A monthly menu plan for the Spring

woman at the market
Photo by Alyson Hurt

It’s been several months since I wrote about menu planning; mostly, because I haven’t menu planned in awhile. With all our traveling in the States, it’s only been this past week that we’ve had some semblance of a normal life since mid-October.

But we’re all itching for some well-planned meals around here, so with the start of a new month and the start of a new season, I thought it a great time to plan for the entire month.

Our current book club selection, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has me jazzed about eating locally and seasonally, and there have been some great recipe site suggestions on the forums.  And I love food blogs, so I thought I’d pay some of my favorites homage and try out some of their recipes.

With this in mind, I’ve tried to make our month’s menu as seasonal as possible, with every intention to get most of the ingredients from our twice-weekly neighborhood farmer’s market.

I can’t vouch for the seasonality of every recipe here, especially since every locale is different. But for the most part, these recipes work well for us in the spring, and if they do for you, then please use and enjoy.

Here are some other articles I’ve written about menu planning:

You might also remember that I like to have a theme for each day of the week, which helps me narrow down recipe decisions. For the spring, our weekly rotation looks somewhat like this:

M0ndays – pasta
Tuesdays – soup, salad, and/or sandwiches
Wednesdays – stir fry
Thursdays – crock pot
Fridays – pizza
Saturdays – something new
Sundays – something easy

So here it is – our family’s menu.

April Menu Plan

Week One

beef empanadas
Photo from Smitten Kitchen

Week Two

Photo from Under the High Chair

Week Three

Photo from Cooking Light

Week Four

Photo from Joy the Baker

Week Five

Photo from Tomato Casual

What are you eating this week?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Thanks for this. I have just temporarily retired from my job of 29 years, and will be homeschooling my 12 year old for the remainder of this school year, something I’ve NEVER been is a SAHM. My goal for this week is to MENU PLAN. We have been dining out, ordering in or doing drive thru far too much. I see several things I would like to incorporate into my menus

    Martha´s last blog post…Simple Woman’s Daybook

  2. wow-love this breakdown. i need to take some time to do the same. perhaps i’ll just steal yours and make it my own. one question, how do you work in dinner guests? i often get thrown off when we have a bunch of people over on a particular day or evening. and then find myself recovering afterwards.

    thanks again for the great resource. i’m blogging about trust today. would love to have you visit sometime.

    Nicole´s last blog post…Do You Trust Me?

  3. Hi Tsh,
    Your menus sound lovely! For us this week it’s tacos, ginger beef stir fry, BBQ chicken breasts with fresh veggies and homemade mac and cheese.

    I think I might give the lemon, chicken, and leek pot pie a try…I think my husband would LOVE it!
    Thanks for so many great sounding dinner suggestions!

    Sherri (Serene Journey)´s last blog post…8 Tips For Effective Budgeting

  4. We are very low maintenance when it come to menu planning with our family of five:

    Monday – pasta
    Tuesday – chili and couscous
    Wed – leftovers
    Th – indian curry and rice
    Fri – veggie burgers and french fries
    Sat – leftovers
    Sun – pizza

    Cooking isn’t my favorite thing (or talent!), but I like that I can still make simple, healthy food for our family.


    steadymom.com´s last blog post…The Importance of Reading to Your Children

  5. Your menus are lovely! i too have fixed menus that i try to refresh every once in while


    Recipe man´s last blog post…Passover Pesach Menu Link Collection

  6. I’ve been getting over the flu, so I still haven’t put together our menu for the week, but with this awesome collection of recipes, I hope I’ll quickly be able to rectify that!

    Stephanie´s last blog post…off topic: economic crisis without the lingo

  7. Your menu has many delicious recipes that I would like to try. I have tried monthly menu planning in the past and loved the organization it provided. I need to get back into the swing of menu planning, but I am recovering from back surgery and right now am depending on others to provide food for my family. Thanks for the great suggestions! 🙂

    Lana´s last blog post…The ABCs of Me

  8. That looks delicious- thank you so much for breathing new inspiration into my plans this month.

  9. I’m impressed that you have a month of meals planned. I’m still trying to get the hang of meal planning in general. I love to cook but seem to throw everything together on the fly.

    Miko’s Girl´s last blog post…Passalong Plants

  10. This week, for us, is only Monday and Tuesday, because we’re leaving for Disneyland on Wednesday morning. So we’ll be using up whatever’s in the fridge.

    Since I’ve started menu-planning, my afternoons have felt much calmer.By knowing what I need to have prepared and how much time it will take, it eliminates so much stress! But I can only handle one week at a time…not a whole month. ; )

    Kirwin´s last blog post…The Five Dollar Challenge

  11. These recipes look yummy. I have never been able to work up to monthly menu plans. I am proud that I finally have the swing of weekly plans. It seems like our weeks are starting to get a bit monotonous though. Perhaps a monthly plan would help alleviate that problem. I might have to try it and see if it works for us!

    Taylor at Household Management 101´s last blog post…Mar 30, Household Inventory: Why Your Family Should Create One

  12. I’m very impressed with your forethought in meal planning. We typically cook in big batches on Sunday (we’re big on soup), making lunches and dinners, so we barely have to do anything during the week. During the summer, our menu gets dictated by what’s in the garden. Hail to fresh food.

  13. I plan a week at a time, Friday to Friday. I print off a calendar for the month and then fill in the squares for the week. I keep all of the calendars, so I can get idesas. I try to get input from my oldest and then I take into account days we need dinner prepared quickly or evenings I work, so I tried to have it prepared in advance for my family. Since it is still cold and rainy here (we even had snow on Saturday), our menu looks like this.
    Monday: Baked Potato Soup with Cheddar, Sour Cream and Green Onion biscuits
    Tuesday: Chicken and Broccoli
    Wednesday: Round Steak and egg noodles
    Thursday: BLT salad
    Friday: Smoked Gouda mac and cheese

  14. I’m impressed! I barely know what we’re eating tonight let alone all month. 🙂

    Tabitha (From Single to Married´s last blog post…Monday Musings: Gym Membership – Yea or Nay?

  15. Oh, I’d love to come for dinner. Thanks for asking (ha). Menu sounds delish for the entire month.

    This week we’re having Thai Style Ground Beef (lettuce wraps) with white rice, Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and a spinach salad, (Homemade) Pizza Bagels and salad (last night), and Chicken Pepper Steak with rice. I realize I’m short a couple of meals but hubby will be gone for 2 evenings so the girls and I will wing it with grilled cheese, pancakes or cereal.

    Nancy´s last blog post…Menu Plan Monday

  16. Now that is what I call organized!!
    Gotta go check out all those yummy recipes! Thanks!

  17. I’m so inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle too!! Have resolved to search out tons of local produce this summer and we’re getting 1/2 of a grass-fed cow from a local farmer!

    Excellent menu plan! I just did one for this week and thought I was all organized, but a month, wow. Impressive.
    Here’s what we’re eating this week:

    Shepherd’s Pie with braised lamb (leftover), Peas
    Ham & Asparagus Fritatta
    Beans & Rice
    Creole Seafood Tagliatelle (recipe on my blog)
    Chef’s Salad ( or maybe Taco) anyway, BIG salad

    Bon appetite, everyone!

    Aimee´s last blog post…Sugaring Off Part II and Rustic Maple Pie

  18. I have been using your meal planning suggestions for the past two months. I love it…what a difference it has made in streamlining our afternoons. No more getting to 4 o’clock and wondering what to have for dinner. I do have one question though…how do you get by using one roast chicken? Maybe because we are a family of 5, we usually have to roast two if we want leftovers. Isn’t Animal, Vegetable, Miracle an excellent book?

    Joanne from Wiseacres´s last blog post…Scraggly sheep and a new hay loft

    • Somehow we manage to use one chicken for two meals. We try and keep the meat a side of the meal and not the main focus. Keep in mind, also, that our kids are little – 4 years old and 15 months.

  19. Wow, what a great monthly menu! I currently do weekly menu planning but I’m thinking about giving monthly a try. You’ve inspired me!

    Becca´s last blog post…menu plan monday

  20. Lovely- thank you so much for the ideas and help.

  21. Niki from NorCal says:

    This is exactly what I need. I’ve falling off the cooking/menu planning bandwagon lately and this post is going to snap me back into shape. Thanks!

  22. I love your category breakdown! That’s a great idea! This year my menu goals are: 1) have fish at least once a week, 2) have at least one meatless meal a week, and 3) incorporate more new recipes from my many cookbooks.
    This week we’re having: pot roast, talapia, country fried steaks, navy beans and pizza.

    Lora´s last blog post…Menu Plan Monday: March 30th-April 5th

  23. Thank you so much for this! I have tried & tried to do better with my menu planning but I just can’t get in a groove. So, I will basically be copying this for a month & then hopefully I can start to fly free from there.

  24. thanks for the great inspiration! Since having baby#2 in Jan, our cooking schedule has definitely not been great…and lately seems like we’re on the go all the time &/or seeing family lots and hardly even ever home to eat…we’re trying to slow down and this is a great encouragement for April! Thanks so much for sharing!

    jodi´s last blog post…Please Pray for the MckFamily

  25. YES!!!!!!! i was just browsing around because i was having a pity party cuz i couldn’t get my dinner ideas together for the next few weeks and whining and just about ready to give up….and then looky here!!! woo-hoo…saved me! thank you!

    Tara B.´s last blog post…Family Yearbook Challenge 2009 – Week 11

  26. Marion W says:

    Thanks for doing this tsh!! I used tons of recipes off your old menu. Most have become family favorites.

  27. love this post … please do this more often. I’ve used some of the recipes from your previous posts and everything has been great. This week we’re having a lot of chicken and we’re using the grill … my favorite way to cook!

  28. YUM! Your menu sounds fantastic. I’m in such a rut with menu planning, and after reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (I already finished) – I am thinking about eating local as well.

    Thanks for all of the great links – now I’ve something to work with!

    Christi´s last blog post…as always, I’m a little late

  29. Awesome!! I’ve been terrible about keeping up with my favorite blogs lately (this site being one of my all time favorites). I just saw the email feed and immediately clicked, I feel like you just gave me a shot of adrenaline!

    Nikki´s last blog post…Stick In Nose

  30. i love menu planning! when i sit down to do it, it’s always sooo worth it. this week we are doing veggie pizza, chicken & veggies, burgers, pasta, & a chicken casserole 🙂

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…time for reflecting.

  31. Wow! I recently wrote about meal planning too. I’m transitioning from weekly planning to monthly planning, so your post is quite inspiring. Thanks!

    Abby´s last blog post…Business is Booming: 5 Rays of Recession-Era Hope

  32. Such wonderful recipes! This is probably a dumb question but do you normally just prepare a meal and have it for both lunch and dinner or do you find yourself cooking 2 meals a day? That’s my issue. I cook lunch for me and the kids and then find myself right back in the kitchen whipping up dinner for the family. My kids are used to hot meals so a simple sandwich for lunch usually doesn’t cut it. Any advice??

  33. we do all our menu poanning for the week through Six O’clock Scramble. http://www.thescramble.com. Printable shoping list that’s coded with side dishes, etc. Terrific money and time saver!

  34. Thanks for sharing this — I’ve been trying to tackle weekly menu planning, too. I would love to bang out an entire month! This will definitely help. 🙂

    Allegra´s last blog post…More new stuff

  35. tsh you are the bomb. thank you so much for doing this right before the month of april begins!
    april fools= those who do not heed this meal planning proposition. boo ya! 🙂

    tacy´s last blog post…Good to Be a Jane

  36. Shannon J says:

    I was just thinking how much work planning for one week at a time is. And since I usually wait until Sunday night to plan for the week, that doesn’t give much wiggle room for alterations, like if I’m busy Sunday night and don’t get to it. I decided just yesterday that I need to gather enough ideas/recipes for several weeks at once. And reading this makes me think that’s right. I see you frequent some of my favorite food blogs – smitten kitchen and Joy the Baker. Yum. Why can’t they live with me?!

  37. Love your blog. I menu plan all the time, we’re a military family and I do my grocery shopping every two weeks, so I menu plan for two weeks at a time, I’ve been doing it for 11 years and don’t think I could ever do it differently. 🙂

    You have some great recipes on your menu. I also have a food blog, if you ever want to come by and take a look 🙂

    Full Bellies, Happy Kids”

    Sandra´s last blog post…Giveaways!

  38. Great timing. I am attempting to increase my menu planning from one week to two weeks with plans to eventually increase to one month if possible. We are putting in our first garden and looking forward to our seasonal farmer’s market opening, so the fresh recipes will be marked a favorite. You are always so helpful in the the “science” of homemaking. It is a tough job to run an efficient home and raise well adjusted children and try to have as little guilt as possible for not doing it all “right”. Thanks for the ideas.

    Kristy´s last blog post…Sweet new pictures

  39. Oh super fabulous babe.

    I put it on Worthington Wire. You are famous.


    Allison @ Worthington Wire´s last blog post…BREITBART: Online activists on the right, unite!

  40. This is awesome. I will be pulling from this. I’ve been wanting to plan ahead but that takes planning…

    Kara-Noel´s last blog post…I remember Jr High…

  41. Thanks for inspiring me (again) to get back to meal planning. I LOVE food. I love to cook and bake and EAT and share and enjoy! For several years now I have been completely hooked on Ina Garten’s cookbooks: The Barefoot Contessa, Family Style, At Home and most recently and maybe my favorite Back to Basics. Every recipe I have ever tried turns out way more perfect than I could ever imagine!!! The most delicious food ever!

  42. This is great! Just this week I got back to menu planning after realizing the what-will-we-have-for-dinner question was back to being a source of stress for our family. Thanks for posting these, and I’m going to check them out for next week’s inspiration!

    Deanna´s last blog post…Before and … (Ok, Just Before)

  43. Tsh, if you would post this every month, I would cook exactly what you’re cooking every day! I LOVE this! All of it sounds delicious. I’m actually skipping ahead and making the honey-glazed chicken stir fry tonight even though it’s only March 31. Thank you so much! Serious about monthly meal plans… I’d be all over that. -Sarah

    Sarah´s last blog post…ellie and daddy.

  44. Thanks so much for sharing your menu plans! I also love the idea of themed nights. I may try that as well. I’m usually doing good to plan 3 meals a week. (Then one night we have leftovers and one night we just sort of do our own thing like sandwiches). We tend to eat out on the weekends.
    I wanted to share a recipe for Pecan Chicken Fettucine I just fixed for dinner tonight and it was a total hit with my family! I highly recommend it:

    Amy´s last blog post…Take Every Thought Captive

  45. I started having a weekly set menu about 1.5 months ago and it has made dinner much less stressful! Our week is similar to yours and I have it stuck on my fridge so my son always knows what dinner we are having. It is very basic and always room for changes or additions – there is always a veg each night but I don’t decide that until I’m making dinner:

    Monday – fish and rice
    Tuesday – pasta
    Wednesday – my son’s fave chicken (he has 2 faves)
    Thursday – soup/salad/sandwiches OR noodles
    Friday – fun night (pizza, tacos, hamburgers or takeout)
    Saturday – chinese dinner night
    Sunday – surprise!

    Thanks for posting your month long menu. I could never plan so far ahead. 🙂

    angela´s last blog post…imagine – hand embroidered pillow cover with optional pillow

  46. I’m impressed. I plan about two weeks at a time (occasionally three), but only because that’s as often as I can get to the grocery store! I’m starting to get more organized…I’ve set aside Thursdays as breakfast for dinner days and hope to set a day for each of the proteins I like to cook with: ground beef, chicken, fish. Slowly, but surely, it’s coming!

    Heather´s last blog post…MOPS

  47. By the way – and I hope this is obvious, but you never know – I posted our meal plan so that anyone who needs a boost or an idea for their own planning can grab a nugget of inspiration or two. It wasn’t so that you all could be impressed that I planned for the month. Please don’t feel like you have to “apologize” because you plan a week at a time. I don’t plan a month in advance every time, and everyone meal plans differently.

    In fact, Mandi at Organizing Your Way has a good synopsis of different ways to meal plan here: http://www.organizingyourway.net/weekly-hot-spot/simple-menu-plans-considering-your-options

  48. What a good idea! Although it seems scary is just expanding the weekly menu in length. For those of us who might get scared of the idea, why not try working on two weeks menu then three weeks and then finally migrate to monthly menus. 🙂

    lvlc´s last blog post…My iPhone is not a toy!!!

  49. I made the french market soup yesterday in the crock pot. it was incredibly easy to make, and delicious! We didn’t have any “liquid smoke flavoring” but i inadvertently added smoked gouda on the top, and it was a perfect substitute!

    tacy´s last blog post…Not the way…

  50. I love that you included some tried-and-true family faves! I’m going to have to check out that honey glazed stir fry. Great suggestions!

    Shannan´s last blog post…Your door is the window to your home.

  51. Totally cool! Followed your link from the inspired nest and really enjoyed your blog space. As a now single house hold, cooking had gotten into a rut without a houseful to feed it was getting too easy to zap something but you have left me inspired.

    Pearl Maple´s last blog post…Sky Watch Friday

  52. Great post.

    The other great thing about meal planning is that it allows you to plan your meals around the week\’s upcoming supermarket sales saving you even more money.

  53. While I did not plan a whole month, I did plan a week, and shopped for everything I needed. This is a HUGE step for me. I did not however use coupons. I didn’t have all that together and really needed to get the shopping done! Baby steps!

    Martha´s last blog post…Buckeyes anyone?

  54. I agree… baby steps is the clue to achieve any habit! Some people pressure themselves in doing things like this and they end up hating it and not enjoying it! For now, I am still building the weekly menu plan, then I can upgrade to two weeks and so on if I want… 🙂

    lvlc´s last blog post…Freezing Dinner Leftovers…

  55. Can I tell you how much I LOVE your blog? We are working on our core values tonight, and I just wanted to tell you that I loved this post. You have a similar food style to me. I usually just plan weekly, but I would love it if you did seasonal posts like these to give me more ideas. I’m going to start with that tomato soup recipe and your honey glazed stir fry. Thanks! You’re awesome!

  56. Stephanie says:

    I absolutely love your recipes! Thank you so much for sharing! Will you be posting May’s plan as well?!? You’re a stupendous meal

  57. The chicken spaghetti casserole link doesn’t work ;(

    Loving this menu plan tho.

  58. There’s just DH and I now and I’m increasingly finding menu planning and cooking in general, a chore rather than a pleasure. Reading through your foodie section is giving me a bit of much needed inspiration. I realise I’m going to have to get better organised with both my grocery shopping and menu planning, rather than hoping an idea will strike on the day. I think a more set menu through the week will eliminate the problem. I’d never done this before, thinking it would get boring, but who says it has to be set in stone!

    Many thanks!
    Ali @ A Cosy Life

    Ali H.´s last blog post…Its Earth Day

  59. This Menu looks great. I am new to your site and was wondering if you have a grocery list to go with it.

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