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Menu Planning 101- How To Meal Plan

Meal planning each week is a great way to save time and money on your family’s meals, as well as become more organized in the kitchen. Menu planning is simply deciding at the beginning of the week what to create for your each of you family’s meals, based on what is in your pantry stock and what your schedule allows.

In order to plan a great menu each week, I needed to have a fully stocked pantry that would make it easy for me to make my family a variety of tasty and healthy dishes. I don’t have a lot of kitchen space, so it was important to me to focus on the things that I would use most and would be tasty and nutritious for my family. This is where The Stocked Kitchen comes in.

stock a pantry

The Stocked Kitchen is a fabulous recipe book that encourages meal planning by helping you stock your pantry with everything you need to make over 300 delicious recipes, everything from a western omelette or shrimp bisque to stroganoff, chocolate truffles, and cinammon chip scones. There are tear-out sheets featuring the full Stocked Kitchen pantry list, items you should have stocked in your kitchen pantry anyway, and you can take this grocery shopping with you. I spent about a week getting everything on the list that we weren’t allergic to or really disliked, and discovered some new things I never heard of before (like herbes de Provence seasoning, which I’m now madly in love with).

Once your kitchen is stocked with all the recommended items, you can make anything in the book (appetizers, sides, entrees and desserts, as well as marinades and sauces), so of course, once I was done, I got right to meal planning for the following week with The Organized Family Menu Planner. The Organized Family Menu Planner is a menu planning book that is divided into weeks, with a column for each day of the week, and tear-out grocery shopping lists on each page so you can restock your kitchen for the following week’s menu plan.

meal planning planner
meal planner menu planner

I love the tear-out shopping lists, and honestly, I didn’t want to use up all the pantry list pages from The Stocked Kitchen (those should be saved for when you first fully stock your pantry, and times you need to majorly restock). The tear-out lists from The Organized Family Menu Planner are great for replenishing what you use each week, and to help make your grocery shopping list for the following week based on the new week’s menu plan.

There is space in the menu planner to plan out each day’s meals and snacks, with enough room to add the full menu (sides, extras, etc). The first day’s meal plan for us included eggs benedict (my first attempt ever), a chicken caesar salad (you can even make your own croutons), and yummy beef enchiladas (see recipe below), except we love tacos so we used taco shells instead.

beef enchiladas recipe
beef tacos recipe

Beef Enchiladas Recipe from The Stocked Kitchen

Serves: 4-6
Ingredients for beef enchiladas
  • Taco meat:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Enchilada sauce:
  • 3 tbs chili powder
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • One 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
Instructions for beef enchiladas recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Brown the ground beef. Drain off excess grease. In a saucepan, combine remaining taco meat ingredients. Stir over low heat for a few minutes until mixed well. Set aside.
  3. For enchilada sauce, combine chili powder, flour, cocoa, garlic powder, salt and cumin with a couple of tablespoons water to make a paste. Scoop the mixture into a saucepan and stir in the remaining water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the tomato sauce. Spread about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Fill each tortilla with taco meat and fold up like a burrito. Place filled tortillas, seam side down, in baking dish. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle on the cheese, olives, and green onions.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or untll cheese is completely melted.

Aren’t these incredible? This is what your family can eat each week with the help of these two menu planning books. For more information or to buy the books and get starting on meal planning each week:

The Stocked Kitchen at thestockedkitchen.com/
The Organized Family Meal Planner: glowbaby.ca

  • What a great idea. I think when September rolls around and the kids go back to school I need to work on some menu planning.

  • Zippy Sandler

    I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to making dinner. As a result I spend too much at the market. I see this cutting down on my weekly grocery bill PLUS taking the stress out of “what’s for dinner?”

  • This sounds like a must have planner. I need one desperately. I am still sitting here trying to figure out what I am making with chicken tonight!

  • 1stopmom

    These books sound like they really work well together. I need to check this out because school starts back in September and will need a plan. Thanks for the review

  • mindy

    For the first time in my life, I have a pantry, and a BIG one. Thanks for the heads up on this book, I will check it out. I appreciate your recipes as well. I hope that you have a blessed week!


  • Kelly

    I love this – I’ll definitely be looking into this book!

  • Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

    I definitely need to get this book. Sounds so useful and has so much great info and recipes!!

  • Benn

    I see what you’re driving at here with the book and the benefits of planned shopping. But, do you ever shop for fresh ingredients based on what’s in season and what’s looking good?

    Secondly, I’d be worried if the first day’s menu was:
    Eggs Benedict
    Chicken Caesar
    Beef Enchilladas

    If all of these are made in the traditional fashion, you’ve got a menu that is relatively low in nutritional value, high in fat and extremely low in fruit and vegetables.

    It would be OK to eat one of these types of dishes a week, and certainly not all 3 in a day, because you’re certainly not getting your 5 fruit/veg a day with this lot, and that’s a missed opportunity.

    Just food for thought.

  • Penelope

    We eat fruit throughout the day as snacks, and veggies as sides (we are super healthy here). Everything is organic, the beef is 90%, and the chicken grilled. I appreciate the concern, but I’m a super healthy mama raising a super healthy family 🙂

  • I would love to start doing this.

  • This makes such good sense to me. I really like the concept a lot!

  • Book4MyDaughter

    This is such great advice! Once summer is over, I am going to put your advice into practice. I need to get more organized! I live in the NY-metro area (NJ), so I’ll be back to get more info from your recommendations.

    BTW, I like your design—the header and tagline—of your blog. It’s very engaging and fun!

  • Benn

    Great. 🙂

    I just hope others do the same!

  • Blond Duck

    I need the enchiladas and that organizer! 🙂