Last summer my husband and I ate grilled chicken just about every night for dinner. This year I’m venturing into new territories, trying new dishes and experimenting with different flavors. I’ve become extremely interested in cooking and I truly enjoy spending time in the kitchen with my husband. I think it’s fair to say that he enjoys cooking nearly as much as I do, despite the fact that he refers to himself as both my dishwasher and my sous chef.
At the top of the summer I set out to make at least three new meals each week. Unfortunately, I keep falling short of that goal. I blame my failure on a lack of preparation and planning and I’ve decided that a weekly dinner menu might be just the thing to help me.
The only problem… I’m more of a fly-by-the-night kind of girl then a planner and I can’t imagine scheduling an entire week’s worth of meals. Even if I did plan the menu I know I wouldn’t follow through on it as the week progresses. Some nights we arrive home too late to cook a more complex meal and some times I just don’t know what I want to eat until five minutes before I’m starving.
Take tonight for example. I planned to make meatball subs for dinner. I chopped the garlic and onions and prepared the sauce, but then I decided I just wasn’t in the mood to eat it. Instead I made myself a plate of eggs and a BLT sandwich.
So rather than scheduling a weekly menu, I think I’ll start on a smaller scale and aim to test out just three new meals each week. Three seems like a fairly reasonable place to start. With such a small number I should be able to search the pantry, look for sales, and plan out my grocery shopping trips well in advance.
My goal is to maintain our current grocery budget while simultaneously preparing much more interesting and satisfying meals. I hope to not only expand our culinary palates, but also become a better cook in the process.
If you have any advice on planning weekly menus I’d love to hear it. Do you create a weekly dinner menu? Do you try to match the sales with your menu or do you stock your pantry and then make meals with whatever you have on hand? How often do you attempt to make new meals and how many times a week do you stick with the dinner staples your family has come to love?
August is just around the corner and I hope to follow through on my goal before the summer ends. Actually we’re heading for the beach the last week of August, so I only need to make nine meals in the next three weeks. That seems entirely possible.
6 thoughts on “Do You Create a Weekly Dinner Menu?”
I started planning my menus a couple of years ago, and I'll never go back. One hour or so out of my week eliminates any other "dinner thinking" I was having to do the rest of the week.
But like you, I'm not always in the mood or have the time for what I've got planned on a particular evening. So I give myself the flexibility to adjust–I can always switch meals around if something else sounds tastier or quicker. You definitely don't have to follow your menu plan to the letter.
I'd love to menu plan but it doesn't fit my lifestyle now. My evenings are usually filled with activities. Sometimes I get on a kick where I try one new recipe a week. I can make the recipe on the weekend and freeze the leftovers in individual portions for weeknights. I keep a folder of recipes I have torn out of magazines so that when I'm in the mood to cook I can quickly find inspiration.
I somewhat create a weekly dinner menu- I choose 5-6 meals based on what I have on hand and what is on sale. I make sure I have a few meals that are really quick and easy and a few that are a little more intensive. That way I can just look and pick what meal I have the time to make and what I feel like eating. It works out great and when I am short on time I don't feel so stressed to figure out a meal- I just look at my list and pick one.
I did a three month subscription to http://www.savingdinner.com and LOVED it! I really committed to making most of the meals, my husband and I took turns, we enjoyed shopping together, we learned a lot about putting together a healthy meal. We didn't have a lot of leftovers and wasted food… I still shop with the food shopping list but I'm not as committed to sticking to it at this time.
@frugalchick — I love the term 'dinner thinking.' I definitely hope a menu plan will help me avoid that!
@juice — I too have a stack of magazine recipes on hand, but funny enough I never use them. I typically turn to old cookbooks or the Internet.
@laurie — I love the idea of having a mix of meals, both easy and more time intensive on hand. That's a great suggestion!
@aubrey — I've never heard of savingdinner.com. Do they provide weekly menus for you?
savingdinner.com has several options, one of which is a weekly menu, but the best part of that is the SHOPPING LIST!!!! It makes things so incredibly easy! And it's portioned for 2 or 4 servings.