Weekly Menu Planning

You can ask anyone with a specific dietary lifestyle how they get through the week — and the key is planning.  As much as it may pain you to sit down with some paper, or some cool grocery list app on your phone — it must be done if you want to stay compliant.  Creating a weekly menu will not only keep you on track as far as your food choices go, but I guarantee the extra planning will help you save money and time.

Before we really get into the details I would like to point out some benefits.  Let’s discuss some reasons as to why planning a weekly menu is a good idea.

  • Specific dietary needs are met rather than subjecting yourself to spontaneous shopping
  • Money is saved — you are only going to buy what you write down, nothing else!
  • Meals can be exciting again — no need to eat the same things over and over
  • You can verify that you are eating a wide variety of food — aka the whole rainbow
  • Meals can be adjusted to fit well into other commitments you may have through out the week
  • Planning will help eliminate numerous trips to the store

This topic could easily expand over a series of posts, but we’ll just cover the basics on how to create a menu.  Now that you have a few reasons to plan — how the heck do you start planning one every week?

First thing — what is your database for recipes?  Do you want to create your own instead?  Some folks use Pinterest to compile bookoos of recipes they are wanting to try out.  You can access those, or if you’re like me — you can rely on your extensive collection of cookbooks.  As a food blogger, yes, I love creating my own recipes — when I can.  I do have a full-time job, and blogging for you wonderful people is fun for me on the side.  So, that means that when I have a lot of free time I try out and experiment with my own stuff.  For the most part, I rely on recipes in order to ensure that we are eating well regardless of how busy the week is.

Second — what have you got goin’ on during the week?  I personally deal with shift-work so that means my schedule varies each day.  My days off are different each week, and some of my shifts include working late at night.  This is a prime reason as to why menu planning is crucial for me, but it can have a place in your schedule, too.  Who absolutely loves going to the grocery store!?  I do.  But even if you loathe the trip — we can all agree that days off from work are typically the best shopping days.  I create menus that range from one day off to the next, and I don’t typically make any emergency trips in-between.

Start by writing out the days of the week and include any commitments you have for each (including the timeframe you will be at work).  To make it easier for understanding here — on each day I will notate specifications (how I plan, why, etc.)

Example

Monday (Off):  This day would be grocery day, and the meal would be more extensive as I am off from work.  Typically; though not always, I choose to have fresh seafood this day!  I am able to buy it fresh (not frozen) and prepare it the same night for dinner.  Remember, variety people!

Tuesday (9 am – 5:30 pm):  Quick meal — looking for a preparation time of 40 minutes to an hour.  Option 2 — a meal that can be completed in a slow-cooker. 

Wednesday (6 am – 2:30 pm):  A more extensive meal can be prepared here as I am free early in the afternoon.

Thursday (1 pm – 9:30 pm):  This meal must be quick enough that I can either prepare it before 1 pm or after I get home from work (yes, I eat dinner that late sometimes and it’s A-Okay!)

Friday (9 am – 5:30 pm):  Quick meal — looking for a preparation time of 40 minutes to an hour.  Option 2 — a meal that can be completed in a slow-cooker.

Saturday (Off):  Grocery day again — wooo hoo!  🙂

Now, for what you choose to eat each day that’s completely up to you.  I enjoy mixing it up A LOT, but if you’re the type that is fine with rotating the same handful of dishes go right on ahead.  If I am really busy I do have a few favorites that I always lean on — they never disappoint.

When looking over recipes or choosing dishes to prepare — remember to read the entire process before committing.  You want to take note of the preparation time involved (how much chopping, marinating, etc.) needs to be done.  Take a look at cooking methods.  Methods like grilling/broiling, stir-frying, and steaming will take less time than baking or roasting.

I know that each family situation varies a lot — but, the routine we have that works well for us is planning out dinners.  So what about breakfast and lunch?

Breakfast usually consists of bacon or sausage and eggs.  We do not get tired of this.  On very early mornings (6am) I do not make breakfast.  I hard-boil eggs and take a banana out the door with me.  Simple.  I have also been known to scarf down two organic grass-fed beef hotdogs.  Simple, I told you.

eggs and bacon

Lunch is always leftovers from the night before.  Watch your portions, people!  Once dinner is made I will spoon portions into containers (that will be taken to work) and then we know that what remains is up for grabs!  This works for us.

Snacks don’t really have a place in our household.  On occasion a handful of nuts will do the trick.  Did I mention those beef hotdogs?  haha, they work really well in this situation, too.  I like both the Applegate and Central Market brands for these — both varieties are made with grass-fed beef.

Now, it’s time to see a real-life menu in action!  The following is my current weekly menu.  I am in the midst of a 21 Day Sugar Detox — and my menu reflects those choices.  Most of these recipes are taken from the 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook, which has proven to be absolutely fantastic.

Monday:  T-bone Steaks with Bacon & Fennel Sweet Potato Salad

Fennel and Bacon Sweet Potato Salad2

Tuesday:  Greek-Style Meatballs with Salad

Wednesday:  Pollo Asado over Basic Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

Thursday:  Jalapeno-Bacon Burgers with Beet & Carrot Slaw

Friday:  Braised Chicken in Artichoke-Mushroom Sauce with Roasted Garlic Parsnip Mash

 

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One Response to “Weekly Menu Planning”

  1. […] I must give credit where credit is due!  It’s recipe review time again — I planned my weekly menu full of dishes featured in the new 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook.  This potato salad has my heart, […]

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