Family Menu Planning FAQ and Monthly Menu Plan

Over the last few months I have had a number of questions from readers about different aspects of my menu planning. So instead of just emailing individual answers, I have collated the questions to share in this post!  I have list the questions below and you can either just scroll down to read the answers, or click on the question and it will jump down to its answer.

If you aren’t familiar with my monthly menu planning process, you can read more about it here:


Family menu planning FAQ:

Scroll down to read all the FAQ or click on a question to go directly to its answer.

How do you shop for your monthly menu plans?

We have a multi part process for shopping:

      • Basic grocery items  – I do an online monthly shop. I do at times though mix this up and go do the monthly shop at the supermarket just to the browse the aisles and see what is new.
      • Meat – I buy monthly from a butcher and freeze it.
      • Fruit and veg – each Saturday Mr I gets up early and goes to the market and buys it all there. Some weeks, I will need to top up the fruit on Wed or Thu, depending on the fruit in season and the space in our fridge! We keep the apples in the fridge, so they can take up a bit of space.
      • Bread  – bought on an as needs basis from local bakeries or when I am out and about.
      • Milk – bought on an as needs basis, generally by Mr I in the evening.

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I see you still have soups on your plans and it is summer. Does your family really eat soup in summer?

Yes we will still eat soups in summer. Melbourne is not that consistently hot in summer and I will choose lighter type suits like:

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What sort of slow cooker meals work best in summer?

There are a few slow cooker meals that I happily cook in summer. A couple of the soups in the answer above also use the slow cooker. But here are some slow cooker meals that work for our family:

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You have one day a week where you have left overs for the meal, how does this work?

I originally, many years ago) started adding a left over day in the menu plan, to prevent wastage. I found I was throwing out food when I was cooking a new meal every night.

Now however, our family has grown to seven members, some meals with the stated quantities of ingredients are not enough. Meals like Chicken Schnitzel, Zucchini Slice and Slow Cooker Satay for example, just to make sure I have enough for everyone to eat, I have to increase the ingredients by at least 50%.

So if I want to have leftovers I need to increase the ingredients of meals, some by double. For example, we will have Chicken Balls and Salad for dinner, but I will double the quantities. Other meals I double or increase are:

Most of the time I will try to have a couple of meals before left over day, that will provide the left overs and the kids choose from what is available. Some times I will repurpose the left overs, doing things like:

When I post the menu plans on the blog, like below, I only do meals at the standard size, as it would best fit the needs of most of the readers of this blog. Analysis of the PWK 2013 survey, found that readers of the blog have an average of 2.4 children.

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Do you always eat exactly what you planned?

No, not always. At a guess I would think I stick to the plan about 90% of the time.

Sometimes I may mix the days up if I don’t feel like eating that meal on a particular day. If I have been out and don’t have time to cook the meal, I will use the ingredients to make a different meal that is quicker to cook. If we have friends pop in unexpectedly I will change the meal to make sure it is something that can feed everyone.

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How do you try new recipes amongst your plans?

I have started just adding them to the plan and cooking them as the meal for that particular day. I used to have them as a separate meal in case I mucked it up or the kids wouldn’t eat it, but found this an inefficient use of my time.

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Do your kids eat these meals?

Mostly. Each child has particular favourites they love to eat and they also have a couple of meals that they really dislike to eat. I only ever cook one meal for the family. If they don’t like it they aren’t forced to eat it, but that is the only dinner there is.

You can read more about my approach to meal time with kids here – 10 Things We Do To Make Meal Time Enjoyable (point nine is the most relevant to this question).

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Let me know if you have other questions or tips about menu planning in the comments!

Family menu plan for February


Meal Type




Meat and Salad








Slow Cooker


Left Overs

Week Starting:
26th Jan
Homemade Hamburgers and Salad

Baking: Quinoa Snack Balls
Pumpkin and Spinach CurryPasta with Chicken and SpinachVeggie Stir Fry*Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken
Week Starting:
2nd Feb
Marinated Chicken Sticks and Salad

Baking: Weet Bix Slice
New vegetarian recipe to try.Slow Cooker BolognaiseRice Paper Rolls with Salad*Slow Cooker Mexican
Week Starting:
9th Feb
Sweet Chilli Chicken Wraps
Sausages and Salad

Baking: Chocolate Zucchini Cake
New vegetarian recipe to try.Zucchini and Pasta SliceScrambled Eggs With TomatoSlow Cooker Risotto
Week Starting:
16th Feb
TacosChicken Balls and Salad

Baking: White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies
New vegetarian recipe to try.Veggie PastaSlow Cooker Tomato SoupSlow Cooker Satay
Week Starting:
23rd Feb

Baking: No bake Lemon and Chia Balls
New vegetarian recipe to try.Baked Penne with BaconVeggie Stir Fry*Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
* For these meals, I am using a recipe that contains meat, but will substitute this with more veggies. I have a very limited list of veggie recipes I cook and want to increase this, hence lots of new recipes to try this month.

This is the zip file which contains five weekly plans with the associated shopping lists – Weekly Menu Plans and Shopping Lists for February 2013