My Thoughts on Menu Plans We've Tried

Over the years I have used many different methods for weekly menu planning. There have been times where I've made my own menus based off of meals from Pinterest that I want to try, times where I've kept it simple and rotated through the same few recipes every single week, and other times where I've shelled out money to other bloggers and influencers to do the work for me. I feel like I've used enough different menu plans by now that I know what I do and don't like, and thought I'd share that wisdom with you. 

Why I like menu plans:
I like menu plans because it takes the guess work out of what my meals will look like. A lot of people use meal plans for weight loss, but that really is never the goal for me. I want simple and nutritious meals, with micronutrient dense foods. If left to my own devices I'll have cereal for breakfast, nothing for lunch, and then five servings of whatever I make for dinner. Menu plans are great for me because they actually get me to eat all my vegetables which I likely wouldn't do on my own. 

A general review of what I've tried:
I've tried several menu plans in the past including Fitness Carli, Clean Simple Eats, Six Sister's Stuff, and currently Skinny Taste. The Fitness Carli menu plan was easy and light on the cooking, but I also felt like it was an easy way to develop an eating disorder if you followed the plan exactly. Basically everyone doing the plan is living off of roughly 1200 calories, it's not kid and family friendly, so you're basically cooking all your food, and then cooking for your family too. So not much ease and simplicity. 

Clean Simple eats was great, the meals were great, but it's really heavy on the cooking side. Like Fitness Carli, it provides three meals a day, and the dinners are large enough to feed the entire family, but the cooking eventually burned me out a few weeks in. I also don't love that it promotes ingredients with artificial sweeteners like zero calorie salad dressings and syrups. These could obviously be subbed out for better ingredients, but just something that generally turned me off. 

Six Sister's Stuff was great and we did that for a solid six months last year. The only thing I didn't necessarily love was that although we signed up for the "healthy" plan, there were occasionally ingredients that I didn't consider healthy, like cream of whatever soup and processed things like that. Six Sister's Stuff provided only dinner options as well, which meant I was on my own for the rest of the day. 

Currently we're three weeks into doing the Skinny Taste menu plan. I like this because it's FREE (all the other ones mentioned above you pay for). She posts new plans on her site each week, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. The breakfast and lunches feed one person, and the dinners feed 4 people. On the weekends, all the meals feed 4 people, which is really nice. The main thing that I like about this is that so far, I feel like it's mostly whole foods, with no processed ingredients, and the meals have been very simple to make with not a lot of prep work involved. It's based off the weight watchers program so the meals add up to about 1,000 calories a day, and then I guess you're supposed to get the rest of your calories from a list of "zero point foods". I don't do this, I just eat candy, soda, and a granola bar or whatever the heck I want and live my best life knowing I ate all my vegetables that day. 

How to do a menu plan without hurting your wallet:
When doing menu plans, especially Skinny Taste or Clean Simple Eats, it feels like there are literally 1,000 items on the grocery list each week, and then all of a sudden your grocery budget is $50-$100 more than it normally is. One thing I started doing was actually going through all of the recipes and eliminating the ingredients off the list I knew my family wouldn't eat. 

Fish tacos with purple cabbage on top? No thanks to the purple cabbage, we'll stick with the lettuce and other toppings that can go on them that we're already buying this week for other meals. A watermelon and feta salad? Nope, we'll just eat the watermelon as the side with that meal. Asparagus wrapped in proscitto? Nope, just cook the asparagus in oil, salt, and pepper and call it good. If I'm going to make food, I want it to be food my family will eat. 

By simplifying the meals and sides when possible, you save a ton of money on ingredients that will likely rot and get wasted in your fridge anyways. 

Let's wrap it up:
At the end of the day there probably isn't one perfect menu plan or solution that will work for every family. I love menu plans though because it simply saves me the time and energy of coming up with the food on my own. Just because one plan didn't work for our family, doesn't mean that it won't work for you. If you tried a menu plan that you've loved, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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  1. I loved reading your thoughts! I have always planned a menu for 16 years of my marriage. It just takes the guess work out of what's for dinner when I plan to head a little and have the ingredients in stock in my fridge or pantry. The last 2 months I've tried out the citrus pear program where I meet at a grocery store with friends, and we make 20 freezer meals in less than 2 hours for less than $200. Super clean healthy meals too! It has been my favorite so far! I've already signed up for the August one. Basically it's one of the funnest girls night out I have had in a long time and then I don't have to worry about what's for dinner the rest of the month. LOL We're just chatting and laughing while we're chopping fresh veggies to put in our freezer bags. :)

    1. I've heard amazing things about Citrus Pear! I totally want to try that sometime!