Meal planning is essential to helping me save time and money. If I know what I am making for lunch or dinner when I get home there is no need to drive through or pick up a pizza. Some people like their menus on paper, some like menu's on the computer or wipe off boards. If you don't have a form already that you like for menu planning you may want to look at these Printable Menu's from Unclutter.com for a quick start. I have a cute weekly planning pad that has 50 sheets (weeks) that I got from a dollar store for $2. It has been worth every dollar. I also keep my running "almost out of, shopping list" on top of the microwave right next to my menu so I can jot down what I am running low on (and buy it when it goes on sale). My friend has a wipe off board that has a monthly calendar on it. She has it hanging in the kitchen next to her fridge and that is where she writes her menu. She also keeps her shopping list and a blank memo board next to it for notes. You could probably mount your menu board inside a cupboard or hang it on the side of the fridge if you like it out of sight. As long as your menu is not "out of sight out of mind".
I like Money Saving Mom's $40 a week budget menu ideas . Even though my budget is higher then hers. It makes life much smoother to plan our meals out ahead of time. I plan with what we have on hand from sales and coupons in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. It saves time, money and stress from running to the store to get "one" thing. We sometimes swap what we have on the menu for a different day if our schedule or timing changes. That is OK with me. At least we have a plan. I plan several times to have a picnic in the car. I write down a list of snacks to throw in the cooler for days we are running around or for my husband who travels. Do you have a menu strategy that works for you?