Article: Menu Planning

24 Feb

Every family plans their meal menus differently.  Some wing it every night, some shop a few times a week and plan for a few days at a time, some cook and freeze a stockpile.  I prefer to plan my menus a week at a time, shop once a week, and follow a fairly simple philosophy:

Don’t repeat the same dish in a month, but use the same ingredients weekly.

What I mean by this is to offer several “types” of dishes in a week, but vary their preparation and accompanyment.  For example, I will offer some combination of a chicken dish, a pasta dish, a seafood dish, a beef dish, a pork dish, a crocked dish, a casserole dish, an ethnic dish, an “easy” dish… each week.  Sometimes I plan for leftovers from one meal to be used in a different way later in the week.  I do this specifically for the purpose that I don’t want to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen during the week.  Much as I love to cook, once work is done for the day I really don’t want to spend a couple of hours putting dinner together.  So I save the more ambitious dishes for the weekend when I have more time (and interest, and inclination) to prepare them. On most Fridays I just plan to have a fast food or pizza night – I know myself and by Fridays my kitchen ambitions are usually non-existant. And I rely heavily, overall, on my well-stocked pantry for side dishes and supplements.

This is the routine that works for me. Every Sunday I will sit down with a notebook and list the days of the week, Sunday through Saturday, down the right hand side of the page. I leave room next to each day of the week to write that evening’s dinner menu. Once I’ve determined what I’m serving I list all of the items I need to get at the store on the left hand side of the page. Then I go through my coupons (handily nabbed from the Sunday paper) and find whatever is available for the items on my list.

Following are four weeks of sample menus – many of the recipes can be found on this site. Note that the lists are for dinner menus only. You might want to plan breakfast and lunch items – we usually only eat breakfast and lunch at home on the weekends, which is why I concentrate on dinner items myself.

Week One:
Sunday: Crock Pot Beef Roast with boiled potatoes and salad
Monday: Baked Enchiladas (using the roast left over from Sunday) with refried beans and spanish rice
Tuesday: Chili Chicken with potatoes au gratin and green beans
Wednesday: Soup and sandwiches
Thursday: Baked Ziti with salad
Friday: Stuffed Baked Potatoes (basically your “loaded” potato) with Pinwheels (tortillas spread with cream cheese and ham, rolled and sliced into medallions)
Saturday: Fried Pork Chops with rice pilaf and asparagus

Week Two:
Sunday: Crock Pot Beef Stew
Monday: Tuna Noodles with peas
Tuesday: Elegant Chicken with salad
Wednesday: Pork Loin Kabobs (recipe forthcoming) with rice pilaf
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner – eggs, bacon, homefries, toast, fruit
Friday: Chicken stir-fry (recipe forthcoming)
Saturday: Meatloaf with boiled potatoes and green beans

Week Three:
Sunday: Garlic Lime Salmon with black bean and corn relish, and rice
Monday: Tacos (recipe forthcoming) with refried beans and spanish rice
Tuesday: Steak (recipe forthcoming) with baked potatoes and asparagus
Wednesday: Fried chicken with rice and salad
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner – Breakfast Casserole
Friday: Flatbread pizzas (recipe forthcoming)
Saturday: Minestrone Stew with crusty bread

Week Four:
Sunday: Crocked whole chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn
Monday: Shrimp Scampi with rice pilaf and sauteed summer squash
Tuesday: Salsa Burgers and fries with salad
Wednesday: Crocked pork loin (recipe forthcoming) with stuffing and asparagus
Thursday: Chicken, Black Bean, and Potato Skillet
Friday: American Chop Suey with salad and crusty bread
Saturday: Italian Beef sandwiches with raw veggies and dip

Okay! So I owe you guys recipes for Baked Enchiladas (done), Fried Pork Chops, Fried Chicken (both done), Grilled Steak, Pork Loin Kabobs, Chicken Stir-Fry, Tacos, Flatbread Pizza, Sauteed Summer Squash (done), and Crocked Pork Loin. Stay tuned (or e-mail me if you need something right away, I’ll be more than happy to help).


6 Responses to “Article: Menu Planning”

  1. Kim February 24, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    My best friend and I constandly share tips to deal with the weeknight menu dilemma. This is so helpful and I’ll be referring her right here – thank you!

  2. Jayne February 25, 2008 at 3:14 am #

    Very organised. I only wish I could say the same. I am quite a bit older than you (!) and have thought about doing this over the years, even gone as far as to write out similar lists to you, but it never seems to become part of my routine. I am, however interested to see what you’re up to for din dins on any given night and looking at your list might well encourage me to finally get my act together.

  3. Jeanette February 25, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    I always have good intentions to write up a menu every Sunday and on the rare occasion that I actually do it’s worked wonderfully! I go to the grocery store with a list and am all organized and stuff! Why I don’t make it a point to do that every week I have no idea.
    Love your recipies, by the way!

  4. Laura February 25, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Thanks for your kind comments! 😀

  5. smoke May 27, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    smoke says : I absolutely agree with this !


  1. I am my own pimp. « Snerkology - February 24, 2008

    […] Posted by Laura on February 24, 2008 This week’s WFN wisdom: Menu Planning. […]

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