I love menu planning- it really keeps me on track. I do mine on Friday, because I grocery shop every Saturday. (DH keeps the monster, I mean toddler, so I can shop easier. Babies don't grab or tantrum, thank goodness.) So on Friday, my system goes like this:
Search freezer and pantry for what I have, that needs to be used. Note what basics I might be missing that I'll need to pick up.
Go over the weekly ads, and my favorite deal sites, to figure out what's cheap, on sale, or great to match with coupons.
Plan meals around proteins/meats from ads and list of what needs to be used up, and add in the starches and vegetables. Fit in extras ( breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.)
Use my lists of easy meals, and family favorite meals, and decide on some double duty meals- for planned leftovers or freezer cooking.
Add any needed ingredients to shopping list, and stick to the list when shopping.
This keeps me sane during the week. Hope it inspires you to make menu planning a part of your life. For this coming week, my plan is:
Sat: (having a yard sale, so keeping it easy) B: cereal and yogurt w/ fruit
D: shrimp scampi with pasta, green salad
Sun: (cooking day, when I do extra cooking for later meals) B: breakfast casserole, muffins L: hamburgers (make extra and freeze) and steak fries, fruit salad
D: chicken cacciatore, and caprese salad. Will poach extra chicken in water, poaching liquid will make broth which will keep well in freezer, as will the cooked chicken
Mon: (crockpot day) chili with salsa, cheese, etc. and cook ground beef in a pot for Wed. leftovers
Tues: (leftovers) use some of the poached chicken from Tues. for chicken broccoli white pizza
Wed: (leftovers) cooked ground beef used in Tamale Pie
Thurs: (fridge day) my weekly clean out refrigerator day. In addition to any leftovers I often make a pasta dish or soup with some leftovers so it seems fresh, like chicken and veggie alfredo
Fri: (veggie only day- no meat) Mexican corn and bean salad, homemade tortillas, chiles rellenos