Menu Planning – The Apron Strings Way

With a hungry family to feed, it is important for me to have my menus planned. Getting it down on paper, knowing the ingredients and supplies are on hand mean I don’t have to store all the information in my head or make that last minute crazed dash to town. Menu planning simplifies my life.

Menu Planning - Apron Strings & other things

The last weekend of each month I sit down and brainstorm a list of meals for the upcoming month. Things I consider are:

  • What do I have on hand? Check the freezer, check the pantry, check the baking cupboard. List meals I can create using what is already here in the house.
  • What is the weather these days? It’s turning colder so I include more soups and stews and casseroles. During summer I include more salad and sandwich type meals.
  • Any special requests or special days coming up? Each holiday requires its own special foods so I want to be sure to have those on in the plan. A birthday? In our family, the birthday person gets to choose the day’s menu (within reason!) so I had better get the request down on paper!
  • What are we craving? Is there a dish my family loves but I haven’t prepared in a while? Weather changes and holidays can often spark the taste buds. Like when the hot sweltering days disappeared and it first turned cold and I put on a pot of chili to simmer all day long – so good!
  • Mandatory Meals. For years, Monday has been Mexican Night and Friday has been Pizza Night. When I try to change it up there’s mutiny among the ranks. Having a set ‘theme’ simplifies my meal planning, giving boundaries to what I choose.

Next, list out potential meals and the number of times you would like to serve it this month. It might look something like this:

  • Tacos (2)
  • Enchaladas (1)
  • Chimichangas (1)
  • Pizza (3)
  • Lasagne (2)
  • Spaghetti (1)
  • CP Chicken (1)
  • Chicken Pot Pie (2)
  • Grilled Hamburgers (2)
  • Chili (2)
  • Venison Stew (2)
  • Thanksgiving Dinner

I try to have 25-30 meals accounted for. There are periods of time I just leave this master list posted to the fridge, and I choose each day which meal I’ll fix, crossing it off as I go through the month. What’s working for me now is to assign each meal to a day on a blank printable calendar, in pencil. On Sunday evenings I take a quick look and change it up as needed for the upcoming week.

This is how I get started with my menu plan for the month. I have more ideas, more details to share with you in future posts on implementing it all and pulling it all together. I recommend the ebook The ABC’s of Freezer Cooking in which you’ll find an alphabet full of tips and tricks to planning out a month’s worth of meals. You’ll find plenty of recipes, including a couple of mine!

ABC Freezer Cooking | Apron Strings & other things
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  1. I’ve been planning monthly menus for over a year now. It’s been one of the best time- and money-saving things I’ve ever done!
    One thing I would add to your list of things to consider is to find out which fruits and veggies are in season. Sometimes you can save a little money by using these on the menu.

    • Good for you Shannon! I felt the same way when I started. Great tip about seasonal fruits and veg. You are right, it does save money. We do not get the paper and ads in the mail, so I don’t take time when planning. But, I do adapt my plan as I do my shopping, keeping an eye out for the good deals. Thank you for sharing, I’m so glad you stopped in for a visit!

  2. I have really enjoyed Donna Youngs helpful organizational printouts, so I am going to try doing a meal plan for the comming week in hopes that I will remember to get my meat out for dinner. I may have one of the chidlren get the meat out of the freezer and the other choose the veggies for that dinner. Just a thought though I am not sure what will work for our family as yet. *smile* Meal planning and cuponing have not been working well for me yet, but I don’t mind trying again. *smile* Have a great week! Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

    • Sounds like a wonderful plan. It does take some trial and error to find what works for us. I think it is a terrific idea for one of the children to have the responsibility of getting the meat out of the freezer. Hope it goes well for you this week!

  3. I used to plan for the month. I should get back into it. I just planned for two weeks of meals, so I am getting there. Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] Apron Strings and Other Things has a nice post about planning out your menus to help simplify your life every single day, which is especially important during the Holidays. […]

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