There are many, many ways to menu plan. This is just how I do it.
1. I look to see what's in my freezer and pantry that I can use to create a meal. I can usually create at least one complete meal out of what's already available. Do I have a lot of brown rice hanging around? Is there chicken or sausage in the freezer from a previous week's good deal? Is there a half bag of vegetables hiding in the back of the freezer that needs to be used before I completely forget about it? I want to make sure that nothing is going to waste that I've already bought. Often I'll think of another meal that I can make and I'm only missing an item or two.
2. I pull out coupons. I go through the coupons I already have. I search online and see if there is anything useful to print off. Some weeks I find coupons for cheese, lunch meat, cereal that isn't full of sugar, brown rice, fish, and more! Other weeks I find nothing other than junk, which is not entering my house. Another place to find coupons? The store shelves. The best coupons usually come from the stores themselves, and yes, I'm THAT person who takes about 10 for future use.
3. I look at store ads. Even the commissary has an ad online. When I lived in a real city, I looked at the ads of the two closest stores to me that did not require me driving out of my way. I note any great deal that I am interested in.
4. Considering the ads and coupons, I piece together a few more meals for the week. Sometimes this means searching through my recipe binders to remember what they are, but I am able to find them!
5. If I still have empty spaces in my menu, I input a meal that I've been craving, that my husband has requested, or I go searching for something new to try.
I'm working on another blog post about how I approach a grocery store trip to save money. I've even saved a few recipes to prove that I really do only spend $50 a week.