Meal Planning: Make a Weekly Routine

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You know I love me a good menu plan. I’ve been faithfully tacking a meal calendar to my fridge since 1994. Oh my! That dates me, don’t it?

Anyway, old grey hairs aside. Since I love to eat, I’ve spent a good deal talking about it over the years. And the ways that I approach meal planning have changed depending on my mood and the season. I’ve tried the 31 meals with 31 ingredients, planning a week at a time, the monthly plan, the ChickFilA meal plan.

For the last year or so, I’ve been able to consistently keep my freezer full of pre-prepped meals. And that, my friends, has been a huge help to my life as MOM. But, a full freezer does not a menu plan make.

I still have to decide on the order of meals as well as remember to thaw them. And often, I’m just pulling a meal component out of the freezer, like taco meat or marinated chicken. There are still some other players to complement the star of the show.

The Old Fashioned Way

This month I went back to Gramma’s way of planning meals. I also call it the 1950’s way of meal planning. Each day of the week gets its own assignment. Back in Gramma’s days, it might have been pot roast or meatloaf instead of shredded beef enchiladas, but the method still works.

As school gets underway, I find that I need a little jump start on routines, so I’ve assigned each night a theme to its menu to make menu planning easier and to add a steady rhythm to our week.

I set up this pattern for our month:

Sundays – Grilling
Mondays – Noodles
Tuesday – Tacos
Wednesday – Sandwich Night
Thursday – Mexican
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Burgers, Hot Dogs, and Other Hand Held Items

And, no, I don’t think it’s going to be boring, because there is so much variation in each of those categories. And ya know, sometimes predictability is a good thing, it’s called tradition. Either way, it’s going to be a tasty week!

This week, my pattern morphs this way:

What are YOU having?

Don’t forget to check out 100s of real life meal plans at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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  1. I do the 50’s meal planning way as well. I do grilling night, make up a chicken meal night, brinner (breakfast for dinner), ethnic food night, family food night, etc.

  2. I have a “Gramma” menu template, but I have a really hard time sticking to it.

  3. Looks delicious! And I’m SO glad to finally be able to get on your blog again!

  4. I made my weekly menu based on what I have in the freezer/pantry. Click my link to see.

  5. We’ve been doing the assigned breakfast for a couple of years now thanks to your advice. This year I started doing the same with chores. Emily went to bed tonight reminding me that tomorrow was the day to clean the bathrooms. Your dinner meal plan looks wonderful!

  6. Because I like to try new recipes, especially when I want to take advantage of some special sale, I instituted a night that was “hubby’s choice”. He would get so sad when we would go for long periods of time without going back to old standards he loved, like crock pot roast or enchiladas. Now they are one of his favorite nights!

  7. Your meals this week sound delicious!! I have yet to plan my for the week (but I will do it shortly…I promise…!), so I might just take a look at some of your ideas. Yum!!

  8. Your old fashioned way reminds me of my mum – thats what she used to do. Us kids always knew what to expect.

  9. I have an aunt that swears by this style of meal planning, with an added “new recipe” night each week. I love the idea, but would probably end up doing Mexican night every other night!

  10. That’s a really good idea — giving each day its own theme. I might have to give it a try one of these weeks. You could add variety to that by also making each day a certain ethnicity — Mexican, Italian, French, Chinese, English, Irish, German… Hmm…theme days. This sounds fun.

  11. That picture of enchiladas has me hungry!

  12. That’s a great pattern:-)

  13. creative idea!! I think I might have to make a pattern and try it out!

  14. Now I want some enchiladas. . . . do you have a recipe for enchilada sauce you like? I’m never satisfied with my results . . . .

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @cherie, I make so many things homemade, but enchilada sauce is one that I haven’t yet found success in. We only like one kind, though, Las Palmas. I tried homemade when we lived in Kansas and couldn’t get Las Palmas for a time. But, now it’s back to our old standby.

  15. I do this, too with two changes. Thursday night is leftover night to make sure we use up the bits and pieces from the week. Saturday and Sunday nights my dh cooks. I use leftovers from his cooking as part of the weekday dinner menu. Often he’ll cook a meatloaf that can serve as meat for a meal during the week.

  16. Now that’s my kind of salad!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Once again you saved me! I went on your sight today to search around for 2 things….how to homeschool preschoolers, and your weekly meal list. And what do I find – your first page and second page is EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you Jessica for everything you do – for us, for your family. You are truly an inspiration.

  18. What a great way to make planning meals easier! Thanks! Some weeks, I am just all out of tricks in my attempt to “make up” new meals for us! This will help immensely! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. What a great idea! It breaks down each day, but still gives you plenty of choices each week!

  20. That is a really good idea! I always plan menus 2 weeks at a time but there is no pattern to them and I find myself struggling to think of meals that would definitely help to have a theme in place for each day!!

  21. This is a really great way of meal planning. I like the “theme” approach!

  22. For years we have had “Taco Tuesday” now. I know the kids look forward to it and it one less thing to think about. If it’s Tuesday then it’s Taco night!!

  23. Your meals sound so much better than mine!

    I plan to try the Asian Noodle Salad-yum!

  24. I really love your serving plates. Especially the green one. And I see I’m not the only one who is a fan of the enchiladas. Yummy. The avocado salad looks delicious too!

    I hope you and your family have a terrific weekend.

  25. Is the picture at the top your shredded beef enchiladas?? Whatever it is – they look amazing! Do you have the recipe on either of your blogs??? I would love to have it !

  26. I think haveing little kids who are so picky – makes the Grandma way of planning meals so much easier. They WANT spaghetti all the time, and pizza, and nachos/quesadilla’s…so when I’m doing my month long grocery shopping list and planning it all out – it really makes it easy to just asign nights whatever particular food and I can make the shopping list around that. I add a crock-pot meal in each week right now, and that allows me to have an evening off – so that I can go have some Me time, if it works out right with hubby’s schedule. And if Hubby happens to work late, I scrap whatever meal I had planned for that night and serve breakfast to the kids. It makes it easier to scrap it, if I have already precooked my hamburger meat, or have that chicken already shredded and stored in 1 lb bags in the freezer! If I end up making the casserol with chicken, and he doesn’t come home – I can skip cooking it that night, and cook it the next!

  27. that is exactly how I mealplan…
    I have nights… but a two week rotation… and leave room for leftovers (but we only have one child). Every 3rd day is leftovers unless it’s Sunday, then it’s pushed a day.

    I have cookbooks and books on nutrition/meal planning from the 1940-‘s & 50’s. They ROCK! And they make sense even now…


  28. Are those the beef enchiladas in the first picture up there?? They look amazing! Do you have the recipe on here?

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