Weekly Meal Plan Ideas

Updated on December 19, 2011
M.L. asks from Spokane, WA
16 answers

Does anyone have one? It doesn't have to be fancy or set in stone, but like a basic, Taco Tuesday, Spaghetti Wednesday type thing?

I am desperate for direction with creating a basic, easy, inexpensive and healthy meal plan that I can follow, that also include side dish ideas. Maybe 2 weeks worth so it doesn't get too boring. I know there are tons of sites with meal plans, (love the ones on living locurto) but they are often a little too fancy for me to do on a weekly basis, I'm looking more for repetitive meal ideas so that I can have an easy shopping list each week since I'm sick and pregnant and trying to keep things low key for now and when after baby is here. Anything that uses leftovers the next night in a new meal would be ideal. With maybe the weekends blank for experimenting out other meals. So... anyone have any good ideas to share? I'm sooo desperate.. .and so are my husband and kids who are tired of macaroni and sandwiches :) (Oh, my husband helps tons, he does more cooking/cleaning than me right now, but he has long work days too :)

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Detroit on

Chicken quasadillas are a great option. It only takes a second to slap some leftover chicken, cheese and veggies in the middle of tortillas and butter the outsides. Won't have to stand too long to do that.

Have a crock pot? Throw a bunch of veggies, potatoes and an inexpensive pork roast in there and some golden mushroom soup :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't have a whole two weeks worth but can give a few suggestions. I'll plan on pork chops one night and make two extra, cut them up and use them a few nights later in with rice and veggies as an easy pork fried rice. If I have ground meat I'll make a bigger than usual meatloaf, take 1/3 of it and use it in a chili a few nights later. With chicken I'll make an extra breast, cut it up and then make chicken with tortellini alfredo, or put it into a soup. If we have ham steaks I make an extra one and put that into either pasta fagiole or potato soup a few days later. This is how I use my menu to stretch my meat in my weekly grocery budget.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Santa Fe on

I get bored easily so I switch things up a bit. But here are some easy meal plans that come off the top of my head:
Day 1 Roast a chicken
Day 2 Chicken enchiladas or chicken spaghetti or chicken pesto or chicken tacos or chicken salad sandwiches
Day 3 Chicken noodle soup (or any other kind of soup w chicken in it) with crusty bread and salad
Day 4 Beef or pork Roast
Day 5 Crockpot leftover roast w BBQ sauce and serve on rolls
Day 6 Pork loin, side of potatoes or couscous or quinoa, or porkchops
Day 7 Baked or grilled salmon w baked potatoes and a steamed veggie

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I believe it's Women's Day magazine (or Family Circle, but I'm pretty sure Women's Day) that has a whole month of meals planned out. You can buy the magazine at any store. I get them at the grocery store.
I think it would be worth the price of buying at least one copy so that you can see how easy it is to plan for meals, use leftovers to make something completely different and creative. They really are simple.
I discovered their monthly calendars many years ago and it gives you a lot of great ideas. Plus, the magazines are usually filled with all kinds of great recipes, craft ideas, etc.

Definitely check it out. It also helps you get into the habit of planning your meals for a week or so at a time so it helps organize your shopping.

Give it a try!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm in the process of trying to develop a 6 week meal plan. I already do 10 day meal planning, and it goes something like this: 1-2 nights mexican,2 night fish, 1-2 nights meat, potato, veg, 1 night asian, 1 night soup and sandwich, 1 night take out, etc., 1-2 nights pasta. I am then working on putting my favorite recipes into these type of categories, with a list of my favorite sides. My hope is to just sit down once every other month and write out our meal plan.

I am also going to plan for seasonal things, so in Nov-Dec, there will be lots of mushroom soup, etc. July and August, BLT's

In terms of reusing food, I am a big fan of roasts and stews. With pork roasts, we use up the left over meat for tacos or stir fries, and with stews, I just freeze the left overs and we eat it again the next week. I have two frig's and a full size freezer, so I usually cook "for later," to put a portion in the freezer for later on in the month. Lately I've been doing country style ribs in the crock pot and serving them with black beans and rice. Super easy, and yummy.

I also always make chicken noodle soup with the carcass from a roast chicken.We have roast chicken, mashed potatoes with carrots every 12 days or so, and then I make chicken noodle soup for the kids lunches. This is my favorite pasta sauce: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/red-pepper-cream-sauce/ It goes great with chicken or fish, the kids love it, and it is company worthy, and easy to make!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here is an article with good tips on menu planning (from Money Saving Mom - awesome!) http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/03/31-days-to-a-better-bud...

I usually try to make 1 or 2 big crock pot meals on the weekends. We eat them on the day they're made and freeze one for later in the week. Not too bad being repetitive within one week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

I write mine out for a month. We use what we have down on that week ( might switch nights, but have it in that week) We make sure we have every meat once a week. That way it doesn't get too repeative

This was our week:
Monday: Chicken Marinara ( chicken breast with speghetti sauce and melted cheese) with a pasta salad.

Tuesday: Pork chops with cream of mushroom soup and rice over the top. baked potato

Wed: Chicken quesada's ( with the left over and new chicken if needed. taco shells and shredded cheese. cooked in a pan until the cheese is melted), fresh fruit salad, tator tots

Thurday: Speghetti, garlic toast and letuce salad.

Friday: Beef Roast with carrots, potatoes and onion cooked in the crocked pot.

Sat: veg beef soup ( with the left overs) grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday: Left over soup, grilled cheese sandwiches.( or grilled peanut butter sandwiches, my kids love them)

On the weekends we do easy lunches... hot dogs, mac and cheese, sandwiches stuff like that.

None of it is fancy by any means, but it can all be done home made and stay away from boxed foods. That means its cheaper and it can go for the left overs or play into the other meals so its all used up and not thrown away.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I don't know any websites (wish I did), but I have a couple of easy suggestions.

Sometimes I make my own chicken tenders and fish sticks using corn flakes, varieties of Mrs. Dash, parmesan cheese and other spices as the breading. I put it all in a zip lock bag and use a rolling pin to crush it up. I dip the chicken or fish in milk first, then the mixture and bake it. Also, I use Lipton soup recipes quite often. I've found some really good crock pot recipes in the book "Fix-It and Forget it for Diabetics."

If I'm not too busy on a weekend, I will make 2 or 3 meals and heat up a different one each day. My husband and I are usually cool with that, and our kids are not too difficult to please. Besides, sometimes they are thrilled just to have pb&j or grilled cheese.

Good luck! Hope you get some good suggestions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My friend developed an 8 week meal rotation for an assisted living she owns/ manages. In stead of a weekly meal plan I would think more along the lines of a 6-8 week meal plan, repeating your favorites more than once within this cycle. I am working on one now, but cannot rely on predetermined plans, because there are too many peculiarities in what we do and do not eat. So far I'm just keeping a food journal. If I make something really fabulous I write it down, if was a amazingly good for little effort, I write it down. If its a classic I have forgotten to make in eons, I write it down. When my journal is full I will make a meal plan/ shopping plan based on how we actually like to cook and eat. Best of luck. Its a huge undertaking.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Martha Stewart's website, has meal plans/ideas.
AND the recipes for it. AND the shopping list for it.
Via her "Everyday Food" recipes.

Her recipes are good. Easy. Quick.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I'm with Liisa on the ground beef-- I made the happy discovery that A) it's cheapest in the 10 pound tubes and B) a 10 pound tube fits PERFECTLY in my crock pot with a bag of frozen chopped onions, a bag of frozen diced green peppers and some garlic, salt and pepper. Add a little water and break it up with a potato masher (or a fancy pampered chef gadget) as it cooks. Freeze flat in ziploc bags and you've got a HUGE head start on spaghetti or tacos or sloppy joes or maid-rites or just about any recipe that starts out with "brown ground beef"

A greatway to use up leftovers is home made pizza! Yesterdays taco leftovers can be tomorrows taco pizza. Leftover beef, chicken or pork can be shredded, mixed with BBQ and turned into BBQ pizza. My personal favorite is sloppy joe pizza -- leftover sloppy joes, green pepper, onions and cheddar cheese. I make up a big batch of pizza dough and prebake it when I'm off work and stick it in the freezer (think Boboli, but home made and frozen) but there are a gazillion crust options. If you have the crust ready to go home made is actually FASTER than delivery!

Also don't forget breakfast for supper! Fast, easy, FUN and kid friendly. Plus omelots, frittatas, and egg scrambles are another way to use up leftovers. (And if you get ambitious and do pancakes or waffles make a big batch and freeze-- heat in the toaster for quick breakfasts!)

One site I really like is http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/ -- nothing fancy just a normal mom-- she posts her menu plan every week and she just started a series of ground beef recipes. And I LOVE that she does "keeping it real" posts and puts up all the stuff that does NOT go according to plan/turn out, etc....



answers from Houston on

Monday-Crock pot: roast, pork butt, chicken thighs--all found on sale and make more than needed for one meal so you have leftovers for Wednesday. If you have 2 crock pots, you can do a veggie or dessert (baked apples, dried fruit compote) in the second one. After walking in the door, you should be able to eat in 30 minutes. Let me know if you need specific recipes.
Tuesday: crock pot spaghetti. Chop a bell pepper and onion, add 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of the crock pot, add veggies, add 2 jars favorite sauce, add frozen meatballs, wash out jars with enough water to get the rest of the sauce out and add to crock pot. Add salt and pepper if wanted, and I always add a couple of good shakes of chili powder. When you get home, dinner depends on how long it takes to boil water and how long your pasta needs to cook. For me, that means 20 minutes.
Wed: pasta or salads or tacos made with the leftover protein from Monday. Leftover pork is also great to make fried rice, but we love Tinga tacos--onions, garlic, chipotles, tomato sauce simmered after sauteing the pulled pork so it has crispy edges. That is served on fried corn tortillas, but you can crisp them in the oven with a little spray also. Serve with lots of lime, shredded cabbage and cilantro, a little white cheese. If you have a big enough roast, you can make hash. All of the meats can be shredded and tossed with various salad makings. It goes a long way so it is cheap, and it is balanced and healthy.
Thursday: boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts cook in about 20-25 minutes in the oven. They are wonderfully versitile, so you can add whatever flavor your family likes. Bottled dressings are great for this: italian, asian sesame are our favorites. If you have time, let them marinate for 20 minutes. If not, then just bake them with it. Baked rice is great with this because the chicken creates a sauce for it. If you start making the rice while the chicken sits, everything will come out at the same time. Baked rice: heat oven to 350. Finely chop 1 onion, melt half a stick of butter in an oven proof skillet (I use cast iron), dump onion into butter as it melts. Add 1-2 T dried thyme, 1t salt, 1 t pepper, 2-4 bay leaves. Saute onion until soft/translucent. Add 1 cup rice (depending on how big your family is) and saute the rice so it gets coated with onion butter and herbs. Add 2 chicken bouillion cubes or 2 T Better than Bouillion (no msg!) and 2 cups water. (adjust if you put more rice in) Bring to the simmer and then put in the oven for 30 minutes. You can put the baking pan with the chicken and marinade at the the same time. Check the chicken at 20 minutes though. I usually put some frozen veggies on the stove with some water at the same time and everything is done at the same time.
Friday: This is a great night to go eat Mexican food at our house. But when the budget is gone, I can throw together some good asian stuff: google "everything eggrolls" Great recipe. Cheap, fast, good. I like fried rice with lots of eggs. If you have leftover rice from previous meals, or if you make extra with an eye to this meal, all the better--dinner will be ready faster. Peanut noodles are satisfying and FAST: in the food processor or blender: add 1 T beef better than bouillion, 3-5T peanut butter (a big dollop), grate in a 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, 2-4 cloves garlic, 2 T brown sugar. Blend. Add enough hot water from the boiling noodles to make a smooth sauce. Drain noodles (can just be spaghetti or can be Udon or whatever you want or have). If you have leftover chicken from another dinner, shred it and toss it in the strainer before you drain the noodles to heat it up.
Then put it all in the same pot that you boiled the pasta in and heat on med-low heat until the noodles are all coated and the sauce thickens a little. Yum and done!!
Good luck!!!


answers from Iowa City on

I make a menu each week but I'm not extremely consistent with things. I don't have the same menu every week. Since you want something that you can keep pretty similar each week, you should pick some staples and then vary your meals. For example:

Saturday: Chicken Casserole. There are so many you can make.
Sunday: Salad w/ cubed ham
Monday: Chicken Divan
Tuesday: Spaghetti w/ meatballs
Wednesday: PA Dutch Ham and Noodle Casserole
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Tatertot Casserole

So you buy either a chicken to cook or a rotisserie chicken and use that for Saturday and Monday. You buy ground beef and use that for Tuesday and Friday. You buy a ham steak or a package of cubed ham and use that for Sunday and Wednesday. You can buy the same things for next week but make different things using the same ingredients.

Saturday: Chicken Casserole (different type...King Ranch, Rice, etc.)
Sunday: Ham steak and baked potatoes
Monday: Salad w/ chicken
Tuesday: Mini Meatloaves and egg noodles
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Crockpot Chili
Friday: Homemade Pizza

You still buy for week two the ground beef, chicken, salad, egg noodles, cheese, etc. that you bought for week one but things don't get boring.

Garlic bread/toast or a French loaf and frozen veggies for the sides. Fruit for dessert.

Some of the things take a bit longer to cook but they are still super easy to make.

Good luck.



answers from Austin on

You have some good ideas for actual meals so I will give other suggestions. I buy my hamburger meat in larger quantities and brown it all at the same time. Then I put it in 1-pound amts. into ziplock bags and keep them in the freezer. They defrost easily and quickly in the microwave if I forget to take a bag out the night before. Saves time when you need a quick meal.

The day after I buy my groceries, I cut all the veggies for dipping or cooking. I also keep them in ziplocks. If they are already cut, it's easier to grab a healthy snack. I make up my own dips as it is easy and they taste so much better than the prepared ones in the store. You can find many 5-star recipes online.

I also buy frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can pop them into the crockpot frozen with a little liquid and they cook up beautifully. For the liquid you can use salsa or whatever you can find in online recipes.

Toss thawed chicken breasts in a ziplock with spices and cereal crumbs or other stuff from online recipes for an easy baked dish. If you cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, toss, and bake, they are healthy chicken nuggets.

Baked potatoes are also easy. Red potatoes are good for you. Top with some leftover chili if you made that the night before.

Taco soup is a another good planned leftover if you have taco meat left from the night before. Dump a half-pound of taco seasoned meat in with 3 cups of water, a jar of salsa, a can of hominy or corn. Serve with chips and cheese on top. It's a recipe that can be adjusted easily as the quantities don't really matter.

If you have leftover spaghetti (I usually make extra), then put the spaghetti and sauce in a baking dish and top with mozzarella cheese.

Breakfast for dinner is also fun.

Google for easy crock pot recipes. Crock pots are the best invention ever!



answers from Savannah on

Do your meal planning with your calendar or dayplanner in front of you so that you can see what's logistically feasible for different days! (For example if I have to go to the dentist, Bible study, and then take my son to kung fu practice on top of other stuff, then that's a left over or crockpot night!)
I write the days of the week with 4 lines between them (so I can write a breakfast, lunch, and dinner on each line, and a blank line before the next day). Plug in what's easiest for you first: for breakfast Monday thru Friday, my husband just wants cereal and a banana, so boom, that's plugged in easily. To change it up a little for my boys, I'll have yogurt for them on Tuesday and eggo waffles or something on Thursday. Saturday is more relaxed and less of a morning time crunch, so we have oatmeal. Sunday is a hot breakfast: breakfast burritos, pancakes and bacon, etc.
Then I do categories: chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian (or at least mostly veg), seafood, a soup or stew. That way it's not the same old stuff all the time. What soup or stew that week? Minestrone, gumbo, chili, chicken noodle, vegetable beef, etc. That will last at least 2 dinners and maybe a lunch (if more than that, freeze some and you've got another meal for another week). It might be chili and cornbread one night, and then chili dogs later that week, or a beef stew and sliced bread one night, and a beef pot pie later that week. Your beef could be a pot roast (minimal effort: wash stuff and stick in a bag with a seasoning packet, can of rotels, and a can of cream of mushroom and let it sit in the oven awhile)--you could have with carrots, potatoes, rotels, celery, onions, and gravy one day and then you could slice it up for a nice sandwich (with some gravy) and provolone cheese another day.
It's also good to have one "oops" meal in the freezer just in case it's been an unexpectedly bad day and you just don't want to cook. I keep a Stouffer's party size lasagna and some bread in my freezer, and can always make a salad real quick if I'm not in the mood or don't have the energy sometime. But once you plan out your dinners, you can then plan out your lunches: if it's not likely to have leftovers, those are pbj, meat and cheese, grilled cheese, cucumber and feta, "etc" sandwiches, with fruit or veggie sticks, or pasta salad, soup, pita chips and hummus, or whatever. On a day after you're likely to have leftovers, you can have a lunch portion of a leftover as an option.
That's how I do it, at least.
Also: try to cook more than you need as you can, if possible. Since you're pregnant, I'm thinking that instead of making 1 batch of meatballs for spaghetti night, you make 2 batches and freeze one (write what it is and date it), you can begin stocking up for the end of your pregnancy and when you return with the new baby! For example, sometimes I'd make a chicken tortilla soup (without the tortillas yet) in a crockpot while I was cooking something else for dinner. When the soup cooled down to a safe temperature, put it in a ziploc freezer bag and lay it FLAT to freeze, and it's like a file folder. Those extra steps now will be a such a huge help later when you aren't sleeping and have a newborn (AND the rest of your family to attend to). If you want ideas on what to cook/store for post pregnancy, message me.



answers from Cincinnati on

I don't know if it is what you are looking for, but I use emealz. It has a weekly menu, some based off of store ads, and includes a shopping list. There are also several types of plans to choose from. It keeps us from getting into too much of a rut.


For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions