Menu Planning: Make Your Life Simpler

Free printable menu planner and grocery list

Menu Planner

When I plan my menus out, the evening goes much more smoothly!  I know this and yet I sometimes still procrastinate and end up starting dinner at 6pm with no idea what I’m making.  It works, because my pantry and freezer are well stocked and I either pick vegetables from the garden or have picked some up from the grocery store. But it’s really much nicer when I plan ahead.  After picking up The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner: Easy Family Meals for Every Day of the Week, I planned two weeks of menus at a time a few times and I liked that even better than planning one week at a time!  I like her theme idea (assign a theme to each day of the week).  I keep some of hers (like a meatless day) and add some of mine (Asian/Indian, for example). You don’t have to have the same theme each day of the week. In fact, I set mine up for 2 weeks because I like more variety.   But having some kind of a template makes it much easier than starting with a blank slate.

The other advantage of having a menu plan is taking care of the leftovers!  I can predict pretty readily which dinners will provide a lunch or two. Since I work from home, that’s invaluable and keeps me from picking up a quick burrito or being stuck with a boring sandwich too many times.  Also, it helps me keep track of the age of leftovers so I know what needs eating or tossing.

The Food Nanny’s isn’t available for download anymore but you can download this one from The Postman’s Knock, which is pictured here. Make up a list of your favorite recipes for each theme you decide on if you like cooking the same things and menu planning will be even easier.  On your list, you can also list out the ingredients of the recipes so that writing up your grocery list will be a snap! F or example:

  • Chicken and Broccoli Casserole: 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 2 cups leftover chicken, 2 cups broccoli, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, milk, mayo, curry powder, lemon juice, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese.
  • Macaroni and Cheese: 8 oz pasta, butter, flour, dry mustard, milk, 12 oz Cheddar cheese, bread crumbs, paprika

Then instead of having to look up your recipes to see what you need, you can just scan your recipe notes and add what you need to your grocery list.




  1. I like to do my menus without assigning them to a specific day. I just write them on note cards and keep them in a recipe binder (former photo album, one to a page) For me, they are easy to rotate and they are based on the mood I am in and the amount of time I have to cook.
    I can either shop for ingredients that are needed, in advance, or choose a menu based on what I have available. I try to make that decision in the evening for the following day. That way, if I decide to do a bean meal, I can put the beans on to soak overnight.

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