How to Plan a Weekly Menu {Money and Time Saving Tips}

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It’s 5 o’clock. What’s for dinner?

Do you find yourself struggling for dinner ideas at the last minute or heading through the drive-through after work?  If you do, consider creating a menu plan to help take the stress out of mealtime.

Menu planning is preparing a written calendar of meals in advance. It can be as simple as writing down a dinner schedule for the week or as complex as including breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire month.  Whichever route you take, menu planning helps take the guesswork out of meals, which can be a huge time and money-saver.

Why should you plan a menu?

  • Eliminates the 5 pm, “what’s for dinner” question
  • Potential for more variety
  • Save money
  • Waste less

Tips to plan:

– Use what you have on hand: Go through your stockpile and use it as a guide for the weeks meals.  Make sure to check the fridge for items that need to be used before they go bad.

Use the sale flyer’s: Look at the weekly flyer’s to see what’s on sale to help round out a meal.

Post the plan: You won’t forget to take something out of the freezer and your family knows what to expect.  You can see an example of my Fridge Menu Plan Chart above.  The notepad also allows for me to make grocery shopping notes or to write meal ideas for the next week based on leftovers or soon to expire items.

Keep it simple: You don’t have to make an elaborate menu plan.  Think about your schedule, family favorites, and maybe include a weekly leftover, pizza or “easy” night.

Be flexible: You don’t have to follow the menu plan exactly. You may walk into the grocery store and see beef marked down that is a much better price than the chicken on sale, the kids may have an unexpected practice or you have to work late.  Give yourself a break and use menu planning as a tool not a rule.

Menu Planning has been a huge help to my budget.  I don’t usually stick exactly to my plan, but having ideas already in front of me is a huge time and money saver.

Don’t get discouraged if you break the plan. Remember that the goal of menu planning is to help and encourage meals at home, but it is a tool, not a rule

What tips can you share on how to menu plan?


  1. Renae @ Madame Deals says

    I have gotten out of the habit of menu planning. I need to start again as I hate being frustrated at 5pm wondering what's for dinner. Great tip on being flexible! Life never really work sout how we plan so flexibilty is a must!

  2. Coupon Teacher says

    I can say amen to Renae. I have been writing a plan, and not following it one bit. I hate the 4 or 5 o'clock, now what is for dinner?

    Great tips!


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