Menu Planning

I presented on this last week for the Holistic Mom’s Network (HMN) and figured if they were interested then there may be a few readers also interested!  It was a great evening with four different presenters on different aspects of organization.

I love the freedom and peace, calm and tranquility I find in having things organized and put away.  A place for everything!  Then anybody in the family can put things AWAY!  I can’t say I’m the best at it, but I certainly try!  I will say it is part of survival for a family of 5 (soon to be 6 this year!) in a 1000 sq ft townhouse with 2 bedrooms.  There is minimal storage space, so it’s made us be creative and selective in the stuff that we accumulate…

But I digress…

Part of my OCD organization and planning is to plan out my meal menu for the week.  I’ve found it super helpful and it takes so much stress out of planning or preping dinner.  It usually only takes me 15-20 minutes to plan it all out and the savings mentally is priceless!  I used to stress all day about what I was going to have for dinner and when I needed to start cooking. I hated trying to decide what to have.  Now, after planning it I don’t think about it at all until it’s time to start cooking!  There is certainly freedom to change the plans around and have a different meal on a different day, we don’t stick to it if something better or more desired arises!

I usually do my meal planning on Mondays for Tuesday – Monday.  While I’m planning what we are going to have to eat for the week I also think about what food we have in the fridge or freezer that needs to be used and what we already have on hand.  Then as I choose the meals I list the ingredients I need to purchase for grocery shopping on Tuesday.  I really like having the weekend free to do something fun as a family instead of the grocery shopping!  I also like having food planned for the weekend that is simple so that we aren’t spending all our time in the kitchen.

We tend to do a lot of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s or the local Asian market for our produce.  We are also part of a farm co-op for our diary some meats, eggs and a few other items.  Occasionally I go to Wegmans to get gluten free pasta or other treats that aren’t commonly sold at these other locations.  We also visit Costco a few times a year to stock up on some bulk items we use frequently.  I’ve posted more specifics about how we budget food in another post.

There are plenty of meal planning templates online, but I decided to create my own.  There are 1000s of different options out there. However, I decided what was most important to me was to have breakfast and dinner plans (lunch is usually leftovers) and I wanted to be able to view a week at a time.  I also prefer to keep it on paper in my Kitchen Notebook (I will post on this in the near future) instead of on the computer.  Also, if I’m using paper, I’d like to use the least amount possible… I have three weeks on one side of the page and three weeks on the back side.  I also keep all my past menu plans (I’ve been doing this since 2010) and use that to look back and get ideas of things we can have to eat or meals that were especially good or popular!

Here is a link to my template.

Usually when I doing the planning I sit down with my calendar next to me so that I can also plan meals that would be appropriate for the activities of the day.  I have simple breakfast ideas for days that we need to rush out of the house early, simple meals for evenings with plans, or special meals for having friends over to share a meal with.  We also frequently have meals with our bible study, friends or extended families and usually I’m responsible for a portion of the meal and this is a great way to be able to plan ahead for it!

I’d love to hear what you do and how it works!  I’m always up for new ideas or pointers to make all this crazy life easier!

Photo Credit


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