Easy Family Meal Plan

Mon 2nd, Apr, 2012

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Morning Beach Cottage ladies, I am back from Melbourne and talking Easy Menu Plans.  

I had a fun time at my first ever blogging conference, what I learnt will be blogged soon…

Anyway I got back, after a delayed flight to our old cottage, a beautiful day on the beaches…as we traveled over the bridge to the Peninsula I got that sweet feeling that man I love it here…and I love my little life…there isn’t too much amazing in it, I do not jet off all over the world, I do not have an amazing career, I cannot list a shed-load of accolades to my name, but, actually, I am quite happy with that…nothing is sweeter than being happy with what you are doing…and for me that means white sofas, happy kiddos and a lot of the time cooking…

So I was doing my Menu Plan late yesterday afternoon after the bright blue and sunshine of earlier a storm rolled in…I was on the sofa with my iPad, planning as the rain poured down, cup of tea in hand…I have been doing this meal planning for a long time now…and to be honest, gotta say it’s saved my bacon a lot of times, it takes away the brain-power to that oh-so-very important question of firstly what to buy at the supermarket and secondly what’s for diner?



Most of the time this works beautifully here in this old cottage – I write the plan on Sunday and everything is tickety-boo for the week, however sometimes I like to rebel, I look on the fridge at the Menu Plan and go ha! no! SO not cooking it… I will not be this organised goddess of the home, I will not be sooooooooo Miss Domestic,  BORING, I will just WING IT…Housewife Power baby  ….it seems after a very interesting conversation over the weekend that there is another rebel in the midst, who likes to write meal plans and then disobey them to get a kick, her name is Shae, (not Sheye with a y and an e mind), she is one fantastic girl with a real blog voice , go say hello, tell her I sent you)

And then 6pm rolls around.  Boys are eating the table.  Girls are eating broomsticks.  Husbands are raising eyebrows.  And man I wished I had not been such a rebel.

And I remember why I LOVE ME A MEAL PLAN.

After much recent talk about this on Facebook, and people asking me to share my plan for the week and me loving seeing how other people do it,   Beach Cottage Meal Plan Monday   is born.

Welcome to easy meal plans for real girls.

Here’s mine below, I am trying at the moment to add one new recipe a week, this week it’s Gnocchi, hope it’s nice…then I add in regulars that we always have and simple things that can go in the crock pot on sport heavy days are a must, and I like a couple of meat free days too.

Sometime I plan all seven days, but at the weekend it’s always a full English roast on Sundays, unless I am just too tired to cook it, that is rare because I love how it defines our weekends and settles the house before the week and Saturdays, well we normally wing-it, get takeaway or I spend enjoyable time making something nice from my books, without the time stress of the week…



  Beach Cottage Easy Meal Plan Monday


Monday : {  Beach Cottage All in One Chicken & Roast Vegetables  }

Tuesday :  {  Gnocchi with Sage & Rocket }  Delicious recipe here

Wednesday :  {  Crock Pot / Slow Cooker Twice Baked Potatoes  }

Thursday  {  Easy Fried Rice  }  Planning with Kids recipe here


Friday :  {  Beach Cottage Easy Beef Stew Crockpot  }  recipe on the blog this week


Lunch Box Baking :   {  Topped Banana Muffins  }   {  Beach Cottage Easy Muffins }

See you soon, we have a Beach Cottage guest blogger on the blog soon, she has a VERY nice house and I interviewed her about what she gets up to day-to-day…umm, she loves white and linen and I wish I could go live with her…so make sure you stop by

  I would love to hear your meal plans…do you use them?  If so just jot them down in the comments if you’d like to share

I’m off, there’s a house guest who needs a walk, and a beach cottage owner who needs a coffee



p.s. Anyone got any good places to buy fancy-schmancy meal plan pads?  Or good downloads to print?  I am addicted to them lol…this one is from the fabulous KIKKIK here



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63 Responses to “Easy Family Meal Plan”

  1. Janelle says:

    Oh yes the good old meal planner. I just started doing one this year and I LOVE it!! Makes those rather challenging hrs between 5 and 8 a little easier! Spaghetti bol, a soup cooked earlier in the day (when one can actually hear oneself think!) and a basic stirfry always seem to make it onto our plan. And a roast chook on the w’end of course!! Love seeing other peoples plans and recipes for new ideas to shake things up abit! Thanks again Sarah… xx

    • sarah says:

      yes I love seeing how other people do it too Janelle…I do the soup thing all the time too, such a no brainer x

      • Janelle says:

        I also ment to comment re you loving your ‘little’ life and what you do. I think that is fantastic, i find myself having little moments like that too (oh god, is that an age thing?!?) but rest assured you are doing great things with your blog…each time i visit (erm..every day!) you make me laugh, inspire me, make me sigh with gorgeous pics or share your fab real-girl fashion finds. And I’m sure the reason i keep coming back is because you dont do the jet-setting over-the -top trying-to-win-awards thing, youre just Sarah in her cottage by the beach leading a life not so different to mine! Way to go Sarah!! xx

        • sarah says:

          awwww, thanks, such a nice comment.

          ….I am quite happy with it too and yep I think it is an age thing for sure xo

  2. Stacey says:

    When the kids lived at home, I always did a meal plan just before the supermarket shop. Since they both left home for uni, I must admit I’ve let that slip and I’m really beginning to notice that I have no clue what to cook and never seem to have anything in the house to pull something together. Your post has made me realize that I need to get back to the basics, and I’m sure my husband will thank you for it.

    • sarah says:

      yes, it’s such a life saver Stacey…I know when I don’t do one, thing certainly don’t run as smoothly x

  3. I too have a Kikki K meal planner but am not as happy with it as my KK wall calendar, without which I am fairly certain none of us would ever get out of this house.

    I meal plan every week and shop to the meal plan – if I don’t I spend, on average $100 more a week than I could/should.

    The hardest bit for me is finding a balance between NOT over-complicating it (chops & veggies are perfectly acceptable) and doing something different each week.

    I was sitting here doing mine as your tweet came up.

    And now I am going to start stalking you it seems perfectly appropriate to start here.

    • sarah says:

      hello fellow beach living meal planner …see I knew you liked me really ;-0

      errrm yeah the whole spending more money thing is so true…I am actually a NIGHTMARE in the supermarket for over-spending….I reckon I am the classic marketing man’s dream

      same with the over-complicating…but I would rather eat spag bol and actually get it on the table than some fancy-arsed fish & sauce that actually stays in the fridge…but then again I don’t have a chef hubby to please!!

      …left my phone in cab on way home from airport, when I get it back will text you and meet up, yah???


      • Yeaheah.

        I refuse to make different meals for different people but it’s quite tricky finding something everyone will eat. Lasagne is about it, and, of course, I don’t really like lasagne. Chef’s never here for dinner and if he is there’s no way he’s making it (although yesterday he made me eggs benedict but that was just because I’ve been putting out more than he could ever imagine or hope for).

  4. I have to get back into this habit……thanks for the kick in the pants!
    I was at ‘the Kmart’ this morning getting a piece of the action on those pretty blue glasses……thanks by the way ;o)
    I also saw them at Target in clear glass with a matching jug. (I think the jug was $24.95). Not sure about the glasses.
    Maybe $6.00? each. They are dearer than ‘the Kmart’ though.
    Thanks again and have a great day!!!
    Oh, and lots of Putty Bits at Bed, Bath & Table. Probably better on your wallet if you don’t go ;o)
    TM xx

  5. Glennie says:

    Hmm, well I’m lucky – no kids! However I’ve always pre-planned just because it’s easier to shop and also if I’ve had a full on day at work I don’t have to think when I get home – just go into “if it’s Wednesday it must be omelette day” mode … And then there’s more time for knitting !@#$%

  6. Susan @ Afford Your Passions says:

    No need for a meal plan/calendar around here – it’s pretty easy:

    I cook Sunday and Monday nights.
    We go out to dinner to our favorite taco place on Tuesday for their Taco Tuesday special.
    My husband cooks Wednesday and Thursday nights.
    Friday and Saturday nights, my husband works, so my son and I fend for ourselves. That usually means Chinese on Friday night, and something thrown together on Saturdays.

    For my Sunday & Monday cooking, I like to make my spaghetti sauce with meat (called spaghetti bolognese in Australia). That feeds us for two nights, so Sunday and Monday are taken care of – easy peasy :)

    On Wednesday and Thursday when it is my husband’s turn to cook, he usually grills brats (bratwurst sausages) or chicken on our Big Green Egg. Also easy peasy.

    • sarah says:

      hmmm I like your take on it…

      when I cook on a Sunday I always do double…as in two chickens or large piece of meat plus double potatoes and veg so Mondays is nearly always leftovers for us other than in week’s like this when I don’t cook on Sundays

      I also often do a minced meat and turn it into different meals by adding basil / italian for Spag bol and chilli, spices for chilli con carne…easy

      thanks Susan, happy days x

  7. ELISA {with grace and eve} says:

    I meal plan some weeks and not others, but I must say I spend a whole lot less time & money at the supermarket when I’ve done a meal plan!

  8. Julie says:

    I meal plan on Mon. nights and shop on Tues. I loathe not having a plan as everyone around here seems to lose it and chaos ensues!

    By the way, I make Gnocchi with Sage Butter regularly (haven’t tried it with rocket and tomatoes but will have to next time) and it is really yummy. Would you please post your Sunday English Roast recipes one day when you get a chance? I lived in the UK for a bit and would love to start that tradition with my family. I just never know what to serve and how to cook the roast! ;)

  9. Sharon says:

    I started meal planning about two years ago and I wonder how I ever survived without it. Truth be told, I was more than a bit scattered before I started meal planning and would have to make a couple of trips to the grocery store each week. Plus, we ate a lot of takeout and frozen pizza for dinner. I always had a pizza in the freezer back then. Always.

    I have several recipes that I have in rotation (I don’t rotate them in any set order, I just try to make sure I don’t make the same meal two weeks in a row). I don’t actually plan my meals down to the day, I just figure out which 7 meals I am going to make for the week and shop for them and then my husband and I decide in the morning what we want to have for dinner that night. I don’t have any children who have school or sports activities so it is easy for me to work things this way. I do usually plan a few quick easy meals along with one that might take a bit more time and effort. My husband and I always cook a nice Sunday dinner together. It is a relaxing way to end the weekend and get ready for the week ahead.

    I would love to find a cute meal planning pad, will definitely check out the one you are using. I just write mine out on my grocery pad and then rewrite it on my white dry erase board when I get home from the store.

  10. Tiff says:

    Seems the older I get, the less I plan :} I used to do once a month cooking and it worked so well, but I’ve cleaned up my diet a lot since then so the recipes don’t work for me any longer. I usually always do a huge meat sauce up and freeze in batches which is so handy. We’ve gone sugar-free in our place so baking is experimental right now and lunch box snacks are tricky to come up with. But you’ve got me thinking – I need to pull out the menu planner again. I think it will tax my brain less!

    • sarah says:

      yeah Tiff, I used to batch cook all the time too, loved once a month cooking….but sort of fell out of it…

      it’s sure much less taxing on the brain to meal plan


  11. Kat says:

    I find the whole meals thing frustrating lately.
    I have two with intolerances and another who is just plain fussy!
    I am trying to make new things, but that means doing one thing for the two with food issues and another for the rest of us.
    I love to eat different and varied things with a bit of spice, but as the others can’t eat it and being a time poor Mum to four littlies I am not going to make a third thing.
    Hubby cooks on Sat and Sun nights, which gives me a welcome break.
    Have just returned from doing the fortnights groceries (still to finish unpacking) and have added lots of different ingredients to try and make a few new dishes over Easter.
    Yes I do “try” to meal plan, as it does make life run smoother.
    I do my weekly lunchbox bakeup on Sundays “)

    • sarah says:

      hmmm, that sounds tricky..I love really mouth numbingly hot food so I have to adapt a little bit sometimes too…though really it’s just a case of throwing in more chill/spice after the other portions are done

      I hope you find some interesting dishes to try over EAster, I am doing the same x

  12. Caz says:

    I used to meal plan all the time and since becoming empty nesters when my baby left to go off to uni well I dumped the meal planner and now meal times are chaos where I have absolutely no idea what to cook, then there is the issue of what ingredients I do or don’t have and when you live in the bush its not like you can do the 5 minute emergency trip to Coles! I have just found it really hard to adapt my meal time routines and mindset to cooking for two and hubby is suitably unimpressed and feels neglected so think I might just have to get back to planning it might also bring some enjoyment back into the cooking process as I love cooking!. I’d also do batch cooking so always had great meals in freezer but let that slip as well. Seeing smile on hubby’s face yesterday with my little picnic I know I need to pick up my game!

    • sarah says:

      yes Caz it picks up your game I think for sure…I really think having the dinner ‘done’ is key in my life…everything else I can bumble my way through if I need to…dinner I can’t xo

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hello Sarah, I’m not a good cook, but I like to program as much as possible and I am happy when I can do my best. Sometimes I also was inspired menu ‘weekly of my daughter goes to kindergarten, natural and light meals … surely!
    I found this http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

    Have a nice day


  14. I designed my own meal plan in “Open Office”, and I incorporate it into my weekly schedule. I usually only cook three dinners a week, and do some baking. My folks do the other three dinners and then we have cook’s night off on Sunday. Although sometimes my dad and I like to experiment with a new recipe on a Sunday.

    I love meal planning. It saves me lots of time, and money. I usually ask on Sundays (when I am planning) if anyone has a special meal they want.

    I have pretty much mapped out my life on the computer. I decided to make my computer work hard for my family. I have a meal plan, errand list, grocery list, all kinds of things.
    God bless!!

  15. Was just going through my recipes tonight thinking I needed to start planning meals again. This happens to me every year, I’m so good up through the holidays and then immediately after I fall of the wagon. Then with spring I get my groove back and try to pull it all back together again.

    So this week maybe:
    Grilled pork tenderloin, grilled zucchini, red beans & rice
    Meatball stew, maybe over fettucini? salad/fruit
    Fish tacos, fruit
    Creamy chicken stew, rolls, green salad/fruit
    Grilled salmon, asparagus, salt roasted potatoes

    Was just peeking at your twit pics – you are decidedly blonder ❈ Tres chic!

    • sarah says:

      you go girl, it definitely helps a lot

      yes I am, my hairdresser decided it was the way to go…but I am not sure !

  16. Daniele says:

    Fantastic to hear that you are so happy Sarah. I agree that is the simple things in life that truly are the best, a lovely meal, glass of wine with husband, a comfy sofa and knowing my two girls are happy and healthy makes me grateful and blessed with my life !!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful menu for this week …I definitely like to plan for the week ahead, and find that it takes the pressure out of decision making which can become quite a chore after being the chief cook and bottlewasher for so many years, sometimes i am just so over it, but then i refer to my planner or previous ones and it doesnt seem like such a struggle.
    I love cooking in a slow cooker, as sometimes there are leftovers – and they always taste so much better the next day.
    Have a great week
    Daniele x

    • sarah says:

      yes Daniele love my slow cooker, and yes love simple things, thanks for stopping by xo

  17. Selby says:

    Oh yes! I am all about the plan. To be honest I didn’t realize it was an option…yes really: my mum always did weekly plans and that’s just what I grew up thinking was the way. Id no idea it was optional till my college housemates didn’t do it! Who knew?!:) hehe

  18. Kim says:

    So happy to be Me is great! I enjoy my simple “Me” life as well.I do meal planning as well .I meal plan from the sale adds cause I hate to pay full price for anything.I buy what’s on sale and what’s in season too.I do have those days where I just refuse to cook or change the menu.I cook what will parish first then the items that last longer at the end of the week.Crockpot recipes I love!
    My weekly plan this week is Italian Pork Roast, baked potato, salad! Steak, roasted veggies w/potato and only because my daughter and husband love it! Smoked Salmon chowder because I love it! Spaghetti, roasted broccoli and garlic bread! Fried Rice w/chicken and veggies! I plan 5 days at a time and sometimes we may just eat cereal or salads.Mostly I enjoy cooking but some days just simply fall apart.~Cheers Kim

  19. Kate says:

    Hi Sarah

    As a working mum a menu plan for the week is an absolute essential. As is a homework plan, a jobs plan and a wall calendar…. And you don’t want to know how many notebooks I own, plus the handy notes app on my iPhone. Lets just say I’m not the most spontaneous of people….

    Loving the weekly menu planner pad – anyone know where to get these in the UK?
    Off to Somerset now for a week with the family
    Kate s

    • sarah says:

      I think KikkiK does have some UK suppliers, and does ship internationally but the charges are pretty hefty…

      enjoy Somerset, pretty nice part of the world x

    • sarah says:

      yes it is a really good one…pretty and functional plus the magnetic strip on the back is a really hardy one that means it doesn’t fall off the fridge, I am hoping KIKKIK bring out some new designs…x

  20. Anja says:

    Yaaaah been waiting for this…thank you!! and for all the recipes and links…made your carrot cupcakes again last week and it was a hit with the whole family…it’s my fail safe, impress when the ladies come over and lunch box treat….xx

  21. Alyson says:

    I just started meal planning this year – what took me so long?? My pantry door is painted with chalkboard paint – so I write the weeks menu out on Sunday afternoon and it stops all the “what are we having for dinner?” queries, plus it keeps me on track! I take a photo of it for Instagram – #mealplan. One thing I have noticed since planning is the huge amount of food in the fridge…so now one night is leftovers night as in: Mama is going to Aquafit, so pick a bowl and heat it up Kids!

  22. Christie says:

    I like crockpot cooking…chili, tortilla soup, chicken curry, machaca beef tacos, etc. Although, I cook every day. I have four kids and they tend to eat a lot. So, chicken katsu, spaghetti and meatballs, enchiladas, homemade pizza, paprika chicken, shoyu chicken…a lot of chicken, veggies and fruit. Anyway, it’s always good to try something new, but the picky eaters sometimes make the meal plan monotonous. Your beef stew looks great! Aloha.

    • sarah says:

      me too, I use it all the time, this meal plan is actually unusual in that it’s only being used twice..

      the beef stew is fabulous! x

  23. Liz says:

    It was a bright idea doing your plan for meal. Thanks for sharing this.

  24. Rukmini Roy says:

    I sometimes wonder whether you are a super woman. Look at your all spic and span and cornered. I will write my meal plan for the week too.
    I am thinking of making a couple of custom made meal planners in photoshop with our blog names and all.. would you like one for download? I will be honored to make you one.

  25. alison says:

    I was far more organised before our girls left home. We had our family favourites which I rotated so we had plenty of variety. I have always found cooking dinner stressful and frustrating as I am vegetarian, Mr alison is a full on meat eater and our daughters and I have food intolerances. I learnt to work around the food intolerances and do it without thinking now. But I have always had to cook two meals every night. Yuck. I like cooking but…

    The best thing I’ve learnt is to cook in bulk and freeze in serving portions as well as having a serving leftover for our lunches the next day. That saves sooo much money and we eat well.

    My older daughter, Ms alison no 1, has developed a basic cooked mince mix she freezes in meal portions. She then can quickly create several recipe variations from this basic mince mix.

    Both my daughters have continued the habit of cooking extra for their lunch and their partner’s lunch the next day. We have all noticed how our work colleagues who eat takeaway are very keen to see what home made treat we have for lunch!


    PS Sarah!!! Is it true???? Did I win that $150 Bunnings voucher courtesy of Turf Australia?

    • sarah says:

      Yes you did. I was just about to email you, just got home but looks like they beat me to it…congrats!!!!

      Leftovers for lunch are pretty amazing mr bc always had people amazed that he had home cooked meals to bring in the next day… Always thought that was weird and like what did they eat for dinner ??


      • alison says:

        Mr alison is v e r y impressed with the Bunnings voucher.

        I nearly deleted the Bunnings manager’s email in my junk mail as I thought it was another viagra email!! LOL LOL


  26. Poppy says:

    My mother alwasys used to plan meals, so I have always done so too. I don’t have a planner: I use a spiral bound exercise book, which I divide into three coloumns – day, lunch, dinner. I get a week to a page, which is great and I decorate it as I use it – well doodle it really! I note down the recepies used and the page of the book if it is a good one. It really does keep me sane, and it is so exciting going ‘off-plan’ sometimes!!

    Weather is starting to warm up in the UK, so it is nice to be thinking of salads, rather than hot dishes.

  27. Claire says:

    I’ve been planning our meals and a resulting shopping list for quite a few years now. I write my (very brief) plans on sheet of paper and that goes up on the blackboard in the kitchen so we can see what we’re having that week. I also chalk up things we run out during the week on the board, then everything gets transferred on Fridays to the ShopShop App on my iPhone (great btw and FREE!) – tick the stuff off as you bung it in your trolley in the supermarket. Before I decided to get organised with meals we regularly ended up with both our heads in the fridge saying ‘what shall we eat tonight?’ realising we had a whole bunch of stuff that didn’t make any kind of meal at all – ketchup with broccoli anyone?! All that said, I do change the order around a bit and usually programme in one meal that won’t be wasted if we end up eating out (tins, freezer, pasta etc.). Meal plans definitely take the stress out of having to make decisions at the end of the day when you’re tired and people need feeding!

  28. Christie G says:

    Boy, do I need to bring my awareness and attention to this area of life! Question … where are all the snacks. I have teenage boys. You have teenage boys. I know they are eating afternoon snacks before diner…. any ideas there ? Usually, my boys walk in the door and say, “What is for snack?”. No, Hi Mom. or How was your day ? Just, what is there to eat ???? It’s a good thing to like to cook with teenagers in the house. ;)
    ~ C

  29. Sarah says:

    My children have just returned home for the Easter hols from Uni, on Friday I wrote a meal plan for the week, which was the first one for ages. It was great leaving work tonight and knowing exactly what was for supper. Reading through the comments it seems many let it slip when the children have left home, but it does make life simpler and easier when you have one, I will have to bring it back!
    Love your recipes will have to try some on meal planner for next week.

  30. Angela says:

    I didn’t read every comment, so this may have been covered already. Nicole @ Planning With Kids does some great downloads for meal planning & she has just launched a meal planning app via istore. Or, if you prefer paper, why not fancy up your own style in an excel spreadsheet & then set it as a pdf & print onto some lovely paper – delegate out to a teenager if this is not your idea of a good time ;-)

  31. Sarah says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Been reading your blog for a while but coming out of the shadows to let you know that your meal plan inspired me this week and I cooked both the Gnocchi and the Cheesy Muffins tonight! The dinner went down so well with my fiance and he was also well impressed with the muffins – I am not the cook in our little family so I have some serious brownie points! I hope you post your meal plans more often – great inspiration for the less home organised of us!


  32. Sarah says:

    You have inspired me to get on the meal plan bandwagon! Perhaps it’s time to stop having hungry arguments with the boyfriend and actually be a little organised. However, I’m not going to be so lovely and will certainly be delegating half of the tasks… I know, I make a terrible housewife! Lucky I’m the main income earner instead!!

  33. veggie mama says:

    I’ve been feeling just the same way lately! I’m SO content.

    And boy do I love a meal plan! I don’t even really pick what days, I just pick five dinners and figure it out later. <3

  34. michelle says:

    I love seeing someone elses weekly meal plan! I do the same, even have a kikki.k meal planner pad. I flip the page over and write my shopping list on the back, that way if I put down ‘potatoes’ I can flip it over and see why, and get an idea for how many.

  35. sarah t says:


    this one is for one meal a day – which is all I could hope for to get my family together for dinner… plus a grocery list on the side.

    I’m going to give it to my teenagers to fill out- that way they can’t complain!

  36. aadhu says:

    Woww…I Just Love that plan, its best and