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Menu Planning Help

Updated on September 14, 2014

Are You Feeding Your Family Junk?

More and more families these days are eating out, or frozen dinners. Actually, I have to make a confession: I've fallen into this habit as well. working on the computer all day, running around on errands for my husband, and driving my daughter to and from her daily activities, I often forget to start dinner at a reasonable time, and by the time I figure out what I should do, there isn't enough time left to cook it.

Well, to be completely honest, many times I even forget to eat, and I know that can't be good. Not only I am not getting the nutrition my body needs, I am not a very good example for my kids. So, I am on a quest to figure out a way to plan my family meals better, and make it easier on myself to stick to it.

With that in mind, I also started a lens about Easy Healthy Recipes: go and see if you can find some recipes to try yourself.

Paleo Diet Meal Plan - Plana great paleo diet meal

Save Time and Money by Planning Your Meals

Save Time And Money By Planning Your Meals - you won't believe it until you try it! And you'll never want to go back to cooking without a plan.

Diabetic Diet Meal Plan - Enjoy delicious meals even as a diabetic

Menu Planning Tips

  • First, look through your pantry and cupboards and make a mental note of what you have. The see if there are any foods you can use to plan your family's meals around. For example if you have pasta or rice then create a couple of meals including those staples.
  • Then sit down and plan your week's menu. Write down each dinner and remember to make allowances for days you don't have a lot of time or get home late. If you know ahead of time Tuesdays are stressful then plan something pretty simple to make for that day or even make double on Monday and save the leftovers for Tuesday. You can vary the meal by changing one or two things around.
  • Once you have your menu write a shopping list while checking your pantry, cupboards and fridge again to make sure you're not buying something you already have. Then add items you'll need for breakfast, lunch and snacks. You may not necessarily plan these meals but just make sure you include enough of the foods you usually need on your list.
  • Although going to the supermarket once a week is a good way to save time and avoid overspending, it may not always be possible for all items. If you buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables you may want to only include half a week's worth of items on your list and make a second quick trip during the week for the rest. Just stick to the produce isle to avoid temptations.
  • When planning your list think of meals that are both nutritious and frugal. Casseroles, stews and pasta dishes can be quite inexpensive and also easy to prepare. To save money, and live healthier, include one or two vegetarian meals a week. You can make a nutritious meat-free chili or cheesy pasta bake. Tuna is another great frugal food you can add to pasta or rice dishes.
  • When you're buying your vegetables plan your meals around them to avoid wasting food. Say you buy a bag of carrots then try to include carrots in several dinners or use them for snacks to avoid ending up with a fridge full of expired produce at the end of the week.
  • Think ahead and use your freezer. If you're making something that freezes well like spaghetti sauce, a stew or casserole, make double and freeze the second portion for those days where you just don't have any time to cook.
  • Finally, don't forget to stick your menu on your fridge or other prominent place and plan ahead every day. If you're making a crock pot stew you can cut the veggies the night before and add them to your crock pot in the morning. Leave your meat thawing in the fridge during the day and leave the items for the evening's dinner out so that you can easily start cooking once you get in.

Weekly Menu Planning Routine

Vegetarian & Vegan Meal Plans - Easy ways to plan your healthy meals

This Week's Easy Recipe

Apple Honey Glazed Salmon Served Over Baby Spinach


1/2 cup apple cider (not hard cider)

1 1/4 tablespoons honey

4 skinless salmon fillets (6 ounces each)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 lemons halved

1 tablespoon butter

12 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 1/4 tablespoons white cooking wine


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small saucepan bring the honey and cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until half the mixture has evaporated. Put the salmon in a large baking dish in one layer, skinned side up. Drizzle the honey cider mixture over the salmon and let set for 10 minutes. Heat a large oven proof skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the flesh side of the salmon and place into the pan (flesh side down). Brush the top with the honey cider glaze until the fish begins to caramelize (approximately 2 minutes). Flip the fish over and drizzle with the rest of the glaze and add the lemon halves, cut side down. Place in the oven and bake for 7 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily. To prepare spinach, melt butter in another large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted add salt, pepper and spinach. When the leaves begin to wilt, add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Drain spinach. Arrange on 4 plates with the spinach on the bottom, salmon on top garnished with a lemon half on the side.

Sweetie Pie Potatoes


1 (17 oz.) can sweet potatoes

1 /4 C. honey

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. butter


Drain sweet potatoes arrange in greased shallow baking dish. In small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, and butter. Bring to a boil. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake at 375 F. for 30 minutes.


Food Staples to Keep On Hand

If You have any favorite menu planning tips please share.

Do You Do Any Meal Planning? - Or do you just go by the seat of your pants?

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    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      I need to plan, so I appreciate your tips! ***Blessed by a SquidAngel *** for deliciously wonderful ideas!

    • profile image

      puddlescollection 8 years ago

      I absolutely love meal planning! It has made our nighttime routine with two little ones go so much smoother. I actually plan out a month in advance and then shuffle things around each week when I make the shopping list if need be.

    • profile image

      tasergun 9 years ago

      I eat out all the time and I think you are right, I am missing a plan. I will try to plan ahead and write down my meal menu and bring it with me to grocery shop. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      artstudio 9 years ago

      I dream about a family food plan but it's impossible with grown children. Maybe you will teach me

    • profile image

      Zapz 9 years ago

      These are some great tips. I definitely need help in the organization department as I'm sure most of us do. I think you've got a great idea here.

    • profile image

      whatscooking 10 years ago

      We have been getting GREAT feedback on What's Cooking Weekly, our online menu planning service for families. Subscribers get recipes, grocery lists, nutrition information AND tips on including kids in the kitchen for 5 healthy and seasonal meals every week!

    • Annette34 profile image

      Annette34 10 years ago

      looks great!

    • profile image

      KimberlyDawnWel1 10 years ago

      Great start! You could even split up your list of tips and create modules or lenses just for those.