Recently, a participant in my cooking class asked a great question but I didn’t have time to answer it. She asked, “How do you plan your weekly menu?” I’m sure there are lots of ways to do this and you may have a plan that works for you. Whatever method works for you, having a plan is seriously 1/2 of the battle to eating healthy!
Here are the basics of how I go about it:
- I take a quick inventory of what I have on hand — fridge, pantry, and freezer, particularly what needs to be
cooked soon. I keep pretty well stocked, so that’s always a source of inspiration. I also often buy a rotisserie chicken once a week and it makes its way onto the menu once or twice (straight up as roast chicken, chopped up in soup, in sandwiches as chicken panini, or chicken tacos, quesadillas or enchiladas)
- I consider what my week looks like — do I have business travel, evening meetings or events (like book club or supper club)? Will I be home all day or out at my office? That determines how much time I will have to devote to dinner prep on each day.
- I often use a basic pattern to keep interest and diversity in our meals. Something like this: Pasta, Breakfast for Supper, Fish, Chicken, Vegetarian, Takeout (we do a weekly pizza night!), Leftovers. I just reorder according to the previous considerations. I always go for entree plus 3 sides – 2 veg (usually salad and a cooked veg) or 1 veg and 1 grain plus 1 fruit.
I also take the time to do a big prep one day of the week – usually on Sunday – where I wash and chop vegetables that I’ll cook in the coming week, wash fruit, bake bread, roast and puree veggies to sneak into waffles, oatmeal, and muffins for my tot, and bake some cookies or muffins.
So to take you through a week’s worth of example:
Sunday – Cheese ravioli with Easy Kale Pesto, green salad with apples and cranberries or fresh tomato and cucumber salad (this is usually a day when I do a lot of prep, either while my tot sleeps or while he plays with Daddy)
Monday – Tofu and Veg stir fry with peanut sauce, rice, and fresh fruit
Tuesday – Chicken panini with baked sweet potato wedges, spinach salad, and fresh fruit (at the office this day, so not as much time to prep)
Wednesday – Salmon cooked in foil with a pat of butter, lemon slice and dill, roasted vegetables, and green salad
Thursday – Breakfast for Supper: Vegetable frittata with turkey bacon and fresh fruit (book club at 7:30, so dinner needs to be pretty simple with easy cleanup)
Friday – Pizza!
Saturday – Chicken enchiladas, roasted corn, green salad, fresh fruit
I do a good bit of roasting, as you can see, because it allows me to do other things while I’m cooking supper – bath time, play with my son, catch up on emails, etc.
Is this helpful? Do you menu plan? How does your method differ from mine?