It’s Spring in Australia and here in Brisbane the weather can’t decide whether to be warm or cold and rainy.  So how do you plan meals around this alternating hot and cool weather?  Just keep reading for my easy menu planning tips.

Menu Planning

Planning a menu sounds easy but isn’t always – you write what you think you/your partner/your family will like to eat in the next week and the weather turns from hot and sunny to cool and rainy.  And who wants to eat cold salads in cool rainy weather, right?  Or hot soup on a humid and hot evening? Check out my tips for writing your menu.

  • I usually plan on a set day each week and do the shopping that day or the next.
  • Use a notebook, spreadsheet or menu template and consider a whole range of issues.
  • What is the weather forecast saying about the week ahead?  Jot down in brackets ‘hot’, ‘cold’ for the weather to give you a guide to the types of meals you might like to cook.
  • Do you have any commitments which means you won’t want to cook anything complicated – jot them down on your planner as ‘easy night’, ‘leftovers’, ‘gym’, or whatever prompt works for you. menu planning tips
  • Jot down if you are planning on having friends over or if you’re going out.
  • If cooking duties are shared by your household, write down who is doing the cooking.
  • Next check through your favourite recipes, either by flipping through some recipe books or online, or asking the family for their favourites.  If you plan to use a recipe jot down the abbreviated name of the recipe book (yes, I have that many recipe books!) and its page number. Do you want to try something new or a bit different this week?  Jot the changes on your planner.  Make it as detailed or sketchy as you want.
  • Consider what is in season.  Fruit and vegies in season are a lot cheaper than those out of season.  Aussie grown produce is better for the environment, too.
  • Add in lunches or other meals, if you wish.  My family tend to have breakfast cereal or toast at breakfast so not much planning is needed for that.
  • Then, write your shopping list.  Check through the pantry and fridge so you don’t buy doubles of what you already have.

The Shopping List

Your shopping list can be on fancy paper, in your phone, on the back of an old envelope but ideally not just in your head!  The number of times over the years I have gone to the supermarket with a mental list and come home with doubles of things already in the pantry or missing essential ingredients has been phenomenal.  So now it gets written down.  You can also send someone else to shop for you if you have helpers! shop from a menu plan

Keep a list near the fridge of things which have been depleted over the week, so these items are the first things written on a fresh shopping list.

I write my list in a particular order so it’s easy to spot what I need to buy in different sections of the supermarket.  I have a section for:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Frozen foods
  • Dairy
  • Meat/fish/chicken or nuts/legumes/tofu/tempeh section if you are vegetarian/vegan
  • Bread
  • Grocery items and dry goods
  • And pet foods, as well as cleaning and paper products go at the end of my list.

You might like to tailor yours to how your supermarket is laid out, but I’m not that fussy.


Why is this planning process so important?  If you are trying to eat healthy, having easy to cook meals planned with ingredients in the cupboard and fridge make it so much easier at the end of a tiring day to just prepare what you have planned, instead of buying potentially unhealthy take-aways.

It also means if you are trying to cut out treats the easiest way is to not buy them.  If treats aren’t in the cupboard then there’s no temptation!

And remember to shop after a meal so you aren’t hungry.  Shop hungry and you buy lots of treat foods which, of course, aren’t on your list.

To sum up

Take the time to plan your menu for the week, taking into account the weather and your activities.

Write your shopping list from the menu, checking what you already have in your kitchen.

Now put the list in your handbag so you don’t forget it!  And make sure the re-usable carry bags are in the car.

See you, I’m going shopping!

register here   to receive Dale’s blog update in your inbox each week.

contact dale   if you would like help to work toward achieving your health goals.

Feel free to share Nutrition Intuition's content

Post byDale Cooke

I'm a nutritionist, dietitian and personal trainer with 29 years of experience helping people improve their health. I really like using a non-diet philosophy to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Can I help you improve your health?