindy blogs at Chippewa Creek ~ Our Life Simplified.

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  1. kellyb says:


    Are you a mind reader. I was just talking to DH about this. I don’t menu plan althought I’ve tried. I’ve decided that when I grow up I’ll menu plan. Any suggestions on how to start?

  2. CindyP says:

    I hope others have some ideas, Kelly! I’m tired of going all willy-nilly….I need some tried and true ideas that really work and something that’s easy to stick to.

    We have gotten better about not eating as many of the SAME things all the time (well that’s because there are more meal in jars in the pantry :))… maybe I need to just put them down in book style just like this cookbook.

  3. justdeborah2002 says:

    I find especially when I am running lower on funds that I menu plan, to make my bucks run further.
    And you are soooo right, it does make life so much easier knowing in advance what you are making that week, no last minute runs to the store!
    Thanks for the reminder of this great idea!

  4. brookdale says:

    Great reminder, cindyp! My menu planning consists of, “what’s on sale when I go to the store,that’s what’s on the menu for the week.” But you folks with all the canned stuff in your pantries shouldn’t have a problem with that! Maybe someday I’ll have canned stuff too.
    If you have kids in school maybe you can go by the hot lunch menu, just a week ahead or back. Those are planned by experts.

  5. lisabetholson says:

    Wily nily and I are related. I haven’t even though of meal planning in yyyeeeaaarrrrsss. I might plan as I look into the freezer, but no futher than that. We do leftovers until they are gone. Dh loves leftovers and sandwiches so we do quite a few. Being only 2 in the house it is easier to use things up than to make more.

  6. Cyndi says:

    Cindy P and Kelly B – to start you have to figure out how far in advance you want to plan. When I first started I did 30 day cooking so it was automatically 30 days so I knew what to cook that weekend. But after doing this for almost 12 years (I only know that because I started when DS was born) I have altered that plan. At any rate, here are the basics. Figure how long you want to plan for. Then pick out your favorite recipes (if you are planning 30 days don’t be afraid to repeat recipes, most people will be able to repeat something every two weeks and not get bored).
    Now you have your favorite recipes – get your calendar, write down your events (this lets me plan simple meals on those nights). don’t be afraid to try new recipes to. I have one night a week, Wed, that’s new recipe day. I cook something we haven’t tried before – sometimes it’s a success and sometimes we wind up with peanut butter. One other day is leftover day – I want to ensure what I cook is eaten – leftover day helps with that.

    So those are the basics. I should mention flexibility and commitment. Your planning will also take that. I’ve done monthly, weekly, biweekly. Sometimes different

    This is getting long so I’m going to close. But I’m happy to answer any questions.

  7. tsmith says:

    I found that it was easier to start small. Start planning just for a week, then move on to two weeks, etc. I also started compiling a list of meals that my family likes, quick and easy, crock pot, etc. That way I can go to my list and see what I want to put on my meal plan. Also, plan days for the left overs. Be flexible. I would often switch days around during the week to fit my schedule. That way if something came up, I didn’t have to panic about what we would eat. Instead of having that casserole that took an hour in the oven, I would switch to the crock pot meal for that day.

  8. Jennifer M says:

    I don’t really menu plan but I do plan meals for a week or two just not on a spacific day. It works for my family because we never really know what we will want or what is going on from day to day. With the snow melting and soon we will be in the yard working after our normal jobs.I try to plan something that is quick, easy and healthy. Any type of salads or a stew in the crock pot is what we normaly do. I however always make sure that I have enough for this anytime of the year.

  9. Faith says:

    I don’t plan by specific day. I make a list of meals to make, usually based on what is in season and on sale at the store, then buy what I need for those meals. Once I have bought everything, I use my list of meals to decide what to make on any given day. I find that it’s easier for me to stick with this plan than defining what meal will be on which day.

  10. Ramona says:

    I have tried it both ways. It does help having items canned and on the shelf. Now that I am alone, I eat out a lot with friends. Seems to be just as cheap.

    MN Mona

  11. Lindsay says:

    I always get my store’s circular, see what’s on sale, and plan around that. But at the same time, if we change our minds or our day ends up being busier than expected, we change our plans.

    I live with one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever seen, so meal planning isn’t terribly difficult since he won’t touch lots of things.

    On sale items and the Crock Pot are my best friends when planning our meals.

  12. princessvanessa says:

    Being single, it is willy nilly. I do think about using the leftovers, though. Meatloaf one night means meatloaf sandwich the next. Leftover spaghetti gets added to chili or tomato soup the next night. You all get the picture. Besides, how can I be sure that I will have “my mouth set” for something that I decided on two or three weeks ago? Sometimes I will ask someone at work “what’s for dinner?” About half the time I end up making the same because it sounds good. I only need to please myself….which simplifies everything.

  13. rileysmom says:

    Good post CindyP! I love hearing everyone’s ideas. I note on the calendar what our dinner was, so I can go back to it for inspiration. Since we shop about once a month, I try to keep enough “basics” for those meals. Of course, the first days after a shopping trip have lots of fresh ingredients, but toward the end I have to rely on canned and frozen. It keeps you creative, at least!

  14. CindyP says:

    LOTS of great ideas! Thank you everyone! I’m having a turkey dinner tonight…not because it was a plan…it was on sale when I went shopping and instead of trying to fit it in the freezer I left it in the fridge to thaw and it was thawed this morning. So willy-nilly…we’re having turkey tonight…I’d much rather be making soap!

    @Cyndi — what is 30 day cooking? You cook 30 days worth of meals (minus leftover day)?

  15. Cyndi says:

    30 day cooking or Once a month cooking is where I spend a weekend putting together 30 days worth of meals. I figure one go out night (that’s the prep night before cooking) and every Friday is leftover night. So on average I plan and cook 25 meals in the course of about 2 days. Sometimes if I do casseroles, I’ll make 2 so I have something for someone who needs a meal is someone passed or they are at tough times or we eat them the next month…but anyway, spend two days prepping and then I freeze stuff and then each morning, I pull the item out of the freezer and either DS puts it in the oven, DH puts it in the crockpot, or I assemble it before the meal.

    It saves time, money and dishes. You can find lots about once a month cooking. You are supposed to be able to fit everything in a fridge freezer, but I have not been able to do that. I have three freezers, one for 30 day meals, one for sale items so I can do 30 day cheaper and one for staples and convenience foods (butter or frozen pizza, I have an 11 yr old DS who seems to be living in growth spurts and needs an extra snack, or maybe meal, after school.)

  16. maryfran says:

    I do menu plan and I agree with the others-start out small (weekly)then progress to monthly if you wish. I now plan either weekly or monthly, depending on many factors. I pick-up a free yearly calendar in January just for this. I write in pencil, so changes can be made easily. My work days are usually crock-pot dinners. I also often make one large meal and freeze half for another time. I then pencil this “extra” meal in later in the month or next month, so I don’t forget that I have it. I plan my meals based on what is on sale as well as what is in my pantry. If a need a specific item for a meal planned in the month, I write it dowm in tha margin of the calendar of the week in which it was planned. If for some reason we don’t eat what was planned, I move that meal to later in the month so as not to waste any food items. Hope this gives you some ideas…..

  17. Sonia says:

    I am a willy nilly person. Never could do the planning ahead thing….but I did try, oh boy did I try! So, I just finally accepted that I could not be organized enough to stick with a meal plan. I am doing good to just get a grocery list together. Speaking of grocery list…I need to head to the store this morning, but I keep getting side tracked 🙂

  18. Mechelle says:

    I menu plan using the monthly style, i even created a menu planner in excel that lets me keep up with it all so easily. Am revamping that though to make it even easier, using drop down lists. But this started out to help us save money, I was spending around 200 a week for a family of 4, now I can buy for the month with about 400 sometimes less depending on sales. I need to mention though, we dont have chickens or a garden, I dont even have tomato plants in buckets *cries* i want tomato plants. So we buy everything, though I have started making all of our bread, and most of our pasta. I am also cutting back on the meat eaten, DH is a big meat and taters kind of guy. But if you shop at certain places that have buy one get one free sales this helps a lot. I will make meals like pulled barbecue beef or pork from 2 large roasts, it will make 3 to 4 meals for us. Simply eat the first day, put a bit in the fridge for lunch the next, and then divide up the rest and freeze. The same goes for things like spaghetti sauce, soups, meat loaf, basically you name it you can double or triple and freeze. This makes the menu planning so much easier. For us we have one very picky eater, so ramen noodles are always in the pantry for those nights where he says mom whats for dinner and i answer and can see his face turn green.

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