Menu Planning – Tips and Tricks

by Janice

Saving money, saving time. We all want to do it, and yet when it comes to money-saving, time-saving menu planning, I still seem to procrastinate and not do it as regularly as I should.

But there is no denying that menu planning is the way to go. It reduces your stress — and your grocery bill!

If you want to get inspired and equipped for menu planning, a great site to visit is I’m an Organizing Junkie. Once a week, she hosts Menu Plan Monday where 300+ bloggers link up and share their weekly menu plans. You will find tons of great recipes, ideas and motivation!

Pinterest is a wonderful place to get recipe and meal planning ideas. One of our summer interns, Emily, recently shared how she uses Pinterest to Stay Out of a Meal Planning Rut.

Follow our Recipes Pinterest Board

and our Healthy Food Ideas Pinterest Board.

Aside from menu planning, I have several time-saving, money-saving tips for easy meals I rely on in our home:

  • Leftovers — while some may loathe leftovers, I smile when I get two meals out of one recipe. I make extra and either freeze or refrigerate for a quick and ready meal.
  • Frozen Purees — I am a fan of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. I infuse my meals with pureed vegetables that I freeze ahead of time. A big part of my pantry is my freezer. So I keep it organized with frozen purees in one cup portions, labeled and ready to add to recipes.
  • Home Made Spaghetti Sauce — Buying jarred sauce can be expensive, so I try to make large pots of home made sauce and freeze it for future use. But, if in a time pinch, I grab a can of jarred sauce and add some frozen puree and/or some ground beef and pair it with whole wheat or high fiber pasta.
  • Child Portioned Macaroni and Cheese — My kids, like most kids, love the comfort of Mac and cheese. But I don’t always have the time to whip up a home made batch. Once again, I depend on my freezer, my purees and some whole wheat or high fiber pasta. I freeze it in perfect child size portions and when my kids cry out for Mac and Cheese, I am prepared!
  • Chili — What can I say? A big batch of chili can last for meals! I use leftovers in soft shell tacos or on baked potatoes. It freezes great and with lots of beans and veggies, it is a healthy choice!
  • Organic Frozen peas and Corn from Costco — I honestly don’t know how we would live without these tasty frozen veggies. Within minutes, I have an inexpensive side dish my kids will eat.
  • Washed and Prepared Lettuce and Veggies — It is amazing how much time it saves and how much it encourages me and my family to eat more salads and fresh veggies when I wash and store the lettuce and veggies ready to eat in the fridge. I don’t buy the pre-washed, I just wash mine and store in Tupperware.

Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bonnie Way July 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I really need to start doing some meal planning too, but like you, I’ve been procrastinating. :) I also keep frozen corn and peas in the fridge (easy to add to anything or serve on its own) and buy washed/prepared lettuce or coleslaw (we’re more likely to grab it and eat it if I don’t have to get it ready before supper). Thanks for the ideas! :)


2 Tanya July 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Leftovers always make a great lunch for me. My husband doesn’t really like to eat leftovers so I just makes all my lunches out of them. Sometimes they are even better the next day.


3 buckiddo July 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I agree that meal planning saves so much time and money! I never thought about freezing pureed veggies, though — that’s a great tip!


4 Christine Derrel July 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

I always try to plan meals with my kids as it can bring us all close together IMHO. Also, I dont like to eat out cause it is rather expensive.


5 Karli July 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

I really need to start making my own tomato sauce. Last year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden and I bet this year will be the same. I just need to plan a sauce making day!


6 My Baby Pajamas July 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

I like to meal plan on Saturday for the upcoming week and then head to the store with my list on Sunday. I try to cook my husband’s breakfast for the week on Sunday evening. He loves Scrambled egg cups. The recipe is on my blog I also do a lot of my baking on Sunday so we are set for the week. Saves time and money!!


7 shaunie August 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm

thank you so much for this information… as I am not very organized and would love be… will be referring back to your blog for more info


8 Killara September 4, 2013 at 4:41 am

One of my favorite delicious budget meals is a roasted pumpkin and bolognaise Lasagna. It is cost effective as only half the amount of meat is required and the roasted pumpkin is sweet, flavorsome and keeps the lasagna moist.

While cooking the meat sauce and white sauce, I roast the oiled pumpkin pieces with generous amounts of garlic granules and dried herbs like oregano.

Add the roasted pumpkin as a layer of filling to the lasagna.

It’s delicious and incredibly easy to make.


9 diet pills January 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

thank you so much for this information…hopefully it will help me to save money!


10 bua an hoan hao June 9, 2014 at 3:13 am

Great! Thanks for sharing. I just did the chipper workout.


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