Menu Planning In The Real World

Her eyes got huge as they scanned our heavily laden pantry shelves.

“WOW! Your pantry looks a lot different than mine!”

Maybe it was the 14 bags of coffee, or the plastic baskets filled with cans, or perhaps it was the 6 cases of seltzer water.

But here’s the deal, girls: we live almost an hour away from the grocery store AND I take all three small children with me when we make our weekly pilgrimage.

So, planning and strategizing are crucial.  Oh, and coffee.  Please and thank you!!!

Here’s the low-down:

I start with a menu template.  (Right now, I’m using one that I made myself, but I have used others that I found online like: The Project Girl’s Printable)

For me right now, I plan out all three meals per day, but I don’t necessarily follow each day exactly.  For instance, I may plan to have ham and noodles and green beans for Tuesday, but when Tuesday rolls around, I really feel like having Friday’s chicken pot pie instead.  No biggie.  Friday we’ll have ham.

Pinterest has been a wonderful source of inspiration for new recipes to keep our menu plan fresh, and I have a board for each season.  (Find me on Pinterest…you can look me up under Kelly Canfield or impacteternity1).  Right now I’m using my AUTUMN and BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE boards. 

I also have some great cookbooks that I refer to, but honestly…I don’t have a lot of time.  I’m guessing that you don’t either.  So usually it’s Pinterest and whatever sounds good on the day that I’m menu planning.

Do you get stumped with breakfast and lunch ideas?  I sure do!  So, I have a Pinterest board for each of those, too, if we get sick of the good old stand by rotation.  In case you’re curious as to what we usually have, here’s a few examples:


  • Smoothie and Toast
  • Hashbrowns and Eggs
  • Bacon and French Toast
  • Instant Oatmeal and Banana
  • Pancakes and Sausage
  • Bagels or Toast and Cream Cheese
  • Cold Cereal and Milk
  • Box Macaroni and Cheese with veggie sticks
  • English Muffin Pizzas and veggie sticks
  • Leftovers from dinner
  • Peanut butter and apple with crackers
  • Grilled cheese with apple slices
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bananas
They are all pretty simple and easy, ’cause that’s just the season of life I’m in right now.    Maybe when I’m 80 I can do brunches a la Barefoot Contessa!
As I fill in the meals for the week, I have my grocery list (just a composition book) into which I write the ingredients.  I make little columns for the various departments of the supermarket so that it’s easy for me when I begin Operation Grocery Store.  (Remember, I’m doing this with the assistance of three small people…I need all the help I can get!)  This is the strategy part.
Once the menu plan is filled in, and the grocery list is started, I pull the running grocery list off the fridge and transcribe it into my little book.  The running grocery list is one of my secret weapons.  It’s just a scrap of paper that I keep handy and write down anything throughout the week that I notice we need…otherwise, I forget that we’re almost out of diaper cream and shampoo and Ziploc baggies.

So there it is, friends!  Nothing too extraordinary, but it gets the job done!

What’s your battle plan when it comes to meal planning?


3 thoughts on “Menu Planning In The Real World

    1. Thanks Kelly! I will be looking you up on pint rust right now 😄. I have a few super picky eaters at home and we have the same rotation of foods, so I could use some variety.

      1. Thanks, Carla! JoJo is in a I-will-go-on-hunger-strike-for-anything-but-peanut-butter-and-toast sort of phase. If you have any tried and true recipes that your picky eaters like, I would love those! :-)

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