The case against menu planning

Ha! I got your attention didn’t I? All you organized homemakers with menu plans made for the week ahead (based on the sales in your grocery store flier) are just horrified! How to justify not planning your meals! Impossible! (spoken in a French accent for effect)

Well I’m one of those slacker moms who does not do a menu plan.  Chicken on Thursday?  But what if I don’t feel like cooking chicken on Thursday?  I’m a “by the seat of your pants” kind of cook.  As of 4:30 today I had no idea what we were having for dinner.  By 5:35 tonight we had chicken francaise, with green beans and boiled new yukon gold potatoes.  I had a hankering for lemony chicken, like the kind you get at an Italian restaurant in NJ.  So I quick looked up a recipe, knew I had lemons in the house, defrosted 2 whole (plastic bagged) chicken breast in a bowl of super hot water and away I went. (Not kosher with the health dep’t but I’ve been doing it for 13 yrs with no ill effects)  It tasted pretty good.

Back to not menu planning.  While I don’t plan particular meals, I do have to issue some caveats.  Every week I go to the vegetable store and by fruits and veggies for the week.  I have every kind of meat in my freezer, (which I stock up on when it’s on sale), good breads in the freezer,  all kinds of pasta, rice and potatoes in the house, spaghetti sauces, canned tomatoes etc.  So I don’t need to menu plan.  And that’s the way I like it.  Some days you just don’t feel like doing a big messy meal.  Other days you hanker for something interesting to eat.  Sometimes disaster strikes and the day is chaos and  you order pizza.  Other times the weather is so gorgeous you want to stay outside with your kiddies so you pull out the hamburgers and hotdogs.

So non-menu planning can work.  It doesn’t mean macaroni and cheese (I haven’t cooked that in over a year).  And you can eat balanced meals that are budget wise.  I am totally not into running to the grocery store at 4:00 looking for ingredients for a recipe I hadn’t planned for.  I cook with what I have.  If I want to try something new I do plan ahead to buy the special ingredients.

What about you? Do you plan ahead?  Are you appalled at the lack of planning this house wife has? 😉

If you want to try this recipe check out and type in chicken francaise into the search box.  I used two big whole boneless skinless chicken breast which I sliced into thin slices.  (More than enough for our family.) If you pounded the slices first it would be even better (the texture would be more tender and consistent) but who has time? 😉   I put more garlic powder and shook a bunch of seasoned salt (my favourite – Jane’s krazy mixed up salt) into the flour.  My dear husband said it was worthy of a repeat, maybe worthy of company.


About Lora

I am a 40 something wife to my patient and talented husband Scott, Mom to my five children (from toddler to teen) and oldest sister to eight siblings. I am interested in too many things, love to read everything around me, and have developed a strong interest in design and renovation along with my husband. I am conservative, Christian, and by the grace of God, trying to find His way through the ups and downs of my life.
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12 Responses to The case against menu planning

  1. Lora, I do menu-plan, but I don’t strictly stick with it. I swap around the meals as needed. My pantry is not as well-stocked as yours, and so I do need to be prepared with some of the basics when I menu plan. If I didn’t menu plan, I think I would cook the same stuff over and over. But your way does sound doable, and your meal looks very delicious! is great!

    • Lora says:

      When you have picky kids you tend to do some meals over and over. But I do try new things – this week two times already – but that’s probably it.

  2. Nicolette says:

    I’m a menu planner cause I have to be. It is SOOOO nice to not have that feeling “What am I going to cook?” especially when I’m not in the mood to cook. But I always plan some difficult and easy meals for the week so I can switch them up if I am not in the mood to make a fussy dinner….

    • joanne says:

      I agree with niccy. the first 2 months of marriage i was swinging by the albert heijn ( supermarket) almost everyday on the way home from school. during my drive i’d be trying to decide what to make. a weekly menu plan helps alot…one stop a week at the grocery store (usually)…maybe it has to do with working out the home…you’re tired at the end of the day and have to cook and it’s nice not having to make yet another decision. of course i change if i don’t feel like cooking what’s on the menu…

  3. Boudewina says:

    I,m not a menu planner at all. Sometimes i have to and it is very hard to do so. I buy vegetables and fruit at the market every week. So that is a little planning though. But then i shop in my fridge and eat whetever i like for the day. Kids love spaghettie and lasagna so those ingredients i always have in stock…

  4. 35aweek says:

    A lot of times I plan ahead to ensure I use every last bit of everything I buy, but a lot of the time I don’t, for exactly the reason you state: What if I don’t feel like chicken on Thursday, or have a craving for pasta on Tuesday? Like an above commenter stated, I always make sure to leave some wiggle room if I am planning.

  5. Marcia says:

    Lora, you are a woman after my own heart! I also have the fridge and freezer well-stocked, and I cook what appeals each night. To be quite frank, some of the menus which I’ve seen on blogs look a lot less appealing than what is on our table. This was a good reminder to go downstairs and take out the stew beef for tonight. It’s damp and drizzly today, so it just fits the bill, but if it had been a hot day, that’s the last thing I want. Glad to see that I’m in good company.

    • Lora says:

      So funny, we’re having stew tonight too. The dreary drizzle told me it’s stew night. I have a good crock pot recipe (and I find good crock pot recipes to be far and few between). Of course now the sun popped out and it’s 70F. Never mind, at least dinner is taken care of for today.:)

  6. Sandra says:

    Lora I’m appalled! Such an organized person, yet flying by the seat of your pants for meals! 😉
    I’m a meal planner, definitely. I agree with Nic, it’s an awful feeling to have to think all day what I’m going to cook. On the other hand, I’m quite flexible and regularly switch around meals. I’m also stocked up on basic meals, so if I forgot some ingredients I can always fall back on say spaghetti or meat, potatoes, (canned) veggie. Planning also allows me to regularly try new meals. I always sit down for my menu planning on Fridays and plan in one or two new recipes (I’m always looking around for vegetarian or fish recipes, since I try to cook that once a week.) I know if I didn’t menu plan I’d be hauling off to the grocery store way too regularly, because I like trying new things and that often requires different ingredients I don’t always have in the house. For example I’m trying out Suriname roti this week which calls for lamb’s sausage – can’t say I’ve got that stocked in my freezer!

    • Lora says:

      I’m past the creative cooking phase.. four picky kids so we eat pretty standard fare. I do try new recipes but they tend to be in the range of flavours/ethnic food that we already like. Then I usually already have the ingredients.

  7. Marcia says:

    Just have to let you know that today I tried the recipe for Chicken Francaise which you recommended and it was great! I did mini red potatoes with butter and “herb and garlic dip mix” from Epicure. Thanks for the suggestion; I just wish we had US chicken prices.

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