Over the past few years I have read too much about menu planning. Everyone says it’s simple, so I would read their simple instructions and feel overwhelmed. It’s really not simple when you over-educate yourself, have a million different ideas floating through your head, and have no idea how to streamline them into one workable system.

Weekly meal plans. Bi-weekly meal plans. Bi-weekly meal plans that repeat so you only have to actually plan for 2 weeks every month. Buy everything for the month in one big shopping trip. Have one smaller shopping trip each week. Make big batches. Freeze stuff. Use the crock pot as often as you can. Designate a type of food to each day of the week: Pasta on Monday, Sandwiches on Tuesday, etc.


It’s all good advice, but I wish someone would have just said, “There is not a perfect solution. This is what I do, but don’t try to copy me if it stresses you out. If this method stresses you out, the problem is in the method NOT YOU. You are not defective just because my menu planning strategy isn’t working for you.”

So now that I have said to you what I wish all the perfect mommy bloggers had said to me, I will briefly explain my menu planning strategy to you. You can copy me and I can give you more details if you want, but you don’t have to do this.

For me, I have learned that getting off the computer is a defining factor in my meal planning success. The internet is a wealth of resources, but it is too distracting for me for this task. If I sit down to find recipes online, I will waste hours reading blogs, facebook, and nothing at all. And I won’t have a menu plan when all is said and done, but I will be plenty discouraged and frustrated. Ask Clay if you don’t believe me. I’ll say stupid things like, “I don’t know how to menu plan. It’s so much work. I just can’t figure it out. It’s so overWHELMing!” When I should just be saying, “I have Internet Attention Deficit Disorder! Please help me out of this pit!”

So here’s what I do.
-I made a calendar template in a spreadsheet, so I print a copy, and write my dates in for the month.

-I sit down with real, physical cookbooks and find meals I want to make. If I remember any must-try recipes that I saw on Pinterest, I will find them. Then I get off Pinterest, FAST!

-I write the meals in pencil for the whole month.

-I designate one meal per weekday, and two meals per weekend day.

-I plan for every single day. Meals get switched around often, hence the pencil. This plan is open to change, but typically is not open to eating out, unless it’s written into the plan. By the end of the month I will probably have a week’s worth of meals that I never had a chance to make because of plans changing. Perfect! That makes things even easier when I make the next month’s menu because I have a week of ideas that I can just transfer to the next month.

-I make a shopping list in my phone.

-I do one big grocery shop for the month, which includes up to two weeks worth of produce. It has worked splendidly the last two times that I spend enough on the big shop at Superstore to get the free $25 gift card with purchase, which helps pay for produce and other perishable foods later in the month.

-I do the big shop after the kids go to bed – it is a beautiful thing that Superstore is open late. Then the kids come with me for the smaller weekly trips when we just need to pick up milk, apples, or whatever else we are low on.

Simple, right?
Don’t copy me if you don’t think so.

3 Responses to “My Menu Planning Strategy”

  1. Jessica:

    That sounds similar to what I do, but I only plan Mon-Fri. Saturdays are a gong-show and Sundays we always have pancakes. I don’t plan lunches. I have a rotation for lunches and I always have the stuff on hand.

    I also shop once a month to get the $25 giftcard and then keep going only for produce & milk. And I also love shopping and hubby puts kids to bed!

    My biggest obstacles are finding the time to sit down and brainstorm a calendar, finding the discipline to make a shopping list, and then wanting to eat something that’s already planned when I am craving something else. Even moving things around, sometimes things don’t appeal to me.

  2. Yeah, I must have tried several different versions before I found MY version. It has changed too with me being in the city now I can do more trips to the grocery then I could when almost an hour out of town. Keeping completed months menus (and their basic grocery requirements) filed away has meant I don’t always have to make anew one now anymore… can grab a previously used one from years ago if I like.

  3. Jayna:

    Oh boy I completely agree! Somehow after spending hours on Pinterest.. I am no closer to a meal plan or even a plan for supper tonight!

    Thanks for the tips!

Add Your Comment