Menu Planning: Dinner Disaster averted! (Free menu plan included)

Menu Planning: Dinner Disaster averted! (Free menu plan included)

By avatarintentionalcreativity

“SLAM!” “SLAM!” “SLAM!” You’ve opened and slammed shut every cupboard door in the kitchen looking for something to cook for dinner, and the only thing you have now is a few dents in the cabinets and a growling stomach. At the end of a long day, you are in no mood to be creative but you still have no idea what to make for dinner, so you wander around the grocery store hoping to find something to eat. If only there was a way to avoid this scene every night? 

There is! Spending a few minutes and a couple dollars on supplies, and you could easily have a menu plan to help you avoid those end of the day dinner frustrations! 

How can menu planning help me?

 1. Uses items from pantry

Making a menu plan allows you to use the items in your pantry instead of having to make a last minute dash to the store! 

 2. Buy seasonal

Seasonal produce is better for you! Buying seasonal allows you to eliminate the cost of shipping food across the country. Seasonal fruits and vegetable are picked ripe, which means they are tastier and more nutritious!

 3. Uses up leftovers

Save time and energy by making extra one night and then re-imagining the leftover food into new and delicious meals another night. (See the free menu plan at the end of this post for an example of this)

 4. Buy food on sale 

Taking a few minutes to plan out your menu beforehand allows you to check grocery stores sales and then incorporating those sale items into your menu.

What does menu planning look like?

 1. A journal to record your menu plans

Keeping a journal allows you to look back at past week's menus for inspiration

  • Pro-tip: Write your menu on one page and shopping list on the other, no grocery shopping guessing game about how many tomatoes you will need for the Sinigang or BLTs you have planned for dinner this week
  • Keep notes when a new menu item flops so you don’t repeat it!

2. White board to let everyone in the house know what to expect

  • Whoever is home first can start dinner so there isn’t a scramble of “I didn’t know what to make” 
  • A quick look at the menu lets you know if you need to thaw the meat the day before

3. Dry Erase pens

  • Update the menu easily if extra leftovers need to be used up or roll over onto the next week

4. Great cookbook

  • If you are stuck on ideas for your menu, just work your way from one end of the recipe book to the other. With a great recipe book like Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, by the end of the book you will have a wide repertoire of delicious dishes that will be making frequent appearances in your menu plan. 

Sample Menu List

Ground Beef and Pork Tenderloin were on sale this week!



  • Cereal & Fruit
  • Sandwiches
  • Spaghetti and meatballs with caesar salad


  • Hot Oatmeal
  • Spaghetti Leftovers in a thermos
  • BLTS (Use up the rest of the lettuce from yesterday’s salad)


  • Eggs and Toast
  • Hummus, Veggies, Deli Meat, crackers & sliced cheese
  • Pulled Pork & Coleslaw on burger buns


  • Cereal & Fruit
  • Egg Salad
  • Pork Shish Kabobs with jasmine rice


  • Fried Eggs, Bacon & Toast or leftover rice
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • BBQ Pizza with the leftover pulled pork


  • Pancakes!
  • Leftovers out of the fridge
  • Chilli and cornbread


  • Yogurt & fruit
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Baked Potatoes with chilli, sour cream, broccoli, cheese & bacon bits!

#whatsfordinner #menuplan 

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