After several trips to the grocery store and countless hours perusing the isles just to end up at home with everything but not a single assemblage of ingredients to turn into an actual meal, I finally decided it was time to set aside a few minutes each week to create a meal plan.

If I’m being truly honest, I wish this revelation would have came to me sooner than it did.

I’m pretty good about improvising in the kitchen, but when you want marinara over linguine for dinner and you go to the pantry to discover that you don’t have a single can of tomatoes, your dreams of having an Italian feast are quickly crushed. This experience also happens to be the same day I realized the benefit of meal planning.

Not only did creating a weekly menu ensure that I would have every single ingredient available to me when I needed it, but it also spared my sanity and saved me time and money. I love eating out, but the truth is, it’s extremely expensive–even the cheap meals begin to add up. For me, there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal to satisfy the soul.

As much as I love being in the kitchen and crafting new recipes, I need a bit of reprieve from daily meal preparation grind. What better day to take a break than Friday? On my menu, I have Friday listed as No Food Friday. Instead, I retire my apron for the day and we try a local food joint that’s new to us. Squirrel usually does the research and skims the reviews for popular and upcoming places in the area. After extensive research, he emails me the list of qualifying entrants. At the end of each meal, we take some time to rate the food, atmosphere, cocktails, and service. If it meets our standards, we add it to the list and make our way back around in the next few months.  

Because not everyone celebrates No Food Friday, I’ve included a recipe in the Friday slot. You can choose to make the meal on Friday or hold off until the weekend. All of the recipes that make the cut are easy (it is a weeknight), accessible (no fancy pants ingredients), seasonal (I prefer to use the freshest ingredients from local sources), and feed a family of four. If you’re a party of two (like us!), you can always cut the recipe in half, or, do what I do, and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day–two birds, folks.

Best of all…the menus are free of charge and come with a printable grocery list that categorizes ingredients by isle (dairy, produce, meat, etc). I even list the items you should have on hand and stocked in your pantry. If you need help stocking your pantry, visit The Pantry section for suggestions.

I hope you love this section of the site as much as I do. My goal is to save you time, money, and, most importantly, your sanity. A new menu will be published every Friday so that you have time to prepare and shop over the weekend. The first menu will be published on Friday, July 31st… Stay tuned!