How to Plan a Menu & Save a Marriage

Future Gourmet

Menu Planning. I don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier. It’s possible it even saved my marriage!

I think we’ve argued more about what to make for dinner than any other topic. Here’s the problem.

Most days we don’t know what we want for dinner until closer to meal time. By then it takes too long to defrost whatever meat I need for my recipe. Or worse, I take something out and Greg decides he wants something else.

Notice I said ‘Greg’ changes his mind. He should be a poster child for fickle taste buds everywhere. With options fading fast, nine times out of ten, we end up eating out. Not healthy and not frugal.

Recently, I started seeing a few bloggers post their meal plans for the week. It would remind me of recipes I hadn’t tried in a while, or new ones I hadn’t tried yet. That light bulb over my head finally came on.

I wasn’t sure where to start, so I started at the beginning, jotting down every meal we’d had and enjoyed. Some were variations of a theme, but when I was done it was quite a long list. From here I began pulling ideas for each week’s menu.

Now, I have an added burden that many of you won’t have. Greg is a real gourmet when it comes to food. It’s not that he won’t eat a hot dog, but it has to be the best quality sausage, and if he had his way, on a homemade bun. Luckily, he understands that baking isn’t my forte and settles for store bought bread.

That aside, I discovered three things from following a menu:

  1. Our grocery bill went WAY down. I mean, way, way, down. I was shocked that not only were we grocery shopping less, but our expenses were lower too.
  2. As I make my menu, I shop from my pantry and freezer first. I have a lot in storage so the only thing I have to shop for are veggies and fruit (at least until the harvest).
  3. We’re eating healthier. No more pigging out at buffets or overeating at home. We eat only what I serve and I’ve been cutting the portions down to mere mortal standards.

I try to vary our meals. We have fish at least once a week, but I’d be glad to eat it more often. Greg has also graciously allowed one vegetarian dish 2-3 times a month. That’s a big sacrifice on his part and I appreciate it.

Starting this Sunday, this blog will post our menu for the week. From time to time I’ll also post some of the recipes I use. If Greg doesn’t read any other post on my blog, I know he’ll read Sunday’s just to know what he’ll be eating.

I hope you’ll find it useful too. Maybe we can start sharing meal ideas.

Do you menu plan for the week? Do you share cooking duties with others in the family?

In the spirit of full disclosure, as I’m writing this post, Greg is in the kitchen right now making croissants from scratch. I’ll keep cooking if he keeps baking.

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  1. I don’t menu plan, but I have it easy. Hubs will eat pretty much whatever I offer him. I do offer him choices sometimes – “What sounds good for dinner – fish, pizza, or chicken?” But I only offer him choices from what’s readily available for that day. If none of the above is his option, then he makes himself soup or I’ll fix myself something and then he might join in.

    We don’t eat out. If you don’t like what’s in the house, you go hungry.

  2. (Hmm, I think my original comment was eaten…. Ha, the irony, talking about food, etc. :))

    I’ve done menu planning, but for some reason, it only works for us about half the time. We still eat too much takeout and comfort-food. I’m hoping the nice kitchen in our new house and the cooking classes we’re taking will help. And I’ll be checking out your posts! 🙂

    • Sorry, Madeline. But thank you so much for writing me. I think it’s fixed now, but please let me know if you see anything else screwy.

      I’m sure all the kinks will be worked out in another week or two. Just gotta do a shakedown. 🙂
      Thanks again!

  3. I’m lazy. I spend an afternoon chopping up peppers, onions, courgettes, garlic, mushrooms, and chilli peppers. Then I fry them in batches alternatively transforming them into Tuna Couscous and lentil Dahl. They’re bagged and frozen. Sometimes I eat sausages and black pudding. I think Greg would love Black pudding!

  4. No menu planning for me. I used to do that when the kids were little and money was tight. Now I’m just too lazy. Might help if I enjoyed cooking, but I don’t, and neither does hubby. I’d eat in if someone was doing the cooking, though! 🙂

    • Stacy: I’m not sure anyone could accuse me of “enjoying” cooking, but I do like to save money. That and my food usually tastes better than eating out.

      Greg and I don’t have similar tastes in food and I think that’s part of the problem, so meal planning helps there.

  5. Anne Gallagher

    I cannot wait for Sunday. I so need help with meal planning. Monster used to eat anything I put in front of her, now, not so much. And of course, when I ask what do you want for supper I get the usual, I don’t know, spaghetti. Which I REFUSE to eat.

  6. I was a planning master when my kids were small. I even planned breakfasts and lunches. Had to plan things down to the penny, but it worked. We were very poor, but we always had nutritious meals.

    I kept planning when my kids would be at home. When Himself and I got married, I kept a menu posted on the frig. But I was working full time then. I think what stopped it was when I started getting a box from our CSA. Actually, I think what I did then was plan for the week AFTER the box arrived and I knew what we had. But I haven’t made out a menu in years. I’ll have a general idea for the week, or I’ll plan one or two meals. The thing is, we jut don’t eat as much as we used to. So one meal will last us several days. I do still plan a bit, but it’s mostly in my head.

    No picky husband here, either! So glad about that. He’s anything I give him, even veggie 2 or 3 times a week. He’s a good one!

    • Marlene: I’m not picky about leftovers but even I get tired of them by the third day. Since it’s just the two of us, almost always I’ll hold back enough to have for lunch later that week and save the rest for the freezer.

  7. When we plan our meals, we have to plan something vegetarian that hubby can have meat on the side or add meat at the end of the cooking process. We tend to live quite cheaply since hubby has a nose for bargains. We also grow vegetables. We don’t do weekly menus but have several go-to dishes if time is short. I can cook pasta or a risotto and have it on the table in half an hour. I’ll add whatever vegetable we have on hand and supplement with frozen if necessary. Generally, we only eat out for dinner when we go on holiday.

  8. When the kids were small and money was non-existent, I always planned the week’s meals…usually around how many nights we could squeeze out of one pound of hamburger. Now we never seem to know who’s going to be around at dinner time and a quick sandwich is our standard go-to meal. I’m lucky – I have one of those “not picky” husbands, too.

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