That time-honored, sanity-saving ritual: menu planning

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon 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.

shelf of cookbooks

I‘ll confess that in the midst of all our moving back to our passport country from the one where we lived for three years, and then moving again across the U.S. to the Pacific Northwest, we spent about a year where our family just winged it, food-wise. No menu planning, no giving much thought to our meals, mostly either whipping something up on the fly or going out to eat.

Stressful, eventful stages in life will do that to a family, and we’re not immune—even if I’ve written about the beauty of menu planning many times. Life just sorta happens, pretty or not, and you often knee-jerk into survival mode.

But this said, I can honestly say that looking back on that stage, life would have gone smoother had we taken the time to make a simple menu plan. I was in a cooking rut, which I used as an excuse to not menu plan—when, by golly, that’s the time more than ever to make that plan.

Nonetheless, here we are, back at menu planning, and reveling in the peace and freedom it brings. I’ve remembered how much saner dinnertime flows when we’ve made a quick plan.

So for this back to the basics installment (we’ve already talked about your bag and your beauty routine), I thought we could talk about menu planning. It might sound boring, but believe me, it’ll bring peace to your dinner. It might even toss in some zest to your cooking rut.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best kind of menu planning is the simple kind, I say. Take advantage of Pinterest and the current season, and search for recipes that use your favorite seasonal and local ingredients. If it’s spring, search for asparagus. If it’s fall, search pumpkin—you get the idea.

Ways to make menu planning a lot easier. | SimpleMom.net

Then, bookmark however works best for your family. Pin them, of course, and then add them to your menu plan. For a long time, I simply used Google Calendar—I just created a separate “menu” calendar, then added that evening’s fare with a link to the recipe in the description tab. I’d print out a weekly calendar, along with the accompanying recipes, and done.

I still use a similar system, except now it’s in Plan to Eat. I was honestly reluctant to try it out, simply because I didn’t want to use one. more. thing. Also, it seemed confusing… how do I add a recipe? If it doesn’t automatically import, I have to copy and paste every line? Yikes.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to EatBut then my friend Mandi reminded me about their bookmarklet tool, where I just use a button in my browser (Chrome), making it super easy to add a new recipe. Problem solved.

So I now prefer Plan to Eat because I can store all my recipes there, drag and drop onto a calendar (which can still sync to Google or iCalendar, if I want), and—I love this part—it automatically generates a shopping list based on the week’s meals. Super handy.

I still print out the weekly calendar and the accompanying menus, file them away in a binder, and just pull it out when we’re ready to cook. Both Kyle and I split the cooking 50-50 in our family, so this makes communication easy, too—just a look at our calendar, and we both know what we’re doing.

Cooking with a menu plan makes life so much saner.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Here’s the other thing—my family is perfectly content repeating meals. For awhile, I thought I needed to creatively whip out a new, exciting weekly plan, week after week. When really? We’re all pretty content to eat the same thing about twice per month.

This means I honestly only need to make one two-week menu plan, all season. Two weeks of meals, repeated, means eating one meal only twice in one month. I can handle that.

We leave wiggle room for eating out, trying a new recipe, or last-minute changes, of course, but sticking to a core seasonal menu means I mostly just plug-and-play our dinners. Then at the start of a new season, I start a new two-week rotation.

It doesn’t take much time.

It might take a bit of time at first to get set up, but once you have your system of choice running, menu planning doesn’t take long at all. Since I like to stay offline on Sundays, I plan for the week ahead on Saturdays. I just pull out my Plan to Eat calendar, repeat from the previous two weeks, print out my shopping list, and I’m good to go. I may plug in a new recipe for fun, but if I know our food from the previous two weeks was a hit, I don’t sweat it.

Menu planning can make cooking fun again.

If it’s the start of a new season, I pull up Pinterest and search for new meals to try (I’m a big believer in eating locally and seasonally). We’ve also been in new-recipe-mode lately with our Whole30, and menu planning has been essential to our success there. We would have already thrown in the towel if we didn’t have a plan.

If you don’t yet—of if you’ve taken a hiatus for whatever reason—give menu planning a spin. It’ll save you money, time, and I promise, you won’t miss that 4 p.m. panic of What-am-I-going-to-make-for-dinner?

What are your favorite menu planning tricks of the trade?

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Comments

  1. This is a great reminder for me. I find that I often become frustrated at myself when I don’t follow a plan perfectly or use a particular method. Though, in the end I find that any amount or method of menu planning is a huge blessing. Here’s to small beginnings!

  2. Amen and amen. We had a similar experience of moving overseas (while I was pregnant) last year, and the process of picking up and settling down displaced my usual menu planning ritual. After a whole year of chaos, including getting ajusted to the different foods available in our country, I finally returned to menu planning. This time around I went further and planned a month-long menu. My husband likes variety, but i tend to get in a rut with meals. It took a couple months to actually get all the slots filled in, but I don’t have to think about much when I go to make my grocery list each week. I change things around each month and switch out things we are tired of or don’t like for new recipes. And sometimes we have grilled cheese and carrot sticks instead of what’s on the menu. It’s the same concept that applied to budgeting: having a plan creates freedom because the uncertainty is eliminated.

  3. I write out a menu plan every week and put it on the refrigerator. But I really like the idea of a binder that I can use to have all the recipes readily available. Currently I am fetching recipes from cookbooks and websites several days a week. Having them in one place would be much more efficient during the dinner-time crunch!

  4. we were in a similar rut after moving to Ireland in January. It was like we had no idea what we actually ate before and forgot how to cook! I call it pasta-marinara-survival-mode. But last week I sat down with – gasp – pencil and paper (!) and planned for the next two weeks, rotating every two weeks. And I copy and paste recipes into my menu plan on google calendar. Then i don’t have to print off, look up, it’s right there when the alarm goes off on my phone. :) Really glad to see I’m not the only one who dropped the menu ball in times of stress and transition! I think it’s good to give ourselves grace when everything else is up in the air, and it gives us confidence when we do finally have the ability, mind-energy and time to get back to a good routine.

    • Oh, totally! You’re in such a crazy time in life—honestly, this whole year is going to be full of newness. Keep it super-simple, and you’ll be glad you did. :)

  5. Great! Thanks for this. I generally doing it all analogue, which means starting from scratch every week. But I think I’ll have to get with times, it sounds pretty simple.

  6. I plan everything on paper. I find it faster. I take a piece of paper fold it in half and write lunches and then the numbers 1 to 7 under it and then dinners and the numbers 1 to 7 under it. I quickly write “out” on the first line under dinner, then go through my cupboards and see what dinners we can make with food already on hand. The kids eat sandwiches 4 times a week so that takes up 4 lunch lines, I fill the other 3 in with simple meals they can make on their own. When I am done I clip it to the fridge. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes and the nice part about it is I don’t feel like Monday night has to be taco’s, each morning I look at the list pick one of the 6 dinner choices get whatever needs to be taken out of the freezer to thaw and I am done. This works for “got to be in the mood” eaters like our family.

    • I know people who do this, too, and I think it’s a great idea! Allows for lots of flexibility.

    • “got to be in the mood” eaters – yes that’s us! But it’s mostly what I feel like cooking that makes the decisision for the dinner meal LOL, nobody else gets to complain. Dinner planning with flexibility is great for me.

  7. I use Pepperplate.com. It took a while to get all my recipes uploaded to it, but once I did I can easily sit down and add them to the menus and grocery lists. It syncs to my smart phone so I always have recipes, meal plans, and shopping list on hand.

    • I use pepperplate.com too. Most recipes add quickly to the program and it has a an easy multiplier for changing the number of servings. The shopping list is great and the menu planning portion works well enough. When I plan freezer meals this tool saves so much time.

  8. I definitely have a hard time menu planning. I think maybe because I like cooking. I will often make a menu plan for the week, but then on the specified day I don’t want to make what I have planned. Recently I have taken to making a bunch of food at the beginning of the week. Beans, rice, sauces, dressings, prepping veggies. And then throughout the week I will use those pre-made items to figure out dinner. Granted, a lot of people don’t do well with that kind of thing, but it is working for me at the moment. And by Friday, we are just about done with all of the pre-made stuff and have our weekly pizza night :-)

  9. I am a huge believer in menu planning! Two other pluses: with a plan our kids eat much better now and we rarely spend money on food we don’t eat. A better environment at our table and on the earth. Huge wins. My best tools:
    1) Master list of meals: we keep a list of meals that we all like (ok – it’s mostly stuff the kids like – but the list grows!) and meals we like to make (20 min prep, healthy ingredients, etc)
    2) Last year I made a cork board Menu Plan board. I have our Master Plan meals on squares of paper, I shuffle them around, pin them up and voila – 5 minutes later: a menu plan for the week!

  10. Ok, now I think I may have to try Plan to Eat. It’s totally overwhelmed me in the past, but you make it sound really user-friendly.
    I couldn’t do without meal-planning; both from a financial and a sanity standpoint. I’ve started designating certain nights as “chicken night,” etc and keep a list of seasonal chicken, beef, soup, and veggie- related recipes. I just rotate them in as I plan. I used to think this sounded too structured, but I use the plan flexibly and it’s actually made planning a lot simpler.
    I also try to cook in bulk when I can–it’s pretty easy to double a recipe of chili or chicken tortilla soup and then freeze the extras for a quick meal another night.

    • Yes! Can’t believe I forgot to mention that above, but yes—if it’s easy enough, I always double the recipe and freeze one. Comes in super handy during busy seasons.

  11. We’ve also gotten off the meal planning track and always find we spend more and are more stressed out. If I can’t do a full meal plan, I just make a list of five lunches and dinners and call it good.

  12. My meal planning isn’t as high tech or cool as yours- I just have a 4 menu rotation that we repeat. It always consists of a mexican dish on Monday, a pasta on Tuesday, breakfast on Wednesday, and baked potatoes or chili on Thursday. The details of the dishes are different depending on the menu number we’re on (for example, week 1 the mexican dish is tacos, week 2 it’s burritos), but the theme is the same which makes the planning and grocery listing easy. Then Friday we try something new, Saturday is homeamade pizza night, and Sunday we have soup or roast in the cold months and sub sandwiches or something on the grill in the warm months. This system makes my meal planning and prep for a homeschooling family of 8, soon to be 9 easy and more affordable.

    • We’ve done that in the past (had different themes for different nights), and it definitely worked for us then! Sounds like you’ve got a good plan for your brood. :)

  13. I try my best to do weekly menu planning by using the boards I have on Pinterest. It really alleviates a lot of stress when trying to figure out what to have each night.

  14. I typically use the “cook once, eat twice” method. For instance I’ll often cook 4 meatloaves at a time, and after a dinner of meatloaf and veggies I’ll divide the rest of the loaves into serving sizes and freeze. That way I simply pull out the main dish that I’m planning for dinner from the freezer the night before and dinner is a snap by adding a couple of sides. It helps that I’m a simple “country cook” without complicated tastes or recipes so this works for my family.
    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  15. I have been using my ita app (http://nicemohawk.com/ita/) on my iPhone since the fall. I just keep a running list of recipes I want to make and then a list of things I need to get at the store for the recipes. That way I always have something on hand to make for dinner. Plus I can switch it around if I don’t feel like making what I had planned that night. It saves me from getting bored.

  16. Okay, so many friends have mentioned “Plan to Eat,” and here I see it again. Gonna have to give it a go. I work from home in the afternoons/evenings and my husband helps with the meals, so as you mentioned, meal planning totally makes communication easier. I’ve begun planning meals for the month, making sure to include a leftover night during the week. I try to keep an inventory of our freezer and pantry contents in my notebook (or on the computer), so I know what we have or what we need to purchase. And even though it’s easy to get sucked into the “Pinterest abyss”, this resource has really helped with meal planning. I am ‘visual’ so seeing a recipe is much better for me, than merely reading a recipe. I created boards for various food categories. Okay off to check out “Plan to Eat”!

  17. We started meal planning when we learned that our son had food sensitivities & could only eat gluten 2 to 3 times each week. For me, it was the only way I could manage his diet. Oy, what an incredibly valuable tool!
    Four years later, I don’t know how we’d feed our family successfully without a meal plan. Our lives are busy and the last question that I want to deal with at the end of my day is: what should I make for dinner.

  18. I just recently blogged about my Menu Planning Control Center. It has helped me so much. I put 4 printables up w/ magnets, on my fridge. It really helps prevent, “out of sight, out of mind,” for me. It is really working for me. We haven’t eaten out, but one time, in the past month. We are losing weight, and getting out of debt, so that is a very good thing!
    ~Linda
    http://lindalmartin.com/?p=178

  19. I have a very love/hate relationship with menu planning. It absolutely makes the week easier, and so I usually do in fact menu plan. I kind of enjoy the process of looking through the ads, considering what we already have and then planning what we need to buy to make several meals. But I also find the practice somewhat stressful because a)we like LOTS of variety, so reusing last weeks meals just doesn’t work for us, b) I have a toddler who won’t eat half of what I make, so I have to think on two tracks – what do we want to eat and what can I make that he will eat? c) I often forget what I already have in the freezer or pantry and just can’t come up with a system for keeping an inventory that isn’t laborious. I’d LOVE tips on that part of the process. If I didn’t have to constantly go check to see if I have black beans, or is there bacon in the freezer, etc I think the whole thing would be so much smoother!

    • BTW, I have tried a written list taped to the pantry door, I’ve tried a pre-printed list that we check off what we do/don’t have, I’ve tried an excel file. It always gets out of date and winds up being worthless.

    • I use a shopping list app called “Out of Milk”. I have it on my smart phone and on my tablet. It allows you to keep an inventory of your pantry….but I don’t use that function of it yet. What I do is make multiple shopping lists and save them to the app. One of the lists is my pantry list and every other Thursday (which is the day before I do my shopping), I take my pantry list that is literally a list of all of the staples that I like to keep in my pantry and I look at it and compare the list. If I don’t need something that is on the list, I just check it off. If I do need something on the list, then I leave it on the list and adjust the quantity that I need. Then I do my meal planning for the next two weeks by opening up my calendar to see what is going on in our lives for those weeks. My husband works a job that gives him a rotating weekend, so the days off he had last week are not the days off he has this week….ever. That truth along with having a kid in pre-school and a kid in Kindergarten, add in soccer season that is starting up next week and practices, church functions, travel plans….looking at the calendar when I plan our meals is a MUST! I plan crockpot meals on my crazy busy days and old stand by meals for days I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. I take my list of meals and then look at my pantry check list on the app. If there is something that I need for the pantry on the list, but I don’t need it in any of the meals I’m planning, then I make a note in that food’s line. We run on a $70/week food budget (which also includes toilet paper, dog food, etc), so if I don’t need to spend $$ on an item I’m not going to use for that meal plan, I’m not going to buy it unless I have money left over. So, the app has worked wonders for me.

      • Jen, I would love to know how you can do $70/week?! I have just started meal planning and being more consisteent with shopping days. I also just started using Out of Milk, and I love it so far, but I still have a lot to learn about it! I am trying to make a reasonable budget plan for my family, but I am not quite sure how to go about it. The meal planning seems like a start, but it is everything else that seems overwhelming! Any suggestions?

    • Hi Liz,
      I read this and was reading my own mind! I am in the same boat. I LOVE a variety and get bored very easily. So the thought of a rotation sounds awful. Obviously, we shouldn’t have one right? The only solution I can come up with is to have a pile of Favorite Recipes or Go To ones when I’m in a hurry, and then have enough of a list of new ones to keep trying. We should exchange some emails and see if we can help each other out! I feel so overwhelmed by this at times.

  20. Tsh, I just signed up with Plan to Eat last week after listening to your pod cast with Kat Lee and checking out her meal planning boot camp. I am loving Plan to Eat, especially being able to “tag” recipes with key words that will help you later as you plan menus. I would highly recommend Kat’s menu planning bootcamp. http://inspiredtoaction.com/meal-planning-boot-camp/
    Thank you so much for your awesome posts and podcasts. They have blessed our family so much!

  21. Oh so convenient that you just so happen to have an affiliate link to the plan to eat site.

  22. avatar
    Beth Gillespie says:

    I LOVE menu planning! I also love cooking, and I love variety. I spent about 2 hours a year or so ago, and made up a big master list of meals – I categorised them by “kids faves”, “under £5″, “30 minutes or less” and “make ahead”. I fill it in with new recipes when ones come up that we love.
    Before I menu plan I take a basic inventory, so I know what I already have that I can use and if there are any meals in the freezer.
    I then make up a simple plan for the week – I’ll ask the family to see if anyone wants anything particular, I use Pinterest and new recipe books for new inspiration, and then refer to my list for the basic cheap meals to get us through the week. We eat simple, easy meals around 5 times a week, and then mix it up once or twice. But the best thing with my master list is I don’t sit for ages wondering what to cook!

  23. There are a few meals that my family must have at least twice a month! It makes it nice so I don’t have to think of new things all the time. I do like to try a couple of new meals every month. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas.

  24. Would you be willing to share your recipes on PTE? I just joined and am loving it. I’m gluten free and would love more recipes! My email is linder.shannon@gmail.com.

  25. My website is under attack so no link for now (malware has attached itself somewhere and I have no time nor expertise to fix it)–but–my similar weekly meal plan hack: Tuesday Tacos; Wednesday Spaghetti. I might play with the spaghetti a little in one way or another (carbonara instead of marinara) or make nachos or soft tacos; but that is set. The kids are thrilled and so am I–easy, planned, done. Add in Friday night sports events and “grill enough on Sunday for Monday” plans and I am usually good to go for almost the whole week. It’s huge.

  26. Wow, and I was proud of myself just for writing the week’s dinners on the chalkboard!
    Love your cookbooks. My Bittman Bible and NT are almost always open and have gotten really messy with food splotches, I must say!

  27. Oh, how I’ve struggled in this area of my life! I’ve signed up for the free-month trial of Plan to Eat and I’m liking what I’m seeing. I struggle with organization (meal planning, daily dockets, etc.) but I appreciate the inspiration — here’s to another try! :)

  28. I know every family is different, but would you mind sharing your 2-week menu schedule for others to use as a jumping off point? I really want to institute this at my house, but my husband thinks it would be too repetitive.

  29. We menu plan all the time. It was a bit daunting at first, but now that we have been going it works so well. You really have to start and stick with for a least 1-2 months. Once you stay with it and keep going, it will be hard to let a week go by without it. I feel completely lost if I don’t have a meal plan.

  30. Uh I am the worst menu planner. It is something I need to work on.Thanks for reminding me! I always forget things at the grocery store, even when I have a list!

    Kate

  31. I love to meal plan. Most of the time. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a rut, though, because my family gets tired of the same ol’-same ol’. I remember hearing someone say that having an arsenal of 21 meals for a month is perfect. You can repeat a week’s worth, and have some days for leftovers, too. Sometimes I cook double what we need for a meal and freeze or refrigerate the other half for a future meal. Having the menu on the calendar also eliminates having 5 people asking me what’s for dinner, too. I just refer them to the menu, and also tell them that it is “subject to change”. :)
    I’ve also found that having the kids involved in menu planning and cooking gives them a sense of ownership, and keeps them from complaining!
    I’ve been using pinterest a ton for menu planning, and most of the time I list the menu on my blog. My sisters love that, and I can just click on that post and have all of the recipes and links right in front of me.

  32. I haven’t tried Plan to Eat yet. It definitely sounds interesting!

    I like to do some freezer cooking every few weeks. I get too overwhelmed when I do a whole month…but I love having dinner ready in the freezer. I have found that having a menu plan also helps save quite a bit of money. I try to plan around sales at my local stores and what I already have on hand in the pantry.

  33. Menu planning is still fairly new to our family, but we did recently hit our 1 year mark. It’s so nice to have a little structure for dinners, but it also gives you a good handle on what you have on hand for those surprises that come up. I found once I started blogging about my meal plan, it held me accountable. It’s one of my most popular features and my IRL friends often comment on what new recipes we are making.
    I too use Pinterest and just love how inspiring it is to see so many new and healthy recipes already pulled together on my boards when I’m looking for some inspiration on a Sunday night.

  34. I made a calendar for the whole year (many items repeat) that highlights what meat, type of meat, or genre I’ll make that week (i.e., pork chops, pork tenderloin, asian food, main coarse salad). I have about 25 different things that our family likes. Then, each week I pull up the calendar with my cookbooks & recipes & select what I want to make from there. I started this after we realized we were eating asian food “every week”. Helps us to keep things interesting, but gives me the freedom to plug in new recipes.

  35. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    We are in the process of moving (again…7th time in 7.5 years of marriage, 3rd long distance move). I am still menu planning though I have to say I am keeping it simple. My husband already started the new job and I am holding down the old fort while we wait for the new fort to be finished. My 4 year old and 2 year old kids aren’t making eating easy as one of the consequences to missing daddy has been to not want to eat much of anything even when they specifically ask for it. Thankfully the one year old eats whatever. I am also pretty newly pregnant with my 4th and spent the last few weeks in the nothing sounds good, looks good, and food makes me just kind of gag phase (this is slowly fading, thankfully!). Needless to say the menu gets done but what is usually a menu of variety, has taken on the form of just eat something.

  36. To make menu planning easier, I drastically cut the number of food items I buy at the grocery store (and they are all *ingredients*, not boxed foods), and then threw away all my recipes that used anything other than those ingredients. It works great! I don’t have to plan before I shop, because I always buy the same things, but I don’t have to always cook the same things.

  37. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to meal planning. I’m not a creative cooker, and need a plan (otherwise spaghetti is it). I’m also picky, and get bored with routine (which means I stop cooking). Thanks Tsh for introducing me to Plan to Eat! I’m excited to give it a try. :-)

  38. Thanks for this post!! My hubby had been on a late-night work schedule, so now that he is back to his 8-5, I’m trying to figure out how to get into menu planning again and cooking with a little 5-month-old. Since my hubby is Thai, I like to stick to mainly Thai or Asian-themed meals, and legit, good Asian recipes are hard to find. But it’s fun when I do find awesome ones we love!

  39. My menu planning is more “reactive” than yours. I like to do my menu planning while sitting down with my favourite grocery store’s weekly flyer. I base the menu around what is on sale that week. And that can be modified after I get to the store if I see a bargain on near-due items. It’s something that works for us. But one thing that is for sure, when I get back from the store, I list the potential dinner options for the week up on the kitchen chalk board (near-due stuff at the top). There is flexibility in the menu as to which days things are made, but everyone can see what’s coming, and I can be reminded what I bought the ingredients for before they spoil!

  40. Thanks for this post, and for all of your menu planning advice, Tsh!
    In fact, menu planning got me hooked on Simple Mom! Your “Back to the Basics” menu planning post from a few years back came up for me on a google search of menu planning and I am SO GLAD I found all of your awesome advice on the subject! I have always wanted to “get into” meal planning but didn’t know where to start and always found the process daunting. Thanks for breaking it down and saving this mom’s sanity for several weeks now!

  41. Failing to plan = planning to fail.
    In the past we often did what I call “Iron Cheffed it” Pretty much I handed over the kitchen to my husband and had him figure it out. I figured it was easy for him, he’s a professional chef. Fine for me, not so fine for him. Since planning the meal can take more time than I sometimes want to invest we use eMeals. Once a week we get a menu and grocery list for 7 entrees in our inbox. Whew dinner planned. I stick them neatly in a binder for future use. So essentially the rinse repeat you suggest is available.
    Even our son noticed that having a plan freed up time for us to play more. Nice to see the details of running a house weren’t lost on a middle school boy. We still throw in our favorites but truly I love having a menu planned out for me. I flip through the binder find some things that are interesting and done – grab the coupons and go shopping.

  42. If you have an ipad, you should check out the app Paprika. When my husband first bought it for me, I was like I REALLY don’t want it. But then I saw him using it, and so I started using it and now I love it! Instead of just pinning a recipe, in one (sometimes a few) clicks, I add it to Paprika. I can tag it (even adding seasons like spring or autumn as a tag). Then I can create a menu plan based on the recipes I have selected AND it creates a shopping list for me. I get nothing for sharing this with you, but I just know I am so thankful my hubby got it for me. I now use many more of the recipes I find on Pintrest or paleo blogs because I can with one (sometimes a few) clicks add it to my recipe app.

  43. avatar
    Meredith says:

    I am currently doing a Whole30 as well (and have never felt better)! Would you mind sharing your meal plan? My previous rough plan is no longer applicable (pasta, tacos, etc.) so I have been kind of winging it.

  44. Thanks for the reminder! We go through seasons of meal-planning…and then flying by the seats of our pants. The former is definitely more peaceful than the latter. ;)

  45. Thanks so much for sharing this. I used to be a great menu planner as I found it saved me time and money but as we ate more vegetarian meals I seemed to get away from it for some reason. I recently began to menu plan again this month and this post reminds me that it doesn’t have to be complicated. I also love some of the suggestions here in the comments section. I am going to try to use google calendar as well to help with my planning. Thanks so much.

  46. I’m so glad i have come across your blog! love it and will put the menu plan into action.

  47. I am not a natural planner (big ol’ ENTP over here…), but there is something about menu planning that makes me so happy. I look forward to it every month! I get out all of my cook books, and recipe cards, and dive into Pinterest, and come out on the other side feeling great about the month ahead. Well, at least from a dinner perspective. But sometimes that’s all I need to feel better about the rest of the month.

  48. avatar
    Lynn Genevieve says:

    Has anybody mentioned Paprika? … Ah, I see they have so here’s another toot for Paprika … There isn’t a general Internet site fur it but if you’re surfing and find a recipe you want to save it does have applets for Firefox, iOS, Chrome & IE … and the app for my iPad is one of my most used apps. I love it and there’s no subscription after the original app purchase. ;)

  49. I’m new to Plan to Eat and also we are eating more and more primal/paleo. I was curious if you are sharing your username on plan to eat. I’d love to learn from your experience with paleo. (I totally understand if you’re not sharing that info though.) :)

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