Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Menu Planning

This week's edition of "WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY" has the theme, "What DOESN'T work for me"

For me this is menu planning! I have tried many times to plan my meals for the week ahead and I feel like its a failure because we have so many leftovers, or something comes up to keep me from cooking the meal that's planned for that day, etc. I've found that I do better just planning day by day.

BUT, I'm still interested in making menu planning work for me!

WHY? Because its bound to mean less work and I'm all for less work! LOL.

So, I'm trying again. I have printed out a menu planning sheet for May found at the Family Homestead website. There is also a great article on buying groceries for two weeks at the time on the same website. My hubby has been doing the grocery shopping for a while now. I feel that this is an extra hardship for him right now due to work responsibilities. So I want to make this job more efficient for both of us.

I would like to do the grocery shopping and buy two weeks worth of food based on two weeks worth of menus. We usually base our grocery list on the Food Lion sales paper each week, but it would be easy to run into the store just to pick up any unbeatable deal that shows up on the off week. Most of the time the same sales at Food Lion just run over and over in a certain sequence anyway! If something's not on sale this week, just wait a week or two and it'll be on sale again.

In addition to buying groceries for two weeks at a time and planning a menu for two weeks at a time, I also want to focus more on "real" foods and cooking from scratch more. There has to be a compromise somewhere for the "working outside the home Mom", with time and money constraints, to be able to cook healthy meals!

I intend to make Italian Beans this week, as a first step toward healthier eating. You can find this recipe at the Family Homestead website as well.

So, wish me luck for turning something that hasn't worked for me in the past into a future "IT DOES WORK FOR ME POST!"

For more Works For Me/Doesn't Work for me Posts, go to Rocks in my Dryer!


Anonymous said...

Menu planning is something I have never been good with either. The solution I found that works for me is to have days that I prepare suppers from a "category" -- for example, Monday is sandwich night(hamburgers, BLTs, grilled turkey and cheese), Thursday is crockpot night, and Friday is Mexican food night. Each time I prepare to go to the grocery store, I choose something from each category for the coming week(s) that we haven't had for awhile and add the needed ingredients to my list. I keep my pantry stocked with things I use regularly which I have purchased on sale, so I usually don't need many additional ingredients to prepare my menu choices. It is a lot less stressful to know what I plan to prepare the next day and I can make preparations before I leave for work in the morning -- even if it is simply setting bread out of the freezer to thaw for the evening meal. Good luck! Ruth

Sharon said...

Menu planning is a big issue at our house to. Too many times we don't feel like eating what has been planned. So what we do is come up with a list of meals we would like and have all the necessary ingredients on hand. Then we pick what we want to eat off the list and we know we will have all the stuff without feeling stuck on a we have to have this today feeling.

Denise said...

Menu planning can be an issue and I struggled with it for years until I found a way that works for my 'free spirit', fly by the seat of my pants personality. ;)

I plan the evening meals, based on what we have on hand and what's on sale, a week at a time but I don't assign a day for each of them. I generally work up the menu on Sunday evening and I list that night's meal first. Other meals are made from the leftovers of that meal or something we have a lot of in the freezer, something we just got on sale, etc.

Good luck to you! Please keep us posted. :)

Terri & Crew said...

I shop every two weeks as well. I hope this works well for you. I find if I don't have a plan in place we are much more likely to go out to eat.

Mom2fur said...

I like menu planning, but I don't feel anything is carved in stone. Just because I plan spaghetti for a tuesday doesn't mean I can't switch for chicken. My big thing is remembering to take the meat out in time to be thawed. I would say that, most weeks, 3-4 nights are planned, and the rest involve leftovers or 'if-you-can-make-it-yourself-you-can-eat-it.' (Or even takeout!) Of course, this works because I don't have little kids now.
Being able to put a meal together without running to the grocery starts with a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer! I'd concentrate on that, first. Then you can make use of sites such as, and to do 'ingredient' searches that help you use up what you have!
I'm all for being efficient, but if you don't love the process, you won't stick with it. I'm sure you'll find what really works for your family, Debbie!

Linds said...

I enjoy menu planning and feel like it saves us money. However, I need a better system. One thing I did find that work is what Ruth mentioned about the categories for each night. We do similar to this and found it works well for us. We do Thursday-Breakfast for Dinner and Saturday-Grilling and the last Saturday of the month is out to eat, for examples. Hope your meal planning goes well!

The Nest Egg said...

I hope this works for out for you. I am like mom2fur. I make a 7 day menu but I may switch the nights we may eat it.

I really like anonymous's comment about having a category for certain nights of the week.


Anonymous said...

I have been planning my 2 week menus for about a year now and I LOVE IT! I also use "topic" nights (Monday Chicken, Tuesday Beef, Wednesday Meatless, etc), but I took it one step further. I planned out 8 weeks of menus of meals I know my family likes along with side dishes. Then I made up shopping lists for each 2 week group - saves time that everything needed for those meals is there, I just go through the list, mark off what ingredients I have and it leaves a list of what we need. My menus rotate every 2 months which is far enough for no one to complain about repeats, but short enough to let us enjoy the meals we really like. I shop every 2 weeks with a simple milk/bread run the other week. Since I know what basic meat we use all of the time, I am able to buy 2 roasts if they are on special and stick in the freezer even though it may not be on the menu this week. When I am ready to pull out a new menu to go shopping, I compare the menu with our schedule to fit in nights out or move around meals (put a crockpot on a busy night or if there are less of us, plan the leftovers to another night). If I don't use a meal, I either shift it into a spot on the next menu since I have all the ingredients or if it won't go bad, (like chili fixings) then I skip ahead to the right menu and make a note that it's on hand so I don't buy again. I am getting ready to further create my meals into two halves of the year so we can eat warm, comfort foods in the fall/winter and grill more inthe spring/summer. Still a work in progress. Good luck! Billie Jean

Warren Paul Nash said...

I know its been mentioned before, but worrying about leftovers really shouldn't be an issue. Whenever I cook, I do so in bulk and freeze the leftovers. If your worried about compromising on flavour/nutrition, don't worry, defrosting the meals then re-heating them in the oven (not microwave) means you really can't taste the difference. I worship this method, I love being able to decide between an array of meals to have each day. And when cooking in bulk, you can get up to 6 portions out of it.

Heather said...

First of all, I have to say "THANK-YOU" for shopping at Food Lion, as my husband is a store manager. :)

Secondly, when I first started menu planning, I ran into the issue of having so many leftovers. So, now I plan the menu around my husband's and children's schedules, then one night a week is "Clean out night." I warm it all up and we eat what we want and toss the rest. Because of the plan, I feel less pressure at deciding what to have that night for dinner. I just to the prep work in the morning... we never have the " I don't feel like that for dinner." Could just be me though :)

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