Friday, September 16, 2011

"What's for Dinner Tonight? And Tomorrow Night?" - A Weekly Template

(Turn your head 90 degrees to view photo. So sorry. Can't get the image to rotate!)

Hey girls! Look what I found that is already making my life a little easier! It's a simple, no-frills Weekly Menu Plan template. If you like the one you see here, you can go to and print a bunch off. Estimated time it will take you to do so: 30 seconds. If you like the idea, but aren't sold on the style I've chosen, Google "Weekly Menu Template" and behold the possibilities.

What are the benefits of posting a Weekly Menu Plan on your fridge or bulletin board? After nearly 25 years of married life, and trying all different ways to stay organized in the "family meal department", I would submit the following:

1. Knowing in advance WHAT IS FOR DINNER TONIGHT (and tomorrow night) is hugely freeing! Forget about those panicked moments that occur between 4:00 and 5:00pm when you realize that you forgot to buy the main ingredient for the meal that you were planning in your head. Forget about the frantic trip to the grocery store to get "something, anything" for dinner. Imagine answering calmly, when your child yells -- while peeling off soccer socks and shin guards two rooms away -- "Mom, what's for dinner?": "Why, BBQ salmon, rice pilaf, and cold watermelon chunks, dear!" Freedom indeed.

2. Having a lower total grocery bill, week to week. If I don't have a weekly meal plan, I am making a run to the store every other day, just picking up enough food to get us through a few meals. Without a list to consult, I am buying on a whim. Gee, that ($7.99 lb.) specialty pasta salad in the deli looks good and fast. (Toss it in the cart) I didn't have time to make a dessert for the missionaries' visit tonight ... I'll just grab this box of ice cream bars. ($5.99) In my experience, if I'm shopping without any point of reference, I'm spending way too much at the store.

3. My family likes to be able to look at the posted Menu Plan and anticipate the good dinner that will be prepared that night. "Oh, yum. I love Spaghetti Pomodoro!" I might even get an irresistible offer like "Can I help you chop the tomatoes?"

4. It is a joy -- yes, that's precicely the word I'd use, joy -- to prepare dinner when I know that I've got everything I need to make a delicious, balanced meal. Chicken taken out of the freezer this morning to defrost in the sink? Check? Yummy (and cheap) homemade salad dressing made between carpool shifts? Check. Apple Crisp cooling on the rack for our at-home family movie night? Check. It is on these days that I remember how much I really do love to cook.

5. It's so much easier to write out a grocery list when the menus have already been planned. I'll know exactly what I need and what I don't. Because I know my neighborhood grocery store so well, I can be up and down the aisles in a breeze, gathering needed items. If I'm creating menus as I'm shopping, I'm doubling back to get forgotten items, and constantly organizing in my head to see if I have what I need.

What do you think?? What are your secrets for preparing delicious dinners for your families, in the easiest manner possible? How do you keep your cooking interesting and tasty and as stress-free as possible??


  1. I love the week-in-advance planning. I also love making a month's worth of freezer meals and they are at your fingertips to warm and serve. I find a great variety of good recipes and the "how-to" on doing said cooking on I have loved everything I have cooked so far! Otherwise, that same time frame (from 4-5 pm) is all about freaking out for me...and I don't like freaking out :-(

  2. I use the handy-dandy "To Eat This Week" pad of paper that sticks to my fridge. You got it for me! I agree that having a template makes it easier, and it also makes it more fun. There's just something about filling out a piece of paper; I've always loved it.
    When we get a Bountiful Basket on some Saturday mornings, I come home and, as I admire my spoils, look up new recipes that look interesting and that use my fresh produce for the week. Some favorites sites are,, and