How to Save Money » Frugal Living

Why & how to create a weekly menu plan

Menu plan basics.

Menu Plan

Creating a weekly menu plan is one of those things that seems like a huge chore, but is actually quite simple, and one of the best ways to lower your grocery bills and keep them low.

Like anything, you get better at menu planning with practice, so don’t expect to be good at it right away.

Not sure if a menu plan is right for you? Here are 5 benefits of menu planning that you should keep in mind.

Benefits of creating menu plans

  1. A menu plan saves you money. Lots of money.
  2. A menu plan saves you time. Lots of time.
  3. A menu plan makes mealtimes easy and stress-free.
  4. A menu plan promotes healthy eating.
  5. A menu plan allows for more variety in your meals.

For more menu planning tips & tricks, check out my eBook, How to Achieve Menu Planning Success. I’m sure it will help!

Don’t you want to save money, save time, eat healthily, have more variety, and have easier mealtimes? Of course, you do! And guess what – a weekly menu plan can help you with that.

How to get started with menu planning

I promise, planning a menu is not a complicated process. It takes time, a bit of effort and some discipline, but so does any new thing you hope to get better at.

The very first thing I want you to keep in mind – practice makes perfect.

Your first week may be a complete fail. Your second and third week may also not go as well as you hope. The good news is that the longer you stick with it, the better you will become. After a while, creating a menu plan becomes a habit (a good habit!).

Make a list of family favorites

Go through all of your cookbooks, recipes on your computer and scribbled on pieces of paper, and pick out your family favorites. These are meals that everyone in the house enjoys.

You should keep this list handy when you make your menu plans each week. Pick at least one of these favorites to add to your menu every time you sit down to menu plan. This makes the menu planning process just a little bit easier.

Use weekly sales for inspiration

Look at your weekly sale ads each week and make note of the items that are on sale. Incorporate them into your menu plan to save the most amount of money possible.

If chicken is on sale one week, make sure you have a chicken dish at least once that week. Do this for all of the sale items you see and enjoy eating.

Don’t schedule by date

One thing I see many people do when it comes to menu planning is to plan menus by the day of the week. They will have pizza on Friday, pasta on Wednesday, chicken tacos on Monday – don’t do this. What happens if Wednesday comes along and you really don’t feel like eating pasta at all?

Instead, make up a list of 7 dinners (and breakfasts & lunches, too, if you want to plan for those) and pick one out the night before or the morning of. Avoid the feeling of being “locked-in” to one particular meal, just because it’s on the menu.

A list of 7 meals to choose from is much more appealing than not having a choice on the day of the meal because you already made the decision a few days back.

Shop once

After you’ve made your menu plan for the week, make a list of the groceries you will need to buy to make those meals. Go shopping only once, as shopping any more than that is likely to lead to impulse purchases.

You can shop at multiple stores, if you wish, but dedicate just one day per week to do your grocery shopping.

Menu planning saves my family hundreds (if not more) of dollars every year. It’s something I recommend to everyone that’s trying to save money, eat better and/or lose weight, or save time in the kitchen.

Keep in mind that this is something that takes time to “master”. It’s also something that needs to be treated as a lifestyle change, instead of just something you learn how to do one time.

Make menu planning part of your everyday life and I promise that you will start to see some positive changes in yourself.

For more menu planning tips & tricks, check out my eBook, How to Achieve Menu Planning Success. I’m sure it will help!


  1. Jennie

    If you have picky eaters, you can get them to help (if they are old enough) My 11 year old would live on minute rice and plain pasta if I let her, and fights me tooth and nail with everything else. Lately I’ve been having her help me plan menus. She looks through cook books with me and picks out things she thinks look good. She also helps me cook those meals. Not only is it getting her trying new things without a huge fight at the dinner table, but she’s learning valuable skills she’ll be able to use once she’s out on her own. It doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly helped a lot.

    • Stephanie

      I think thats a wonderful idea!

  2. Elizabeth

    You’re not kidding when you say it’s a struggle! Going from loosly planning what we will eat for the week to sticking to a plan has been difficult. But I’m getting better. Even cooking with leftovers, which I was very proud of lol

    Cassie, do you have any forms that we can print off to make menu planning easier?

  3. carrie h

    The stress relief from having a plan is freeing.

  4. Barb

    I’ve been saving a copy of my menu plan each week on the computer so that I don’t repeat in two weeks or if I’m stuck for an idea I can go back to my menu plans. It gets easier the longer you do it. And your suggestion to not itemize to days of the week so true, although I always try to leave something easy for the last day 🙂 Some weeks I even menu plan a dinner out!

  5. Virginia

    I like to plan a few labour intensive meals, a few simple meals, and a couple meals where I don’t have to do any thing ( like stick a frozen lasagna in the oven). Then I just go with whatever I feel like doing that day.

  6. Misty

    I’ve used menu plans for a few years now and find its a great tool for so many reasons. Being a diabetic having a menu helps to keep me from eating a load of carbs in one meal. I also use my menu to help with using up leftovers, or cooking extras of something for another night to make busy nights easier. I’ve been using a menu plan for so long that not having one kinda stresses me out the odd time it happens.
    And of course it means that I don’t buy crap I don’t need or can plan to eat down the pantry when I need to save money.

  7. Blaze

    I used to plan 7 meals (without assigning days) but usually found 1 or 2 hadn’t been made by the end of the week. Either we had enough leftovers to cover one night, or we just weren’t very hungry and just had grilled cheeses or eggs and toast for supper. Now I only plan 5 meals per week and we wing it the other two nights. No risk of going hungry since there is always pasta and a can of sauce in the pantry, or the makings of tuna patties or fried rice.
    One thing I find saves a ton of time and money is intentional leftovers. When we cook chicken we cook double what we need and the extras become a casserole or something a couple of nights later. Double the noodles on pasta night and they are the starting point for a casserole the next. Why start from scratch every night and recook the same ingredients several times a week? Actual leftovers of a meal are usually packed up for lunch, but cooking extras of some component of a meal saves time and electricity/gas.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*