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

SERVES 4

  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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Comments

  1. says

    I would love to have a weekly meal plan! But with the two of us, for some reason it is so hard to stick to. Especially when, as of late, my husband is never hungry for dinner, and I find it easier to just find something to snack on instead of cooking for one! But if I am lucky enough to be a SAHM when the little one comes, I will definitely be making weekly menus!

    Deborahs last blog post..Bad Photo Sunday – Baked Spaghetti

  2. says

    Since we’ve had a bout of cooler weather, I’ve put soup back on the menu. Homemade chicken noodle soup is tonigh, ,and I found some ham in my freezer, so I’m thinking some ham and bean soup is perfect for later.

    Shalees last blog post..A Grand Jury

  3. says

    I have an interesting approach to menu planning. I show up at the grocery store without a plan every Sunday. As I walk through I grab things that appeal to me; like the fresh Halibut I found yesterday. I grab a variety of ingredients, not knowing how they will come together at home. Once home, my menu then becomes an episode of Iron Chef. I pull together tips that I remember form The Food Network and just create whatever. I love the unknown and I love to make things without a clear recipe. Sometimes I bomb and have to eat PB & J but other times I create masterpieces. The process keeps me energized about cooking!

    With that being said, I would not be the ideal candidate for a cookbook but I had to share my process.

  4. says

    i am making a lemongrass pork concoction tonight for dinner. it’s what i had in my freezer to use up. it’s actually a recipe for sauteed frog legs or chicken wings with lemon grass, i’m just changing it up a bit.

    Lans last blog post..typical week night

  5. says

    My hubby and kids aren’t too keen on fish, but I love it and that tilapia recipe sounds delicious.
    This week I am sticking to Weight Watchers Core so everything is being cooked from scratch.
    We had sweet and sour chicken tonight. Need to add more sour to that recipe next time.

    zoes last blog post..The Simple Woman’s Day Book

  6. says

    The worst part of cooking for me has always been that “what do I make tonight” question. I’ve planned meals in the past, but frankly, forget about doing so after a week or two. So falls the trap that inevitability ends in 20 minutes of “what are we having for dinner” from my wife and kids.

    One thing that will likely be on the menu this week though is my turkey florentine stuffed biscuits.

    Thanks for the link to Meal Plan Monday. It may give me drive to actually sit down and plan each week. :)

    Ed Robertss last blog post..Sunday September 7, 2008 – Kansas City Weather Forecast

  7. says

    I love cookbooks. I hope I win!
    The biggest challenge this week is the fact that my sister did the grocery shopping for our weekly menu (which is something I usually do). I hope she got everything on the list or I may have to improvise. Thanks for sharing your recipies

    Stacys last blog post..Brian’s B-Day

  8. says

    On my menu this week…. well, tonight was the only night I had planned, and we had grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and buttermilk biscuits.

    The reason why it’s my only planned meal is the same as my reason I find it challenging to menu plan: My weeks end up too hectic and spontaneous to cook! We’re going to end up eating out 5 out of 7 nights this week (at least), and other weeks that happens with little to no notice. I hate planning a menu, shopping, and then letting all that food go to waste. THAT is my challenge.

    Heather @ The Striving Wifes last blog post..Are You Striving To Encourage Your Husband?

  9. says

    I resisted Menu planning for a looong time..but it really is freeing! Hubby and I never have those nights where we sit around for an hour having the “what do YOU want for dinner” conversation. We use everything we buy. We buy smarter!

    Here’s one of my favorite cheap-and-tasty recipes for Chickpea Stew, from my recipe blog :)

    http://savvysuziefood.blogspot.com/2008/09/chickpea-stew.html

    savvysuzies last blog post..Menu Plan Monday – Sept 8th

  10. says

    Tuesday (tomorrow) is usually our busy day…so it is usually crock pot day. I already have it ready and in the fridge. I am going to slow cook some chicken thighs with some chopped onions and veggies. I seasoned the chicken with a rub and added some chicken broth instead of water. When I get home after work I’ll debone the chicken and serve it over some egg noodles and some veggies. Boring I know, but easy. BTW, I figure I’ll throw a plug in here: I started a food blog on Saturday. I have been wanting to for over a year, but was too chicken to try. I just hope it can be half as good as yours and many others…

    Laurels last blog post..Light Lunch

  11. says

    Since I’ve started visiting my local Farmers Market on the weekends, I have begun to semi-menu plan. This past Saturday I found grass fed lamb ribs and I’m excited to learn how to make good ribs. Living in Texas, there is a lot of pressure to make great tasting BBQ RIBS!

  12. says

    Mmm, I want to come to your house and eat this week!

    This is such great timing because today I’m trying to get back on the menu planning wagon. I find whenever my schedule changes, I abandon the plan because so many adjustments have to be made. But when we have a plan, we eat better, we save money and we are certainly less stressed.

    Thanks for the inspiration. It’s back to a plan for us!

    Jamies last blog post..How a music teacher rocked my world

  13. says

    The key for me is lots of flexibility. I used to cook for five but now I find that there are times when no one but me shows up for dinner. I have a rough idea of schedules but they are constantly in flux and it is too stressful to nail it down. So I shop for several dinners a week and plan on quick stuff or leftovers to fill in. One thing I have shopped for this week is Poached Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce.

    Lisas last blog post..Choux Pastry in Vevey

  14. says

    I don’t cook every single night, because I work till 10pm some nights… HOWEVER.

    What I do for meal planning sounds like it might fit your needs. Pretty much what I do is pick out 10 meals [I shop for 2 weeks at a time] & make a grocery list for those ingredients. When I get the groceries home, I put all the meat, minus maybe one or two things that I’m planning on making those next two days, in the freezer. [Thaw accordingly as the weeks progress.]

    Then, whenever I want to make a meal, I don’t have a strict schedule… Instead, I have the makings of 10 meals and at any given moment, I can just throw whatever meal I’m feeling like cooking together.

    Of course, I also buy standby stuff, like a few frozen pizzas or Lean Cuisines on the nights I’m just not feeling it… Or nights when I’m working till 10 so the SO can have food while I’m at work.

    Jordans last blog post..I’m the next Martha Stewart.

  15. says

    I cook from a pantry (i.e., I do not shop for meals because I live too far away from the decent grocery store although I obviously supplement my produce) so the most difficult part for me–something I should have done tonight, as a matter of fact, but did not, is pulling meat out of the freezer. I never remember. It does encourage more vegetarian meals though! I am glad I saw this–maybe I can think of something before I go to bed!

    Lauras last blog post..Holy Moly What A Night… But What A Cookie, Too: Ginger Spice Crinkles

  16. kashuma says

    I don’t menu plan for a couple of reasons. We live 1/4 mile from the grocery is the first reason. The second is that I love to cook and am a spontaneous cook. I will either whip up a dish from whatever I have on hand, or visit my favorite blogs to find inspiration on any given day. I am super spoiled, between all the great foodie websites and my grocery and fruit stand being so close.

  17. dallimomma says

    I can easily tell you one thing on our menu this week; this Tilapia Parmesan. I loved it, my husband not so much, preferring his fish unadorned. But I would spread this stuff on anything and broil it, it was that good.

    My newest struggle with menu planning? Going from a houseful to just the two of us. That’s right, everyone is gone, married or to college and I have no idea how to cook for just 2! So we do a lot of individually frozen fish filets; kind of takes the guesswork out of it.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

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