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Women Living Well Blog: Tasty Tuesday: How I Menu Plan

Women Living Well Blog

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: How I Menu Plan

Last Thursday I shared my Daily Schedule and My Weekly Cleaning Schedule. Today I want to share with your my Menu Planning Schedule.

As we get life in order for the fall, creating an organized meal plan is a piece of the puzzle for me. The average woman will plan, shop, cook, and clean up over 1,000 meals in just one year!!! So for me, finding a system that works, is efficient, and stays within our budget is important.

I use an Excel spread sheet that I just literally plug in the meals and voila - it's quick and easy! Often times I leave the breakfast, lunch, snacks and desserts the same and just change the dinners. I hang this chart on the fridge and I find that it resolves all meal time dilemmas. And I must admit "candy" eating is not on the chart - but we do eat it. The chart is too big to plug into this blog so click on this link to see an example of my "Meal Plan".

In Excel I have created a couple of pages titled Meal Plan, Grocery List, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert and Snacks. As I make my meal plan, I just click to my breakfast ideas or lunch ideas and plug them in for the week. I also look at ads for the best deals and what coupons I have.

But I also want to share with you a Meal Plan that one of my readers (Denice at Living Spring Drops - who also happens to be a Good Morning Girl) uses. She commented on my Daily Schedule post with this meal plan and I LOVE it and am going to give it a whirl this fall as a guide.

Here is what she wrote:

I am a scheduler but with 5 children ages 17 to 6 it doesn't always go the way I schedule it. I get in Menu ruts. So, to help me stay creative but stay structured I came up with this:

Mexican Monday
Tomato-ey Tuesday
Wild-Card Wednesday
Thrifty & Thankful Thursday
Fancy Friday
Soupy Saturday
Sandwich Sunday

Mexican is anything from tacos to cumin-lime chicken, burrito, black bean soup, etc.

Tomato-ey is anything tomato based, from the obvious like pizza and spagetti, to bruchetta or tomato soup.

Wild-Card is my freedom day. I can do leftovers or another Fancy if I like.

Thankful is something ALL my kids truly enjoy AND isn't very mac & cheese with hotdogs.

Fancy is our night for grilled salmon, marinated london broil, and en extra special dessert.

Soup and Sandwich speak for themselves....but sloppy joes, BBQ, and pbj grilled have all been had.

Sooooooo, this helps my menu and market jobs go by faster!!! Then I'm not sitting around staring at my menu sheet with writer's block!!! :)

I love it Denice! Thank you so much for sharing such an excellent tip!

Walk with the King!

I am participating in Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, Dining With Debbie , Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tuesdays at the Table recipe exchanges. And Raising Homemakers Link Up. For more blogger recipes go to these links.

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Blogger Susan said...

GREAT idea! I love this! Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea!

August 24, 2010 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Traci Michele said...

So awesome! Love this. Great, simple structure with room for creativity!

Thanks for sharing!


August 24, 2010 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger L2L said...

Menu planning has always been such a time consuming issue for my family. We are getting back into the grove but to be honest I happened upon a wonderful resource over at Cooking During Stolen Moments called Stolen Moments Menu Planning. We are a one income family, which means that I do not pay for alot of convenience items but I have found that her menu planning system has actually saved us alot of money in our grocery bill and in the fact that we do not eat out as often as we did because its all planned!!!! Thought I would share this with others that might be behind the curb of menu planning like I was!!!

August 24, 2010 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Jackie Koll said...

Thank you for the visual - I use an excel spreadsheet as well but yours has given me some ideas on how to refine mine to make it more user friendly. :-)

August 24, 2010 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger GlowinGirl said...

Isn't it funny how we don't have to schedule candy eating time? ;)

I've planned my menus for years -- it helps so much. But this week I lost my menu, and I feel lost! That shows you how organized I am . . . . grin

August 24, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Christie S.E. Blackwood said...

Hi Courtney, so glad to see your post about menu planning. It's been great for me! I thought I would share a website that has given me some pretty simple and inexpensive ideas. It's You can subscribe for $5 a month or use their archives for free (that's what I do). Thanks for your blogs. Blessings! Christie

August 24, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I struggle in this area too, thank you for sharing!

August 24, 2010 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

I would like to add that meal planning isn't just for families with kids! When I was single I meal planned and now that I am married (and we don't have children) we still meal plan!

Because we have jobs that take us an hour from home (one way!), we need to have a menu plan or else we'd play the "what do you want for dinner?" game. After a long day, I don't want to play that game. I just want to come home, get dinner started, and enjoy the conversation with my husband about our day at work.

Meal planning also helps us stay on track with grocery shopping so that we don't break the budget or go overboard on "the junk" (frozen meals, pizzas, etc). Don't get me wrong, we have a few of these items in the house as a fall back--but it just helps us to make sure we are eating as healthy as possible.

We also use our crock pot A LOT. I also try to plan meals where I make things just for my husband (he's a beef eater--I'm not).

Thanks for sharing! This has given me a new way to plan out the meals in our house! :)

August 24, 2010 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger SuperMom Blues said...

I love that idea - in fact I use it myself! I have:
Meatless Monday (vegetarian meals)
Terrific Tuesday (Family Favorites)
Wonderful Wednesday (crock pot meal)
Thrilling Thursday (new recipes)
Fun Friday (Kid Favorites)
Super Saturday (Soup and Sandwiches)
Stupendous Sunday (usually something roasted or smoked)

It really does help to have these themes - a LOT.

Great post (as usual!)

August 24, 2010 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Oh I love the idea of using themes for each day to help things stay interesting! Great tip!

August 24, 2010 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Fiona's Mosaic said...

I have a master meal list that I keep on the computer that probably has at least 30-40 meals on it. The cool thing is, it has meals on it that I made when we were newlyweds that my DH loved, but we don't eat much now (trying to eat healthier). So about once a month I pull one of the retro meals out and make it just for fun. But I use my meal list so that I don't get into a rut.

I also have a list of meals for hot weather so I'm not heating up the kitchen.

August 24, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

I only plan dinners, 6 per week (we eat out one night per week; kids eat free at Denny's on Sat nights; I'm just sayin'!) ;)

I include our "regulars" on the shopping list for breakfast and lunch, but looking at your planned breakfasts and lunches, I kind of like it. Hmmm? Maybe I'll go there.

Thanks for sharing your system.

August 24, 2010 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Laura @ Just For Love said...


This post is JUST what I needed today. My husband and I were talking about meal planning last night and agreed we would like to start trying it out. Well, truth be told, I wasn't quite sure how to start and was hoping it wouldn't be too overwhelming. You have made it SO easy!

Thanks again for all of the great, common sense advice. I just love ya, girl!

Many blessings and lots of love to you : )

August 24, 2010 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Yama said...

That's so crazy. I just asked my husband to help me come up with some idea to help me stick with making a menu each week. I've been HORRIBLE at sticking with menu planning ... even though I KNOW it'll save me time and frustration in the long run.

His solution? "Themed" nights like your reader, Denise, has going.

And that was before I even read this today LOL

August 24, 2010 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I have a similiar plan, like pasta on Sundays, chicken dish on Mondays, etc. If I don't meu plan I find myself flying by the seat of my pants...never a good thing:-)

August 24, 2010 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger S Club Mama said...

I tried the different days of the week schedule. It was a good idea! I don't always stick to that but I did for quite awhile. :)

August 25, 2010 at 12:47 AM  
Blogger Kalee said...

I love this structure! A lot of times I try to hard to come up with different things all the time and end up stressed out and wanting to just go out to eat. Something like this would help keep it simple.

August 25, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Meal planning is something I too find helpful. I have found that in order to eat healthy on a budget, you pretty much have to plan to some degree. I used to print out a chart like you do with everything mapped out. But after we moved about a year ago, I kind of got away from making the chart. I still plan weekly meals though. I am just now getting back to actually making the charts again. It really is helpful. When I made them before, I had built up a small collection of meal plan charts and I could grab one I'd already made if I wanted to and use it for any given week.

We started back to our home schooling as well and are adjusting to a new routine. So far, it is going fairly smoothly even though we've had a few ups and downs. I plan to type out the schedule so my older daughter can have a copy of her own.

Hope you have a great week!

August 25, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

I think the menu-planning idea is really good. I'll have to give it a try...because my dad and I almost always NEVER plan ahead. This should be really helpful. This is really creative. Thanks for sharing this. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

August 26, 2010 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Holly Vaughan said...

Seriously? WE LOVE LOVE LOVE mac and cheese and hot dogs in our house... comfort food :-)

August 31, 2010 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger And Miles To Go... said...

we are a family with six children and find menu planning essential also. You sound really organized and have so many great ideas. Happy Autumn.

September 6, 2010 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Melodie said...

This post has helped me so much with my menu planning! Thank you Thank you Thank you!
I kept it the same except Saturday I do soup/sandwhich and then I do slow-cooker Sunday so supper is ready with minimal fuss.

Love your blog!

October 13, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

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