Weekly Menus Save Sanity

I previously posted this article on my Yahoo! 360 blog, but, since I’m closing it (and Yahoo! 360 is no longer around), I’m reposting the article here. Enjoy!


We have tried to maintain weekly menus for years. It has changed over the years, of course, but it really helps with the grocery shopping and budget planning.

Many articles on the web and in books about getting organized and basic home management recommend setting up a weekly menu, but where do you start? Here are my recommendations:

1) Start with a basic list for the week:

  • Monday – Pasta
  • Tuesday – Ground Beef
  • Wednesday – Vegetarian
  • Thursday – Chicken
  • Friday – Pizza
  • Saturday – Crockpot
  • Sunday – Family Dinner

2) Make a list of your favorite recipes, or your kids favorite meals, in each category.

  • Pasta – Spaghetti (with or without meatballs), Ravioli, Baked Mostaccioli, etc.
  • Ground Beef – Hamburger Helper, Hamburgers, Chili, etc.
  • Vegetarian – Lentil Chili, Lentil Soup with Dumplings, Lentil Burgers, Black Bean Soup, etc.
  • Chicken – Chicken & Rice Casserole, Fried Chicken, Chicken Fingers, etc.
  • Pizza – types of frozen you can get at the store, family favorite toppings, or favorites from the local delivery place 🙂
  • Saturday – Macaroni & Cheese, Ravioli w/Sausage & Peppers, etc.
  • Sunday – Meatloaf, Steak & Potatoes, Pot Roast, etc.

Of course, these are just examples. You will have a list of your own that reflects your family’s likes and dislikes. For example, on Fridays, we have made our own pizza for about 6 years. We took some time off of the tradition when my husband worked at a pizza restaurant, but we have gladly started it again in the last year. It is a fun time for my kids & me to play with dough and get covered in flour! Plus, it can make a fun way to celebrate holidays – I made a heart shaped pizza for DH on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, and he sent heart shaped pizzas to us from the pizza restaurant last year. You can make several small pizzas with round pans, large rectangular pizzas on big cookie sheets, or small individual sized pizzas for each member of the family. This is my favorite day of the week to get creative with dinner. 🙂 You might also like to try making your own calzones or strombolis.

We also use Sunday as a “Try a New Recipe” night, if we have room for it in the budget. DH likes to cook, so sometimes this in my night off and DH gets creative (and messy) in the kitchen.

3) It may sound boring, but it’s easiest to start with a list of recipes for one week. When I was a kid, each of us had one day of the week to cook dinner, so it was pretty much a given that if it was Thursday and my sister’s night to cook, we were having Meatloaf. If it was Tuesday, and my little brother’s night to cook (he’s 5 years younger), we were having hot dogs (until he was 16!). 🙂 Have one week of menus makes planning quite a bit easier, and shopping is a breeze because the ingredient list is shorter. However, some people are easily bored with the same thing every week. We vary here, but for the most part, we stick with a one week menu.

Now, this also depends on how often you go shopping. If you go shopping every week, it may be easier to have a two week menu that you can switch off with. We go shopping twice a month, so a one-week menu is easier for us to make the shopping list.

That’s pretty much it. There are a lot of methods out there, and some people use menus for a whole month, too. I’ve found that cumbersome and overwhelming, although I have also dabbled in Once-A-Month-Cooking (OAMC).

Give these tips a try, and let me know how it works out! 🙂


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hsmomma5
    Apr 14, 2008 @ 08:58:00

    What a great idea! I have tried the menu thing before but it just never really worked for me because it seemed to take so much “planning” time (I tend to be a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of gal!). I never thought of choosing categories for each day and going from there. I may have to give that a try!


  2. mandi
    Apr 14, 2008 @ 14:55:00

    The idea is actually from “The Sidetracked Home Executive”! Some people like detailed plans. For others, have loose plans works better!For me, it works best if I’ve already decided exactly what I need to do. But sometimes I like to have options in case I change my mind! 🙂


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