Easy Menu Planning

Are you having a hard time figuring out what to feed your family? Well I have a great method for easy menu planning.

No Plan of Attack

Planning might seem like a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth – and I have a method for easy menu planning. Years ago, I would go nearly empty handed to the grocery store, barring a small list of items we were totally out of. So I would wander the aisles at my grocery store, filling my basket haphazardly with any and all items that were appealing. I’m embarrassed to say how much I spent.

Here in Texas, we have an amazing grocery store: H-E-B. Texans have a strong loyalty to the store because of how much they give back to the public and how well they treat employees. They also have amazing sales. H-E-B does a lot of “buy one get one free” sales as well as well as free items (you buy a meat and they give you the rest of the ingredients free to make a complete meal). They also do something ingenious. They tape all coupons to the item on sale. So as you browse through the store, you seek out items with their bright yellow coupons attached like a scavenger hunt! Therefore, you end up buying a lot more than anticipated! Sly, H-E-B. Sly.

Small amounts add up. Just ask anyone who has bought out of the Target Dollar Spot. That’s why sticking to a list is so important.

Beware of small expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Benjamin Franklin

Benefits to Menu Planning

  • Reduce Spending
  • Regular rotation of meals
  • Reduce food taking up space in freezer, fridge, and pantry
  • Reduce trips to the store
  • Order quickly with pick-up or delivery services

Guide to Easy Menu Planning

I recommend doing a weekly shop. However, you can plan your meals on a monthly basis to make it easier and I’m going to show you how – the easy way!

I recommend category planning. This is a regular, rotating schedule of cuisine types. For example, I save crochkpot or Insta-pot meals for Mondays since they are always very busy for us. Tuesday’s are for Mexican (Taco Tuesday) or any other international cuisine you want. Wednesdays are reserved for Italian or pasta based dishes. Thursday my husband often comes home late, so I do a casserole, one-pot meal, or sheet pan dinner. We often go out on Fridays, if you have a night out, you can simply omit a category that week. Saturdays I keep really simple (hot dogs, pizza, etc) and easy. Soup is also a favorite of mine, especially during the fall and winter. I love having a traditional Sunday meal. Since I’m from the South, it’s normally Southern Comfort Food or a Cajun dish. You pick the category types.

Meal Planner by Happy Planner ®

Using this method, you can put together a whole month of menu planning in just a few minutes. I’ve created a sample menu plan in pdf format to give you an idea. You can download it here

Tips to Help

  • Save past menu plans. When you don’t have time to plan, just redo an old week
  • Make a list of all the dishes you know, then choose from that every week
  • Create meal plans around items you already have on hand to save money
  • Sometimes using online ordering can help you curb impulse buys

Menu Planner

Happy Planner has some cute meal planning sheets and extension packs to help you get organized. If you don’ know about Happy Planner, take a look at my blog post, How Happy Planner Changed My Life.

If you like a cheaper, simple, more sleek look, I’ve made a menu planner that can be printed as many times as you need (and you never have to buy again). You can purchase it through my shop here on the blog or you can purchase from my Etsy shop.

Menu Planner
My Beautiful Mess Menu Planner

I hope you like my tips for easy menu planning. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what things you do to make grocery shopping easier.

16 thoughts on “Easy Menu Planning

  1. We are all about trying to plan out our meals in advance. I use the word planning loosely. It gets real difficult with my kids schedules but we do our best . We love our Taco Tuesday (actually fajitas Tuesday but that doesn’t rhyme so we go with taco) My kids biggest complaints are always mixing up the meals but they are picky in what they eat, These are some great tips to plan your meals for the week (and month)

  2. You have made planning out meals in advance look like fun. I can see this turning into a family activity, where all members chip in with ideas for recipes.

    • Honesty, that’s what we do. I let my oldest son and husband pick out meals so there are fewer complaints about what we are eating. This method makes it pretty simple that way.

  3. Our problem is that with only two of us at home now, we always end up with leftovers. I do freeze somethings to have again later. I do need to work on menu planning that can incorporate leftovers and cut down on waste.

    • So I totally understand that. My toddler doesn’t eat much so it is just my husband and I really. Meal planning has really helped me. I buy a pack of meat and typically make two meals out of it. Planning ahead allows me to do that. For instance, the fajita meal I buy is nearly two pounds, so I’ll make tacos one night and do a fajita taco salad the next day or week depending on whether I freeze it.

  4. Very informative post! It’s a bit hard to stick on the menu plan for me and my husband because we totally have different taste buds. I grew up with Asian food and my husband is contented with just pizza. We always end up cooking separate meals!

    • When I first married my husband he was a very picky eater, but I’m amazed at how far he has come since we’ve been married. Don’t give up on him. :

  5. I am guilty of not planning ahead! I usually figure out dinner the day of and cook what ever comes to mind but sometimes that can be a real pain in the butt, I enjoy the weeks when I cook a bunch of meals on Sunday so all we need to do is re-heat them and not have to worry about anything.

  6. I keep a very well stocked freezer, and plan from there. My husband works two jobs and is rarely home in the evening. So when he is, we plan meals. Basically looking in the freezer, pick a protein and go from there. Thankfully being a prepper, I don’t have to go to the store often. If he were home every night or we had a family, these tips would be perfect. This is definitely worth saving for when that happens.

  7. So my wife is usually rather good at planning out our meals, but we might benefit from a schedule system just like yours. I’m a simple dude, so I can eat the same stuff every week without getting super bored of it. We’re also keto, so we usually eat the same stuff anyway. Definitely gotta step up our prep up game!

  8. Great tips! I also love to plan my menu ahead though I usually note them in my brain! I like how organized you are

  9. I usually have the whole week planned out even though now I cook for only 2. It makes it so much easier to shop for ingredients.If a sudden eating out or don’t feel moment crops up then the dish is cooked next day. Life becomes easier with menu planning.

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