Book Review and Giveaway!


As you all know, I have become such a big fan of menu planning. If I had only listened and realized what a time saver and stress reliever it was in the long run, I would have jumped on the bandwagon a long time ago! Learn from my mistakes, and start now. There are so many resources out there to help you get started. But one of the most comprehensive has to be the 7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies by Susan Nicholson, RD, LD.

Recently, I was sent a copy of 7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies to review. This is my first experience with the For Dummies® brand. I must say, I am very impressed. The book is organized into three main sections: The Path to Quick, Healthy, Budget-Friendly Meals, A Year’s Worth of Weekly Meal Plans (yes, you read that correctly – she’s already done all the work for you!), and The Part of Tens (bonus tips, recipes and other tidbits). There are recipes throughout and a very handy recipe index in the front of the book by category.

Susan’s writing style is very conversational and humorous. It is actually an entertaining book to read. Yes, I’m a nutrition nerd, but still, she was able to keep my interest even in areas where I already know much of the information. While I did practically read it from cover to cover, it is an easy book to pick up and read in sections, depending upon your mood. Though I do recommend starting at the beginning if menu planning is new for you.

There is something for everyone in this book, whether it is the budget-conscious person, the harried mother or the picky eater. Susan is big on themes, and I think it is a great idea. What better way to get the family excited over dinner if there is a theme involved. There is a great deal of variety in the menu plans themselves. I appreciate the fact that Susan doesn’t stick with the same pattern every week – it may not be the best idea to get pigeon-holed into a certain day of the week being known as “express,” “meatless,” or “kid-friendly” night. Better to switch things up to keep it from getting boring. [Okay, I know I have the pattern of Thursday’s being leftover day in my house, but that is due to my teaching schedule this semester.]

Susan has put a great deal of time, thought and research into her menu plans. While you can pick and choose any to try in the book, there is a seasonal element to her menus that is extremely helpful. Week 1 starts at the beginning of January and goes through the entire year. Holiday menus are included! While I may not choose to follow her weekly meal plans exactly as written [I have gotten into my own rhythm now], I have definitely spied a good number of recipes that I will be trying out soon, and the seasonal nature of the menu is a boost to my own creativity. Last night I deviated from my menu plan as I received some fresh salmon from my parents, so I made the Salmon Fillets à la Pesto and it was delicious! Even my husband, who generally does not like mixing nuts and main dishes, ate it up. He has already requested me to try the Baked Fried Chicken. The Moroccan-Style Beef Kebabs with Spiced Bulgur look great as do the Lentil-Stuffed Peppers.

Susan has graciously given me an extra book to give away to one of my lucky readers. Please comment below what you love about menu planning, or if you don’t currently menu plan, tell us about your greatest obstacle to menu planning. I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, February 18 at noon EST.

So, here is what is on my menu this week:

Monday: Provolone and olive stuffed chicken breasts with mashed sweet potatoes and haricot verts and moo-less chocolate pie for dessert

Tuesday: Slow cooker pork tacos with a spinach salad

Wednesday: Evening Out

Thursday: Leftovers (probably chili out of the freezer since I will be at my supper club with friends)

Friday: Shrimp ‘n grits with salad [moved from a few weeks ago to here]

Saturday: Chicken sausage pasta with balsamic and parmesan roasted cauliflower

Sunday: Skillet gnocchi with spinach and white beans

  • JaneCrosbySwanson

    Hi, Ann! What I love about menu planning is that those days when you are tired and have no clue what to cook – you don’t have to worry because it’s already shopped for and done! I do my thinking and planning on the weekends with the family so everyone has a say into the menu for the week. We each usually get a day of our pick of the main course and sides – one day is a leftover day and then one day I experiment with something fun for a surpsie dinner! (on a good week – otherwise it’s dinner out!)
    Jane 🙂

  • lleune

    Hi Ann, I love your blog and FB posts. I’d love to learn more about menu planning to help make dinner prep less stressful and more cost effective.

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  • Brett

    Menu Planning–I’m a collaborator with my wife and we do it in fits and starts. Since I share in a lot of the cooking, we work together (often she cooks for our little ones who eat around 5:15 while I cook for my wife and me to eat around 7:30). When we do plan the week goes so much more smoothly–even if we don’t follow our plan. We at least get a couple days in and have leftovers to fill in days that get blown out of the water for whatever reason.

    Our biggest challenge with 2 1/2 twin boys and a nearly 4 daughter: menu ideas that work with all of us and healthy options for our children that they’ll eat.

  • anndunawayteh

    @Brett Hi Brett! That is great that you and your wife do it together. I understand your challenges. Check out the recipes over at – it is one of my favorite sites that has great recipes and ideas for food for the whole family. There is no reason that you can’t all eat the same foods because that is a lot of extra work to prepare two dinners every night. And remember that it takes perseverance with kids and food – it can take up to 15-20 exposures before they like something. So keep at it!

  • anndunawayteh

    @lleune Congratulations – you are the winner of the book giveaway, as determined by I hope this book helps get you underway on menu planning – it is a great resource. And thank you for being a loyal reader of my blog!

  • anndunawayteh

    @JaneCrosbySwanson Thanks, Jane! Sounds like you have a great plan in place for your planning! I approach it much the same way.