Overcoming Busy with Menu Planning

April 26, 2010 by

This week on Overcoming Busy, we will be discussing the ins and outs of planning – why to plan, how to plan, and we’ll be looking at tools that can make planning easy.  Since it is Monday and today is the day I usually share my menu plan for the week and some tidbits on why making a menu plan is essential in overcoming busy, we’ll start with menu planning.

Why Menu Plan?

Menu planning is perhaps the most important step in overcoming busy and the stress in your home.  Think about it.  What is the craziest part of the day in your house?  In most homes, it is dinner time.  Everyone is home from school and work, they are tired, hungry and often grouchy.  On many evenings, the family has only a few minutes to eat before rushing out the door again to practice, games, meetings, etc.  Having a plan in place to feed this hungry crew can make all the difference in the world.  Growing up, we were involved in lots of sports and other activities, but my mom always had dinner on the table for us before we left.  Sometimes it was really early or really late.  Sometimes it was lunchmeat sandwiches and chips.  But, it was something we could count on and a sort of peace in the midst of chaos (or busyness).

How Do I Menu Plan?

I plan my meals on Sundays.  I look at my calendar for the week and decide what kinds of meals I need.  Do I need a few quick and easy meals?  Do I have time to make a few new recipes?  Am I cooking for just my family or are we sharing a meal with friends?  Then, I start looking through my recipe sources.  I have tried and true recipes stored in my binder and on my computer.  I have lots of cookbooks and favorite websites to turn to for new recipes.

Next, is the actual writing down of the recipes.  When I do this, I also look at the ingredient lists and write down what I don’t have on a grocery list.  There are many ways to do this.  I like to write down my meal plan on a magnetic note sheet on the fridge and cross them off as I make them.  I have another sheet of paper for the grocery list.  However, I do like using an organized planning sheet for this process and use various ones from time to time.

What is your meal planning process like?  Do you have set meals for each day or do you just cross meals off your list as you go?  I have a friend who has a bunch of notecards with a week’s worth of meals on them.  Each week, she just pulls a notecard and there is her meal plan!

Menu Planning Tools

Here are some tools and resources that will help you in the meal planning process.  These are some of my faves.

Recipe Websites

Meal Planning Printables

My Menu Plan This Week

  • Breaded drumsticks, mac n cheese, brussel sprouts
  • Brats on the grill, Dads potatoes, slaw
  • Ribeyes on the grill, steamed cauliflower, salad
  • Something with chicken thighs (don’t know yet, but I got a deal on some thighs!)
  • Spanish rice (carry over from last week’s menu), green beans
  • Leftovers

Need more meal planning inspiration?  Head on over to Organizing Junkie where she hosts Meal Plan Monday each week with hundreds of linked meal plans.

*image source

Comments (11)


  1. Marci – I love that you wrote you got a sale so you’re including it in the menu. So often I buy asparagus for $4 because a recipe calls for it – rather than buy something on sale and be flexible to a new recipe!

    I like dry erase incase something changes – easy to flip flop stuff around when that happens!

    great tips – thanks!

  2. I go about menu planning in much the same way you do – I even have a recipe binder that is full of our ‘family favorite’ staples that I know everyone likes. I have an electronic copy of it too, so I have a gift option if I want to print it out and give to a bride to be at a shower as well. Thanks for links to all the great resources – I love all recipes.com – several recipes from that site have been added to our binder!

  3. Thanks for including my printables, Marci!

  4. Bree says:

    Thank you for sharing my meal planning printable. I hope that it can help someone as much as it has helped me.

  5. Meal time is such a big part of family life, so if you can plan this well, it can make life so much easier. It also makes this time of the day so much more enjoyable for us too.

  6. […] Monday, I shared with you why to menu plan, how to menu plan and gave you some great menu planning tools.  After reading that, you should have no excuse for not making the perfect menu plan, right?  […]

  7. […] at Overcoming Busy wrote last week about how to Overcome Busy with Menu Planning. Those of you who mentioned yesterday that you would love to start this or restart this… some […]

  8. […] shared with you how much time, money and stress meal planning saves our family.  I have given you tips and tools on how to successfully plan meals for your family, too.  Obviously, I think it’s pretty […]

  9. […] at Overcoming Busy wrote last week about how to Overcome Busy with Menu Planning. Those of you who mentioned yesterday that you would love to start this or restart this… some […]

  10. Jennifer G says:

    I found a great tip the other day for staying in your grocery budget. If you meal plan and stick strictly to your list, but have a tendency to want to or actually pick up random ingredients because they look good (thus busting your budget), carry next week’s grocery list with you and add that item to the list instead of your cart. Then if you can incorporate it into next week’s meal plan, you can buy it when you shop for next week’s groceries because you have budgeted for it. If you can’t figure out how to work it in, it either moves to the following week’s list or just comes off.

  11. […] why I menu plan? Check out THIS […]

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