All my Littles in 2011. L-R, Samantha (5), Kendra (9), Patricia (5), Christian (5), John (4), Jayna (7), Madelyn (2)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Menu Planning

I really dislike trying to figure out what I'm going to make for lunch or dinner.  The kids are hungry and will each ask me at least twice "What are we having?"  So I decided there has to be a better way than just going to the cabinet and figuring it out as I go. 

At first I just did one week at a time.  The kids and I would sit down together and they would tell me the different meals they wanted to eat over the following week.  I bought a menu note pad for my fridge.  It worked, but I found us eating a lot of the same meals.  Spaghetti, pizza, & PB&J sandwiches were almost always added to the menu.  Therefore we burned out on our favorite foods quickly. 

Next I decided that if I could do this every week I could take some time and do it for a whole month.  Then I made up this menu.
I have a 4 week menu that we cycle through and a 5th week that we use if money gets tight.  The "Thrifty week" is a lot of pasta and food I would not want us to eat all the time but this menu works great for the weeks when the car breaks down or your water bill goes a little too high.

I then created a master grocery list.  I looked a my menu and typed a list of everything it would take to cook or eat that meal.  I then divided the list into the common categories found in the grocery store.  I considered dividing it into the isles of my most commonly use store but did not like how this limited me to just one place to shop.  This is the list that I came up with:

One of my closest friends calls me the "Binder Queen".  I love them!  I have one for near everything in my life.  So why not have one for my menu as well?  A picture of my menu binder can be seen HERE.  
It has menu cards on the front that can be easily switched for quick changes or to add in a new recipe that is not on my sample menu.  I love to try all those neat Pinterest recipes.  The inside tabs are: shopping lists, recipes, sample menus, menu cards for breakfast, lunch, & dinner, and a tab to store all the extra cards for quick additions.  I also have two clear zipper pouches.  The first contains a highlighter, pen, & sharpie marker.  The second is for coupons.  I am not a big couponer but do hang onto high value and commonly used ones.  The binder has magnets on the back to keep it conveniently on my fridge and for easy removal to the grocery store.  

We have been using this method of menu planning for about a year and seems to be working ok.  Although, I have begun to toy with the idea of shopping for groceries for a whole month instead of weekly.  More on that in the future...

If you would like to have better & editable copies of the menu (MS Excel) or shopping list (MS Word) emailed to you, please comment with your email below.  I will get them out to you in my spare time.  Please be patient though, a homeschooling mom of 7 littles doesn't have a lot of spare time. :-)  That is why I created this menu plan in the first place!  I love letting organization think for me, thus allowing me more time to love on my babies!    


  1. I truly believe in menu planning. It's a huge time and money saver and I never feel stressed, trying to figure out how to make dinner at the last minute when everything is still frozen.

  2. I would love to have your copies!!! Please send them to me when you have a chance. I am looking to do one large monthly grocery trip. I just need to get this menu thing down first. We are moving out of town and I think that will save me money and time if I only went once a month. My husband can pick up milk and bread on his way home from work. However, that might cost me more! ;) Thank you again for sharing this!!!

  3. Menu planning saves my life... I hate figuring it all out at 4pm! Would love to see your set up.

  4. This look great and I would love a copie if you would not mind email me at thank you so much