Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I am a recent convert to menu planning. Last year, I found these gorgeous lists and decided that I had to try menu planning just so I could use them.

As much as I love, love, love that list design, I abandoned it after about three weeks largely because:
  1. It was taking me too long to update it (just had to use my best writing on such a pretty list)
  2. My husband does most of the supermarket shopping, so I needed to send him off with another list that didn't look so girly
  3. There's not much space for additional grocery items required (e.g. nappies, soap, etc.) , so again I needed to create another separate shopping list
  4. Although it's a great list to keep on the fridge door, somehow I misplaced all of my older lists, so I didn't end up with a collection of menu plans as anticipated
So that was the end of my menu planning for a while. Then, in one week earlier this year, I heard three fellow mums independently discussing their difficulties with planning what to have for dinner. One mum said, "I would like to just have someone just tell me what to cook for dinner and I'll cook it". It dawned on me that for most of us mums, it is the process of deciding what to cook our families for dinner that is the bigger chore, not the process of actually cooking the meals. I decided to have a look around the blogs and see what ideas I could find to make menu planning easier.

This is when I stumbled upon orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday. Every Monday (well, it's actually Tuesday for those of us in Oceania), Laura invites readers to submit their own menu plans for the week. There are hundreds of menu plans submitted each week, some have recipe links and photos so it can be a great source of ideas.

It is now two months since I submitted my first Menu Plan Monday. I can honestly say that it has made my life simpler - here's why:
  • Having a weekly deadline is a great incentive for me to actually sit down and create a menu plan. Instead of telling myself, "I'm too busy/can't be bothered this week", I say "My (albeit imaginary) readers need my meal ideas this week and I must have it done by Monday".
  • Where a recipe comes from an online source, I include a link to the recipe with my menu plan. This makes it easier to find the recipe, and also helps when it comes to preparing shopping lists.
  • The more menu plans I create, the bigger the 'library' of plans I have available to me. This really helps speed up the process. I have noticed how much easier it is already, after only 2 months of planning. If I'm having a particularly difficult week, I can easily just replicate one of my previous plans (I did this just last week). I can also pick and choose individual recipes from past menu plans if I don't feel inclined to try something new.
  • I no longer experience that terrible feeling at around 4pm, when the kids are home from school and everyone is tired and hungry, having to decide what to make for dinner.
  • I am able to ensure that my family has a healthy, balanced diet. When I prepare a menu plan, I make sure that I have our basic nutritional needs covered. We very rarely resort to fast food, as I always have the ingredients at home to make a quick and healthy meal. My menu planning tips can be found here.
  • If something unexpected happens during the week, having a menu plan and ingredients ready to go not only means that there is one less thing to worry about, it also ensures that the family has a healthy meal at a time when it is especially important to do so.
  • Menu planning significantly reduces waste and grocery bills because you only buy what you need.
So after all of that, here is what will be on our dinner table this week:

Monday: Mushroom Soup
Tuesday: Cottage Pie
Wednesday: Pumpkin Risotto
Thursday: Tofu Pastries
Friday: Chickpea Curry
Saturday: Spinach & Sweet Potato Canneloni
Sunday: Barramundi Curry with Beans

Click here to see the other menu plan links this week on


  1. Hi Kate, I found your blog link on Rhonda's down-to-earth blog. Meal Plan Monday sounds like a wonderful idea! I'm very curious about what Tofu Pastries are. I like tofu and am always looking for new ways to use it.

    I have some interesting simple living blog links on my blog you may enjoy. (Scroll down and look on the right side of page.)

    A quick and simple meal in my state of Colorado, is a burrito. Here is a link to my recipe:

    I enjoyed visiting!

  2. Hi Debi, thanks for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed visiting my fledgling blog. I'm still trying to learn how it all works :) Thanks also for your recipe tip - I love burritos! I look forward to perusing your blog further.

    As for the tofu pastries, they are simple puff pastry triangles with tofu in the middle. The tofu is marinated in yummy stuff like soy sauce, ginger, chilli, fresh coriander (cilantro) and orange zest. I found the recipe in an old vegetarian cookbook and have made them a couple of times in the past (like you, I'm always on the lookout for different ways to use tofu). I'll take some pictures when I make them later in the week and will post the watch this space!!

    Kate :)