Menu Planning Without The Work

I know – I know – you’re busy and you don’t want to take time to plan your menus even though you know it would help you shop. But if you think about it, you already are planning your menu – when you decide at the last minute what to cook or order out today.

Jot down what you prepare each day for a month – on a calendar, piece of paper, on the back of a junk mail envelope – spend ½ an hour at the end of the month looking for too much repetition or not enough vegetables, etc., and you’re done.

Now you have what folks in the institutional food business call a “cycle menu” – one you can rotate over and over again. Research shows that most families use a limited number of recipes anyway. You might want to try 1 or 2 new recipes each week depending on what is fresh and available.

Make up a list of items on this menu that are not something you keep on hand, divided by each week, and you are a long way towards your grocery list. See if this won’t help you get away from wasting your time (and your money) at the supermarket or fast food window every night after work.


  1. Hallo Sue,

    i know what you mean and its true. Planning your eating-life costs plenty of time (i do it on sunday) and you eat fresh things that costs not much. (I`m sorry about my english) I love your blog!!!

    Many greetings Anne

  2. Great suggestions, Sue! I'm sporadic in planing weekly menus, but when I do, that practice DOES have a positive impact on my grocery budget.

    I've found that buying food for two adults isn't brain surgery: one broasted chicken is three meals (four, if I boil the carcass for broth, which means two more meals), and I buy the largest chicken I can--one store has them set out in handy little carrier containers with clear lids, the other, you get what they hand you from the broaster oven.

    I prepare full recipes of main courses--leftovers are meals for the next day or are portioned out and frozen.

    One can of chicken broth goes a long way--our favorite use is in creamed chicken and biscuits;
    a great way to stretch chicken if I make half again as much gravy.

    One thing I wanted to share with you and Myrna is my mom's admonitions--begun when I first began helping in the kitchen--to carefully scrape every bit out of a mixing bowl or pan, that it meant "one more mouthful of food."

    I really understand and appreciate her words today as our economy sinks deeper and deeper into the depression days mom remembered.

    Again (and you will hear this a lot from me, ladies), I am so glad to have found your blog.

  3. Oops--bad math alert: About all the meals from one broasted chicken--I meant to write "five" more meals when I boiled a chicken carcass for broth.


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