Easy Meal Planning Hack Using a Rotating Meal Plan

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This easy meal planning hack gives your meal plans flexibility while still making it super quick and easy to plan a week’s worth of meals.

An Easy Meal Planning hack rotating meal plan

When I was a kid, Wednesday nights were spaghetti bolognese nights, and it was my night to cook.

On Saturday’s we had roast and Monday nights we ate lamb chops and vegetables.

The predictability of our evening meal was almost satirical: ‘Chops? It must be Monday!’

So as an adult, I’ve always been resistant to having set meals on certain nights.


But now as a mother myself, I see the benefit of not having to plan new meal ideas every week.

Gone are the days when I could spend time browsing cookbooks for new and exciting meal ideas over a quiet cup of tea.

Instead, I need meal planning to be quick and easy and require as little thought as possible.

Because I haven’t slept a whole night through in nearly a decade. #brainfog If you’re a mum, you can probably relate.

Thus, I’ve come to embrace a meal plan rotation.

You might also like: Organising Recipes and Meal Planning Using Evernote

Use a Rotating Meal Plan for Ease and Flexibility

A meal plan rotation doesn’t have to be boring.

You don’t need to eat the same thing every Wednesday night.

Here are some tips on menu planning using a set meal rotation.

Allocate a Set Theme For Each Night of the Week

Allocating meals to each day of the week doesn’t mean you have to eat spag bol every Wednesday night.

You might make it pasta night instead, which gives you variety as well as the flexibility to plan dishes using seasonal ingredients. In our case, Wednesday is either stir fry or pasta night, preferably, but not necessarily, vegetarian.

Here’s how our meal rotation works:

Sunday: Roast / Braise

Monday: Vegetarian

Tuesday: Leftover roast / Mexican

Wednesday: Rice / noodles / grains (stir fry, pasta, curry etc.)

Thursday: Fish

Friday: Slow cooker / casserole

Saturday: Homemade ‘take out’ food

Use your family favourites list

When it comes to choosing exactly what you’re going to eat, a family favourites list makes the job super quick and easy, especially if you group your list according to your meal rotations.

So for pasta night, you simply have to look at all the pasta meals on your list to choose one that is most appropriate.

Capitalise on leftovers and advance preparation

You will save time and money if you incorporate leftovers into your menu plan.

For example, I put fish night after stir fry night because if I make tuna rissoles, I can use leftover rice in my rissoles from the stir fry the night before.

Use your menu plan to plan prep work as well as what’s on the menu – like a to-do list for the kitchen. Why chop one carrot, when you can chop all the carrots for the week in just a little extra time?

Start the week with a roast

I read this idea on the Weed ‘em and Reap blog: start the week with a roast. That way you can incorporate leftovers later in the week and make stock and / or soup with the bones for another meal or lunches.

Making stock is easy in the slow cooker: throw the bones into (or back into) the slow cooker straight after the Sunday dinner, and maybe some vegetables, and wake up with stock or soup already made the next morning.

Reuse your meal plans

Once you have a few weeks of meal plans, you can save time by just reusing old ones – no need to write a new meal plan each week.

If you plan meals around seasonality, then keep all your meal plans and then reuse old meal plans from the same time the year before.

Example menu plan

This is our menu plan from last week:

Sunday: Roast chicken (make stock overnight in slow cooker; roast extra pumpkin)

Monday: Roast pumpkin frittata and salad (use leftover roast pumpkin; strain stock; add rest of pumpkin to slow cooker for pumpkin soup for lunches)

Tuesday: Chicken burritos and salad (use leftover roast chicken; salad from garden)

Wednesday: Stir fry kangaroo and vegetables (make up extra rice)

Thursday: Tuna rissoles and salad (use leftover rice from stir fry)

Friday: Slow cooked Boston baked beans (freeze half for an easy-reheat back-up meal)

Saturday: Burgers (hubby’s night to cook)

I’m a big fan of menu planning because it makes life easier, saves money, time, waste, trips to the supermarket, petrol, mental energy deciding what to cook for dinner and effort.

Menu planning in itself is not difficult nor time-consuming, but using a meal rotation makes it even easier and quicker.

Do you plan set meals for each night of the week?

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  1. I’ve always wanted to do meal planning, but didn’t want set meals on set days, I like to cook and try different meals- so this is an awesome way I doing it :-) Thanks!

    1. This is the best of both worlds :)

  2. I also have a rough schedule, which is similar to yours. I have a big bulk meal on Sunday (a roast, a curry, pulled pork or chilli), then leftovers on Monday, chicken on Tuesday, Pizza on Wednesday (often topped with leftovers), baked potatoes on Thursday (because I have to get out the door to band practice), eggs on Friday (after drinks at work) and then whatever I feel like on Saturday.

    I don’t always stick to it (I definitely haven’t this week), but find it’s good to have some kind of structure for when things get busy.

    1. Great plan! I love Sunday pulled pork – As I’m reading your comment, I’m sitting here eating leftover pulled pork that started as a roast, then enchiladas and now lunch. :)

  3. Funny you should post this – I just posted about it too! I like to have a rough ‘theme’ for each night, similar to you, to help decide what the BF and I will eat. He’s pretty on board with it too – making sure our faves like Mexican and Italian feature every week. Sadly I’ve dropped eating fish since the past two years I wasn’t close to a fish monger, and now the BF doesn’t eat it, and if I’m honest, he does most of our cooking! The thought of two meals is just a little bonkers at the moment. I’ll save it for when I’m eating out!

    1. My kids would prefer it if we dropped eating fish as well! There’s a lot of things we don’t eat any more because we eat with the kids (anything with chilli in it, for instance). I save those things for lunches :).

  4. My other favourite thing is cooking in bulk and freezing portions for lunch. This saves time and money, and means I get a satisfying and substantial lunch while I’m working!