Ready for the Menu Planner of your dreams? It’s free!
The Eleventh Hour Cook
How? How is it that the entire day went by and I STILL don’t know what to make for dinner? I find myself entering dangerously close to the “whine” line, where the kids pave the way for the dinner hour with complaints of hunger that grow increasingly more pathetic. Just as I enter that last half hour, the kids are rolling on the floor dramatically holding their little tummies, I frantically grab at the first box of what-ever-that-was to “whip up” something. Forty minutes later I am sighing with relief, as the kids and hubby wolf down their admittedly mediocre food, and I am safe for yet another day…until breakfast when I will do this dance all over again!
Nope, I don’t want to do this forever…That’s how I eventually came up with the perfect solution! I created an easily reusable Menu Planner, one that includes a much needed idea section.
I find myself entering dangerously close to the “whine” line, where the kids pave the way for the dinner hour with complaints of hunger…
How It Works
The menu planner is divided into two parts: the Weekly Planner, which I reference to see what I’m making each day of the week; and the Menu Ideas section, which is where I pick from to populate my weekly meal plan.
First take the time to populate the Menu Ideas section. Go crazy, write on post-it page markers all the dishes you’ve ever wanted to make… the dishes that make you look like a superstar, and the trusty dishes you cook weekly. I went on Pinterest for inspiration and went wild!
Next glean dishes from your Menu Idea section to populate your Weekly Menu. This is also the time to make your shopping list based on the dishes you’ll be cooking for the week. But if you really want to save money, choose your dishes based on the sale fliers for the week
A Health/Time/Effort/Money Saving Solution
Yep, I can’t decide if the worst part of cooking is the clean-up or the 2 hours before when you’re racking your brain for ideas on what to cook. Well, no more sir! I’m not sure how to elude the monstrosity that is my kitchen after cooking (I’m a ridiculously messy cook), but I refuse to settle for menu mediocrity. So menu planning strategy it is! I have been employing this menu planner for a few months now and it has been my saving grace! We are eating healthier meals, it takes less time to prepare meals, I am saving gads of money, and we have culturally diversified our meals more than ever! It’s a win-win-win-win!
Here are just a few menu planning tips you should employ to gain all of these benefits:
TO SAVE MONEY
Pick one day to in advance to plan your meals. Create your menu and shopping list at the same time by browsing the sales ad’s as well as your cupboard.
TO SAVE TIME
A menu plan gives you the opportunity to prepare entire meals or parts of a meal in advance, use a crock pot whenever you can. Do double duty by choosing meals that have a common ingredient and prepare (pre-cut, pre-soak, pre-wash, pre-cook, etc.) that ingredient all at one time for both dishes
TO SAVE YOUR HEALTH
Keep the food pyramid in mind when menu planning, and include more fresh fruits and vegetables. If you don’t have the proper variety of colored post-its, you’re probably not eating a well balanced meal. If you need to, prepare your vegetables, and salads the week in advance…you’ll be more motivated to eat what has already been prepared.
Try a new dish and a new seasoning every couple weeks. Glean inspiration from Pinterest Pins, or go online to a recipe directory for new dishes. Diversity of dishes, can also help with your health goals!
Why use sticky notes / Post-it page markers? I like my menu planner to be tactile, and I am constantly changing my mind, or moving my meals around. This allows me to do so easily, without constant erasing or scratching out ideas. You would think these page marker sticky notes would lose their stickiness over time, but as long as they are housed between two laminated sheets, they will not come off, or lose their stickiness.
You know , it is far easier to show than to tell: Watch my YouTube Menu Planner webisode to see how, and gain a few important details.
Customize, print, laminate, punch holes, and start populating your menu planner!
I’ve done most of the work for you, but I won’t take away the fun of personalization! Below you will find the Menu Planner printable in word format that you can download and customize, or in pdf format for those who want to print and use as is. Just remember, the word format will be a little discombobulated and needs to be downloaded to view and alter.
If you do not own a laminator, you can have them laminated at an office store.
Word Document Format (for you to download then customize)
- Weekly Menu Plan Sheet
- Menu Idea Sheet-Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Appetizer/etc. (edit to create the proper categories)
Print Ready PDF Format (for printing as is)
- Weekly Menu Plan Sheet
- Menu Idea Sheet-Breakfast
- Menu Idea Sheet-Lunch
- Menu Idea Sheet-Dinner
- Menu Idea Sheet-Salad & Appetizer, and Drinks
- Menu Idea Sheet-Dessert
Purchase the Post-It Page Markers here (affiliate link):
Let me know how you customized your menu planner! Share it to my Facebook page (or to Instagram), tag me at Home Made by Carmona and add #HMCmaker. I hope you find it as helpful as I have!