Saturday, December 6, 2014

Weekly Menu Planner ~ Free Printable (And Why I Don't Use One)


To be honest, I am not a weekly-menu-planner-type-of-gal. My goal each week is to use what we have growing at the time, what I find in my pantry, what is fermenting in jars and what has been preserved in the freezer or canned in prior months. With these resources I am able to prepare a meal inexpensively for my family without taking too much time (the time had already been spent in the preservation process). This means that in the winter and autumn months, we don't eat foods like fresh tomatoes or anything else that isn't grown in the cold seasons or is already preserved.


Before it sounds too "out there", I will explain. When thinking of meals, I don't wonder what I "need" to make dinner, I wonder what I can "use" to make dinner.  For example, in the winter our tacos would have toppings such as cheese (that was purchased in bulk, shredded and frozen in smaller increments) canned salsa, cabbage salad (or sauerkraut) and guacamole (our avocados are ripe in winter). In the summer, the toppings would consist of shredded cheese, fresh garden lettuce, tomatoes and onions. In another instance, it wouldn't do me good to plan for burritos on Thursday and then have my husband bring in a bucket of zucchini that same day. I need to use up that squash and fast! So you see, I need to do some creative adjusting to make our meals coincide with our seasons and our surpluses. Hence, I don't meal plan (I meal "scan").


However, I find that when overnight guests come, I do need to meal plan and I do spend a bit on the extras (like those out of season foods) in order to make some special dishes. Lately, we have been having a lot of extra company and so I created a menu planner printable to get me through this busy time.  I also included a grocery list at the bottom of our planner which can be conveniently clipped off and taken to town once our menu is prepared and the inventory has been ascertained.


I store our planner inside our Home Management Binder which I have begun to appreciate more and more. It works well in our "weekly" section. You are welcome to use our menu planner, simply download from the link HERE and print.



Something helpful which I have also adopted is what the author of Healthy Foods shared. It is called the "Ten O'Clock Principle" (which she in turn learned from her friend Demaris Ford).

"The Ten O'clock Principle is simply that you decide on your dinner each night by 10:00 that morning. However, if you know that Wednesday, for example, is always very busy, then you decide on dinner for Wednesday night on Tuesday night at 10:00 PM. The Ten O'Clock Principle is the same, you just move it around (AM or PM) accordingly. That way, you can prepare! Like take something out of the freezer to thaw, plug something into the indentured servant (crock pot) or check to make sure you have charcoal for the barbecue."
Healthy Foods by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

The author also gives the idea to have a basic meal plan each week that you follow like spaghetti on Monday, a meal with beans on Tuesday, salad on Wednesday, chicken on Thursday and so forth. That would be an option for some women who don't need to utilize what a farm provides. The only thing that is pretty much certain in our home is that Friday night is pizza night :)

Do you plan menus for the week? What are your thoughts on meal planning? Happy homemaking ladies and embrace your daily duties! Your efforts in every area of homemaking are forming childhood memories that will last forever in the hearts of your family and will continue to sweeten the heart of your husband.

"It belittles us to think of our daily tasks as small things,
and if we continue to do so, it will in time make us small."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

25 comments:

  1. Hello JES, I've just spent a lovely evening perusing some of your old posts. I am much encouraged by your blog. So glad that I stumbled upon it. I use a weekly menu plan as my lovely girls cook most of the dinners around here and it allows things to run smoothly. I do give input to our "menu maker" according to the flow of the seasons. We've been caught by the abundant zucchini a few times too!

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    1. Thank you for sharing Margaret! I know many women are blessed by menu planning! And daughters are an even bigger blessing :) My daughter and I switch lunch and dinners each month and that is a real help. Glad to "meet" you :)

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  2. Life works better when I meal plan, but they have to be very flexible plans. My husband's schedule changes frequently and sometimes he wants to cook. He's a better and more artistic cook than I am. So I plan for meals and make sure I have the ingredients, but I don't plan when we're going to have each meal. I like the 10 o'clock idea, that would help me with thawing meat in time for cooking.

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    1. Hi Jennifer, I think my hubby is a better and more artistic cook too!!! Sometimes he surprises me with Sunday lunches and it is a real treat! And the 10 o'clock idea is very helpful! :) Thanks for the visit!

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  3. I agree with you that meal planning doesn't always work for our family. One thing that does work for us is to have a selection of meals with ingredients ready to go, like you mentioned, and then just pick from that list throughout the week. Sometimes my children have unexpected friends over for dinner, and so it helps to have a flexible menu to choose from.

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    1. A basic selection of meals with ingredients ready to go is wonderful too :) You know you will always have something to cook when a need arises at the last minute. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Hello Jes, as always, great advice and the prettiest Printouts for these ladies is just such a gift!
    I like the way you use what is available and in abundance. I bet your sauerkraut is wonderful.
    I have been baking quick breads to freeze for company coming! And I like the idea of knowing what I am going to make for dinner each evening, by planning each day early like by 10 LOL
    Love, Roxy

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to visit Roxy. Quick breads are the best for company! :) Thanks for the reminder as I should be baking some up too! :)

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  5. Hi Jes, this is a great post and I cook like you do, what we have coming in from the garden and what I have preserved in the pantry, up against buying things that we don't need. I like the meal planner though and might print it out and add to my others just in case I need it. Thanks again, blessings

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    1. Thank you Terri. It just seems to work for some of us doesn't it? :) Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Thanks for linking up at Good Morning Mondays Jes, blessings

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  6. I like the ideas and the printable! For us, I'm more like you, JES, in that I use what's available already in the house, and if absolutely need be, then take a list to the store. I have kept our freezers stocked, the fridge is fairly full, and the shelves have enough on them for a while. We eat based on sales and seasons and what's already home. Right now it's sale week on pork, so we bought pork to put in the freezer to last through the month. Apples, oranges, and bananas were on sale, so guess what we're snacking on. :) Big bags of rice are in the freezer, as are gallons of sourdough starter, as it produces much more than I can bake and keep up with, previously made soups and chili, chicken, frozen veggies, and so on, I can whip out a meal with little notice. I've found that planning out a meal more than a day in advance leads to plans getting totally changed and it not happening, so I keep it to just a day ahead of time, to pull out what's needed or do prep work.

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    1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing Angie :) And great point that what you plan may not be on sale that week so a menu based on that concept is also prudent. Our stockpile is based on bulks and sales and therefore we know the meals are less expensive. Have a lovely week :)

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  7. A lovely weekly menu planner and printable, Jes, thanks for sharing. Like you, we eat very seasonally here, on the island, and we're very fortunate to have a long harvest of wonderful produce. Just yesterday, my husband brought in 2 zucchini and a big eggplant, (they keep popping up!), and 3 ruby red and robust pomegranates from our one tree, so today I am making green beans (bought from our local farmer's market), with the veggies from our garden in a Greek tomato ragout. It's all very spur of the moment, trying to utilize the latest pickings. Of course, when we do have guests staying with us, things need to be more structured - a house full of people cannot survive on a surprise handful of veggies!

    Have a lovely week!

    Poppy

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    1. Ah yes, that works for me! I am sure the meal was delicious too :) We also have pomegranates and love to juice them and drizzle it into sparkling water for a delicious drink. Have a wonderful week Poppy!

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  8. I feel like I can relate a lot to your challenge. My husband is a gardener by trade, so trying to plan dinner around available produce is a challenge.
    I feel like in winter it's a bit easier. Everything is preserved already and there's no rush. Spring and summer last year, I pretty much bombed on trying to incorporate fresh produce into dinner. xD
    One of my hopes this winter is to try and figure out a way to plan and anticipate fresh produce.

    Something that's worked great for me is that I plan a week of meals, but don't necessarily stick to the day. For example, I'll usually plan three easy meals that can be prepped 20min or less. Then I plan for crockpot meals or meals I can prep in the morning for the days I have to work late. A nice longer prep meal is for the weekends or days I'm home in the afternoon. Finally, I leave at least one space blank for meals to use up left overs or to throw together bits and bobs. It tends to work very well.
    I've tried planning more rigidly -- even meal planning a month in advance! It didn't go over so well. I almost feel like every women has to try out different things and discover what system works best for her. I've never run into two homes that do it the same.

    Thanks for you thoughts! I always love your printables.
    -Christina

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  9. Great point Christina and thank you for sharing! I love hearing the goings-on of other women in the kitchen :) My husband is a gardener by hobby and it can be overwhelming when buckets and buckets of squash come your way but it sure blesses the budget!

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  10. JES...I loved the different point of view on meal planning. I do plan our meals but based on what is in the freezer and pantry. I like to buy in bulk sometimes so that helps. We don't farm so no fresh produce readily available for us here in the mountains. I have to rely on the stores for that and only get what we need for the week. How nice to read how you do things in your home. Thank you for sharing at Monday's Musings.

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    1. Yes, we all have our different scenarios on the home-front don't we! But it is fun to see how everyone else does things and much ideas are gleaned and sometimes implemented. Thank you for your visit today :)

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  11. Lovely blog! How have I just found it?

    Anyway, I'm trying to print Some of your printables and they go to Scribd and then say not available.... Am I doing something wrong?

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    1. Hi Melanie, nice to meet you :) Interesting about the Scribd... I just went and tried and it worked but some people do have problems with the program and I do apologize. One day I hope to update to a website that can print direct. In the meantime, you can email me with your requests and I can email you the PDF's. Sorry for that!! And have a lovely New Year! :) oh yes, my email is pleasewritetojes@hotmail.com

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  12. Hi, could you email me the pdf file for printing the weekly menu sheet.

    thank you, Darlene

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    1. Sure, can you send me your email address? Write to pleasewritetojes@hotmail.com. Have a wonderful day! :)

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  13. I have been spending the greater part of my morning downloading printables to create a home management binder...and I must say I am so thankful, JES, for all the wonderful, beautiful printables you have offered for free on your blog. It's truly a treasure trove and you are so generous to share these for free with your fellow penny-pinching homemaking sisters. :)

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    1. Thank you Laura!! I really appreciate this sweet, encouraging comment! :)

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