Let’s talk about menu-planning – part 1

Menu planning | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I always get a lot of questions about how I do meal planning, my thoughts, preferences and so on.

That’s not a surprise since I’m also a very curious person and if I were sitting down with you, I’d ask you for your details too!

I meal plan because it saves me TONS of time, I don’t like to wait for food when I’m hungry (and it seems my kids are the same) and it saves us money too since we “eat from the freezer and pantry” once a month.

1. Main meal

I like to cook the main part of the meal and have that portion in the freezer. This includes things like bolognaise sauce, chicken and broccoli, chicken a la King, kidney bean and tomato sauce, curries, etc.

How do I decide which meals to cook for the freezer?

I have a list of our family favourites so I can always refer to a list. But I do have it on my goals list to try 2 – 3 new recipes every month. My Pinterest board has to count for something. My only rule is that it has to be a quick meal. I can’t abide meals with too many steps or ingredients – I get tired before I’ve begun!

2. The carbs

Mine is a carb-eating home. If you’re on a different diet, ignore this point.

I generally cook carbs on the night, but we do freeze any leftovers in the correct portion sizes so that it’s easier on a leftovers night. We eat pasta, rice and potatoes. Sometimes we also have wraps – I used to buy them but I discovered these wraps and I’ve been hooked ever since.

3. Veggies

We cook veggies on the night only. I do keep some frozen vegetables like peas, corn and pumpkin (South Africans, I love the McCain pumpkin chunks) but most are cooked “fresh”.

Menu planning | www.OrganisingQueen.com

4. Pizzas

We make our own pizza bases from a super easy recipe I picked up somewhere years ago. I also mix in spinach and now the kids only know spinach bases as pizza 🙂

I always have a couple of bases ready in the freezer so we can whip up a healthy, homemade pizza whenever we want.

5. Friday night easy meals

On Fridays we like easy meals. I know this is traditionally a take-away night in many households but I’m … fussy and I honestly prefer to whip up something quickly than to drive somewhere and get it.

We have pizza, burgers, omelettes, etc. and in winter, soup and a toasted sandwich.

6. Leftovers

I never throw leftovers away. Ever.

Even if there’s just one portion, I save it. That could be a lunch for me or if a bit more substantial, we could add a big salad and garlic rolls to make it another meal.

That’s my system.

What are the components of your menu planning system?

PS even if you think you don’t have a system, you probably do 🙂

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  1. Jacqueline says:

    My plan is very similar to yours except we don’t freeze as much. We do freeze what’s leftover (after dinner and lunch is served for all of us) in suitable portions for our 2 year old and if it’s something not freezer friendly our nanny will have it for lunch too. I do a plan for a month based on the meat and starch. I literally list in excel chicken, pork, beef, fish in one column and rice, potato, pasta in the next column then we come up with appropriate meals based on the combination. We also do “friday meals” because we don’t like take-out. Until recently we bought wraps but have started trying reciepes to make them at home (PS the link for your wraps doesn’t seem to be working :-))
    I would love to try your pizza base recipe if you are willing to share – we have also recently decided that these do not need to be bought!

    Thanks for yet another awesome article!

    • Marcia Francois says:

      FINALLY – the long-awaited-for pizza recipe 🙂

      (I had to weed through my flipfiles)

      I found it on a blog a million years ago so all it says is Sandra’s pizza.

      1 pkt yeast
      1 cup lukewarm water
      2 tablespoons oil
      1 tablespoon honey (I’ve used sugar)
      2 and a half cups flour
      100 g finely chopped spinach – this is my addition to the recipe 🙂

      Yeast and water for 10 mins or so, then add other ingredients, let rise for about 30 minutes, and then roll out.
      Makes 2 large pizzas

  2. I check the freezer and pantry each Sunday (or Monday morning if it hasn’t happened the day before) and write a list of proteins that we want to use for the week. I then make a list of dinners for each day of the week keeping in mind when we might be out or when the kids have a friend over for dinner. Then I put it up in the kitchen but I hardly ever keep the days as per the schedule. I often switch the meals around which is great for when life throws me a curve ball and it stops me from having a 3pm “what am I cooking tonight” meltdown which generally happens when I dont have my list in place.

  3. Yes please share the pizza base recipe. My kids aren’t that keen on spinach so I sneak it in where I can and that would def help! I also add spinach to basil pesto and put the pesto on pasta. Kids love it that way.

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Nicky, if you make spinach ice-cubes, you can add a few to a bolognaise sauce too…. or cottage pie….

      See my reply to Jacqueline’s comment for the pizza recipe!

  4. Melanie says:

    I generally only cook for 2, and my schedule is all over the place, so I tend to cook big batches of things on Sunday (lasagna, spaghetti sauce (there’s a lot of Italian in my meals), Japanese curry, meatloaf, whatever) – I’ll pick 2 things, cook, and then portion things in lunch or dinner sizes (there are days when I spend both meals at work, sometimes it’s just one or the other). For dinners during the week, I usually pick up specific things at the store on my way home, or pick up a couple of things on my regular grocery trip that I know I will make during the week.

    But since my work schedule is, as I said, all over the place, I frequently end up eating a bigger lunch from my leftovers at work, and then a sandwich or something small at about 730 or 8 when I get home. I’ve tried an actual meal plan before, and when I’m on a 9-5 sort of schedule, it works pretty well. But for the rest of the time, I definitely don’t have time to cook, so it kinda limits a regular cook-most-evenings sort of plan.

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