How I Menu Plan

How I Menu Plan

I am a menu planner. It makes crunch time at dinner so much easier. But, the reality is, I don’t really like menu planning. There are too many options. Too many new things I want to try out. It can feel overwhelming, and used to stress me out like crazy. That is, until I came up with this system a few years ago. It still stresses me out occasionally because I’m always trying to come up with new ideas and tend to overthink it, but it is considerably easier (and happens a lot less often) now that I have this system in place.

When we lived in Norway my fridge and freezer were very small (as was my oven), this meant that I couldn’t do the bulk shopping that I was used to before. I needed to go every couple of days in order for things not to become over crowded. And, I found I actually really liked this system. It meant I only had to plan for 3-4 days at a time and that I wasn’t spending as much time in the grocery store. I have stuck to this even now when I’m starting to buy things in bulk and stocking my massive freezer.

I shop once at the beginning of the week, for the week, and once on Friday for the weekend. I’ve found that this makes the whole process a lot less overwhelming for me. But we’re all different and I know others may find shopping often actually more stressful. So I will share with you my second tip that is actually the biggest stress reliever of all.

I have a theme for every day, for each meal of the week. I don’t stick to it strictly but when I’m lacking inspiration a glance at that list will help me to keep the week more rounded and help us feel like we are eating a variety of food. I especially rely on this during busy weeks because I can just look at it and plug in the simplest versions of those meals.

Here’s what this generally looks like for me:

How I Menu Plan

Monday: quick

I know this day is going to be busy for me so I try to keep things really simple. Along with a lot of the other options below some of our most frequent dishes are:

Tuesday: pasta

Wednesday: meat and veggies

How I Menu Plan

Thursday: ethnic

We typically go for Mexican or Asian.

Mexican
Asian

Friday: seasonal

Slow cooker, soup, dinner salads, grilling, etc.

Saturday: pizza

For having pizza practically every week I cannot believe my pizza section on here is so lacking. This must be rectified soon!

Sunday: free for all

Whatever we feel like depending on our weekend plans.

How I Menu Plan

For breakfast we rotate between:

  • Eggs and toast
  • Oatmeal
  • Scrambled omelet
  • Granola
  • Muffins/quick bread (from the freezer) and scrambled eggs
  • On the weekends we take it easy and make whatever we’re craving

For lunches:

I have each of these themes set to repeat in my calendar every week and I edit them to be whatever I want. Like I said, sometimes I stick to it and other times I switch it out completely, and I almost always switch which day I make what. But, I find this makes inspiration come much easier. I also like to go through my fridge before I plan to see if there’s anything that needs using up.

So that’s how I do it, hopefully it helps someone out and makes your menu planning a little easier. :)

We’re all different – how do you menu plan? Maybe something you share will help someone else! 

  • Nancy

    I love this idea! Menu planning is super overwhelming for me. Thanks for the great tips.

    • http://kitchensimplicity.com/ Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

      I hope it helps, Nancy! :)

      • Nancy

        And “YES” to your spaghetti and pizza recipes! :)

  • http://a-life-from-scratch.com/ Courtney G.

    I love this post!!! Will be bookmarking it for when I meal plan – it totally reminded me I need to make those philly beef sandwiches again, HUGE hit with my family and my parents!

    • http://kitchensimplicity.com/ Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

      Yay! :)

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    This is a great and informative post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Africanaussie

    We normally have a bit of a discussion at the beginning of the week, and then again at the weekend (I shop twice a week like you do) and form a loose plan of a ocuple of meals then when I get into the market or the shops i often change it to include something on special.

    • http://kitchensimplicity.com/ Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

      That is a great idea. It’s always nice to be able to get in on the deals!

  • Jamie

    We do a similar plan at our house but it was so great to get new and fresh ideas!! Will be trying hoisin and green beans soon. We do pizza every friday night and I discovered your thin crust pizza recipe a couple months back. It is by far, the very best crust recipe I have tried, and believe me, I have tried many! Just made your “baking mix” this am and my kids scarfed down the pancakes. This too, will be replacing my former homemade baking mix, as the butter makes it all the better! Thanks so much, I look forward to new posts :)

    • http://kitchensimplicity.com/ Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

      Thanks so much, Jamie! You have made my day! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes. :)

  • Meg

    Thank you so much for the themed idea. I also hate menu planning, & due to our location, end up planning for a month at a time-totally stresses me out! Our favorite pizzas are chicken bacon ranch & Hawaiian. :) Your blog is one of my favorites & I appreciate that your recipes are so practical!

    • http://kitchensimplicity.com/ Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

      Thank you so much, Meg. It means so much to hear you say that. :) That would totally stress me out too! I hope the themes help with the planning!