the domestic tales of four sisters

Quick Guide to Menu Planning

Happy Thursday, readers!


If you go and get onto Pinterest you will find ample tips and tricks for menu planning. Menu planning for the Whole30 family, menu planning for the gluten-free family, menu planning for the vegetarians, vegans, Baptists who love casseroles, crockpots, etc.

We are going to crash that world. In fact, pretend I’m wielding a hypothetical hammer and I’m just beating those menu planning ideas to smithereens.

I’m going to give you the one, solid, great piece of advice to menu planning and how you can successfully do it – on a budget. You ready?

Sit down at your table and …

Do it. 

I know, I know…

I don’t have the time …

You don’t? How much time do you spend aimlessly wandering the aisles of the grocery as you scope for some inspiration to dinner each week?

What if I don’t want what I have planned for that day?

You’re right. That’s such a significant problem that we should cease all efforts in ending world hunger, terrorism, and the clean water shortage in countless other countries to address this one singular issue. Tell me more …

I hate grocery shopping.

That’s too bad. Welcome to adulthood!

I don’t have the time to cook five course meals and desserts ….

I hear you. I hear you. You know my husband cooked dinner the past two nights? Our life is pretty busy right now, many things happening in our world. He just looked at the calendar and started making what was written up. No questions asked. It wasn’t a five course meal, it was a simple salad with grilled chicken. But it was incredible, and incredibly helpful.

Menu Planning is easy. You simply block off an hour of your week and you sit down and you do it. Don’t get caught up in all of the questions – you simply just put it into action.

Here’s how I do mine …

  1. I peruse Pinterest. Seriously. So lame, I know. So cliche. Sometimes I do get bored with our weekly offerings and I draw from Pinterest for examples. About twice a month I’ll choose a new recipe to try, or maybe try something I saw on Facebook.
  2. I reach for the classics. Meatloaf, good. Chicken Corn Soup, yaaaas. Philly Cheesesteak Sliders, happy kids, happy mom!
  3. I select 7 breakfasts and 14 lunches. Those 7 breakfasts are rotated each week and those 14 lunches are rotated bi-weekly. Yes, you will eat the same thing a few times in one month. This is to keep things simple and avoid excess meal prep. I am home everyday with my kiddos and I STILL utilize this method. The good news is you can get creative with a few of them and do a different “flavor” each week.
  4. I utilize leftover nights. About once a week we have a leftover night. First come, first serve. If we don’t have any leftovers I always have salad fixings and grilled chicken to reach for in a pinch. On nights that I know I’m going to be busier or we have a full day I reach for the crockpot, leftover nights, or salads.
  5. I am flexible. Say one night we are just so drained that I don’t want to cook, or maybe tomorrow’s meal looks more appealing for tonight’s meal, I swap. It doesn’t unravel the whole thing. If we do go to Chickfila or Chipotle or Cookout (yum…) and grab dinner on a busier (read: lazier) night I’ll just skip that day and plug the scheduled meal in at the end of the two week cycle.
  6. I set a budget. $360 a month for our family of four. (Aldi! What’s up!) You know your own budget so work around that.
  7. I purchased a desk calendar and hung it up on a wall in our kitchen and every two weeks when I am menu planning I write in our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
  8. I shop in season. This actually took me a good amount of time to figure out perfectly. We eat a lot of berries in the spring, a lot of watermelon in the summer, a lot of apples and pears in the fall. You get the idea.
  9. I buy our red meat in bulk. Actually, our mom does and I purchase it from her. I always highly suggest people do this as well. It is easy and feasible for two or three families to get together and purchase meat in bulk and then split it up. My mom and stepdad just purchased (I believe) a total of two steers. Each time we go back to Pennsylvania we take our cooler and fill it up – my mom charges us their cost of $2.63/lb. There are countless websites you can purchase meat in bulk and this will be your single best way to save you a fortune of money overtime – bonus it will keep you in line with a budget and menu planning. Trust me here!
  10. I don’t have a #10. It just looked really awkward with only 9.

Now, Danielle does menu on a grander scale as she also has to plan for the daycare. My menu planning is much smaller and fitting for the “average family.”

We are going to get together and possibly create a monthly subscription for menu planning. Yes, we will put in all of the work of planning your bi-weekly menu and you’ll simply pay a subscription fee. (Not that much, cause com’on, we’re all on a budget here … )

Below are what’s on my menu for June 26 through July 31. My husband and I do try to limit our intake of grains and dairy, but if you don’t have an issue with either feel free to adapt these to your liking! Where it says “Zucchini Spaghetti” it’s a-okay to go with the regular old spaghetti.

I’m inviting YOU to join in with me. If you do plan on following along, will you comment below? I’d love to keep up with you either on Facebook or Instagram – simply hashtag those photos: #thedomesticfourmeals


Disclaimer: Recipes are not provided in this month’s menu plan. Simply put, I very rarely use recipes for cooking. I’ll get better about that … eventually. You can head over to the July Menu Board for all of the recipes I’ve been inspired by for this upcoming menu plan. They won’t ALL be on there as I use some of my own recipes – but I’m sure you can find a few of your own as well! I’ll be filling up this board today and it will be complete before June 26 kickoff!

P.S. Check out all of the oatmeal recipes I’ve pinned recently. Seriously. It is NOT paleo, but it IS going to be my once a week splurge in the breakfast department.



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Get creative. Get organized. Live abundantly.




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2 thoughts on “Quick Guide to Menu Planning”

    • It actually is VERY possible with Aldi. Everything on this menu is in season food so Aldi will have the majority of it at low cost. 🙂

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