Menu Planning Monday and a Giveaway!

I have received a lot of emails over the last couple weeks about Menu Planning. I really think that many of you are a lot like me… you don’t want to start doing something if you can’t do it absolutely perfect. Menu Planning is one of those things that I used to shy away from. I wanted to cook each night based on my mood, not on a strict schedule. That wasn’t so difficult when there was just two of us. Now, with a family of five, I have no choice but to have a little structure to my menu.

I menu plan for a couple of different reasons. The main reason is this…I am a work at home mom. I work part time from home doing freelance work. Our food/entertainment budget since staying at home has dwindled considerably. We just don’t have the funds to go out and eat on a whim like we used to. When I have a menu planned for the week and have shopped from my grocery list for those meals, I am much less likely to be tempted to eat out. Plus, if I can limit the number of times I go to the grocery store, that helps eliminate the impulse buys that inevitably happen when I go to the store unprepared.

I try to stick to our menu each week, but it doesn’t always happen. Last week, we had the first really cold, fall day of the season and to me that screams chili. I didn’t have chili on the menu plan, but I did have the ingredients on hand, so we switched out whatever was that day for chili. When you have at least five days worth of dinners planned out, you know that with at least those ingredients on hand, you have a meal to fall back on. If your mood calls for something different that night and you have the ingredients on hand, don’t feel like you are stuck to what’s on the menu. Let your menu be a flexible guide and start with baby steps. Once you get in the routine of planning, you will find it is an enjoyable event. (Think of it this way… what better excuse do you need to get to browse through your recipe collection? My husband knows that Sunday afternoons, I can usually be found pouring over magazines, cookbooks and food blogs, all in the name of “menu planning”.  Me time, with a purpose!)

Here is what the Dine & Dish household has on the menu this week. What do you have planned? Make sure to head over to Organizing Junkie to see what others are planning this week!

Let me know one thing that is on your menu this week or what you find to be the most challenging aspect of menu planning, and your comment will be entered into a giveaway for a great cookbook from Country Bob’s.  Winner will be chosen by the Random Number Generator. Deadline for commenting will be 10pm CST on Friday, September 12th.

Since you stuck with me through this whole post, let me share with you one of my favorite Tilapia recipes.

Mama’s Supper Club Tilapia Parmesan (from Recipezaar)

35 min | 15 min prep


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish or jellyroll pan, lay fillets in single layer.
  3. Do not stack fillets.
  4. Brush top with juice.
  5. In bowl combine cheese, butter, mayonnaise, onions and seasonings.
  6. Mix well with fork.
  7. Bake fish in preheated oven 10 to 20 minutes or until fish just starts to flake.
  8. Spread with cheese mixture and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  9. Baking time will depend on the thickness of the fish you use.
  10. Watch fish closely so that it does not overcook.
  11. Makes 4 servings.

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  1. Carla Pullum says

    I have to be honest Sphagettti is what is on our menu this week. This week is a tight week in the money department! Would love to win the book!

  2. says

    I run a google calendar tied to an excel spreadsheet for menu planning. The most difficult part for me? Not doing something new every night! It get exhausting! One of our favorite repeats is the eggs Benedict we’re having on Wednesday.

  3. says

    This may be my favorite Dine & Dish post yet. I am not a menu planner anymore. Let me explain why.

    Once upon a time I lived so far out in the country, my nearest neighbor in any direction was a cow. Or a wild turkey (and not the kind you drink from a bottle).

    Back then I used to menu plan. I had to. Grocery trips were an all day event, some 50+ miles away to get to a store with over 3 isles.

    Since living in cities, I’ve become more spoiled. I can go to the market (list in hand) on a whim, so if my mood changes or guests join us, I can easily change dinner plans.

    Also, I’m extremely spontaneous. That’s a big detriment when it comes to planning anything, especially menus!

    Sandies last blog post..Imperfectly Delicious – Recipe: Roasted Eggplant Soup with Tomato

  4. says

    This week is tight budget wise, so it’s time to raid the freezer. We invested in a stand-up freezer when we lived in Arizona and man, has that thing paid for itself over and over again.

    Pork chops were on sale for $1/lb, and I saw a recipe in the Kraft magazine so I’ll probably fix that sometime this week. It’s basically apple pie filling, chops and stuffing. Make the stuffing, layer the apples, chops and bake for 30 minutes, top with the stuffing for an additional 15 mintues.

    When we lived in AZ, I used to grocery shop online through Safeway and that really kept me on budget. It’s handy when you’re hungry because you can skip the cookie aisle. :) Plus they deliver, so no gas spent!

  5. Laura says

    Mmm, that looks great! Would be delicious with the cauliflower faux-tatoes you featured (and I love!!).

    * Please don’t enter me in the contest, as I’m sure there are mostly a lot of meat dishes in the recipe book and someone else would appreciate the book more than me.

    But I thought I’d share that I overbought apples a couple weeks ago – so I put a couple in the fridge to make ‘morning glory muffins’ this week (probably tomorrow). They’re easy and make 3-4 days worth of breakfasts or snacks (they also freeze well). Menu planning is a bit difficult, but I usually have at least 3 days planned per week. It works for me as it still leaves a lot of days free or changeable when my husband calls for pizza! It also helps limit grocery store visits and it makes my life a bit easier not having to scramble *everyday* for dinner! :)

  6. says

    I will admit, I never menu plan. When I try to I end up throwing away food that I never got around to cooking. I have a stand up freezer in my kitchen, so I am able to freezer dive quite a bit, but I would love to plan at least a few meals in advance each week. I’m usually at the grocery store every day. Pathetic I know.

    Deb S.s last blog post..Panko-Encrusted Flounder with Tomato and Spinach

  7. says

    This is my first visit to your site. I like what I see and I wish I had more time to visit! I have to run to go prep stuffed green peppers for tonight’s dinner. I’m putting them in the crockpot since I work 14 hours today. I’ll be back later this week to see of more of your wonderful site!

    Cindis last blog post..Menu Plan Monday ~ Sept. 8th!

  8. Chris Dattilo says

    I have to menu plan every week. I get all my meat from a pasture-fed CSA, 10 lbs. a month. Problem is I get cuts of pork, chicken, beef and lamb in 1-2 lb. cryovac packages. I need more. So, I save everything in 3 freezers organized by cut. Then when I have enough of a cut (say fresh ham), I pull it out to defrost,and add it to my menu plan.
    I use MacGourmet – it prints a shopping list, menu’s and if I leave it in the grocery cart, or the wind blows it away – both which happen frequently, I have it safe at home.
    On the menu this week – Hamburgers, Fresh Ham, Chicken Hearts with something (I have a ton from a recent kill I helped in), Fish night, clean-out the refrigerator night. That’s 5 days, between Wednesday’s and Sat.’s vegetable CSA pickup, and a quick stop at a Farmer’s Market I put it all together with what is on hand.
    Oh yeah, I do have to go to the grocery store. I always need something – unfortunately.

  9. says

    I usually plan what to cook when I drive home from work (it also depends on how hungry I am). Once this week I am planning to make pancakes filled with curd, tuna, grated squash, salt, herbs. I will put them in a dish, pour over some cream, sprinkle with cheese and bake them for about half an hour. I am sure I will also bake something because I have plenty of apples!

    Pinas last blog post..Fruits of the summer

  10. says

    I love new cookbooks!
    I’ve got a busy week at work, but made some baked pasta (on food blog) which I will have as leftovers and bought many fresh veggies at different farmers’ markets over the weekend. I also have to bake a Vanilla lb cake I found in the new Everyday Food to take to a church lunch on Saturday.

    kim davidsons last blog post..Fresh Baked Pasta

  11. Carla says

    I have planned meals from the time I got married up until this day. I honestly do not know if I am capable of shopping any other way. I suppose that is the bit of control in my life I love. Now that my daughter is in school I have been less ambitious in my meals-this week one meal we’re having is Easy Overnight Lasagna from Pillsbury. A good ole tried and true.

  12. Catherine says

    My husband is out of town all week, so I’ll be cooking for one if I cook at all… That’s the dangerous thing about when it’s just me: I don’t feel like going to any more effort than hitting the drive-though. We’ll see how it goes!

  13. says

    I feel like Harvard Beets this week. With Fall setting in, I feel like a Fall food. I do make a menu and have even created a menu for one year. It was a great year!! I will have to post my formula for that one soon.

    robinsues last blog post..Octopus and Seaweed

  14. says

    Menu planning is not only important for busy parents but also busy college kids, especially since their budgets are much smaller. For me, I have certain days where I have time to cook meat or days where all I can do is boil some pasta and make some sort of easy sauce. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Carlas last blog post..Wanted: Garlic Entries!

  15. says

    I am sure that spaghetti will be on the list. But I am commenting on my biggest challenge. I find it really hard to come up with a complete meal unless I am planning some sort of casserole which I feel are not the healthiest. What are your suggestions for fitting in veggies and sides?

    Thanks!! I’m a cookbook junkie so I hope I win :)

    Amys last blog post..What A Difference A Week Can Make

  16. says

    I would love a chance to win this cookbook!

    I plan to create my own recipe this week involving polenta, sweet potatoes, and turkey.

    I find planning is hard because I have trouble planning well enough for the grocery shopping!


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