Friday, February 21, 2014

7 Options for Menu Planning...What's Your Type?

One of the first tips you'll see on money saving sites is "plan a menu". I've received enough comments and messages asking how to go about actually planning a menu, that I'm presenting you with not one, not two, but seven different options for planning a menu. We all have different personalities, and different systems that work for our family.

Which type of menu planner are you? Let us know your Menu Planning Personality Type! (I'm all of them on any given week depending on my mood :-) )

I. Plan Around Ads and Sales
-This is a popular way of menu planning. You look at the weekly ads of your favorite stores, and plan your meals based on sale and coupon items. This is a very cost effective method, but you're at the mercy of what's on sale.

II. Plan Around the Freezer and Pantry
-This is a good option when you're trying to stay away from the store (or plan to only pick up produce or perishables for the week.) When your freezer and pantry are well-stocked, this is a very good, inexpensive option, but it requires some creativity and planning ahead to make sure you defrost what you need before you need it. (I'm notoriously bad at remembering to defrost meat before I start cooking!)

III. Plan A Different Cuisine For Each Day
-There are two ways to do this. First, you could have every day of the week be a certain type of meal (Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc.), then fill in your menu with different recipes for each day. This is best for people who dislike meal planning, or don't have much time to devote to it. Each week will have a similar theme.
You could also add a little variety by picking 7 different cuisines (Italian, Soups, Mexican, Pizza, etc.) and assigning a different meal to each day. Monday may be Italian one week and Salad and Sandwiches the next week. Tuesday may be Soup one week and Asian the following week. This is for those who like variety but don't have a ton of time to plan their menus.

IV. Plan A Menu Based On What Sounds Good
-This is probably the least cost effective menu planning method, but if you have picky eaters or are new to menu planning, this may be a decent option to help get you used to the process. Try a different method if you're looking to really save money.

V. Plan Based On Rotating Favorites
-For many busy families, this is a safe favorite. Pick 15 different meals you know your family likes, then rotate them every two weeks. If you don't like or have time to try new recipes, or have picky eaters, this may help alleviate some of the stress of menu planning. Added can make a double batch of each meal and freeze one to use for the next time the meal comes around.

VI. Plan Based On Leftovers
-This is also one of the cheaper methods of menu planning, and it doesn't require too much cooking time during the week. Each week, pick a couple different proteins (let's just say for example, one big roast, and one whole chicken.) You'd plan three meals around the roast (enchiladas, french dip sandwiches, beef and vegetable soup), and three meals around the chicken (chicken pot pie, chicken stir fry, BBQ chicken pizza). One night you'd go meatless. This is a fun way to pinch pennies without feeling restricted that you can't afford to eat much meat.      

VII. Plan Based On Schedule
-This is another common planning method for busy families. Especially where both parents work outside the home and the kids are in sports and activities. This tactic relies on quick or slow cooker meals on days when you'll be home late, and uses time on the weekends to plan and prep for the week.

I'd love to hear YOUR planning style. Let me know in the comments!

Browse All My Family Favorite Recipes HERE 

Join Our Facebook Community


  1. Replies
    1. Jane-I'm all of them as well!
      #8 could have been "Plan Around What Your Kids Will Actually Eat", but I figured that sounded a little indulgent :)

  2. I tend to do 1 and 2 the most, though I use 4 from time to time as well. This is a great summary of ideas - and may inspire me to try a few different methods, too!

    1. Thanks Tracey! I used to be #1 all the way, but since most of my shopping is now done at Trader Joes, there are no ads to pore through! :)


What do you think? I love hearing from my readers!

Popular Posts