Menu Plan Not Coming Together? Try These Tricks

Creating a menu plan will help your grocery dollars stretch.  But on days when you get stuck, here are some menu planning tricks to complete your plan.

As much as I sing the praises of menu planning, there are still times when I’m having a tough time putting together a good selection of meals.  Either I’m tired of planning meals or inspiration just doesn’t want to strike, even though there’s an endless amount of recipes to choose from out there.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I have to execute my plan by actually cooking and buying the groceries I need!

Regardless, I still have to make a menu plan to make my grocery dollars stretch.  But on days when I get stuck, here are the menu planning tricks I use to complete my plan:

Copy an old menu

I have notebooks full of old menu plans and blog posts dating back to 2009 with our menus.  So when I’m in a pinch, I just copy one of those.  Just goes to show, it never hurts to have a notebook especially for menu plans!

Copy someone else’s menu

There are a ton of websites out there that offer free weekly menu plans.  I quite often browse a few, then use a couple of recipes off of each one to create my plan for the week.  Here are some sites I enjoy checking:

Head to Pinterest

Pinterest makes everything seem so deliciously appealing.  So when nothing is sounding good to me, I head to Pinterest to drool, I mean choose a few recipes to try.

Use theme Nights

List five different themes then plug in meals to fit the themes.  Here’s an example:

  • Mexican night
  • Pasta night
  • Sandwich night
  • Soup night
  • Chicken/beef night

Walk away

When all else fails, I walk away for a while.  When I come back, the ideas usually start flowing again!

Do you ever struggle with planning? What are your menu planning tricks?



Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth Tait says:

    I have been working hard to get more vegetables into all of us, so instead of starting with the meat, I have been starting my meal planning by looking in my vegetable bin. Tomorrow I have a cauliflower that has been waiting for me!

    I should add that my family still wants animal protein with the meal, but when vegetables are my focus we end up having lots of them in one meal.

  2. I used to ask for suggestions from the family when I couldn’t fill a hole in the menu. I rarely got a response, and was beginning to feel burdened by the task every week. To top it off, the kids learned my system and would pre-complain about certain meals planned that aren’t their favorites (ugh). So I mentioned to my husband how planning is so helpful but I didn’t like doing it alone, and we decided to give the kids one night each week to choose the meal (son is Mondays, daughter is Thursdays). That is the night they can count on having something they like, and I don’t have the full responsibility of planning the week. We have a few basic rules about what “counts” as dinner; my son only looks forward to a few foods, so we see those frequently on his night, but because he’s “in charge,” no one can complain about repeating some things so often.

    It also gives me a framework to use for the other nights. If Son asks for spaghetti and meatballs, that always means a salad on the side, which I usually prep once to last 2 nights – so I pair the preceding meal with a salad. If daughter’s meal calls for shredded cooked chicken, I know to plan a chicken meal earlier in the week and cook enough chicken for 2 meals.

    Regardless, the work one time each week is so much better than a daily panic of what to cook!!

  3. Ironically I was having trouble with this after having my third baby in August and just found something that’s working for me, so far at least. Because most of my recipes I find on my phone while nursing I started a list (on my phone) with the site/app that I found the recipe. This is working well so far since I keep forgetting where I saw THAT recipe I want to try. I’m going to try copying someone else’s menu and the theme night. Just need to figure out a theme the kids will go for 🙂

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