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.
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
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
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
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).