Menu Planning 101 ~ 15 Meals

Has everyone come up with their list of 15 meals? I hope this wasn’t too stressful. I know when I first started menu planning I came up with all sorts of meals that I thought would be delicious, but my family didn’t agree. Now when I plan my meals I ask my family for their input then try to give everyone a “favorite” meal throughout the week.

I am curious how you are keeping track of your meals? For me, I keep everything in my computer. I am slowly doing away with my cookbooks and using the internet more for recipes. When it is time to cook I take my laptop in the kitchen and start dinner!

If you are a paper and pen person, I would suggest starting a menu planning binder. You can print out, rip out, or write down recipes and store them in clear page protectors. In case anyone was wondering, the 15 meal assignment was given because it is an easy way to simplify menu planning.

When it comes time to menu plan for the week I look at my meal list and pick 6 meals based on sales, food I already have on hand, and weather. While we started with 15, your list will grow over time. Here is my list of 15 meals. Most of the meals are linked to the recipes, except for ones that are obvious (spaghetti) or ones that I haven’t posted a recipe for, yet.

Now that you have your 15 meals, you are ready for step two. Step two is slightly more complicated, but I think you will see the benefits once you are finished. Find 5 more meals to add to your list. This will bring your list to 20 meals, which should give you a month’s worth of meals, using leftovers and a few repeats.

If you are stumped for ideas visit some of the bloggers who have linked up, or check out some of the great food memes out there, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, or Ultimate Recipe Swap. There are always great recipes linked up on those sites. A few other food sites to check out are Cooking During Stolen Moments, $5 Dinners, and Heavenly Homemakers.

The second part of the challenge is to come up with a list of side dishes, fruits and vegetables your family enjoys. I am not assigning a specific number of sides because I know some people prefer a large variety and other’s not so much. Having a list of side dishes, fruits and veggies your family enjoys will allow you to put together your menu in less than 15 minutes.

Time to link up! Please link to your Menu Planning 101 post and not your blog’s homepage so everyone can find your meals. Also please link back to this site so others can join in if they are interested. If you don’t have a blog feel free to leave your meals in the comment section. I have also started a blogfrog discussion where you can share your favorite recipe sites.


  1. You are so organized! I am getting better at meal planning. I started going to pampered chef party’s this past spring and I have slowly increased my cooking supplies with ones that will really last and also my recipes because I always learn a new healthy trick and a great dinner! The cogs are turing now pretty sure this will be my post for tomorrow! Thanks I was running out of post ideas and I am trying to get 1000 visits this month. I know that is small to you but huge for me!

  2. I have a cheap plastic photo album. The slots are the perfect size for recipe cards. I used to copy ALL of my recipes from other books and online and put them in the book. But it was getting full and then my sister organized a family cookbook! I put all of my recipes in it and replaced them in my book with an index that tells me what page they are on. Since I seem to keep finding new things to try, it is now just those recipes that have their own spot in the book.

  3. I’m enjoying reading other meal plans. Thanks for hosting! Great idea!

  4. This is such an awesome series. I just responded to a request on my blog to do one as well, but I can’t wait to link this to it (since you know me, by the time I get around to writing it….it will be a few months from now. 🙂

  5. Totally enjoying checking out everyone’s menu’s. I’m set for months on ideas!

  6. First time to your blog so I don’t have a list prepared. I keep all my recipes on the computer but then I print one and put it in a page protector and into my recipe binder in the kitchen. This way I don’t have to drag out the laptop and chance spilling something. Thanks to your blog, I will be adding some new ones. 🙂

  7. I’m a little late to the party but I am following along nevertheless!


  8. I’ve never been good at menu planning for two reasons. Reason #1 is I think it costs a fortune to plan good meals. Reason #2 I’m too lazy. LOL I keep hearing everyone say though how much money they save by planning meals because you can watch sales, coupons, etc. So, I’m going to try to give it a go. I’ve got my 15 meals w/sides listed out. Now onto day 3’s post to see what is next.

    Thanks for sharing all your tips and for the great website links. That $5 meal site is awesome!!!


  1. […] The Happy Housewife is doing a series titled “Menu Planning 101″ which you can go to here. […]

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