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Menu Planning Help

Last post Thu, Sep 17 2009 7:06 PM by jayashiangel. 5 replies.
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  • Tue, Sep 15 2009 3:55 PM

    Menu Planning Help

    To those of you that plan your menus, how do you do it?  I'm looking for some type of printable or online form that I can use for meal planning.  Anyone have one they can share?

    Heather in CA
  • Tue, Sep 15 2009 4:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Menu Planning Help

    I usually plan my menus three weeks in advance. I don't plan things by a certain day, because sometimes I'm not in the mood for what I planned. So I just come up with 21 or so dinners that I could put together.

    To make my plan, I have three lists I refer to--1 for main dish ideas, 1 for starchy side dish ideas, and 1 for green vegetable dishes. I have this crazy quirk that supper is not complete unless there is something green on the plate, so green vegetables are in a separate list than carrots or corn, which are in my starchy side dish list.

    I brainstormed any and every main dish entree that my family likes for supper, from pizza to chicken enchiladas. Right now I have a list of about 45 entrees, which means we could theoretically eat a different supper for 45 nights. (Pretty much our leftovers from suppers are our lunches the next day.) My starchy side dish list has things like hash browns, fried sweet potatoes, biscuits, cornbread, rice, black beans, etc. (Pretty much anything that's not green.) My last list is my green vegetable list, which contains things like collard greens, pickled cucumbers, broccoli, etc.

    I don't usually look at the grocery store ads before I plan my menus. If I see something on sale at the stores, I'll buy a few or whatever my budget allows, and then I'll keep my freezer stocked up. So when I do my menu plan, I look at my lists for brainstorming ideas. I usually see what's in my freezer/pantry and plan around that. I'll usually have to buy a few things to make the meal complete, but the bulk of what I am planning to cook I will already have.

    Hubbie and I usually eat leftovers for lunches. DD usually brings her lunch to school, and sometimes she will want leftovers, but usually she'll want a sandwich, salad, or soup. I try to keep ingredients on hand for those, too. I don't really plan her school lunches, I just sort of fly by the seat of my pants for that.


  • Tue, Sep 15 2009 5:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Menu Planning Help

    I don't have a set format or list. I actually use 1/2 of a sheet of 8x11 paper from my recycling bin! One half has my menu for the week and the other half is my grocery list I need (after I check my pantry and freezer which is how I start my menu list).

    For flexibility, I look at my calendar when doing my menu so I don't have a complicated meal on a day when we have evening activities. And I don't plan a meal for an exact day *unless* necessary. I just plan 6 to 7 meals and can make them anytime during the week.

    Note: I only do this for evening meals. We are gone most days during the day and when we are home, we eat leftovers or sandwiches for lunch.

    I try to include protein/meat, veggie, fruit and some sort of good carbohydrate in each meal.

    Here is an example of my weekly menu (remember, I don't usually assign a day to a meal for flexibility) and I just write it on paper and post on the fridge.

    Chicken tacos, black beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato with watermelon

    Roast beef, carrots, onions and a tossed salad, buscuits or bread

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup with grapes and apple slices

    Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage or ham, toast, strawberries or canned fruit (if need be)

    Grilled chicken legs, tossed salad, sweet potatoes, apple slices

    Turkey burgers, sliced tomatoes and pickles, fresh fruit, cottage cheese

    Macaroni and cheese, green beans, frozen fruit or fresh fruit

    The roast and chicken tacos are crock-pot meals for me, the grilled cheese and breakfast are my time-saver meals on busy nights and macaroni and cheese is something I can make the night before and then put in the oven to heat up after work. I make enough so we have leftovers for lunches. As for my shopping list, for example, I have the roast, chicken legs, ground turkey and ham and sausage in the freezer. I may need to buy fresh fruit and veggies, eggs and cottage cheese. I have tomatoes from my garden and pickles in my pantry. I keep plenty of pasta and cheese in my pantry and freezer. I may make a loaf of bread or get one from the freezer. I check this over before I make my menu. After I make my menu, I make my shopping list.

    Hope this helps!

  • Tue, Sep 15 2009 6:38 PM In reply to

    Re: Menu Planning Help

    To help with your menu planning, do you keep running lists of your pantry stockpile or do you just go outside and survey what you have?

    Heather in CA
  • Wed, Sep 16 2009 11:24 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Menu Planning Help

    Organized Home Menu planning

    Donna Young's Menu Planner

    The Homeschool Mom Planner  scroll down for the menu planner

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager

  • Thu, Sep 17 2009 7:06 PM In reply to

    Re: Menu Planning Help

    I have a quick menu in word that you can get from my blog nothing fancy I use this as it helps when things are tight and I can list what I have and create a menu around that. I don't date it or assign food to Monday is Mexican night my life is too crazy to try that plus sometimes we are not in the mood for Taco's so we will have it another night. I just keep track of what I have or need to get. Plus my template will allow you to change it to better suit your family ( Freezer/Thaw could end up be On Hand Item)

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