Feb 22

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How to Make a Menu

how to make a menu


Knowing how to make a menu and implementing it in our family literally changed my life.

Here are the Benefits of Knowing How to Make a Menu…

  • Menus end meal time arguments with my oldest son. I post the menu on the fridge each Saturday night for the next week. He can see in black and white what we’re eating next week and while he sometimes doesn’t look forward to a  particular meal, he has stopped begging for me to fix this, that and the other thing. I have pretty much eliminated my “short order cook” position that many moms and dads deal with! He also knows to put in a request in advance if he wants to see something on the menu. (This helps me as I can jot it down and watch for those items to go on sale to make that dish he has requested!)
  • Menus end waste. Because I know how to make a menu, I know exactly how much I need to prepare of each item. Sometimes, I will prepare extra meat so we can have leftovers later or can use the leftovers in another dish the next day.
  • Knowing how to make a menu {and then using it!} helps end mindless spending at the grocery store. I shudder to think of how I used to shop. I basically would wander around the store, throwing anything and everything into the cart. As such, I had cupboards/fridge/freezer packed with items but would end up throwing away a TON of food simply because there was no way we would eat it all and I had no plan to use it. I always got warm fuzzies seeing all that great food in my house – now I get warm fuzzies from my coupon binder and my menus.
  • Menus end unbalanced meals. Because you take a few minutes to complete your menu, you can have appropriate portions and a balanced meal all laid out without effort at the last minute. You will be able to use in season veggies and fruit to cut down on your grocery bill while providing the balanced meals we all want to provide our families. Did you think all this was possible if you knew how to make a menu?
  • Menus end last minute eating out. This was another big issue in our house prior to menus. When I used to work, I would get home and stare into the cupboards/fridge/freezer and debate over what on earth to cook. (This was also back in my short order cook days!) Because I had no menu, I didn’t have the forethought to pull meat from the freezer to thaw. Plus, everyone was hungry and had to eat right that second which meant I was feeling stressed. The solution? Go spend $30-$40 on dinner out! Oh.. such a bad plan! I almost always felt guilty afterwards (geez, what a waste of that money that I didn’t count on spending!) but for a long time, I still didn’t take action. Now we use a menu and I plan our dinner out. This means we have the money set aside in our budget for a specific night out of dining. If you have a menu, you won’t be tempted to run out to McDonald’s or Applebee’s to grab something to eat!

 How to Make a Menu

Creating a menu for your family isn’t hard. It’s like a budget: many people are scared to start and are then thrilled once they learn how to make a menu. If you’re worried that you don’t have time to commit to this, don’t be: you will be spending only a short time each week with your menu, but saving time during the week because of it. It’s so, so worth it – I promise!

  • First, get your recipes ready. You might want to check out recipe ideas on Pinterest, a favorite cookbook or your recipe index sheet. When you’re first getting started, I would encourage you to stick with family favorites that are easy for you. Once you’re in the swing of menu planning, try adding new dishes once or twice a week as time permits. You can use the recipe index sheet to keep track of the best meals!
  • Second, pick what type of menu you like. I use the One Week Menu – Chart Style for us since my husbands schedule can change week to week.
  • Third, grab your store ad/blog match ups/favorite recipe books or websites. See what is on sale this week at your store (or whats in your stockpile to use) and start a grocery plan. I usually design my menu based on whats on sale that week and add in the rest of the meal from items in my pantry. Some weeks if my budget is running slim, I will focus on using as many items from my pantry as possible and only get fresh foods at the store like milk, eggs, and fruits/veggies.
  • Once you have decided whats on sale you’re going to get, start your menu. I menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner plus a few snack ideas so I make sure I have enough of everything and it’s all balanced. You’ll basically write down seven breakfasts, seven lunches, seven dinners, plus a handful of snacks (or several if you have small kids that graze during the day). I write down my main dish and sides plus any notes I might have like if the recipe is on page 306 of X book. I also note if we have company coming a certain night or if I will be doing dessert.
  • If I am baking or making any freezer meals, I jot that down on the side or back of my page. For instance, today I baked bread to use this week for a couple of dinners. I wrote it on my planner to remind myself to do it, as well as jotting it down on my menu sidebar.
  • Once you have your menu completed with all your meals and snacks, go back to your grocery & shopping list and pantry to make sure you have all the items you’ll need. For instance, if two different nights you’re making a dish with onions, you’ll want to make sure your grocery list is marked with those two onions. You may also find you have something in your pantry to use instead of purchasing more.


It’s really that easy to learn how to make a menu! The benefits are endless and so worth while!


Your Turn: What are your tricks for how to make a menu?



How to Make a Menu.

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1 comment

  1. Cecile

    Great tips! Menus always help me stay more organized.

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