Weekly menu planning is the best and the worst part of my week. On one hand, I love having that framework in place to make out a grocery list…a THOROUGH grocery list that ensures that I only make one trip to the grocery store per week. That’s the goal. And a girl can dream.
I really don’t love the actual sitting down and figuring out what to eat part of menu planning, but it’s gotta be done. And it’s never as bad as I make it out to be. It’s actually kinda fun to scroll through the THM Pinterest Boards, and my Trim Healthy Mama book, and pick things I would like to try.
What do I adore about menu planning? I don’t have to answer the ‘what’s to eat’ question for the WHOLE rest of the week, AND I have what I need in the pantry already!
My week goes SO much more smoothly when I’ve done a menu plan. This neat little printable menu planner I created is the BEST way I’ve found to get it all done on one simple sheet: a weekly menu on one half, and the shopping lists on the other. You can see my menu plan in action here:
So, I plan for the meals for each day, and write out what I need to buy to make them on the shopping half of the list. Pretty straight forward.
Here, I’ve been a little lazy. OK. A LOT lazy. I’ve only planned for dinners. But that’s OK, because one of my favorite weekly menu planning tricks is to use leftovers as lunch for the next day!
Being the ‘creative’ type, I don’t love schedules, but I do enjoy the flexibility of having SOME sort of plan. I can always swap days around if I get a wild hair.
After shopping, I’ll usually fold back the used shopping list to leave room for family members to write in stuff we run out of that we’ll need for next week. Like toothpaste and bandaids. Which keeps me up to date on next weeks ‘needs’ when I start that menu. So that’s basically how I use my menu planning list for the week.
My Best Weekly Menu Planning Tips
- I often check out a coupon site, just to see if anything that’s on sale+coupon is of interest this week. If I find a great coupon, I’ll print and staple it to the back top corner of my list, so they’re ready to go when I shop. Southern Savers is my favorite coupon site for the southeastern U.S.
- Add in repeating theme meals to make menu planning easy. Fridays are always pizza & ice cream. Saturday mornings are always a big S style brunch with pancakes. I make Sunday’s breakfast on Friday. I know some Mamas who only serve one item for breakfast EVERY morning, just to keep things simplified. Sometimes, I’ll dub Mondays as “Mexi-Night” and if we have a busy season with practices, that night will become ‘Leftovers’ or ‘Crock Pot’ night. In the winter, I have done ‘Soup Night’ and ‘Chili Night’ (varying types and toppings of chili). Make that menu work for you.
- Jot down spur of the moment ideas on your menu for the following week. For instance, if I discover a lasagna in the freezer mid-week, I’ll jot a note reminding me to schedule it for the following week (and on the day or two before to thaw it).
- Use a colored pencil or marker for things that you want to really remind yourself of. Like this: RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS!
- Jot down major daily activities, functions, or appointments on the menu plan to give you an idea of which nights are going to be the best for easy meals, leftovers, or using your crock pot.
- Plan for leftovers, and use them! My man loves leftovers for lunch, so I make him a plate either before or right after we eat dinner. If you and yours are not so much into repeat foods, then make freezer plates, and that way you can start a great stash of easy to re-heat meals for lunches or busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
- Re-vamping ‘planned-overs’ is also a great tactic. In the menu below, you’ll see I turned shredded chicken into BBQ chicken pizza on another night.
- Along the same line, if you’re expecting, are planning a vacation, or have friends or family who are expecting, planning double cooking one night a week is a GREAT way to stock the freezer. Just make a note on your shopping list for the extra food. It only takes a little more time to toss 2 lasagnas together.
- Remind yourself to thaw things on your menu plan. For real. I’m horrible about this.
- Don’t feel like you have to be RIGID with a menu plan. The main goal is that it’s there for *ideas* when your brain isn’t in the mood later on. If you decide to have Thursday’s Spaghetti on Tuesday, the menu police will NOT come knocking. Being flexible is what it’s all about.
- Recycle those menus! After you’ve planned weekly menus for a month or two, pull out your stash and re-cycle those babies.
Free Printable Weekly Menu Planner
Here’s a printable .pdf FREE Blank Weekly Menu & Shopping List
*AND* I am sharing a true labor of love:
One Week THM Sample Menu
with shopping list for you to play with.
I didn’t skimp here, friends…I filled out the WHOLE menu including snacks and a couple of desserts. WITH links to recipes and/or page numbers. Now I don’t expect your tastes to match ours, so please feel free to scrap things that don’t appeal and sub your own ideas. To simplify that, I listed ingredients by day/meal.
You can see how my Trim Healthy breakfasts and lunches are sometimes different than the kids at times. But those are the easy/quick meals ONLY, and usually the kids can make their own…and I make mine in less than 5 minutes. We enjoy ALL dinners, and even several breakfasts and lunches together with just a few tweaks with toppings or side dishes to move the kids into crossover mode.
And you’ll see that I don’t spend hours in the kitchen…I definitely try to make good use of my time by making extras and using common components to meals. Hope you enjoyed!
There were some wonderful organizational tips shared last week that inspired me. Here are some of my favorites. And here’s what Stacy’s making this week to inspire YOU! Crunchy Coconut Granola *swoon*
And now for LOTS more Trim & Healthy Inspiration…
Here are my top 3 posts from last week:
(click to open them in a new window)
The post from last week with the most visits was this one
And now for this weeks Trim Healthy Tuesday Posts!
Please see updated posting guidelines below the linky.
Thanks so much for joining Stacy & I on Trim Healthy Tuesdays!
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Trim Healthy Tuesday Linked Posts Guidelines
- Accepted post topics will be: Trim Healthy Mama related recipes, kitchen tips, weekly menu, ‘how to’ articles, or exercise tips, and MODEST before and after photos may be attached to any of the above. Please do not link personal progress reports or non-THM recipes.
- You may post links from YOUR blog to recipes that are Trim Healthy Mama friendly. They can be S (satisfying), E (energizing), FP (Fuel Pull), or Crossovers. Please note which of these categories your recipe falls under. Nutrition information for your recipe is helpful, but not mandatory.
- Please respect the copyright of the book, and do not post recipes from the Trim Healthy Mama book on your blog. You MAY post recipes that you’ve changed up to make your own, but nothing verbatim from the book.
- Please link your post back to one of the hosting blogs above: Gwen’s Nest or Stacy Makes Cents. Your link will show up on both blogs! DO NOT LINK TO THE HOMEPAGE – instead link directly to this Trim Healthy Tuesday post: http://www.gwens-nest.com/family-favorite-recipes/weekly-menu-planning/
- Please post no more than 3 links each week.
- Post new links from your blog each week – do not post the same link each week.
- You may include recipes with “Splenda” and other similar products or foods that are considered “compromise foods”, but please note that in the recipe, and either make them optional or offer substitutions for on plan items if possible. Please do not use ingredients that are off plan…like white potatoes.
- No giveaways or advertising-only type posts are allowed. You may post about cookbooks that you like and you may include affiliate links, but the post MUST be THM friendly. Example – posting about an eCookbook that you like is acceptable when telling how it can help with THM. Posting about a cookbook just so you can sell it is NOT acceptable.
- Any post that does not meet the guidelines outlined above will be considered Spam and will be deleted.
- Though it’s not required, it would be polite if you would link directly to the Trim Healthy Mama website in each of your posts – they’ve done so much to help us all, and we’d like to increase their traffic. www.trimhealthymama.com
- For help with determining where your recipes fall, visit Gwen’s THM Quick Start Guide.