Menu Planning


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Planning a weekly Menu can seem a bit overwhelming at first, after all, that’s 3 meals a day, 21 meals per week, 1,092 meals per year and if you have a family of 4- that’s a whopping 4,368 meals! There are numerous ways to plan menus, the evening before, a week in advance, 2 weeks in advance, or monthly.

What kind of Menu?:

  • Planning Weekly Menus – This method allows you to take advantage of weekly loss leaders at your favorite grocery stores. It is the best method to use if you have a very limited budget as it allows you to take advantage of seasonal offerings.
    • Loss Leaders are items that stores sell (at a loss) in order to draw consumers into the store. The premise is that the consumer will be so overwhelmed with the great store layout and offerings that they’ll fill their baskets with impulse items while they’re there.
  • Planning Monthly Menus: This is a bit more difficult (unless you use a rotating menu) and requires a bit more pre-planning as the menu is not based on the weekly sales, but bulk purchases. If you have a garden that produces well and you home-can or freeze your own vegetables and fruits, then this style of menu may be the easiest for your family.
  • Rotating Menus– This is the least time consuming method of menu planning, but also the most boring. Generally speaking, a rotating menu consists of 15-20 meals that are within the family’s budget. These same meals are eaten and over again (hence “rotating” menu). This type of menu works well for families with very picky eaters.

Menu Planning

How to Plan a Menu:

  • Start by taking an inventory of what you have on hand in your pantry, fridge and freezer. (I’m not talking about a physical list, just a general overview so you know what you have available to use). This serves several purposes, first, you may be surprised that you have more food on hand then you thought.
  • If you have a fully stocked pantry of basic items, Congratulations, the battle is nearly won!
  • Make a list of what your family absolutely WON’T eat. I know that lots of menu planning articles like to focus on what you will eat or want to eat. I feel its imperative to have an idea of what they won’t eat. Generally this list is considerably smaller. For us, I have a 2 choice option on our menu, take it or leave it. I’ve always been this way with my family and my children are not picky eaters by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve found that this is quite helpful when it comes to trying to figure out what to feed the family.
  • Scan through the sales ads of your favorite grocery stores, and jot down several meal ideas based on those specials. Since you already know what you have on hand in your freezer, fridge and pantry, you know what items you have to accompany the meals or to create main dishes.

Why to Plan a Menu:

  • Planning a menu saves money by reducing impromptu visits to the grocery store, which often result in impulse spending.
  • Menu planning also improves your family’s nutritional intake as it forces you to be more aware of what you are serving, rather than staring into your fridge or pantry at the end of a long day and grabbing the first thing that will fill the gnawing hole in your belly.
  • Time Saver- as mentioned above, despite the fact that it takes a few minutes of time to plan a menu, it’s also a considerable time saver. How many times have you stood staring into the fridge after work wondering what to serve your family?

View Free Printable Menu Planners Here


About GB101 720 Articles
Filled with an insatiable wanderlust to see the world, I've dedicated most of my life to saving money where I can so I can afford to see and do the things I want. I dug our family out of debt by reducing our grocery expense to less than $300 a month. You can too!


  1. I love the weekly planner! For every meal with a place to write my grocery list! I do a dinner menu weekly, but never thought to plan for the other meals too! printing and laminating, this will be my best friend!

    Happy Shopping and Saving to you!

  2. I learned a long time ago to make a list, that way you save time and money. Using the menu planner makes life so much easier! thanks so much!

  3. I am definitely one of those people who stare at the fridge wondering what to feed the family. Hopefully there is hope for me yet.

  4. I’m planning on starting a group to discuss these things and menus is first on the list. Thank you for a concise way of handling the different ways to plan menus. 🙂

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