How to Menu Plan {How to Organize Your Life #7}


How to Menu Plan

Menu planning is truly one of the best tools you can use in your quest to organize your life! When you know what you plan to serve for dinner each night of the coming week, you can make sure that you buy what you need during your weekly trip to the grocery store. A menu plan allows you to know if you need to take something out of the freezer ahead of time to defrost….. and the best part of all- is that the 5:00pm hour seems a heck of a lot calmer because you are just executing a prepared plan… vs trying to think of one!

How to Menu Plan

Start by listing all of the dinners that your family enjoys

Think of everything that you have made for dinner in the past few weeks, and write it down. Make sure that you include all of the family basics that you serve normally- chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, etc. Dig through your recipe books and pick out a few “special” meals- ones that most of your kids will eat, or ones where you can easily make a slightly modified version to appeal to everyone (such as pasta with homemade meatballs and sauce for the main meal, but where you leave some of the pasta plain for the pickier eaters). And don’t forget to add traditional Sunday night dinners to your meal list — roasted chicken, turkey, beef stew- meals that might take too long to prepare to serve during the week, but are great for the weekends.

After brainstorming and digging through my cookbooks, I was able to list more than 35 entrees that my family will actually eat!

Create the menu board

I purchased a framed magnetic chalkboard that would look nice in my kitchen and found a place to hang it. Next I created laminated magnets- making headers for each day of the week, and one for each of my listed menu items. (Note: I used a small Xyron machine purchased at a craft store to do this, but you might be able to have these made at your local FedEx/Kinko’s). Set up your board with the days of the week at the top, and all of your meal possibilities listed below. I group mine by chicken, beef, pasta/pizza, and Sunday dinners.

Menu Board How to Menu Plan {How to Organize Your Life #7}

Plan your menu once a week

On Sundays I select the dinners that I plan to make for the week, and move the magnets around so the item is listed next to the correct day of the week. I then refer to my board as I create my grocery shopping list for the week. Each morning, I take a quick glance at my menu board, see what I planned for the day, and can remove meat from the freezer or do any meal prep while the kids are still in school, which makes the 5 p.m. pre-dinner hour so much easier to manage!

And as an added bonus…no one asks me “Mom, what’s for dinner?” anymore! They know that they can check the menu board for themselves!

See How to Menu Plan in Action!

To see my menu board, please check out my youtube tutorial:

Do you menu plan at your house? Please let us know!

Sharons Signture How to Menu Plan {How to Organize Your Life #7}

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Keri September 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

I menu plan and It makes life SO MUCH EASIER!! My husband is a nutrition nut and eats a diet that consists of 6 small meals per day. So my menu plan printable had 6 slots per day. On Sunday I fill in eat slot with meals and snacks. I often look through health food magazines or websites for new ideas!! I plan my grocery list based on the menu items. I also cook for the ENTIRE week on Sunday evening!!! I’m a working mom of a 1 year old. So when I get home after picking him up from daycare it’s great to grab a meal and heat it up!! 1 less thing to do daily!!! Thanks for your tips and suggestions…keep them coming!!!


2 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
September 19, 2013 at 7:47 am

I am so impressed that you cook ahead of time on Sunday nights…. this is something that I have thought about doing before- but it just seems too daunting! And I remember those day-care pick up days when I would get the three boys and have to come home and make dinner- pronto! It was hard! Kuddos to you!


3 Adrienne September 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

I use my master list of family favorites and the week’s calendar to plot out our dinners for the week… reserving crockpot recipes and other “shortcut” meals for the days where activities are heavier or require me to be in the car right before mealtime. We even “plan” occasional carryout nights if timing is impossible. This HUGELY reduces the stress level in our “witching hours” between 3 and 6pm when our 3 kids have homework, activities, etc. But it also means we’re shopping more economically and eating healthier. It is an imperative to have a couple of go-to options that don’t require defrosting (pasta and meatballs, breakfast for dinner, soup and sandwich) for those in-a-pinch nights. I also try to make double or triple the recipe for some freezable options (stuffed pepper mix, soups, etc.), and these are like presents to myself in the future weeks when all I have to do is defrost and dump into the crockpot! Meal planning is the #1 imperative for smooth weeks in our house! (Clean laundry runs a close second, but let’s face it, you can fudge a wrinkled shirt better than an empty stomach.)

Adrienne P., Chicago, IL

P.S. Can’t wait for your playroom reveal!


4 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
September 19, 2013 at 7:52 am

I couldn’t agree more- the best part of menu planning is the stress reduction it provides all week long! And just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you can’t scrap it and make breakfast for dinner on a night that turned out to be busier than you had thought it would be…. even if you just made breakfast for dinner the night before! :)


5 erin September 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

I love this idea. I menu plan, but love the chalkboard idea! Ok, so I can’t believe I am going to ask for this, but is there any way you can share your list of go to family favorites? I cannot read your labels and my family has loved every single recipe you have, so I know you choose good stuff! If that is too much to ask, I completely agree:)
I love your website for so many reasons!


6 erin September 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I did it! I made our list and thank you for the grocery shopping advice as well:)


7 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
September 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Whoo hoo Erin!


8 Maureen October 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I’ve been looking around for a framed magnetic chalkboard similar to the one you have. Where did you buy it? I’m not having any luck so far. Thanks!


9 Sharon
Twitter: sharonmomof6
October 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Hi Maureen-

I purchased mine a long time ago from Pottery Barn when they had it on clearance……


10 homepage January 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

Woah your blog is astounding i enjoy examining the articles you write. Keep inside the good work! You know, a number of people want rounded in this details, you may help them tremendously.


11 carol January 14, 2014 at 9:05 am

I just recently found your blog and I love it!! I use it everyday and have gotten so many ideas from it. I did share it on Facebook and I hope others use it!!

So to my question. I love the look of your menu board can you please tell me where you found it?

Love your new house and thank you for all your great tips.



Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: