Plate Plan for the Week

There is a long list of grocery-budgeting “tricks” that I’ve been given, and have given out, as advice.

Sure, it’s easier when you stick to the List.
Always shop the perimeter of the store first.
Get enough for the week, so you aren’t tempted to eat out.
Plan ahead for the dinner menus!

That last one eludes me. I bookmark so many recipes; I have a subscription to Cooking Light magazine; I have seven cookbooks sitting in my kitchen, wishing their pages would be flipped through and drooled over. Oh, I also subscribe to at least 20 food blogs that I read (sporadically…) throughout the week.

All of this around to help me do what I know makes dinner easier, and yet almost every day we have the “Hmm, what sounds good for dinner?” dialogue. By mid-week we usually pick up some fresh pizza dough (or boil pasta) to use up some veggies & cheese. By Friday we’re entirely out of appetizing options and we want to go out. Somewhere in that mix, I see way too many dollars being spent simply because I get distracted at the store, or never plan ahead to begin with!

This week, I planned for each plate. I took those bookmarked recipes & dog-eared magazine pages, and actually have the menu. If you’re looking for some dinner inspiration, too, feel free to join us for the meals!

Sunday night – Baked Tofu* & Oregano Garlic Fries.

Tofu&Fries 005

*As a frequent reader of Peas & Thank You, I can’t help but hope that tofu tastes good if it’s done right! I had all but given up on this spongy white soy-thing, but then she posts “dippers” and I wonder – am I missing something?

Tofu update to follow, but last night I got through the meal without thinking “never again!”. So, that’s a success!

And on the other note, those fries definitely made up for any lacking in the tofu-texture-enjoyment.

MondayThe Daily Garnish’s (Emily’s) Cauliflower Pasta Bake


Photo from The Daily Garnish.

TuesdayOut with Friends

This ‘date’ has been scheduled, and factored into what we did/didn’t need for the week. Plus, it’s hitting the Southwestern food craving I get all too often.


That pasta dish will definitely last more than one night (we hope…); with a busy schedule on Wednesday, leftovers will be just what we need.

ThursdayMahi Mahi & Steamed Kale Salad

We bought two frozen Mahi Mahi steaks last week and they’ve been in the freezer since. This week they’ll finally be thawed, baked & joined by a steamed green.

Friday – Chickpea Curry Mix

Inspired by one of Jenna’s (Eat, Live, Run) older recipes (Channa Masala), I picked up a few things at Trader Joe’s that will create something similar. Not to mention the fact that we have accumulated three cans of chickpeas over the past month or so, and it wouldn’t hurt to resume consumption of the bean!

Five days, plates planned out and a reasonable grocery bill go to along with it – success!


Are you a menu planner?

What’s on your dinner menu this week? Should we set an extra setting at the table one of those nights?



Filed under advice, dinners, food, groceries, making plans

36 responses to “Plate Plan for the Week

  1. i’ve been getting better about meal planning lately. i’m going on a month of planning and sticking to a weekly dinner menu. now i think it’s about time to step it up and start rotating in my cookbooks (almost all of my recipes are from blogs). i have the books, so i should use them!

    • Heather C

      My thoughts, exactly! I have some great cookbooks that have been given to me (Thanks, Mom!) and for some reason I just tend to forget about them. Blogs have taken over 😉

  2. I know one night this week we are going to do make-your-own tacos, except instead of traditional fish or chicken tacos we are doing a sloppy joe filling, which is a mixture of taco seasonings, Morning Star soy, ground turkey, taco sauce, and more! With some great whole grain crunchy taco shells and toppings to include pico de gallo, sour cream, and an awesome black bean spread I found at Whole Foods.

    • Heather C

      Those sound amazing! We are big taco fans in this house – I’ll substitute tempeh for the turkey and we’d be good to go 🙂

  3. We always make a menu for the week. I could not go to the store without a plan or we would be missing the main ingredient for every meal we thought to make. Also, we plan every Wednesday to be crock pot night because we both work late.

  4. I wish I was a menu planner!!! But my schedule is so crazy I usually just play it by ear. I don’t make a lot of elaborate dishes, so that’s part of the reason!

  5. I have meal planned in the past, but not for a loooong time. The schedule has been crazy lately and there’s rarely time in the evening to prepare an actual “meal”, which has me eating salads and sandwiches most of the time. And I’m okay with that. 🙂

    Your plan looks great, though! Enjoy!

    • Heather C

      Ha, oh we are big believers in breakfast-for-dinner or a good hearty sandwich, too!.I think those count as dinners, if that’s what sounds good!

  6. I’m a menu planner, but we cook the same 8 things over and over. I need to crack open one of the….20? cookbooks I own. *hangs head in shame*

    • Heather C

      “We cook the same 8 things…” – also an issue in this kitchen! The plan is intended to help us branch out a little bit…

  7. I’ve never planned for the whole week in detail, but I do have my regulars based on my schedule at work, social plans, etc. I love making a meal that allows for good leftovers! Happens much more often for me in the winter months…

  8. I try to plan meals. We started doing it when I was pregnant with my first girl. I ended up with gestational diabetes (pretty severe too), so we found it best to plan so that we knew I was eating like I should (and I did). It was GREAT! I loved knowing we weren’t wasting food, what we were having, and it was a money saver. We got out of the habit of planning. I have been trying to get us back.

    I would LOVE to come down for any of those meals…family in tow, but not a good plan. Maybe I will take some cues and make some here at our house. Love the recipes and pics.

    Speaking of recipes. I used the pumpkin muffin recipe from last year again. Still a big hit.

    • Heather C

      I would love to cook for you and the fam! 🙂

      Glad to hear the pumpkin muffins are still pleasing the group – I’m holding off on Pumpkin things until October. Feels more ‘officially’ like Fall once it’s time for those!

  9. Meg

    I love thinking of new ideas for dinners, and then taking the leftovers home for lunch. I actually have some Trader Joe’s marinated tofu in the fridge right now – it’s great with a spicy peanut butter/peanut oil sauce and noodles!

  10. dietitian2be

    I have found that taking time to plan the week’s menu saves sooo much time and money! The Food Network is usually my go-to resource for awesome recipes (can’t get enough of Rachael Ray!).

    On another note…I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and absolutely love it! Keep the great posts coming!

  11. I try to be a meal planner but sometimes it is tough when cooking for one! My plan for this week was to have a few different things on hand to be able to make stir fry, something Mexican, and salad fixings along with standard pantry staples. Having a well stocked pantry makes cooking in a pinch much easier I think!

  12. When I need variety in my weekly menu, I turn to pinterest! LOL! Seriously, there are so many great recipes that people have already pinned and tried. Lately, I’ve been trying some new slow cooker recipes and haven’t found a bad one yet. Thank you, Pinterest 🙂

  13. I had pasta with pesto – yum! Planning is definitely helpful – I’ve found that I waste food if I don’t plan. 🙂

  14. Mmmm chickpea curry mix, yum! I’m pretty good about meal planning, especially when I cut out weekly budget down to $75 a week.. No more extra spending for us!

  15. Lauren

    Green chili chicken casserole out of cooking like for Dustin and I! Also, I wrote down that baked mac and cheese recipe that Elizabeth posted on your mac and cheese blog! Sounds soooo good. Now that I’m getting into a work routine and I don’t close often I can start cooking again! Oh, and we a Dions pizza last night that had a pesto sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, spinach and pine nuts on it! We have leftovers too. 🙂

  16. i want soooo badly to be a menu planner…but I just can’t! I will even buy a bunch of stuff to make sunday and suddenly change up what I planned to make!

    • Heather C

      We’ve done that plenty of times! The first challenge is definitely creating the menu, then the next challenge is sticking to it!

  17. I want to be more of a meal planner than I am. It is certainly something I struggle with. Usually what happens is I make a GIGANTIC amount of some meal so that I have left overs for the week, but by the time Tuesday rolls around I am sick of eating the same thing again! I like to just have foods around that can be “assembled” in to a meal like hummus, veggies and wraps instead of foods that require much effort in terms of preparation and cooking. Someday I will get it together!

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  21. I don’t plan menus, but I do print out recipes. Then I send Hubz to the store to get the ingredients I don’t have on hand (he has a love for grocery shopping that can’t be denied). I almost always have potatoes and a couple of types of veggies on hand, so I have ten or so go-to recipes. Planning would enable me to try more new ones, more often, I’m sure.

    • Heather C

      Ha, well no, we cannot deprive those who love groceries of their shopping duties! We definitely have a rotation of some recipe favorites, which all require the same handful of ingredients, but I’m trying to branch out here n’ there 🙂

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