Thursday, July 25, 2013

How I Plan My Weekly Menus and This Week's Menu Plan

It's been a while since I posted my weekly menu plans here. But I still plan each week! For me, it's key to using the food we have wisely and minimizing last minute restaurant visits because I have nothing planned.

There are many different methods and menu planning calendars out there. What works best for me right now is to make lists of meals on a piece of notebook paper. Nothing fancy--anyone can do this!

I make a list of breakfast, lunch, supper and snack ideas based on what I have on hand. I usually list 6-7 supper ideas--sometimes we don't use them all. Whichever meals we don't end up using get put on the next week's list.

We eat mostly eggs for breakfast and then I'll add a 1 or 2  other ideas to my breakfast list to keep it interesting. I will often make a more extravagant breakfast on Saturday mornings if we have time.

Lunches are based mainly on leftovers and some other quick and easy ideas in case we don't have leftovers.

When I make my menu plans, I plan almost exclusively from what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I don't grocery shop every week so I try to keep the basics for our meals stocked up to give me a good amount of cooking options!

Sometimes my meals don't make the most sense and may not seem to always go together. We don't really care about that--I do try to balance the meals with appropriate amounts of protein, carbs and vegetables. I've learned to just use what we have for the most part and skip making that extra trip to the store! We haven't gone hungry yet!

My menu ideas are pretty simple. It doesn't have to be complicated! In fact, over thinking this  and trying to come up with a bunch of blog-worthy meals can be overwhelming and stressful. What do we eat and what do we have on hand? When I answer those questions and not worrying about it being fancy or "right", my menu plan comes together in minutes instead of a long drawn-out task. It's ok to have peanut butter sandwiches or cheese toast on the menu! Sometimes I don't know what to make specifically but I know I have a pound of ground beef. So I'll just write "something with ground beef" on the meal plan. We often have Pasta Night on Friday. This week, I wasn't sure what I wanted to make so I just left it at Pasta Night. I'll come up with something by Friday night! At least I have an idea of what we're going to have. Sunday nights are usually leftover nights.

I keep a variety of bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer. My grocery store puts these on sale every 4-6 weeks for $1 a bag. I stock up and buy 10-15 at a time when they are this price since we eat a lot of veggies. If I don't have fresh veggies, I just choose one of those to go with our meal. Cheap and easy!

This summer, I've been keeping fresh veggies cleaned, chopped and ready to eat in the fridge. We pull these out to go with almost every weekday lunch.

I've found this way of meal planning really helps to make use of fresh food I have and prevents waste.  I plan some meals for specific days and then just use the others as we want to. I cross the meals off as we use them.

We like to have an afternoon snack so I plan for those on my list--usually fruit!

My menu plan for this week:

  • Leftovers
  • Picnic lunch--rice salad, salmon, cheese/rice crackers, hard-boiled eggs and fruit (Sunday)
  • Egg salad, rice cakes, veggies
  • Cheese toast (sprouted wheat bread), tomato soup, veggies
  • Egg drop soup, cheese and rice crackers, veggies
  • Rice salad, hard-boiled eggs, veggies
  • Eat out (2x)
  • Chicken gravy** on rice, zucchini chips
  • Spicy Dijon chicken**, mashed butternut squash, veggie
  • Pork carnitas rice bowls** with cheese, sour cream, black olives, chopped tomato and sliced green onions
  • Tilapia, sweet potatoes, veggie
  • Pasta Night
  • Pineapple popsicles
  • Nuts and raisins
  • Berry smoothies
  • Canned peaches
  • Leftover pancakes with peanut butter, canteloupe and blueberries
  • Berry popsicles( made from leftover smoothies!)

  *My birthday is this weekend so there is a little more eating out on the menu because of that! My husband will take me to dinner one night and his parents are coming for an overnight stay and want to to take me out for breakfast to celebrate!

**Previously frozen foods.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!


Katie said...

Your practicality & creativity looks like they result in delicious frugality!!! Love it! Your common sense approach to this really is an encouragement to me. I've struggled with menu "planning", but I, too, try to get creative with what we have onhand to avoid extra grocery store trips. It's a work-in-progress, and I find the more I practice this and give myself a little more "prep" time during the day and week ahead, the easier it is. If I give myself no prep time at all, I'm scrambling and dinner shows that! Your menus look great ~ yum!

Most importantly....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I didn't know you had a summer birthday ~ fun!

Birthday blessings,

Psalm 118:24

Abbie Byers said...

Hope you have a great birthday!!!

Debbie J said...

Happy Birthday and enjoy your birthday eating out!

Your menu planning is a lot like mine. I need to update my list of what is on hand, though.