Now that you’ve chosen your recipes and listed your meal ideas, you can easily make a rotating selection of reusable weekly menus. Once you’ve created a menu for one week, save it and use it again in the future.
Then, once you’ve built up several weeks of menus, you simply choose a menu from the rotation when it’s time to plan meals for the week. There’s no sorting through recipes each week. There’s no writing a new shopping list every time. It’s already done. That’s the beauty of this system. Now the only “planning” I have to do each week is scheduling what days to make each meal, pulling the weekly menu’s shopping list, and removing the ingredients I already have.
Sometimes I pick the menu because of something we have in the freezer, like extra ground beef, or because a cut of meat is on sale. I may also change the produce based on what’s in season and on sale or I might buy different snacks. But for the most part, each menu remains the same. If you need to use up something from your fridge or pantry, choose a menu that includes that ingredient.
Does it get boring? I don’t think so. If you have enough recipes, you don’t have to make the same meal (other than leftovers) in the same month. But you can always have repeats if you want, like pizza every Friday for family game night. I admit that our breakfast, lunch and snack options are a little boring, but the simplicity works for us. Using the meal ideas list and the weekly menu also allows me to see where I need to add more options, like dinner side dishes. (We eat a lot of rice. Way too much rice. #pickyhusband)
Because I choose what my family eats for dinner each week (keeping in mind their likes and dislikes, of course), I let them pick their other meals from a curated selection. I don’t plan specific foods for each day’s breakfast, lunch or snacks, but I have a select number of options for them to pick from. If they eat all of one breakfast item (like muffins, for example) at the beginning of the week, then they have to choose from what’s left over (like oatmeal and cereal) at the end.
How To Create Weekly Menus
NOTE: When you sign up for my e-mail list, the free download includes this weekly menu template.
I find it helpful to write my menu down on a piece of paper first before adding it to Plan To Eat. So first, print at least one copy of the weekly menu template. Using the meal ideas list you created in the previous lesson, write down breakfast, lunch, snack and drink options for your first weekly menu.
Second, choose dinner main dishes and sides from the meal ideas list and add them to the first weekly menu. Are you going to make four dinners each week? Then choose four meals. Don’t forget to write in leftovers and eating out! Remember to choose mix-and-match dinner dishes if you want the flexibility.
Guess what? Your first week’s menu is complete! Make as many additional weekly menus as you can. Remember that you don’t have to do it all at once. The beauty of this system is that you can keep adding new menus into your rotation. Add this menu to your binder behind the meal ideas list.
I also recommend writing your menu in pencil. You may find that down the road, you may choose to remove an item from your menu and replace it with something else. Let’s say that you always ate sandwiches for lunch, but now you want to eat salads each day. Rather than creating a whole new menu, just erase the old option and add the new one! Then update your menu in Plan To Eat.
While I was focused on building my list of dinner main dishes, we ate a lot of the same side dishes. Now that I have a good number of main dishes, I’m focused on finding more grain side dishes. It’s easy to update my menus with the new options.
Tip: I consider all of my menus “year-round” to keep it as simple as possible. You can always create seasonal menus based on available produce or the weather, like grilling in the summer. For my produce, I often just write “fruit” instead of specific kinds so I buy what looks good and what’s on sale.
How To Create Menus In Plan To Eat
Now that you’ve created menus, you can add it to Plan To Eat to use now or save for a future week. The video below walks you through how to create menus in the app.