Weekly Menu

Why It’s Important To Create a Menu or Meal Plan (Different Ideas and Free Download Menu Planner)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 12, 2014

why-its-important-to-create-menu-and-meal-plan-grey

As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional baby steps are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!

As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:

  • Self
  • Home
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Frugality

See the full list of baby steps HERE.

Now we are really starting to head into some nitty-gritty of frugal habits you and your household can develop to help you meet your frugal and financial goals!

This next one is probably something you may already be doing, but it is good to be committed to doing it and reminded to do it and perhaps find some new resources or ideas!

Be Intentional Baby Step #23

Menu Planning

You probably have heard and even experienced just how an organized and financial smart household menu plans! Well, that’s because it is both!

First, here’s why it’s important to menu plan:

  • Saves time
  • Saves money by eating out less
  • Saves money by using the right tools to help you eat all of the food in your house to prevent food waste
  • Saves sanity – sometimes it can be frustrating standing in the kitchen trying to throw something together – often, you want to pull out your hair.  Well, spend a few minutes once a week to plan your menu so you can save your hair… I mean sanity!
  • Creates a nice dinner and family atmosphere when you have a plan and when you are intentional about meal time.  Focus more on family time around the table rather than in the kitchen!

There are literally dozens of different ways to menu plan.  We are going to share some ideas along with a favorite weekly menu planning tool that we use that makes our meals frugal, fun, different and saves loads of money by reducing food waste too!

First, here are some common ways to plan a menu:

  • Having theme nights each week – for example, Monday is Mexican night, Tuesday is Asian night, Wednesday is Italian Night, Thursday is All-American night, etc.   Then based on these themes, you plan foods to go with it.  For example, you can take the Mexican night and one night have enchiladas, another Monday have tacos, another Monday have Fajitas, another Monday is taco soup…. etc. and plan out 4-6 weeks worth of menus for each night based on those themes. It is a fun and organized way to plan.
  • Take your top 6, 12 or 18 meals (as sample numbers) and rotate through, meaning start at #1 and next day is #2 until you get to the number of meal favorites your family has and then start the list over.  This is a very simple one and a great way to ensure that your family is getting their favorites often and it also makes for very easy shopping.
  • Planning meals based on the store sales.  This is a popular one as many think that this is one of the best ways to save money on your meals.  I actually disagree and I do not think it is very productive financially to meal plan this way.  It is going to be talked about in another theme in a future month as it is too much information to summarize as to why this isn’t smart, but if you are doing this now, stick with it for now as it is better to meal plan than not at all as it still saves you money, time and your sanity.  Then you can see what we are talking about in a later month to see if you want to change your perspective :)
  • Meal plan based on Pinterest and fun recipes you find.  Now while this sounds like a fun and exciting way to meal plan, a fun way to try new things and to have some fun in the kitchen, it is also the most expensive one! It is not cost effective to buy recipe ingredients when you need them – that is when they cost the most.  However, you can do this frugally if you have a filled pantry and a bit of creativity to change the recipes up to match what you have – then by all means, have at it :)
  • Finally, the way that we meal plan is based on what we have on hand.  I do not consider the store flyers when I meal plan, I merely look to my own shelves, fridge and pantry. I LOVE this method as it allows creativity, new things, old favorites, and allows me to stick to my budget, eat healthy, and use up all of my perishables! 

So since I do that last one, how do I do it? 

no-waste-food-menu-planning-download

I use our “No Food Waste Menu Planner.” This is a FREE download for you to use, so be sure not to miss it and download yours! 

We have a full tutorial on how this No Food Waste Menu Planner can work for you to save you tons of time and money.  We suggest heading to our original post HERE for the full details.

In addition, we also suggest that you see our Menu Planning Page HERE with many more resources for planning meals and menus!

The point of this baby step is to get into the habit of menu planning no matter how you do it! 

One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!

Alex & Cassie
 

Sharing Our Personal Weekly Plan and No Waste Food Menu for 1/20/14 Week – Get Your Free Downloads Too

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on January 23, 2014

no-waste-food-menu-planning-download

Time to share our plan and our menu for this week 1/20 –  - 1/26/14.  We actually haven’t shared our personal plan for a few months, so we thought it would be a good time to share again and encourage you to plan for the week and get your free downloads too! Part of the reason for sharing this with you this week is because both of these downloads, but especially the “No Food Waste Menu” will help you to have a smooth penniless week next week (as we know hundreds of you are joining us for penniless week next week to jumpstart financial goals – read about that HERE).

I am going to share two downloads that I complete each week: our THRIFTY Plan and our No Food Waste Menu.

You can also check out these links to help you!

ttc-plan-jan2014

Here’s my plan this week:

T – stands for Thrifty – what are my thrifty goals for the week?

  • Make mouthwash
  • Make Baby Wipes
  • Make Homemade Bulk Taco Seasoning

H – stands for Home – what are some things I/we need to do around and for our home?

  • Clean out Central Closet
  • Amazon S&S
  • Re-Organize School Room

R – stands for Relationships – a place where I write down who I need to call, send a note to or remember a birthday/event.

  • Make mom’s birthday cards
  • Finalize Al’s parents upcoming visit details
  • Confirm playdate with Amy and kids for Friday

I – stands for Involvement – this is the part of my planner that allows me and my family to be involved in our community and church in small ways each week.

  • Collect items for fundraising auction
  • Prepare for overnight guests from our hospitality network

F – stands for Finances – What financial tasks do we need to complete this week: (also as we continue to find our 2% cuts each month!)

  • Re-evaluate 2014 budget
  • Submit for HSA Reimbursement

T – stands for To-Do’s- misc. things I need to do this week!

  • Make eye Dr. appointments
  • Have car tires checked
  • Return un-used spray paint to Hobby Lobby
  • Alex call client “L”

Y – stands for You – what are some things that I can do for myself to de-stress and relax for all of the hard work!

  • Dr. appt. Thursday at 4pm
  • Organize baby stuff for baby scrapbooks
  • Get baby pics for scrapbooks developed
  • Attend women’s retreat on Saturday at 9am

Plus I have my developing shopping list and other tasks list on the right for those extras.
weekly-thrifty-planner-full

If you would like to print your own THRIFTY weekly planner, you can do so below. Alex designed it to where it requires very little ink and in fact you can print it in fast draft/grayscale to use even less ink.  But either one uses miniscule amount of ink! I would recommend printing or copy several as I often write plans a couple of weeks ahead too!

Please note, if you are reading this email in our rss feed or our email newsletter, you may have to click to the post HERE to print this download. 

<== Download your printable Weekly Thrifty Planner HERE

 

Here’s our planned dinner menu for the week!

This is the “No Waste Food Menu Planner” and you can get all of the information on it in our previous post HERE. 

menu-jan2014

Before I make the menu, I first fill-in the right hand side of the page in the box that says “food to use this week.”  This allows me to incorporate all of the foods that will be expiring soon into my menu this week!

I also shared a really cool tool on Google to help you find recipes to use all of those odds and ends.

But in order to fully understand what this menu is about, you need to see the full tutorial HERE.

Here’s the foods I need to use – remember, my menu is not limited to these items, I just need to include them somewhere so I don’t have to throw them out later !

Fridge foods: fresh Mozzarella chunk, cucumber, avocado, red cabbage, kale, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, apples, pears, Artisan rolls, red pepper, onion, baby carrots, cottage cheese, sour cream.

Pantry foods: Bread, tortillas, volcano rice, 9-grain cereal, rice chips, pineapple, hot dog buns, bananas

Freezer foods: ham lunchmeat (nitrate free), beef short ribs, chicken, peas, breakfast hot pockets

So with these foods and other foods in my house right now, here’s the menu we have this week!

Snacks for the week: cottage cheese, apples, crackers, rice chips, pears, veggie chips, oranges

Monday:

Breakfast - Savory Rice, Lunch – nitrate-free uncured beef hotdogs and cucumber salad, Dinner – Sandwiches, green salad, fresh cut pears

Tuesday: (We spend much of the day with our homeschool co-op called Classical Conversations)

Breakfast – quick breakfast hot pockets, Lunch – pizza party at co-op (took sliced oranges, carrots and hummus and rice chips for sides), Dinner – Chicken Marsala, Volcano Rice, Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday:

Breakfast – 9-grain Cereal, Lunch- Quesadillas, Dinner – Pan fried chicken with rice, kale chips and artisan rolls

Thursday:

Breakfast – Banana Muffins made with our Muffin Mix and “browning” bananas that no one wants to eat :), scrambled eggs and sliced apples (we also had guests that ate with us that stayed overnight from our hospitality network), Lunch - Pasta and cottage cheese, Dinner – Crockpot short ribs, green and fruit salad, crockpot baby carrots, 60-minute wheat dinner rolls

Friday:

Breakfast – Toast and scrambled eggs, Lunch – Nachos, Dinner – Pizza Party with extended family of mom’s birthday (I’m making the cake!)

Saturday:

Breakfast – Breakfast Casserole, Lunch – kids out with daddy while I am at my retreat, Dinner – Chef salads

Sunday:

Breakfast – Apple Cinnamon muffins (from homemade mix), Lunch – Tacos, Dinner – Hawaiian Haystacks

In my notes section, I usually make notes on when to get the meats out of the freezer to prepare for the next day, etc.!

And… no matter whether you make a menu or not, don’t forget about “dinner by 10.”

We use the “No-Food Waste” Menu Planner that you can get for free as an email subscriber to our site!

Just click on the header above and you can get yours for free too!

ttc-newsletter-header

Please share in the comments below what your menu and plan is for the week!

join-us-for-penniless-week-challenge

Also, like we mentioned above, these are tools we use every week to keep us on budget and on track, but these will both be especially helpful for next week’s “Penniless Week,” so everyone be sure to get your downloads to prepare!

 

Alex & Cassie
 

Sharing Our Personal Weekly Plan and No Waste Food Menu for 10/21/13 Week – Get Your Free Downloads Too

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on October 21, 2013

no-waste-food-menu-planning-download

Time to share our plan and our menu for this week 10/21 – 10/27/13.  We actually haven’t shared our personal plan since June, so we thought it would be a good time to share again and encourage you to plan for the week and get your free downloads too!

I am going to share two downloads that I complete each week: our THRIFTY Plan and our No Food Waste Menu.

You can also check out these links to help you!

tplan-oct21a

Here’s my plan this week:

T – stands for Thrifty – what are my thrifty goals for the week?

  • Refill handsoap pumps
  • Make dog treats

H – stands for Home – what are some things I/we need to do around and for our home?

  • Amazon S&S Order
  • Wash Bedding

R – stands for Relationships – a place where I write down who I need to call, send a note to or remember a birthday/event.

  • Work on project for mom and dad
  • Pictures developed for friend
  • Send baby gift to brother

I – stands for Involvement – this is the part of my planner that allows me and my family to be involved in our community and church in small ways each week.

  • Collect items for fundraising auction
  • Meet w/Elena

F – stands for Finances – What financial tasks do we need to complete this week: (also as we continue to find our 2% cuts each month!)

  • Send in rebates
  • Refund on Math game
  • Cash out Thred-Up from clothing sent in

T – stands for To-Do’s- misc. things I need to do this week!

  • Target shopping
  • Go through clothing
  • ABC Mouse

Y – stands for You – what are some things that I can do for myself to de-stress and relax for all of the hard work!

  • Pay for scrapbooking retreat
  • Pack for scrapbooking retreat

Plus I have my developing shopping list and other tasks list on the right for those extras.
weekly-thrifty-planner-full

If you would like to print your own THRIFTY weekly planner, you can do so below. Alex designed it to where it requires very little ink and in fact you can print it in fast draft/grayscale to use even less ink.  But either one uses miniscule amount of ink! I would recommend printing or copy several as I often write plans a couple of weeks ahead too!

Please note, if you are reading this email in our rss feed or our email newsletter, you may have to click to the post HERE to print this download. 

<== Download your printable Weekly Thrifty Planner HERE

 

Here’s our planned dinner menu for the week!

This is the “No Waste Food Menu Planner” and you can get all of the information on it in our previous post HERE. 

tmenu-oct21a

Before I make the menu, I first fill-in the right hand side of the page in the box that says “food to use this week.”  This allows me to incorporate all of the foods that will be expiring soon into my menu this week!

I also shared a really cool tool on Google to help you find recipes to use all of those odds and ends.

Here’s the foods I need to use – remember, my menu is not limited to these items, I just need to include them somewhere so I don’t have to throw them out later !

Fridge foods: Ranch and Blue Cheese dressings, yogurt, smart bacon (veggie bacon),Swiss Cheese, Sweet and Sour Sauce, Veggie Blend, red cabbage, avocados, pomegranates, cottage cheese, carrot shreds, shredded salmon

Pantry foods: Cous Cous, chicken rice, bread, corn tortillas, pumpkin butter, grain medley, brown mix

Freezer foods: Green beans, ham lunchmeat (nitrate free), bone-in roast, garlic bread, mushrooms, apricots

So with these foods and other foods in my house right now, here’s the menu we have this week!

Snacks for the week: yogurt, cottage cheese, crackers with shredded salmon, pomegranates, muffins and pumpkin butter (we eat these things first before getting into our other snacks as these are what “needs” to be eaten)

Monday:

Breakfast – Grits Casserole, Lunch – Chicken and rice, Dinner – BLT’s, cottage cheese, fruit, green salad

finished-bulk-muffin-mix

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Apricot muffins (from homemade mix), Lunch – Chicken Medley, Dinner – Chicken Cordon Bleu with, steamed veggies, cous cous cakes and Apricot Cobbler

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Fruit smoothies, Lunch- Baked Potatoes, Dinner – Chicken Marsala, salad, modified green bean casserole (I will make it with SOS mix, a can of mushrooms, and crushed crackers mixed with melted butter since I don’t have french’s fried onions)

ingredients-for-ham-cups

Thursday:

Breakfast – Ham Cups, Homemade Burritos, Spaghetti with garlic bread and cabbage/carrot salad

Friday:

Breakfast – Cereal, Lunch – leftovers, Dinner – Tacos with chips and salsa

Saturday:

Breakfast – Veggie Bacon and Eggs, Lunch – out with daddy, Dinner – Sweet and Sour Chicken with brown rice and steamed veggies

finished-60-min-rolls-closea

Sunday:

Breakfast – Pumpkin muffins (from homemade mix), Lunch – leftovers, Dinner – Roast and veggies with 60 min wheat rolls, salad and brownies

In my notes section, I usually make notes on when to get the meats out of the freezer to prepare for the next day, etc.!

And… no matter whether you make a menu or not, don’t forget about “dinner by 10.”

We use the “No-Food Waste” Menu Planner that you can get for free as an email subscriber to our site!

Just click on the header above and you can get yours for free too!

ttc-newsletter-header

Please share in the comments below what your menu and plan is for the week!

Alex & Cassie
 

Our Weekly Plan and Menu for 7/15/13 Week – We Are Penniless This Week

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on July 16, 2013

thriftyplan-july15

Time to share our personal plan for this week 7/15 – 7/20/13.

First, how has your weekly planning going?  Are you accomplishing all you hope?  Well we hope this planner that we have provided for you to help you identify and manage each area of life will help you to zone in on all areas of life and accomplish a lot each week with less time.   Be sure to see our Be Intentional Baby Steps for Whole Life Change.

So this week is what we call our “penniless” week.  It means we do all that we can to not spend a penny! The only exceptions are the normally scheduled bills (utility, insurance, etc.), business expenses and emergencies. Otherwise, we don’t grocery shop, use the gas in our van (Alex’s car doesn’t count as he HAS TO GO TO WORK – but we do fill it up before the week starts and can often make it the whole week without needing to gas his car up) and when it’s gone, we don’t go anywhere, we don’t buy anything online, and we find that those “once in a lifetime deals” will pass us by and we didn’t need it anyway (and they will probably come back again soon too!). We get really creative about what we eat! It is a fun test (believe it or not!), but it is a good discipline too! We won’t be eating out this week (we usually do about 1 time per week) an all of our activities will be free ones or things we have memberships to. This is a GREAT way to save a good amount of money! You can save hundreds!! So that is what we are doing this week!

In fact, today for lunch, we had something that I haven’t had for YEARS and had in fact forgot about – frito pies! We had a bag of fritos in our thrifty store in our basement and the kids found it! Well, I am out of bread as I need to make more today, but it wasn’t ready for lunch.  I don’t keep canned chili normally, but I did have canned beans.  So we took pinto and red kidney beans, added chili powder and a few other spices, heated it up.  We filled bowls with Fritos on the bottom, scooped the beans on that and topped with cheese! The kids loved it as they had never had it before! I wouldn’t have thought about it had I done my normal routine shopping and had our normal lunch supplies on hand!

We did finish our next round of “bag chores” and the reward was swimming which we have free coupons for so that is our free activity this week!

With penniless week, it is also a good time to clean out fridge and pantry…. so that’s on my list too!

As always, before I share our weekly plan and our menu, you can read about each of these on these links as we encourage you to do the same to save time, money and sanity:

Here’s my plan this week:

T – stands for Thrifty – what are my thrifty goals for the week?

H – stands for Home – what are some things I/we need to do around and for our home?

R – stands for Relationships – a place where I write down who I need to call, send a note to or remember a birthday/event.

  • Write letter to cousin
  • Send letter to aunt
  • Prepare for Friday overnight guests and plan gluten-free recipes for them

I – stands for Involvement – this is the part of my planner that allows me and my family to be involved in our community and church in small ways each week.

  • Donations to MS
  • Figure out how I can help with Teen Mops from available needs list

F – stands for Finances – What financial tasks do we need to complete this week: (also as we continue to find our 2% cuts each month!)

T – stands for To-Do’s- misc. things I need to do this week!

  • Oils Order (business expense from business account!)
  • Giveaways sent (business expense from business account!)
  • Contact Daniel about speaking at Conference in Washington with topic ideas list
  • Basement organization
  • Send email to overnight Friday guests with final stay details (we are part of a Christian Hospitality network for travelers passing through needing a place to stay! If you are interested in learning more and how you can travel for free and host others in your home… email us!)

Y – stands for You – what are some things that I can do for myself to de-stress and relax for all of the hard work!

Here’s our planned dinner menu for the week! We made a big roast and chicken as we had a big family join us for dinner yesterday, so we have a little bit of leftover roast and chicken – perfect for left over one-dish dinners this week!

Monday – Homemade beef barley soup and homemade rye bread (using soup meat and beef bone broth) with fruit and veggie tray

Tuesday – Crispy Chicken Salad with homemade bread and Watermelon pico de gallo and tortilla chips

Wednesday – Salmon with wild rice, mango and  Best Brussies (this is brussel sprouts roasted in the oven with olive oil, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper – SOOOOO good!)

Thursday – Meatless night with Spaghetti and steamed veggies and leftover salad (if any)

Friday – (Gluten-free guests here) Chicken and Rice casserole or Chicken Stir Fry (depending on remaining fresh veggies)

 

feta-and-spinach-pizza-on-flatout-bread

Saturday – Homemade Pizza on Flax Flat out bread

Sunday – Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup using frozen cooked chicken and Red Lobster like biscuits plus remaining fresh produce

And… no matter whether you make a menu or not, don’t forget about “dinner by 10.”

weekly-thrifty-planner-full

If you would like to print your own THRIFTY weekly planner, you can do so below. Alex designed it to where it requires very little ink and in fact you can print it in fast draft/grayscale to use even less ink.  But either one uses miniscule amount of ink! I would recommend printing or copy several as I often write plans a couple of weeks ahead too!

Please note, if you are reading this email in our rss feed or our email newsletter, you may have to click to the post HERE to print this download. 

<== Download your printable Weekly Thrifty Planner HERE

Please share in the comments below what your menu and plan is for the week!

Alex & Cassie
 

Our Weekly Plan and Menu for 6/17/13 Week – Get Your Free Download Too

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on June 17, 2013

thriftyplan-june17

Time to share our plan for this week 6/17 – 6/22/13.  How has your weekly planning going?  Are you accomplishing all you hope?  Well we hope this planner will help you to zone in on all areas of life and accomplish a lot each week with less time.   Be sure to see our Be Intentional Baby Steps for Whole Life Change.

This week is CRAZY and my “honey do” list is growing quite large.  I don’t know what it is about summer, but it really makes you get the bug to get so many projects done.  I know that Alex is going to look at this list and most likely re-assign tasks for following weeks, but I got it on a list this week, even if it moves to next week’s list, etc.!

As always, before I share our weekly plan and our menu, you can read about each of these on these links as we encourage you to do the same to save time, money and sanity:

Here’s my plan this week:

T – stands for Thrifty – what are my thrifty goals for the week?

H – stands for Home – what are some things I/we need to do around and for our home?

  • Seal Patio
  • Figure out lighting issue
  • Clean out fridge
  • Plant Tomatoes
  • Plant Raspberries
  • Get water purification tablets
  • Install Screen on back door

R – stands for Relationships – a place where I write down who I need to call, send a note to or remember a birthday/event.

  • Develop pics for friend
  • Get shirts for N & J
  • Talk to neighbor about help

I – stands for Involvement – this is the part of my planner that allows me and my family to be involved in our community and church in small ways each week.

  • Prepare activities/lesson for VBS and pass curriculum to next teacher
  • Type up/Print/Copy Bible memory verses for VBS

F – stands for Finances – What financial tasks do we need to complete this week: (also as we continue to find our 2% cuts each month!)

  • Send in rebates
  • Request next HSA reimbursement

T – stands for To-Do’s- misc. things I need to do this week!

  • Get Stuff to mom by Tuesday
  • Buy tomatoes and raspberries to plant
  • Get another Epipen for Trin
  • Get blood drawn
  • Return orange camelback
  • Clean out van
  • clean out garage
  • Confirm Plans for Thursday
  • Clean out diaper bag

Y – stands for You – what are some things that I can do for myself to de-stress and relax for all of the hard work!

  • Concert and date night with Alex on Thursday in the Big City (ride train to meet him!)
  • Bead show with grandma on Saturday

Plus I have my developing shopping list and other tasks list on the right for those extras.

Here’s our planned dinner menu for the week! We made a big roast and chicken as we had a big family join us for dinner yesterday, so we have a little bit of leftover roast and chicken – perfect for left over one-dish dinners this week!

roasted-garlic-cauliflower

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Photo Credit

Monday – Chicken Marsala with brown rice and roasted garlic cauliflower

Tuesday – Homemade Crockpot Taco Soup

Wednesday – Stir-fry with brown rice and fresh fruit

Thursday – Mom and Dad date night and kids have spaghetti with Aunt and Uncle

feta-and-spinach-pizza-on-flatout-bread

Friday – Homemade Pizza on Flax Flat out bread

Saturday – Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with leftover frozen chicken from last rotisserie chicken

Sunday – Roast, potatoes, carrots, celery and onions (yes, this is a common Sunday meal :))

And… no matter whether you make a menu or not, don’t forget about “dinner by 10.”

weekly-thrifty-planner-full

If you would like to print your own THRIFTY weekly planner, you can do so below. Alex designed it to where it requires very little ink and in fact you can print it in fast draft/grayscale to use even less ink.  But either one uses miniscule amount of ink! I would recommend printing or copy several as I often write plans a couple of weeks ahead too!

Please note, if you are reading this email in our rss feed or our email newsletter, you may have to click to the post HERE to print this download. 

<== Download your printable Weekly Thrifty Planner HERE

Please share in the comments below what your menu and plan is for the week!

Alex & Cassie