Why I Hate My Menu Plan...And How Build-A-Menu Can Help

I’ve confessed before how very much I do not like cooking. It is most definitely my least favorite homemaking task. I can clean. I can homeschool. I can even, occasionally, spin out a creative, crafty project. But when I’m standing in the kitchen surrounded by raw food and cooking implements, I’m very much out of my element.

Over the years- despite my lack of abilities as a cook- I’ve learned the importance of having a menu plan. Without a plan, grocery shopping turns into a daily affair and we waste far too much money on convenience food that contains no nutrition. As I’ve learned this concept of menu planning, I’ve tried every form of menu planning known to man…or at least to homemakers. I’ve tried online plans. I’ve tried scribbling my own on a piece of paper. I’ve tried spreadsheets. I’ve ordered custom weekly plans. Despite this struggle, I have a confession…I always end up hating my menu plan. Every type of plan I’ve tried, every method, I end up hating my menu plan.

How Build-A-Menu can help with easy menu planning

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If you are like me and you also hate your menu plan, there’s hope. I’ve been using Build-A-Menu for some time now. And I’ve been pleased to find out that this menu planning system helps to alleviate some of these things I truly hate about menu planning.

I hate not knowing what’s on sale when I make a plan.

I have a grocery budget. There is only so much money I can and should spend for groceries each month. When I’ve tried various menu planning systems, it is very difficult to stay within my budget when I’m shopping for specific ingredients that may or may not be on sale. What I usually have to do is shop first, buying as much on sale as possible, and then think of meals based on what I was able to buy. Most menu planning systems don’t work well for this.

Build-A-Menu works with me, though, to shop for ingredients that are on sale. With Build-A-Menu, I can choose specific grocery stores where I like to shop. The program then works to suggest recipes that include ingredients that are on sale for the week.

Choosing a grocery store for my menu plan

I can choose several stores, and Build-A-Menu shows me when the meal plan for that week will be updated. There are several featured stores that I can choose from, but each week I can access any menu from any store. This flexibility makes it so easy. If I know I’m only going to Publix this week, I can choose just Publix from the featured stores. My menu choices will reflect sales at Publix. But I can still access any of the other store menus as well for even more choices.

Grocery store sales and menu planning

I hate menu plans with no allergen suggestions.

Some of us eat gluten free. I’ve gotten pretty good at adapting recipes and choosing recipes that are gluten free. Many menu planning resources, however, don’t make provisions for gluten free eating. When I’ve tried those resources, I find myself frustrated because I can’t use many of the recipes. And when I have to do a large amount of changing and substituting, the menu plan isn’t very helpful.

Build-A-Menu has a variety of recipe options. The recipe suggestions are labeled, and the choices include:

  • Low cost
  • Low carb
  • Gluten free
  • Low fat
  • Sensible portions
  • Vegetarian
  • Trim lifestyle
  • Clean eating
  • Low carb
  • Paleo
  • Soups
  • Grilled meals
  • Family friendly
  • Allergy friendly (nuts and gluten)
  • Weight Watchers
  • Slow cooker
  • Crowd pleasers
  • Manly meals
  • Dine on a Dime
The labels also let me know approximately how many people these recipes will serve. These labels make it so easy for me to find the specific kinds of recipes I want. And then I don’t have worry about changes and substitutions.
Many choices of recipes for meal planning

I hate only finding main dish recipes.

Most meal planning systems focus on dinner meals. There may be an occasional side dish or dessert, but the focus is often on dinner recipes. This is okay, but there are times I’d really like to have some variety. How about a breakfast or lunch recipe? Those meals get rather boring around here because we have the same thing over and over. I’d like some new ideas. Side dishes and desserts are nice additions as well if I’m planning a larger meal or something special for company.

Build-A-Menu offers more than just dinner recipes. I can find breakfast, lunch, side dishes, snacks, desserts, and even special recipes that are good for making with the kids. I love the options and choices.

Build-A-Menu offers a variety of recipe types

I hate not having a choice of recipes.

I like flexibility. I’m also a picky eater. I admit it. And I’ve raised children who tend to be pickier. So I need some choices, some variety. I’ve tried out menu planning systems that give me recipes and meal ideas with foods we’ve never heard of and have never thought about eating. And, occasionally the ingredients list and instructions are so complicated I don’t stand a chance. These “set in stone” menus with foods we don’t like end up wasted because I have to make so many substitutions for them.

Build-A-Menu gives me a wide variety of choices. When I get ready to plan for the week, I have so many recipes to choose from. Each recipe shows me a category (from the list above) as well as an estimated cost for the meal based on the store I’ve chosen. There are so many choices that I can easily find recipes the whole family will like.

Creating a menu plan with Build-A-Menu

I hate having a set day for each meal in my plan.

Here I am with the flexibility thing again. There are weeks when, despite my best intentions, our evenings change and aren’t the way I planned. When this happens and my meal planning system has listed out specific meals for specific days, my obsessive compulsive self gets very frustrated because my intended meal has to be changed, and I may have to shuffle around the days.

With Build-A-Menu, I can choose how to arrange my recipes for printing. I can print them as a list or I can place them in specific places on the calendar. An easy drag and drop feature lets me move them around on the calendar however I need to. After I have the setup, I can print my meal plan as a calendar or list as well as print a complete shopping list.

Printable meal plan calendar

I hate not being able to add my own recipes to my plan.

Although it’s nice to get new recipes to try, and I certainly appreciate some help out of the dinner time slump, we do have a few family favorite meals that we enjoy having as well. Many menu planning systems don’t allow me to add my own recipes. So I end up with all new/different recipes scheduled each week with nowhere to fit in our favorites. And my obsessive compulsive self mentioned above makes me stressed when I can’t put the meal I want to cook on the “official list” for the week.

Build-A-Menu has a brand new feature that will allow me to enter my own recipe. Now I can add family favorites to the choices and select them to put on the plan for the week.

Add my recipe to my meal planner

And so I’ve found with Build-A-Menu, that some of those things I really hate about my menu plans can be better. My truly ideal menu planning system would probably have a personal cook that came to my house to prepare every meal. So far, Build-A-Menu doesn’t offer that service. But it does have lots of extras that make my menu planning simpler and more effective.

Do you have a favorite menu planning system?

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