How I Menu Plan


Long post alert!

I have written about menu planning before {here, here, and here}, and have even shared my specific monthly meal plans {here, and here}. My method of meal planning has changed as life has changed, but a few things I have stuck with, and consider “tried and true.”

Today I want to go into depth about the way I meal plan. I will offer helpful tips, show you a real meal plan I’ve done, and I even have a free meal plan template download at the end of the post!

Keep in mind, this is what works for me and my family. Everyone is different, so tweak to your needs! Meal planning truly has changed the way I do dinner in our family. I feel so much less stress, and I almost always have food to set on the table for my family! I hope you find this helpful.


Step One | Plan the Menu

This is always the hardest step, but is basically the whole point. I only plan for dinner because we eat leftovers for lunches during the week, and I usually wing it for lunch on the weekends. I start by scouring my Pinterest boards, looking through my recipe box, and looking through the fridge and pantry at what we already have. As I come to recipes I want to make, I write them down on my menu plan sheet. I account for days we will be out of town, or simply not home for dinner.  I have a few loose “guidelines” I follow as I go.

I try to not do multiple meals in a row with the same meat.

I take into account how much a recipe makes, so that I can plan leftover nights accordingly.

I try to choose meals that are simple, and do not take too long to prepare (cook time isn’t as important).

I mix in “tried and true” recipes with new meals!

Every Thursday in leftovers because Collin has Men’s Group. Every Friday is frozen pizza night, and I always do one easy meal a week (pigs in a blanket, sandwiches, box dinner, etc.).


Step Two | Grocery List

As I am choosing what meals to make for the month, I am simultaneously writing down the items I need to purchase when I grocery shop. I use this free template that organizes items by department. So, after I write down a meal on the menu plan template, I then go and check all ingredients in the recipe, and write down the ones I will need to buy. I also keep a running grocery list on the fridge, of items we run out of randomly. I then add those to the list after menu planning. This helps so much because my list is made and everything is ready to go when I do shop!

Step Three | Budget

This is a hard one. I always feel like we spend way too much on food, and waste way more than we should. Collin and I sat down and wrote out our budget for food. We try to stay under $200 for the whole month. Ideally, we want to do between $150-$170 if possible. There are months we do way less, and months we do way more. But, having a budget in mind really helps me to be conscious of what I am buying.

Step Four | Grocery Shop

We normally do one big shopping trip a month, but this may change to weekly now that I’m home. I have heard that shopping weekly can cut back majorly on money spent and food wasted. But, for now I go once a month. I either go by myself, or we all go. I shop at Aldi first because you can save SO MUCH money there! They usually have close to everything I need. Anything I cannot get at Aldi, I buy at either Food Giant or Wal-Mart. It stinks to have to do two stores, but Aldi saves us so much money I will make the extra trip.

Step Five | Stick to the Plan

Now that all the food is bought and the plan is made, you just have to stick to it! I am known to swap nights if I am not feeling what I had originally planned. But, I really try hard to stick with what I have written. Things come up, so sometimes I can stretch our groceries longer than a month. Other times, we have to run and get a few things to get by.

Now that you know how I menu plan for my family, I wanted to show you what our plan for July looks like! I have included links to some recipes so you can cook along with me!

Enjoy! Don’t forget to look at the bottom on this post for a FREE menu plan template!

July Menu Plan

I have linked any that I have recipes for online so you can find them too! If it is a recipe I have made before and we love in our family, then it will be marked with (T&T) for Tried and True. It is’s new that we’re trying out, it will be marked with (New).

Monday 7/3 – Taco Alfredo (New)

Tuesday 7/4 – Honey Garlic Meatballs (T&T)

Wednesday 7/5 – Jambalaya (T&T)

Thursday 7/6 – Leftovers

Friday 7/7 – Frozen Pizza

Saturday 7/8 – Catalina Chicken (T&T)

Sunday 7/9 – Bean and Cheese Burritos (T&T)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday 7/10 – Smoked Sausage and Sweet Peppers (T&T)

Tuesday 7/11 – Sriracha Chicken Alfredo (New)

Wednesday 7/12 – Cheeseburger Wraps (T&T)

Thursday 7/13 – Leftovers

Friday 7/14 – Frozen Pizza

Saturday 7/15 – Grilled Hot Dogs

Sunday 7/16 – Out to Eat

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday 7/17 – Chicken and Dressing (T&T)

Tuesday 7/18 – Grilled Hamburgers

Wednesday 7/19- Ham and Turkey Sandwiches

Thursday 1/20 – Leftovers

Friday 1/21 – Frozen Pizza

Saturday 1/22 – Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil (T&T)

Sunday 1/23 – Leftovers

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday 7/24 – Texas Straw Hats (T&T)

Tuesday 7/25 – Tuscan Garlic Chicken (New)

Wednesday 7/26- Grilled Chicken

Thursday 1/27 – Leftovers

Friday 1/28 – Frozen Pizza

Saturday 1/29 – Leftovers


Enjoy this FREE DOWNLOAD of a menu plan template I made! Print it off as many times as you’d like, and share with friends!


4 thoughts on “How I Menu Plan

  1. Lisa Leshaw says:

    My husband would marry you if he could! Awesome planning! I cannot do it like you although you do inspire me to try!


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