Why You Need to Create a Weekly Menu
And how to create one.
Confession here: I am horrible at meal prepping. I really love the idea of using my Sunday afternoon to cook, chop, and prep ingredients for the meals throughout the week. But truthfully I also really enjoy using my Sunday afternoon for other things. Typically this is the time I grocery shop, catch up on laundry and catch my favorite PBS shows (Call the Midwife anyone?).
So even though meal prepping is all the rage these days, I don’t. I just don’t have an extra four hours every weekend. Instead, I do something that takes me less than 30 minutes and saves me time, money, and reduces my stress throughout the week: I create a weekly menu.
Seriously this practice has transformed my kitchen routine. It helps me not only to eat healthier and save money, but I also feel so much more prepared for the week ahead.
If you aren’t yet convinced that creating a weekly meal plan is the thing for you, here’s five reasons why you should reconsider.
Creating a Weekly Menu Will…
One: Save You Time
The basic premise of meal planning and prepping is that it saves you time when you have limited time available. Just setting a weekly menu can have the same effect. I’m always surprised by the number of people who decide what to eat for dinner that night. This means they are having to go home, see what they have, possibly run to the store and then make dinner! This is a huge waste of time and energy.
By taking a look at the events scheduled for the week ahead I can plan a menu that fits my schedule. Got a busy evening on Tuesday? Then a crockpot meal it is. No one home for dinner Thursday night? Let’s skip cooking and reheat leftovers.
Another time-saving aspect of the weekly menu is the ability to craft a specific grocery list. I know exactly what I need for all of the meals I plan to make that week and can get them at once without multiple trips to the store.
Two: Save Money!
Similar to my last point having a specific menu for the week also helps me to generate a more tailored grocery list. Having a plan before I get into the store and sticking to the list helps me to save money but not just buying what I am craving in the moment.
To take this a step further I often write my weekly menu while looking at the local grocery store sale flyer. Then I can plan meals that incorporate ingredients that are on sale for even more savings.
Three: Help You Get a Handle on your Pantry Inventory
Creating a weekly menu while at home gives you an opportunity to take inventory of what you already have on hand. Have a million sweet potatoes, how about some chorizo loaded sweet potato fries? Too many half-opened boxes of pasta? Why not make some pasta primavera?
This extra step of planning makes sure my pantry isn’t overloaded with the same ingredients and cuts down on waste for foods that spoil before I cook with them.
Four: Make a plan to tackle the week ahead
This was an unexpected benefit of creating a weekly dinner menu, but I actually felt more prepared for the week ahead. It turns out that this time spent thinking about what I was going to cook every night meant I was also thinking about what I had scheduled for the week, and ask my husband about his plans. This means going into the week I have a better idea of what to expect and feel more prepared.
I also enjoy talking through the meal plan for the week with my husband. It gives him a chance to add input for what he would like to eat that week, and even jump in with meals he wants to prepare.
Five: Stick to your healthy eating goals!
The final point I am going to make here is a big one: weekly menu planning allows me to stick to my eating goals. Not only can I plan dinners that are healthy and fit the schedule I have set for the week. But knowing ahead of time what I am going to be making for dinner helps me to make better decisions throughout the day.
For example, if I know that I plan on ordering pizza for dinner that night, I’m more likely to pick a lighter or more nutrient-packed lunch. And if I know that dinner is going to be super healthy then I might indulge in the cake served at the work birthday gathering without guilt.
Menu planning isn’t quite as extreme as food journaling but it does give me some added control over what I eat and when.
Here’s my free gift to you! A Weekly Menu Template!!
Typically I write my menu on any scrap of paper I find, with my grocery list right there on the same piece of paper. Then I transfer the dinners to my weekly planner (yes I am an old soul who still uses a paper planner). This gives me a chance to see each day what I am planning on making for dinner that night.
But I went ahead and did the difficult work for you by creating your very own printable weekly menu. To use it I would start by listing the events you have scheduled for each night of the week under the day name. Then think of dinners you know you love and that fit into the window of time you have to cook them.
Take a minute to glance in your fridge and scan the pantry for items that need to be used up that week. Try to find recipes that use those ingredients. And if you have the weekly flyer for your favorite grocer now is a great time to check and see what is on sale. Don’t forget to leave a night or two for leftovers, or even to eat out (we typically order pizza on Fridays).
Finally, finish off by listing what you will need to shop for that week. Take the menu with you to the grocery store to streamline your shopping. Once you are home you can stick the menu on your fridge or somewhere where you will see it each day and remember what you planned for the night ahead.
We are all busy people. I hope this weekly menu transforms your kitchen routine the way it has changed mine. If you have any other time-saving tips for weekly meals I would love to hear them! Shoot me an email, comment on this post, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
Until we cook again,
~ Chloe M.