Get into the menu-planning routine
Like any new habit, menu planning gets easier with practice. Over time, you'll figure out ways to make the process work for you. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks from seasoned menu planners:
- Try a theme or two. Don't start from scratch every week. For example, designate Mondays as pasta nights and Thursdays as chicken nights. Plan to try new recipes on these nights to mix things up a bit.
- Plan for and polish off leftovers. Have extra pasta on Monday? That can be reheated for lunch on Tuesday. Leftover chicken on Thursday? Use it to top a salad, fill a sandwich or add to a soup on the weekend.
- Recycle your menus. Don't throw away your menu plan at the end of the week. Instead, hold on to it and reuse it later.
- Be flexible. Your menu isn't written in stone. Feel free to swap things around. Or designate one night as "cook's choice" and use that night to clear out the refrigerator by making a casserole, stir-fry or other mix-and-match meal.
Bask in the glory
Take a moment to feel good knowing that menu planning is making it easier for you to eat a healthy diet. And give yourself an extra pat on the back for saving money while you're at it!
Sept. 25, 2014
See more In-depth
- Nelson JK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 17, 2014.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 17, 2014.
- ABCs of successful menu planning. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/Sample_Menus-2000Cals-DG2010.pdf. Accessed July 2, 2014.
- Sample menus. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/Sample_Menus-2000Cals-DG2010. Accessed July 2, 2014.
- My Plate. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html. Accessed July 2, 2014.
- Ten tips for eating right affordably. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=5493. Accessed July 2, 2014.