Years ago I read a book called Sidetracked Home Executives, written by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, two women from my own home town of Vancouver, Washington. The best idea I got from them was to have an ongoing week plan for menus. Chicken on a certain day of the week (however you might like to cook the chicken that particular week), Beef another night, Leftovers another night, and so on. It made it so much easier to plan the menus each week.
Over the years I have tweaked the plan. I find it so much easier if I don't have to sit down each week and plan what chicken dish we will have on Monday, what beef dish we will have on Sunday, and so forth, and then have to look up the various recipes and list all the ingredients needed for each meal. Instead I made a master plan for two weeks, with two master shopping lists to go with the menus. Before it's time to shop, I simply go through the appropriate shopping list and check inventory. If it's on the list and we have it, I cross it off. If we don't, we know we need to buy it. With this plan, I have sometimes made my list for the week in as little as five minutes.
Our tastes and needs will be very different from someone else's, but just to demonstrate the idea, here is my dinner plan for two weeks:
Monday-Nacho Chicken Casserole
Tuesday-Country Bean Soup
Wednesday-Tuna Noodle Casserole
(that's a pasta dish with cheese
and tomato sauce created by two of my sons)
Saturday-Clam Chowder, Homemade Bread
Monday-Chicken Chow Mein
Tuesday-Split Pea Soup, Biscuits
Wednesday-Macaroni & Cheese
Thursday-Chicken Rice Broccoli Bake
Saturday-Pizza (frozen pizzas from Sam's Club)