Menu planning.
Does the very phrase make you smile or cringe? I know this won’t come as a surprise since most of you know what a nerd I am when it comes to food, but I happen to love menu planning. I think about it all the time and find it very therapeutic and dare I say, fun, to sit down at the computer and set up a schedule for our monthly meals.

However, I know that isn’t the case with everyone. Some dread the very task. But in the hope of making at least one person’s life easier, I want to share with you a few tips that have helped me become more organized and better able to stick to our stringent food budget.

Sit Down and Plan It Out.
I plan my meals two weeks at a time. Why two weeks? First and foremost: I don’t want to do extensive grocery shopping every week. Also, any more frequently (i.e. weekly) and it takes me too much time to write down the menu. I know that sounds crazy, but it is just as easy for me to spend the time deciding on recipes/meals two weeks at a time instead of doing the process each week. Any less frequently (i.e. monthly) and it is impossible for me to afford my groceries (since I want to do the bulk grocery shopping trip based on the menu) due to a bi-weekly paycheck. So every two weeks it is.

I plan the menu and subsequent grocery shopping list a few days in advance of grocery shopping because inevitably I need to add things to the list that I forgot and only remember as I’m working in the kitchen those next few days. Also, I have a white board on the side of my refrigerator that details my daily tasks and on the side, I keep a running list of food items I’ve run out of during the 2-week menu, like cornstarch, syrup, etc. and I add those things first thing when I sit down and plan the menu.

My Trusty Spreadsheet.
I have a little nifty document that helps me plan all of this out. My lovely menu planning spreadsheet. Below are two links to help you out.

Menu Planning Example: this is an example of the last menu I planned for my family, complete with the meals I planned and the comprehensive grocery list.

Menu Plan Template: this is basically a blank template of the version above. You can use this template for your own needs, if you like. To use it for yourself, click on the link and it will download to a Microsoft Word document. You can edit it to your liking and save it for future reference.

As a quick explanation (because it isn’t rocket science, I promise), in the table on the first page of the document, I list the meals we’ll have for dinner each night. At the top of each day in italics, I detail if there is any homemade baked good to go along with the meal (like breadsticks, rolls, etc.) so I can get a head start in the morning.

The second page of this document is where I list the ingredients I need for the meals. As I go along, I figure out what we want to eat on Tuesday, list the meal and any sides, and then I go to the second page and list the ingredients I need for the meal that I don’t already have on hand. I do this for each day in the menu cycle.

Once I’m done planning the evening meals, I add foods to the grocery list on the second page that I need for lunches, snacks, general milk supply, etc.

I’ve also added a little section under the menu planning table that lists treats I want to make during the week since I really only plan an actual dessert for Sunday dinners. I add those “extra treat” ingredients to the second page and then I know I have them on hand when the craving hits. And trust me, the craving always hits.

I print this document out with the table of meals on one side and the grocery list on the other and I take it with me to the grocery store. When I get home I post it on the side of my fridge so I can see the meals at a glance.

Grocery Shopping.
The big grocery trip happens once every two weeks, sans children I might add (the last time I took all four boys to the grocery store, the cart tipped over landing on two of my boys and spewing my 82 packages of Oreos for the Oreo Truffles I was making everywhere, so I prefer to go it alone when my husband can take care of the charges). I also plan to do a small (i.e. 10 items or less) grocery run for the second week to pick up any fresh foods that I may need that don’t keep well for two weeks, like mushrooms and bananas.

You can be really diligent and plan to use low-lasting foods the first week in your meals, but I find I usually have to run the second week to get milk anyway (we drink an exorbitant amount of milk in our house) so I’m fine picking up fresh foods along with that trip.

Money Back Guarantee.
I’ve used this method for a couple of years now and not only does it make my life easier, but I know it saves me money because if I didn’t plan out my meals, I’d be at the grocery store every day. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t get in and out of the grocery store without spending at least $30, even if I just went in for bread and milk. Happy Menu Planning everyone!

141 Responses to Kitchen Tip: Menu Planning 101

  1. Andrea says:

    Hi Mel! Do you have a set of meals that are especially budget friendly? Any thoughts on determining what a reasonable grocery budget should be? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Andrea – I get asked a lot about budget but haven’t delved into giving budget advice or doing a post about it since it differs so much depending on family size, income, food preferences, etc. I spend more on groceries than most since I’m developing and experimenting with recipes every day so unfortunately, I don’t know what to suggest for a reasonable budget. I remember when we had three kids and before I was food blogging, I tried to stick to $350-400 a month for groceries but I have no idea if that’s way low or way high now. Sorry I’m not more help!

  2. studentsim says:

    Mel: In a single word you and your work are awe-inspiring. I am left speechless by the body and quality of your work (recipes, menu planning, helpful tips etc). I am a full time working mother to two young kids 5 years and less- feeding them healthy home cooked meals is a top priority like for most moms. I take pride in the fact that my 5 year old has not tasted likes of McDonalds and Taco Bells even once.
    At the same time, i do not want to spend all my precious time in the kitchen while they are so playful. This is where your helpful tips, delectable recipes, knowledge sharing comes in. In a word, it has turned my life for good and I know that holds for many many others who read your blog. God bless you and your family.

  3. Dorota says:

    Love this! I only have two children, age 2 and 4 but really need to organize my time in the kitchen better so that I don’t spend 80% of my time there! This will really help! Thank you!

  4. Ruth Higham says:

    I would like your template. I love your recipes. Thank you.

    • Mel says:

      Ruth Higham – There is a blank menu template on the Menu Planning 101 page that you can use! It is a blue link. I am glad you are enjoying the recipes.

  5. Britt-Marie says:

    wow, That was super simple. I read the word “spread sheet” and I felt overwhelmed, but then when I opened it up I thought, I can do that! That’s so much! You are so wonderful to share this and all your wonderful recipes/tips with everyone.

  6. Hilary says:

    So I understand the spreadsheet and the grocery shopping every two weeks… but how do I decide what to put on the menu each day? Is there a secret formula? Do you have chicken once a week, vegetarian once a week, etc.. Do you have bread with every meal? How many entrees equals a meal? Do I have to have a main dish, salad, veggies, and bread to make it a meal? If there is only a main dish is that still a meal? My head is spinning with this whole planning thing.

  7. jeanne raver says:

    How could you have known that meal planning is exactly what I need to do in order to bring my grocery store spending dollars to a more reasonable level! Of course, I do not plan menus, decide what to have for dinner in the morning of (which, of course, necessitates another trip to the grocery store!), … Anyway, DH has given-up trying to pound some sense into me!! LOVE, love your blog – the recipes I’ve tried have been awesome! I am in the process of organizing my thoughts in order to begin my own blog and your blog has been a source of inspiration for me!! Anyhoo – could I bother you to send me your template the next time you get ready to send your next batch out? Also, is there anyway you could send me the recipes as well in your document as well? You’re a doll!
    jdraver@hotmail.com

  8. Mel says:

    Just found your site and love the recipes and the menu planning ideas. The geek in me has an idea for you. Can you implement your menu template into your recipe box and then enable it so you can drop and drag your recipe names with links to it. This would let each of us can use your recipes and create our own menu plans online. We could even share them with others on the site.

  9. Mandi says:

    Feeding people takes up so much of my life! Thank you so much for making it more fun, more delicious, and oh, so much easier.

  10. amy says:

    I’m so glad I found your blog and the link to your planning template. I’m going to give it a try. I am always planning as we go, a day or two ahead, which means we are always at the store. I think this can really help us. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog as I also like to cook from scratch and feed my kids as healthy meals as I can. THANKS!

  11. T says:

    I would love to have your template emailed to me as well ! I’m a newcomer to your site, but an VERY impressed. Thank you !

  12. Logan says:

    This was great to read! I am so organized at work and i’m not sure why I don’t carry that home with me. I can really see how the planning would save money. I really appreciate how much you share with your readers!

  13. […] method last year (two weeks at a time) and I loved it. (Just in case someone else might want it, here is the idea and form I would fill out and use for my two week menu planning last year. It worked for me for quite […]

  14. Heidi says:

    What say you for buying produce for 2 weeks? I’m about to attempt this. I’m afraid of wasting oodles of money in that category. Maybe I should freeze some of it??

    • Mel says:

      Heidi – well…the honest answer is that buying produce for 2 weeks hasn’t ever worked for me because like you mentioned, I ended up wasting money when it went bad. So that’s why I do a huge grocery trip every 2 weeks (sometimes ever four if I am brave!) and then do short, very small grocery runs for each upcoming week to get fresh produce.

  15. Carolyn says:

    I used to plan, but in recent years we have so much unpredictablility it drives me crazy. The kids have an unexpected school “thing” for an activity they’re in, or receive an invitation to somewhere, etc. I have been a single mom for years and there are only three of us anyway. Also, I work and often drive kids to & fro all afternoon (I teach, laid off, so subbing right now so I’m basically off when they are) and not home to prep things. Our day is so long that even the crockpot overcooks things. Seems like the minute I get back to planning, we have the craziest week ever and there goes the plan! Do you have any blogs on cloning oneself? LOL

  16. Mel says:

    Raebee – you are so sweet, thanks for “getting my back” on this one. I actually just barely updated this post with the downloadable link so up to a day ago, I really did have to email the template out. Thank goodness I found an easier way. Thanks for your support!

  17. Raebee says:

    Guys, she’s provided the links above…why should she send them to each of you via email? That’s very time consuming!

  18. Erika says:

    Can you email me the word doc? thank you! i am determined to try this – I need help!

  19. Christi says:

    Hi! I have been trying to plan menus in advance and it just hasn’t worked. I am excited to try your mothod. Could you e-mail me the template? I am new to your site and love it. I love the thick and chewy chocolate chip bars and so do my cub scouts. πŸ™‚ I am excited to try more of your recipes! christi.rogers@gmail.com Thanks!

  20. brittany says:

    I’d love a template!

    thanks,
    brittany

  21. Paula says:

    I found your site today and I love it! I love the simplicity of the meals! I’ve got a pretty picky family!

    I haven’t delved into menu planning yet, but I am working up to it. I don’t even like cooking! I do, however, love shopping (I’m a bit of a coupon geek). I came across a website: http://www.springpadit.com. It has changed the way I think about cooking and planning meals. For those who don’t want to use the spreadsheet method, I have found that SpringPad simplifies it for you. SpringPad is actually a free organizational application, but it has some recipe apps that make it fantastic! No more bookmarks all over the internet! You find a recipe you like (such as from your site) and you click “Spring It”. It pulls up the ingredients list automatically and you can block and copy the rest of the directions and ad tags, notes, pictures, etc. It also copies the location of the original file so you can visit the site again. You can also share the recipes with other SpringPad users. You can also create a weekly meal plan from the recipes and even a shopping list from the meal plan and/or recipes. It doesn’t import every single ingredient either…you can click on whatever ingredients you know you need. Love, love, love it! Like I said, it’s inspiring me to cook and have fun!

    Thanks again for the wonderful site!

  22. […] was such a great response to the Menu Planning tips a few weeks ago, that I wanted to follow it up with a post on the basics of my pantry staples. […]

  23. Steph says:

    i would love this sent to me, too!!thank you!!gibsoncasa at gmail.com

  24. hmom says:

    Ahh!!!! I tried and am not good at making spreadsheets. I know you have so many requests but if you can spare the time I would LOVE a copy of the template. I absolutely love your site!Thank youKim k.frates@sbcglobal.net

  25. AnneS says:

    Oops! Must have been too tired last night. Messed up my email address. It’s JSausen255@aol.com
    Sorry for the confusion. Thanks so much. All this snow must be getting to me. We’re buried here in WV! Thanks again for the template. My daughter has already received your email.

  26. AnneS says:

    Just found your website today. It is fantastic! My daughter and I would love copy of your template. Our email addresses are:
    JSausen@255@aol.com
    esausen@yahoo.com
    Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

  27. Kim says:

    Please email me the attachment. lilkima@gmail.com

  28. Amy says:

    HI Melanie, I have already asked for one copy of your menu planning and loved it!! But, my computer crashed and I lost it!! Would you mind sending it to me again??? Thanks so much!!! kdamy@hotmail.com

  29. Melanie says:

    Natalie – can you include your email address so I can email this to you?

  30. Brittany says:

    Thanks for the great post!! I know that this would make my life MUCH easier if I would do this!! Will you please e-mail me the template to toddbrittj@yahoo.com? Thank you so much!

  31. natalie says:

    HI there…this is great! I love your stuff. Thank you so much. Could you please email me a copy of this?

    What a lot of work but I will really appreciate it!

    Natalie

  32. Chris and Janeil says:

    oh and I would also love to know how you make your Hawaiian Haystacks I remember having them as a kid and would love to make them again. When you get a chance of course:) Thank You!
    Janeil

  33. Chris and Janeil says:

    I have been married for eight years and have never made a menu! So five o’clock at this house can get a little stressful. But you have inspired me and I would love your template which makes it look so easy. I think once I start I can do it. Thanks for making it easy for the rest of us, your awesome!
    Janeil
    http://www.kimdaddy35@hotmail.com

  34. Tiffani says:

    I’d love a copy of the template!!

    tumbletiffer at gmail dot com

    thank you so much!!

  35. our family says:

    i love your blog! i check it all the time and haven’t had a recipe that we haven’t loved yet! can i get a copy of the above? julielou62@hotmail.com. thanks a ton!

  36. Paige says:

    I love menu planning, it has saved us so much money! I do it a week at a time, but now I am inspired to do it two weeks out. It would be great to make less trips to Walmart. I would love to know what an egg sandwich is, never heard of that. I like eggs, so I would probably like that. πŸ™‚

  37. Cicily says:

    Love the blog! Can you send me that templat too please? lupecox@gmail.com

  38. Meg-D says:

    I would love your template! mdoeling@gmail.com! Thanks for all of the great recipes. I have made the vanilla pudding cinnamon rolls several times. So delicious but dangerous. I can’t keep those babies around me for too long!

  39. Brittany says:

    Thanks for posting this!! Do you mind sending me a copy of your template, I am hoping it makes my life a bit easier!! Thanks again!!

    Brittany
    britcottle@gmail.com

  40. CJ Rush says:

    Please send email me your template! cjrush71@yahoo.com

    Thanks so much! This will be so helpful!

  41. Foote Family says:

    I just love your blog! Please send me the template.:) defoote@hotmail.com

  42. The Coopers says:

    This is just what i need, great tips!
    Holy smokes it looks like you have alot of requests, but if its not too much i would love a copy too

    Thanks
    Love your site!

    rachellepcooper@gmail.com

  43. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this, it is very helpful. I am a mom/wife who works full time outside of the home and have been wanting to come up with something like this, and haven’t made the time. Now with your template I can get to planning! I have made many recipes from your site and been very impressed even though I don’t usually comment on each one. It’s great to have a go-to source for great, new recipes. Thanks again! -gina in Salt Lake City

  44. MrsHigs says:

    This is great! I’ve been trying to figure out the whole meal planning thing for awhile now and this will help so much!!! I’m going back to work more next week, so I won’t have as much time to run to the store so I can’t wait to do this. Please send me the file! Thank you!

    christine.higley@yahoo.com

    Christine

  45. RandaFaith says:

    Please email the template to me. This is great!

    Miranda Bertram
    RandaFaith@gmail.com

  46. One of us says:

    Thanks for the great tips. You really have your act together. I’d love the template.

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

  47. i i eee says:

    Woman, YOU ARE A GENIUS.

  48. Bonnie says:

    Please e-mail me the documents too.
    Thanks.

    Bonnie
    bonnietufo@gmail.com

  49. Brittney says:

    I would LOVE it if you could email me the documents. I just tried doing it, changed the margins and landscape and it didn’t work very well (but I am not very good with computer stuff).

    Thanks for your great recipes and ideas!

    brittney84@gmail.com

  50. Heidi says:

    Thank you so much for this post and for sharing your talents with us. Consistent menu planning is a habit I want to have, so I’m not stressed out by dinner time. I tried copying the template, but I kept losing Saturday’s column. Please email it to me. Thanks!

    heididennert@hotmail.com

  51. Becky says:

    Thanks for the help in menu planing. I love the your template. Please send it to me. I have been looking for a good one and yours is awesome!
    beckynn@gmail.com

  52. Richardson Family says:

    Could you add me to your list the next time you send out the template? Thank you so much! My friend just sent me a link to your blog and I love it!! I have already tried a couple of recipes and they are delicious!
    nikkirich22@gmail.com

  53. Ellen says:

    thank you so much for the information!

  54. Melanie says:

    Hi Ellen, about your cheesecake question, I’ve found the best way to do this is to cut a circle of parchment paper about 1/2-inch larger in diameter than the sprinform bottom. Place this parchment circle on the bottom of the springform pan and fold and crease it up the edges of the pan. Layer the crust and cheesecake on top of the parchment paper. After it has baked, remove the sides of the springform pan and carefully peel the parchment paper away from the sides of the cheesecake. Loosen the cheesecake away from the bottom of the pan (using a flat spatula or knife) and pulling on the excess parchment, carefully pull the cheesecake off the pan onto a cardboard circle (you can purchase these at Hobby Lobby, Michaels or other craft stores). Trim the parchment close to the cheesecake and wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap, if desired. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  55. Angela says:

    Think you could slip my addy in the next time you send out the template? I would really appreciate it. So cool! angela40291@gmail.com

  56. Deanna says:

    Thanks for the tips Melanie! I too am a bit of a nerd when it comes to food. I just love everything about food. Finding a new recipe, grocery shopping, the preparation. Ahhhh, food. Meal planning has traditionally been fun too, though I lost the drive somewhere between weeks 6 and 8 of my most recent pregnancy. (Hard to think about food when you can’t stomach it…) My sweet baby is almost 4 months now, and I am so ready to plan my meals. Thanks for the inspiration!

  57. Barbi says:

    Hi! I am a weekly meal planner, but I do it on a notepad that turns into a bunch of scribbles. I will give this more organized idea a try!

    (I deleted my previous email b/c I do not need you to email me your template. I copied & pasted it)

  58. Natalie says:

    Great tips! I fall under the “LOVE meal planning” umbrella, although I typically do it a week at a time (but have tons of recipes brewing in my head for the following week).

    A year ago at this time I didn’t really plan and I’m not sure how I did it!!

  59. Ellen says:

    loved this post. I shop once per week and keep to a plan but now I will step it up a notch and use the spreadsheet! It really has saved money and I rarely have to throw spoiled food away.

    On another note, and I’m thinking you could answer this…I make an awesome cheescake and I want to bring one to a family as a gift. However, I use a spring form pan and I don’t know what to do about the bottom of the pan. I can’t take it off(I don’t think), and of course I can’t give it away with the cake. What do baker’s do? Do I cut a perfect circle out of parchment or something…maybe that would allow me to remove the bottom? Thanks for any help you can give me.

  60. Jeanne' says:

    This was a really good post! I am going to try it! Can you email me a copy of the spreadsheet? my email is jnmason77@msn.com Thanks so mucH! I love your recipes!

  61. Team Mama says:

    Something else I’ve done that helps with the budget- I HATE going to Sam’s Club or Costco even with a list not know ing how much it’s going to cost me- I always spend to much. I created a shopping list in Filemaker (I have a Mac) that gives me the item and the cost and when I make my list, it calculates the total for me so that I have a ballpark idea of how much it will cost me. I say ballpark because it doesn’t account for tax etc. I check my receipts every time I get home and update as needed. This helps me a lot and I may try one with prices at my local grocery store too. Thanks for your blog- I’ve enjoyed your recipes and comments!

  62. Anonymous says:

    thank you! thank you!

  63. My Sister's Kitchen says:

    oh, looks like this sparked a lot of comments. Sorry to add to the workload but I’d love a copy of the template also. Sullifam@gmail.com. Thanks.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Hi Melanie, could you please email me a copy of your template also? Thanks in advance. I loves your site and visit it daily.

    lorimillsaps@cox.net

  65. Jessica says:

    Melanie, could you please email me a copy of the template as well. Thank You So much πŸ™‚
    http://www.andyandjessie@gmail.com

  66. Lisa says:

    I would also love a copy. I plan my meals weekly but they are no where near as organized as that!
    jquest619@yahoo.com

  67. Kathryn Crane says:

    Would you please email me a copy of this template. I would love to give this a try! kcrane1969@yahoo.com

  68. Melissa (Catlin) Kiser says:

    i’ve never left a comment, but you’ve inspired me to plan my meals. can you email me the template? missykiser@gmail.com your blog is fantastic and has revolutionized the way i cook dinner. thank you!!!!

  69. Lydia Stewart says:

    Way to go! I have to hand it to anyone who meal plans! Thanks for the tips! They were much needed! You’ve got some great ideas!

  70. kjgray75 says:

    Melanie,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is just what I needed to help me accomplish my New Year’s resolution of better meal planning. I used your template and am all set with meals and a shopping list for the next two weeks! It took me a couple of hours tonight, but I’m sure it will go much quicker next time. Thank you again for sharing your wonderful ideas and fabulous recipes!

  71. Melissa says:

    You are so awesome for posting this. You must have read my mind because my New Year’s resolution was to get better at meal planning! I LOVE your website and your RECIPES! I definitely have the most success with your ideas — last weekend the Divine Breadsticks were a huge hit and my hubby asked for your Easy Chicken Tacos (a staple at our house) ASAP πŸ™‚ Keep up the excellent work!!!!!

  72. Tammie says:

    I LOVE your blog!! Could you email me a template…..Thank you so much!!
    tammieclark2@yahoo.com

  73. Michelle says:

    Awesome!!

    Can you email me a copy as well!!

    miloflynn@yahoo.com

    Thanks!

    Love all your recipes πŸ™‚

  74. jenica says:

    I love your idea and would LOVE it if you would think about including your meal plan every couple of weeks! For starters I would love your attachment – jenica@lvcoxmail.com

    Thanks for your blog – I read whenever you post!!! JEnica

  75. MemΓ³ria says:

    I don’t have children, and I live alone, but I still need to do something like this because I’m a student. Thank you for this post. I’ve saved the documents on my computer. I will start planning from now on. It will also help me save money. I’m always throwing out food due to spoilage.

  76. Amy says:

    I would love a copy of the template, kdamy@hotmail.com, yet again I just love your blog! I love menu planning also, and a lot of your recipes end up in my bi-weekly planning!!!! THANKS SO MUCH!

  77. Jodi says:

    I need this! I’ve tried and tried again and it never works for me. I’ll try yours now.

    jodilrose@yahoo.com

  78. Kara says:

    karaliann@gmail.com

    this is like an answer to prayers…

    thank you.

  79. Jess says:

    Can I use your template? I am so not good at making my own and loved how simple it is….. simple is great for me. If you could send me a copy I would love it…. my email is himlej@gmail.com Thanks for this!!!

  80. natalie says:

    This is my newest idea too! I plan an entire month in advance, but only for the weekdays. I try to make the week include a day of pork, chicken, and pasta. I shop every week. I peruse the recipe and then make my shopping list. This saves me so much time of dreaming of what I want to cook every night or shopping the grocery store aimlessly. Also, this helps you use the left over ingredients. Have fajitas one night and then the next night have fajita salad.

  81. Jessica L says:

    On your spreadsheet under “treats to make this week” you mentioned granola bars, but I have searched your blog, and no recipe. Are you willing to share? I have been looking for a good recipe for them! Thanks for all you do, my family loves you!

  82. Jordan says:

    I’d love a copy too, thanks!

    jordanmcarthur66@yahoo.com

  83. Cicily says:

    I LOVE your site! I was actually planning my meals for the week last night and absolutely dreading it! I made my husband sit down with me and do it (he doesn’t cook AT ALL)! I was so happy to see your post today! I will be using it next week, thanks!

  84. Cammee says:

    I’m a total menu planning nerd as well. You beat me though, I don’t have my own spreadsheet! I am not a lover of the grocery store, so less trips are better for me.

  85. ParryLive says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have been trying to get organized and have had little success. This is going to help so much.

  86. Rachel says:

    Great tips! I’ve been wanting to do a better job with menu planning, but just haven’t had the motivation. This will get me started. Can you email me a template? rachtaylor83@gmail.com

    Thanks!

  87. Heather and Devin says:

    As usual…fantastic! Could I also have a copy of the planning template? Thank you!

    heather.irvine22@gmail.com

    You’re the best! πŸ™‚

  88. Kristy says:

    Please email a copy of the template to kmfee802@gmail.com. Thank you for your helps and tips. I have tried to menu plan, but it has been over my head and everyone I have asked to help has not been successful either. So, thank you again.

  89. Atzimba says:

    Thanks for sharing this! You have become an answer to prayers today. I would also love to have an emailed copy. kaz728@gmail.com
    Again THANK YOU!!!

  90. Melanie says:

    Hey everyone, I just sent out the first round of the menu template to the addresses you’ve left me. TJ, if you are reading this, I don’t have an email address for you.

    Also, just to let you know, I’ll be posting the BLT Pasta recipe later this week for those that requested it, as well as a few others on that menu plan.

    Hope this helps!

  91. Becky says:

    My sweet Mel,
    I know you have hundreds and hundreds of readers, but I know you secretly wrote this whole post just for lil ol’ me. Bless you! Thank you!! I LOVE it. I am the most unorganized when it comes to planning dinners, so I’m really excited to put all of your tips to good use!!! Thank you so much!!!

  92. Lisa says:

    would you send me your template; mine is pretty lame (and I know it’s probably simple to do). Thanks for the tips. I need to be better about doing it! my e-mail is lisacarin@hotmail.com

  93. Chelsie says:

    This is great! It will make my meal planning much easier! I would love a copy sent to my email. Thanks!
    chelsierae4@gmail.com

  94. Jennifer says:

    I’d love it if you sent the document as an attachment to my email at jneyland11@hotmail.com… Thanks!

  95. Annie G. says:

    What a great post!!! I would love a copy if you wouldn’t mind. My email is anniegoddard1@yahoo.com….Thansk again!

  96. Jessica says:

    This is great information! Thanks Melanie πŸ™‚ I love how you do your bulk shopping trip every two weeks and then a small fresh item trip the second week. This would really work for my family and hopefully save a little money in the process. I am going to give it a try. Thank You!

  97. Carly Jane says:

    I linked to this post on my blog jeaninesmenus.blogspot.com

    I hope you don’t mind. This is fantastic.

  98. Deals to Meals says:

    I love your blog! You do such a great job πŸ™‚

    Hey…just a tip, you can use Deals to Meals and we do ALL of the work for you and tell you where the best deals are at all of your major grocery stores. I know you love to cook and come up with your own meals, but for those who would like some help doing that–our system is SO fun and easy!

    Also, I would love to talk to you about giving away a couple of memberships to Deals to Meals for your viewers/readers (and YOU!) so you can see what our service offers. I would also love to talk about advertising options as well.

    Thanks again! Our website is http://www.dealstomeals.com and you can email me at Shandra@dealstomeals.com

    Have a great day πŸ™‚

    Shandra

  99. April says:

    Could I have a copy too? aprilkhunt@gmail.com
    I’ve been trying menu planning off and on since I’ve had kids (7 years), and lately my method has been planning for the full month about 20 meals, but not putting them on specific days. I make a list of all the meals, and grocery shop once for all the indgredients I don’t have. I hang the list in my kitchen so I know what I have on hand. Then in the mornings I choose our meal based on what we have going on that day. That way I can thaw meat, make baked goods or whatever in advance. My method isn’t precise or perfect… I do have to do weekly or bi weekly mini grocery store runs for things we run out of, particularly produce.

    You make meal planning sound fun!

  100. Mandy says:

    I absolutely loathe meal planning AND cooking dinner. But when I have a family of 5 I don’t really have a choice. I love all your recipes, and would LOVE to get a copy of your menu every 2 weeks….can I pay you?
    petersonmandy@yahoo.com

  101. Julianne says:

    Couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve been struggling to think of things at the spur of the moment for dinner, and I just told Ryan we really need to get back into making menus. We used to do them monthly, too…now we do them bi-monthly. (That is, when we actually do them).

    Nice work!

  102. Anonymous says:

    blt pasta? looked for it on the blog..couldn’t find it…is it there and i’m missing it?

  103. Loralee and the gang... says:

    Awesome tips! I tend to do good and bad with the menu planning – dash and run in the summer, but have more time for it in the winter. And I am glad to see you planned in a couple nights for leftovers. We almost always have them (except for when I cook your recipes – really!)

  104. Megan says:

    I forgot to say that I use almost identical templates for planning & shopping. The only real difference is that I have my meal planning done for an entire month.

    I hope you don’t mind, I am going to stick a link to this on my blog because:)

  105. CoralieandCasey says:

    It’s like you read my mind. Scary. I was just trying to plan two weeks of meals when I saw your post. Could you send me your file? I’d be forever grateful.

    lovesjunkmail at yahoo.com

  106. the mama monster says:

    ps can i please get the file too?
    thanks, you are a peach!
    jacquelynbateman@hotmail.com

  107. the mama monster says:

    thank you thank you! i haven’t been able to find any sort of templte that i like yet. yours looks like just what i need. i agree with the meal planning every two weeks. once i am in the meal planning zone i would rather not deal with it anytime soon.
    thanks again
    jackie

  108. Tori says:

    Mel- I don’t think I could be anymore amazed by you!! I would love a copy of this!! Thank you so much!

  109. Anonymous says:

    This is exactly what I need to do. I’m getting really tired of all my mini grocery trips. When I get home I’m almost always upset with what I forgot or with the junk I did buy. I would love a copy of your template too. Thank you, thank you! Teresa
    TRigell at aol dot com

  110. je says:

    Thanks for sharig this. I just recently found your Blog and absolutely love your recipes and all your posts.

  111. Natalie says:

    I love this! Your template is beautiful, I’m planning on using it.

    I plan the meals a month in advance, too. But only shop every two weeks because our minds change a lot around here.

    I like to cook for 2-3 days straight, and the fourth night is called “Refridgerator Buffet.” That way, even the kids get excited for leftovers. πŸ™‚

    I looked for the recipe for BLT pasta on your blog but didn’t find it. Could you post it sometime?

  112. Megan says:

    I love to menu plan too;)

    We get paid monthly, so I do up our menu for an entire month. I usually grocery shop for 1/2 the month at a time though, more for the produce than anything else. I KNOW that I have started saving lots of money since I started doing this. It also makes it easier to do more bulk shopping at Sams.

    Also, LOVE oreo truffles! I made them this year for a cookie exchange!

  113. Christy says:

    I love how you organize this! Would you mind e-mailing me a copy? greendaygrl27@hotmail.com Thanks!

  114. TJ says:

    This is a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I’d love a copy of the template!

  115. Zac & Whit says:

    whitneymosley@hotmail.com. i would so appreciate a template–i have been needing to do this for a looong time.

  116. nikki says:

    I love menu planning but don’t have it quite down to the science that you have. Loving your template – may I have one?

    patnikwatson@hotmail.com

    I really enjoy your blog!

  117. Tia says:

    I love this idea!!! and I adore grocery shopping so I bet i’d be at the grocery store every day even if i din’t have to.

  118. Leisel says:

    I just have to say it. I know we’ve never met so I don’t want you to think I’m a super freak or anything, but I really like you! I’ve been actually thinking about this for a long time. On several occasions I’ve wanted to write to you and tell you how helpful your blog has been in creating a meal plan for me. Just coming up with ideas gives me brain freeze. Your blog not only has great ideas, but great recipes ta boot! I actually have a mental list of questions I’d love to fire at you because you’re the ultimate food guru in my book. And meal planning was one of them. I’m wondering if this is going to work for me because it seems like when I go shopping for just one week the kids eat all the food the first day. And then the teenagers open the fridge full of veggies and good stuff and say “There’s no food in this house!”-Oh yeah, tell that to Dad who just paid the bill! So I guess there is only one way to find out. I’ll have to give it a try. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love it if you sent the document as an attachment to my email at lsm74@embarqmail.com. Thank you for your willingness to share your great talent!!!

  119. Jen says:

    I would love a copy! I hate menu planning… partly because something always happens to throw it out the window, and partly because all recipes are too big for my currently small family (me, my husband and a 2yo and 1yo) so we end up with tons of leftovers and too many meals planned to eat them all. I’m still figuring it out and my family is still growing so any help/tips are appreciated! My email is snklfrtz1@gmail.com

  120. Sam and Melissa says:

    I would love a copy! Thanks so much. My e-mail is: melissabyuh@yahoo.com.

  121. firewife says:

    Hi its firewife again sorry about that lmwrights@yahoo.com. Thanks so much.

  122. Rosanna says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with menu planning. (I also do it 2 weeks at a time.) I love when its done and the shopping trip is over, but dread doing it! I would love for you to email me the template. My email is rosannawitmer@gmail.com. Thanks!

  123. Emily says:

    This is great. I’ve been wanting to start menu planning for awhile now, but I think this is just the push that I need to actually do it. Could you email me the spreadsheet at emilymarie4 at msn dot com? Thanks so much, I always look forward to reading your blog!

  124. My Sister's Kitchen says:

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only “nerd” out there who gets excited about grocery shopping and menus! I notice you have the blt pasta on there. We’re trying that out this week too. It looks delicious!

  125. K's Mama says:

    Great post. Love it. Quick question… is the BBQ chicken in the crockpot thats on your meal plan on your blog? I looked for the recipe but couldn’t find it.-mrs v

  126. SHAKS Watts says:

    I love the spreadsheet idea! If you’re willing to share, will you send one to hhwatts@gmail.com?

    Also, as I peeked at your sample, I saw Hawaiian Haystacks on your menu. I have been searching for a good version. Want to share that too?

    Sheesh, I am so demanding, eh?

    Thanks!

  127. Tycksen Family says:

    Melanie-

    This is great. I also plan my meals 2 weeks at a time. And I always have to do a small run the next week too. I really like your template. Could you email it to me at ntycksen@finishwork.com Thanks. Oh and I made you vanilla pudding cinnamon rolls the other day. I was so nervous to do cinnamon rolls. I loved all of your detailed directions. Anyway, they were a huge hit and I felt victorious. All of my kiddos loved them. Thanks.

  128. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing. Like many others, I’m working on planning better to save money. This should help.

  129. rickandangie says:

    Great post, Mel. I used to cring at the thought of menu planning, but once I became a stay at home mom, it made meal time much LESS stressful! I currently do the weekly menu, but I may need to try the 2 weeks at a time…cutting out a big grocery store trip sounds delightful! And since you sent your template, why don’t you just send your list of all the possible meals you have, too. I’m sure you have one of those documents, right!?! That would take even more work out of it for those of us reading your blog. ;o)

  130. Melanie says:

    firewife – can you give me your email address so I can send you a copy?

  131. megan says:

    great post πŸ™‚ I’m currently trying to cut our food budget down and I seem to be failing at it. I get to the end of the month and I’m forced to choose between sticking to the budget and eating fruits and vegetables. so far I’ve gone the healthy route, but I need to do better at the budget thing πŸ™‚

  132. mini-mcgoo says:

    Thanks for the tips! I am cracking down at our house…trying the freezer meals and attempting a more diligent menu plan. You do good work…keep it up!

  133. firewife says:

    I would love you to email me a copy. Thanks in advance, I love it

  134. Splendid Things says:

    Great tips! I also LOVE to plan our family menus. It is exciting to me to sit down with my recipe box (I often include your website now when I am planning out recipes!), coupons, store flyers and plan away! My husband teases me because I put my grocery list in order of how the items are found in the store so I won’t have to back track when I am in there. But to me that is ESSENTIAL! Cheers! Jeanette

  135. Annie Jones says:

    Meal planning makes me smile.:)

    We get paid weekly, and I shop weekly (strictly according to my list), but I plan a month at a time. I even start adding meals to the next month’s menu if I see a new recipe I’d like to try.

    The key for us is to have a plan, but to also be flexible. A lot of times we have unplanned leftovers. We use those first and move the meal they replaced to the next month’s plan.

  136. Hillary, Jonathan and Lincoln says:

    I love all your kitchen tips! Thanks for posting this!

  137. Kandi V says:

    Thanks for posting this! I have been working on my own version of a meal plan, but I think I will combine it with yours. My family loves that I have found your site and now make lots of yummy food for them! Thanks again!

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