During a busy season, planning meals can go by the wayside. This often results in frequent trips to the grocery store, where, unless you are extremely disciplined, you spend more than you intended. Or, if you don’t have time to go to the store, you wind up eating whatever is on hand. I suppose I’d be telling on myself if I mentioned I’ve been party to a few dinners consisting of buttered popcorn.
Out of self-defence, I developed a menu planning system that works well even when life gets busy. I’m happy to share it with you.
Steps to Simplify Meal Planning
If you’ve ever been stumped while planning a menu, you have my sympathy. The problem is not that there’s nothing to plan, but that there are so many options it’s hard to pin them down. My tendency to think in categories gave me an advantage here.
To pin down the possibilities, I assigned categories to each meal by day of the week. If you’d like to adapt my free menu planner* for your use, you are welcome to do so. I should mention here that I am not a nutritionist, just someone who tries to feed her family balanced meals. My advice should not, therefore, be taken as nutritional guidance. Please use your best judgment on your own diet and seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist for questions and concerns about your diet.
- Monday: homemade oatmeal in a variety of flavors
- Tuesday: continental breakfast (fruit, yogurt or cream cheese, and some form of bread)
- Wednesday: eggs and egg dishes
- Thursday: homemade pastry, scones, or crepes
- Friday: fruit and yogurt topped by nuts
- Saturday: waffles and syrup or toppings, breakfast protein
- Sunday: husband cooks, usually eggs and toast
Sample Breakfast Menu
- Monday: homemade apples and cinnamon oatmeal topped with walnuts
- Tuesday: whole wheat bagel, cream cheese, jam, orange
- Wednesday: omelet with cheese, bacon, broccoli, onion, and garlic, salsa, buttered toast with jam
- Thursday: Lemon crepes with sliced almonds
- Friday: Berries in plain yogurt with honey, topped by sliced almonds
- Saturday: Whole wheat waffles with blackberry compote, fried egg
- Sunday: Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, toast and jam
- Monday: salad with cheese and/or nuts and dressing, bread or roll
- Tuesday: sandwich, soup and sandwich, or salad and sandwich
- Wednesday: soup (usually leftover from the night before) and bread
- Thursday: soup or salad with cheese or nuts and dressing, bread or roll
- Friday: sandwich, soup and sandwich, or salad and sandwich
- Saturday: finger foods (usually leftover from the night before)
- Sunday: planned leftovers from the night before
Sample Lunch Menu
- Monday: Green salad with shredded parmesan, sliced almonds, grape tomatoes, red onion, and vegetables of choice, buttered french roll
- Tuesday: Tuna salad sandwich, cole slaw (Make extra cole slaw for Thursday and Friday dinners.)
- Wednesday: Leftover potato soup with toppings, french roll
- Thursday: Hearty cole slaw (Add ham, cheddar cheese, and apple chunks to leftover cole slaw.)
- Friday: Roast beef sandwich, leftover cole slaw
- Saturday: Leftover buffalo wings, carrot and celery sticks, yogurt ranch dressing; frozen vanilla yogurt from smoothy leftovers
- Sunday: Salad with grapes, apple, walnuts, celery, and cheddar dressed with half mayonnaise and half plain yogurt. (wash extra greens for tonight’s side salad.)
- Monday: quick and easy
- Tuesday: soup, salad, and/or stew
- Wednesday: comfort foods
- Thursday: casserole, oven meal, or crockpot
- Friday: fun and/or finger foods
- Saturday: try a new recipe, do some creative cooking (make up my own) or concoct a homemade recipe I might not have time for during the work week
- Sunday: traditional foods for a sit-down family meal
Sample Dinner Menu
- Monday: Hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and pickles; oven fries, banana smoothies
- Tuesday: Potato soup with bacon bits, sliced green onions, and sour cream toppings, french bread roll
- Wednesday: Homemade macaroni-and-cheese with ham chunks and broccoli, side salad with balsamic vinaigrette (Save back extra ham chunks for Thursday’s lunch.)
- Thursday: Crockpot roast beef with potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms; side salad with yogurt ranch dressing, buttered dinner roll (optional)
- Friday: Buffalo wings with yogurt ranch dressing, carrot and celery sticks, vanilla yogurt smoothy. (Make extra of all items and reserve; freeze smoothy leftovers in individual servings for Saturday’s lunch)
- Saturday: Beef and autumn vegetables pot pie
- Sunday: Baked chicken seasoned with lemon pepper, homemade pierogies, butternut squash, side salad with balsamic vinaigrette, homemade blackberry cobbler
Should I fail to make a menu for the week, the beauty of my system is that I can still usually come up with a plan for the day or if need be for a last-minute meal. Claim your free menu planner.
*The menu planner is a subscriber bonus, which means that you’ll be giving me permissson to send simple living articles so we can stay in touch . There’s no obligation, however, and you may unsubscribe whenever you wish, with the planner yours to keep. Claim your free menu planner.
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