FREE Menu Planning Printables + How I Make a Menu Plan

Over the past few years, one of the biggest money-savers for us has been menu planning. It’s also a top sanity-saver for this {trying-hard-to-simplify-my-life} mom!   Today, I wanted to share a little bit about how I menu plan, but first…

Weekly Menu Plan

I have some fun freebies for you!  You can grab this downloadable Weekly Menu Planner Printable right now as my gift to you!

Cute Menu Planning Printables

I also have this set of five cute printable menu planners available for email subscribers.  If you’re willing to let me in your inbox, I want to be sure to share some freebies just for you!  Be sure to sign up for my email subscription to get themIf you’re already a subscriber, be on the look-out for them in your inbox (check your spam folder if you aren’t seeing it)!

 

How to Make a Menu Plan

We all have different personalities and priorities, so there is no one “right” way to menu plan.  Because of that, I hesitated to even share–but I know how helpful it is to glean from others and then make your own system.

Right off the bat, you should know I am a weekly menu planner (some people are able to plan effectively for a month or two weeks at a time, but it makes me feel too constricted)!  Every weekend, I make time for a MWM (Meet with Me) meeting.  Yes…I meet with myself!!  :)  It is an essential part of staying sane as a wife, homeschool mom, and business owner.   The meeting encompasses much more than our menu, but it is the place where organizing our meals happens.

Here are the seven steps I use to make a menu plan:

1)  I grab whatever I’m using to record my menu plan (currently, I am using this Well-Planned Day planner, but sometimes I will use one of the printable sheets from my home management binder–especially if I want John to know and be able to help with the cooking that week).  I also get a few cookbooks and/or printed recipes and/or my recipe idea sheet.

2)  I take a look in the freezer and see what meat we have available.  I also check out the pantry just to get a general idea what we have in there.

3)  I peruse our local grocery store flier and jot down a few of the best sales.

4)  I look at our schedule for the upcoming week and pencil in if we need a quick meal option on a particular night or if I want to use the crock-pot.

5)  Considering what is in the pantry, freezer, and what’s on sale, I scratch down a few menu ideas IN PENCIL.  I always write in pencil so I can change our menu as needed!   (Sometimes I’ll use the internet to search for a recipe with the certain ingredients I already have on-hand.  Other times, I really want to try a recipe from a certain cookbook, so I’ll add it to my menu-and add the ingredients to my shopping list.)

6)  I usually plan our evening meals first.  Then, I’ll *guess* what meals might have leftovers and plug those into the lunch menu.  I also try to have a few simple lunch ideas on hand at all times–ingredients for a salad, items for omelettes, pb&j sandwiches with coconut bread, or soup.  Breakfast is usually fairly standard:  oatmeal, eggs and fruit, smoothie packs, apples with peanut butter, or muffins from the freezer.  Sometimes I buy organic, gluten-free cereal if I can get a good deal, but that isn’t very often!

7)  I try to review my menu plan each evening after dinner so I can pull meat out of the freezer or chop ingredients and prep ahead of time for the next day’s dinner.  This is easier to do as the girls have gotten older–they can now help with the dishwashing and prep, too!

I would emphasize that each week is different.  For example, if I’ve had time to tackle a huge freezer cooking day, I don’t really have to do much planning.  Lately, I haven’t done that quite as much, so the steps above are fairly standard for me at this point!  Also, this used to take me quite a while, but it definitely gets easier–and goes more quickly as you become more proficient.

What about you?   Are you a weekly, monthly, or day by day planner?  How do you make a menu plan?

Ham, Kale, & Navy Bean Stew (Served Over Homey Cheese Grits)

eMeals offers many kinds of menu plans to make things easier (you can see my review here).  The slow cooker eMeals plan is a favorite that utilizes ingredients available at your local grocery store and appeals to a broad range of tastes and preferences.  You can currently test out eMeals free for two weeks, too!

Here is a recipe that was recently featured on one of the weekly plans.  It would also freeze well if you want to make it a freezer cooking recipe!

Ham, Kale, Navy Bean Stew

Ham, Kale and Navy Bean Stew (served over Homey Cheese Grits)

Ingredients:

  • 6 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 (15-oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16-oz) package chopped kale (or collard greens)
  • 1 (28-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16-oz) package fully cooked cubed ham
  • 1 (32-oz) carton chicken broth

GRITS:

  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 (8-oz) package shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For Stew: Combine carrots, onion and potato in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Top with beans, kale, tomatoes and ham; pour in broth.

Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

For Grits: Cook grits according to package directions; stir in cheese and butter until blended and smooth. Serve stew over the grits.

Paleo Turkey & Bacon Meatballs

paleo meatballs

One of the recipes shared on the eMeals Paleo Menu Plan last week were these Turkey-Bacon Meatballs with Tomato Sauce.  I wanted to share the recipe with you and remind you that eMeals is now offering a FREE 14 day trial.  It’s a great chance to see how you like it, and if it would be something that works for you and your family.  I’ve been using it off and on for several years now, and it’s really handy in the busy seasons!

Paleo – Turkey-Bacon Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

    • 4 slices bacon
    • 2 lb lean ground turkey
    • 1 (8-oz) package sliced fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 T Italian seasoning
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 2 T coconut oil
    • 2 (14.5-oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate; microwave on HIGH 1½ to 2 minutes or until crisp. Crumble bacon. Combine ground turkey, bacon, mushrooms, onion, Italian seasoning and egg; shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Heat oil in a large deep nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook meatballs 4 minutes or until browned and no longer pink in centers, stirring frequently. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Add tomatoes to skillet; bring to a boil, and simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add meatballs to pan; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze

Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze

Hi y’all! Happy Labor Day! :) Its Jamie form Love Bakes Good Cakes! I’m back this month with an easy and delicious breakfast recipe perfect for Fall! These Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze are crazy delicious! They are sure to be a hit with kids and adults! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze

Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze
Printable recipe
Yield: 15-18 donuts

For the donuts:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened

For the glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Nutella
3-4 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the donuts:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly spray a donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter. Add the pumpkin, eggs and milk. Mix well. Add the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; mix well. Divide the batter between the donut wells, filling about two-thirds full.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the donuts spring back when touched.

For the glaze: Combine all glaze ingredients with a wire whisk until smooth. You may need to add a bit more milk it the glaze is too thick.

To finish the donuts, carefully dip the tops of the donuts into the Nutella glaze and place upright on a cooling rack until the glaze is set.

Pumpkin Donuts with Nutella Glaze

Other posts you may enjoy:

Pumpkin Spice Poke Cake
Pumpkin Spice Poke Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bars 1
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bars

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Jamie

Jamie Sherman founded Love Bakes Good Cakes in February 2012. Jamie spends her days with her husband, Brian and homeschooling their 5 children in the Phoenix area. She also develops and tests recipes using her own family recipes that have been handed down to her, as well as those she adapts from cookbooks, magazines, newspaper, online resources and from other bloggers. She believes meals and recipes should be easy enough for the average cook and uses ingredients that are available in most local markets. She strives to share recipes that are family-friendly, budget-friendly and cook-friendly!