About a year and a half ago, I detailed my steps for menu planning. Half of you were like, “Oh, waaa! Menu planning is the bane of my existence!” and the other half of you were like, “Hip Hip Hooray for menu planning!” Yes, we menu planning nerds like to stick together.

While I know many of you enjoy planning your menus, I wanted to help those of you out who dread the very thought of figuring out what to make for dinner. Thanks to many, many requests and in honor of my love for you, I’ve put together five sample menu plans that you can use to your liking. They each have dinner meals that coincide to help streamline grocery shopping (i.e. using some of the same minor ingredients in a couple of recipes).

I tailored these menu plans the same way I create my own (which may or may not work for you): a nicer, larger dinner on Sundays, a miscellaneous/leftover night at least once per week, homemade pizza one night a week with a list of “Treats to Make” below the menu. I also included a list of our favorite breakfast options underneath the menu.

The only real change from my actual menu plan is that I’ve created the menu plans for just one week at a time for better ease in mixing and matching. If you create a two-week menu plan, you can easily combine two menu plans and bada-bing, you are good to go.

You can download these menu plans and mix and match, delete, cut, paste, hack to pieces, or do whatever your little soul needs to get the menu plan you so desire. I did not fill out the grocery list on page two since I have no idea what currently resides in your pantry and refrigerator but once you look up the recipe, it is a cinch to add the ingredients to the correct areas.

I believe in menu planning and it believes in me.

I’ll be posting more menu plans here and there but thought these five would be a great way to start. Look for the new link on my navigation bar: MENUS. You can access these initial four menus and subsequent updates there.

And while I’m at it, I also updated my pantry staples list so check it out if you care to see what I keep on hand at all times.


36 Responses to Menu Plans!

  1. Cammee says:

    Oh Mel, I needed this little jump start. I haven’t meal planned all summer. Now that school is going to start we all need to get back to a routine. Life is so crazy busy, having a meal plan always helps us.

  2. Carrie Bigger says:

    Mel, this is awesome!! I’m gonna share, ok? Thanks!

  3. Kelley Broadbent says:

    Mel! Thank you so much for these; this is a TON of work and I hope you know we/I appreciate you. I haven’t tried menu planning yet but I’m thinking it’s a brilliant idea. I also appreciate your pantry staples list; what a great help that will be to me as well; I never know what I’m missing till it’s too late, ya know?
    Wonderful site; one of my faves by far; you’re awesome!

  4. naomi says:

    I menu plan but I HATE doing it. Thank you so, so, SO much for putting these together!!! If I could send you a gift, I would. 🙂

  5. Tianna says:

    I love this idea! I am an RD and I am always telling patients to PLAN before going to the store!! Helps so much with eating a more nutritious diet and relying less on fast food!!!

  6. Jenna says:

    Thank you Mel! This is so helpful. I have been trying to get back on the meal planning band wagon, but sometimes you need a little help! Thank you so much. To have that help, and know I am going to have wonderful recipes too is awesome!

  7. Tracey says:

    This is great! I really WANT to be a menu planner, but keep procrastinating it…due to fear I guess….and a 3 month old baby…I’m lucky to just get dinner on the table most nights! 🙂 This is where I think menu planning would really help me. Thanks SO much for the tips!

  8. Elaine says:

    I so appreciate this. I am a teacher and am also going back to school to get my Master’s this fall. My plan was to make menus for this year so that we could be organized. Yeah for organized! Even though I only have one sixteen year old son left at home, it will still be much easier if we have a plan.. Thanks!

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. jo says:

    hip hip hooray!

  11. Kendra says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time! I *like* menu planning, because I simply cannot handle the stress of trying to come up with something I happen to have all the ingredients for late in the afternoon, day after day!! It is pain free once I know I have the ingredients I need, and all I need to do is make it! And I’ve noticed I spend considerably less money on groceries, husband is happy, etc.
    That said, I HATE making the menu plan and can use any help I can get with that. THANKS!!!

  12. Erika says:

    While I do not love menu planning, I have enjoyed it more as I’ve put many of your recipes into my regular rotation. Thank you for all of your time and effort. My family seems to love what your family loves. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Mandy says:

    You are the best. If I knew you in real life I would come over with a plate of cookies and a big hug. This is SO helpful! Thank you!!!

  14. Teresa P. says:

    I am a crazy menu planner and plan the same way you do. I do pizza every friday and also a leftover once a week. Usually on a Friday I spend a while looking up recipes for a 10 day menu if you can believe that. So I only have to do it about twice a month. I have turned to your site numerous times since stumbling upon it and have recommended it to every person I know 🙂 I just saw your menus and will be trying them out. Thanks for all your hard work and delicious recipes 😉

  15. I adore menu planning. It is awesome to have everything set for the week and then know that I have the foods in the house after shopping. I’m off to browse your archives for more inspiration now. 🙂

  16. Kelly Perry says:

    thanks for the ideas-tonight’s menu got changed to your sweet n sour meatballs w/brown rice!

  17. michelle says:

    THANK YOU. I do menu planning, but I hate it. I am thrilled that you did the work I don’t enjoy so that I can do the cooking that I DO enjoy!

  18. Michelle stauffer says:

    Love it, love it, love it! I love menu planning especially when someone else does it for me. Thanks. I am excited to see more.

  19. Nathalie says:

    Thanks so much! I’ll defenitaly give it a try, I’ve been cooking your recipes almost every evening for supper since I came acrross your blog, your recipes are wonderful!


  20. Natalie says:

    Hooray for menu planning! I love it! I never have to worry about what I want to eat. I plan my menu 1 month at a time, and grocery shop weekly. I’m not super rigid, and if I want to make something else. I do it.

  21. amy Ellsworth says:

    Thanks for the menu planning. I also wanted to share this with you. My husband LOVES your food blog. In fact, the first thing he said after his colonoscopy was “I want to look at melskitchencafe, I am starving. He had to fast for 2 days.

  22. heidi says:

    My life has been saved (mentally and financially) ever since I started planning my 2 week run to the store. As a matter of fact, just last week my daughter broke her little leg 🙁 BUT I had just been to the store for 2 weeks of food and one less thing to worry about! This kind of thing happens all the time. Life for a mom is crazy enough as it is without worrying about pulling a healthy dinner out of thin air!
    Loves to you! Thanks for the added ideas!

  23. Mickie says:

    YAY! I used to HATE menu planning but now I am finding that they make me happy… I hate thinking of what to make for dinner and my husband and I are revamping our budgeting a bit so now I can’t just wing it all the time and need to be prepared. Thank you SO MUCH for kicking my rear into gear, i’ll be better from here on out. You are the best, really!

  24. Sasha says:

    Wonderful! Ive never actually done a menu plan but i think its a brilliant idea and i have a slight love of lists…so maybe this will be the start of a life long menu planning regime! 🙂

  25. Melissa G says:

    I love the IDEA of menu planning, but never quite get there. But just in case I didn’t love this site before (which I do love it), you just made my day & now I REALLY love it! Thanks for putting this all down on paper for me. You are a gem!

  26. Lisa Brown says:

    I am with you – menu planning is the best! I usually plan mine out 3 weeks in advance, and then leave myself the freedom to switch things around as the need arises. Not only does it make cooking dinner less stressful, but it has cut my grocery bill by a lot, because I shop more effectively and use more of what I have on hand. My kids also love being able to look at the fridge and see what is for dinner :).

  27. Kim in MD says:

    You have to be the most organized person I know of, Mel! Being that you are the mom of four young boys, it makes perfect sense that you would have to be very organized. I love that Wednesdays are leftover night, and Saturdays are home-made pizza night!
    It’s nice that Sunday meals are always a bit more special, too! Thanks for sharing these menus. I am especially looking forward to the entertaining menus! YOU ARE AMAZING! 🙂

  28. Clare says:

    Oh, Mel, you are the answer to my prayers! Bless you! 🙂

  29. Sherri Beattie says:

    Thank you so much! I have back to school on my mind! Last September I did not have time to cook a homemade meal until three weeks into the school year. I had two in high school and the sports, activities, and back to school nights were overwhelming! Thanks again, Sherri

  30. Sharon H. (TX) says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I’ve tried several times to tackle menu planning, but haven’t had much success. Hopefully this will be the jump start I need!

  31. Teresa says:

    I plan my menus for my family usually at the grocery store. Get to know your meat guy folks. I have one grocery I particularly like because they still cut and grind their meat fresh every day, not prepacked and gassed. He lets me know when I go in what he is fixin to mark down and my menu planning starts there and with what coupons I have 🙂 I generally have a rough idea what I”m gonna fix based on our schedules and kid requests. I do tell the kids though, all menus are subject to change

  32. Jennie says:

    Thank you so much! I need to menu plan but I don’t like doing it. I love being able to copy someone else. Ha ha.

    This is a great idea.

  33. Kristi says:


    I love menu planning and my trying to get our three adult daughters to do the same. Of course, since it came from mom, its booooorrring.

    I will be sharing this page and hope they are able to take away some awesome ideas for themselves. I, too, will be utilizing your tools because they are just so much better organized than mine were!


  34. Heidi says:

    I am a menu planner nerd, too! I cannot imagine deciding at 4:30 in the afternoon what to make for dinner!! Thank you for sharing your menus. I love getting new ideas!

  35. Elisabeth says:

    You are a goddess. Planning anything is the bane of my existence, yet I live steeped in shame and guilt for not planning and for having to steer my family through the rocky shoals of chaos every evening. Thank you so much for these!

  36. Kim says:

    I love menu planning! We try to do it every week, especially during the school year when both boys have sports and other activities going on. Thanks for the sample menu plans, too – always nice to see what other people are making to mix it up a bit!

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