MENU PLANNING 101 : How It Can Save You Time and Money

I guess it's safe to say that I learned from the BEST. My late mother Corito was a very good cook and nutritionist (yes! She literally had a degree in BS Nutrition). Growing up, we were so blessed to have had experienced and tasted her cooking. I always loved coming home because I always knew there would be great food on the table. It was also from her that I developed my love for cooking and working in the kitchen which eventually led me into shifting careers and studying at one of the most prestigious culinary institutions in NYC.

I don't have a cook and cook about 80% of our meals. The remaining 20% is the reheating of the cooked meals already which I leave to my all-around helper when I'm not around. So I am always thinking of ways to structure and organize our mini kitchen operations. I learned a lot from my mother and one of the best things I apply now is MENU PLANNING. It's a very effective tool and practice that can easily save MONEY since predetermined meals but down on IMPULSE spending on the supermarket. Planning meals ahead can save you a lot of TIME as well because you won't need to go to the store for missing ingredients or you can already prep in advanced since you know what you are cooking that day. I do mine every weekend either Saturday and Sunday before I go to the wet market and grocery so it can dictate my market/grocery list. This way your grocery can be budgeted and there is minimal wastage. Here are some of my tips on how to create a successful and efficient MENU PLAN at home.

The first step is to write/type it down. Some people may want to just write it on a piece of paper/whiteboard/chalkboard that you can hang somewhere in your kitchen. I personally type it up (I already have a format in MS Word that I just edit every time).

Grocery shopping should be considered a skill. You have to always be smart about it. If not you will end up with a lot of spoilage and wastage or worst stack your refrigerator and pantry with things that will just expire on you.

First In - First Out policy should always be used. This is a practice used in the professional kitchen but can also be applied at home. This simply means that the oldest inventory items should be used first. Always also check items in the ref/chiller/freezer that may be already passed their expiry date so you can create space for your new items.

4. MIX and MATCH
Variety is important when making meal combinations. You do not want your husband and kids to get sick of one viand/"ulam" unless it's really their absolute favorite. For instance, my whole family especially my 2 kids LOVE sinigang. And by this I mean they can literally eat it every other day that's why it is always in our weekly menu. What I do is change up the kind of sinigang. If on Monday, we make pork sinigang then on Thurs or Friday, I either make Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp) or Sinigang na Bangus (milkfish). If your family is just like mine and appreciate home-cooked Filipino Food (Lutong Bahay), here are my favorite meal combinations. I'm not a huge breakfast person and usually just have a smoothie or fruit/granola to start the day but my kids can eat a full meal so I still prepare a full breakfast for them.  Here are our top WEEKLY picks; You can some of the active links for recipes I posted in the past just in case you want my recipes. :)

    photo taken from

* Click on link for my homemade recipes :)

Overnight Oats with Bananas *
French Toast (different variations) - Banana, Banana-Nutella, Plain, Strawberry *
Pancakes with Fruit
Fruit and Yogurt
Green Smoothies *
Soft Boiled Eggs with Toasts
Bacon & Eggs
Bagel, Cream Cheese, Capers and Paprika (with smoked salmon once in a while)
Avocado on Toast and Cottage Cheese
Corned Beef and Rice
Crispy Adobo Flakes (if we have leftover adobo from the night before, I shred the meat and fry it to a crisp the next day!)
Tinapa with Red Eggs, Tomatoes and Onions with Garlic Rice
Tuyo, Creamed Eggs or Ginisang Itlog and Garlic Rice
Daing na Bangus

*photo taken from

Sinigang (all types - I usually do a vegetarian version for the days I want to go meatless - lots of greens, gabi, garbanzos, kamias/guava when available the souring agent),
Chicken or Pork Adobo
Chicken Tinola with Sayote and Malunggay - I also tweak this sometimes and make a "Hainanese Version of It"
Beef Nilaga
Fried Fish with usually a soup as combination
Beef Kaldereta (spicy with lots of olives)
Mechado - Pork of Beef
Tinapa Rice

Salads (all kinds! I experiment on different toppings and dressings everytime)
Baked Rosemary and Lemon Chicken - whole chicken
Iberian Chicken *
Penne Al Telefono *
Cacio E Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta) *
DIY Tacos
Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves
Homemade Siomai *
Homecooked Steak (and then we make the leftovers into a rice dish the next day which y husband calls Gengis Khan)
Tabbouleh *
Grilled Cheese and Spicy Tomato Soup
Roasted Rosemary Lamb and Potatoes

Let me know your thoughts! Maybe even share some of your favorite weekly dishes you make at home! I'd love to hear from all of you! E-mail me at or drop a comment here!



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