Menu Theme Days and Why They’re Awesome

If you want to make your meals more interesting, why not plan a menu with theme days? When my husband and I first got married, one of his aunts gave us a cookbook with some life-changing ideas inside:

  • Come up with themes for each day of the week.
  • Make a menu plan for the entire month (or longer).
  • Use the menu to fill our your shopping list.
  • Shop less often, only once or twice a month.

I’m glad to say that I’m still living by that advice almost 11 years later.

Our Themes

Though there are many theme ideas online, I thought I’d share the ones that we’ve cycled through over the years. I usually organize my themes by the meal’s spices or starch, not by the type of meat. Back when we were poor, I couldn’t guarantee having a certain kind of meat for each day of the week, and I think changing the seasonings or starch base makes more of a difference in the overall flavor.

Our themes:

  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Italian (pasta)
  • Italian (pizza)
  • Asian
  • Soup/stew
  • Mexican
  • American (meat and potatoes)
  • Casserole or one-pot meal
  • Quick meal
  • New recipe

It was pretty easy to come up with 6 meals for each theme, so we have 6 weeks’ worth of meals that are varied and interesting. I shop every 2 weeks to get everything I need to make them.

enjoying some breakfast for dinner (a biscuit with jam)

The Pros

  1. When I shop, I know exactly what I need to buy. I save money by only buying what I need and not aimlessly wandering aisles.
  2. We get to experience a variety of flavors throughout the week.
  3. I don’t have to think of what to make for dinner at the last minute. The few times I’ve tried to, I’ve been terrible at it and can’t ever think of anything, so my family gets mac and cheese or ramen.
  4. It’s pretty flexible. If I don’t feel like making a certain meal, I can always switch it for another within the 2-week time frame since I’ve already got the ingredients on hand.
  5. It saves time. Shopping, even with grocery pickup, is pretty time-consuming since I’m buying for 7 people. Going every 2 weeks means I spend even less time at the store. Since I’ve already planned the meals, I don’t (usually) have to go back for ingredients I need.

The Cons

  1. My kids still won’t eat everything I cook, but they get to try lots of new flavors whether they like it or not.
  2. Sometimes, we change our minds on what we want for dinner but don’t have the ingredients for the alternative since it wasn’t close to anything on the plan.
  3. Even with the variety in flavors, we get tired of certain dishes and have to tweak the menu. I make sure to do this at least once a year.

Conclusion

A little bit of planning can save lots of time and money. Menu theme days also make meals more exciting. With all this good food, what else could you need?

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