A Traditional Menu Plan {My Experiment This Week}

Update: Now, after having gone through this meal plan…I LOVE it! I highly recommend this menu plan to anyone wanting to learn how to cook more real food dishes on a budget!!

Over the past two years I have been learning what it means to eat a Real, Whole Foods diet. I have discovered that I can grow a vegetable garden on my apartment patiowhat foods to cut out of our dietwhat eating organic meansbuying locally grown food, and am passionate about buying whole foods on a budget.

But even after all that research, something I really struggle with still is creating a meal plan and coming up with real food meals. I’m not the best cook in the world, although I try hard to have home cooked meals on our table every night. My failures when we eat unhealthily are not from lack of effort but rather lack of imagination.

That is why I am so excited about this new experiment of mine! For one month I am going to be following Spain in Iowa’s new Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget!

Spain in Iowa's Traditional Menu Plan on A Budget

My husband is so sweet and always tells me what a great cook I am, but in reality I’m not! Oh I can follow a recipe just fine and get a great plate of food on the dinner table…but I cannot create recipes or come up with menu plans very well. It’s just not in me. I love buying cookbooks but I end up making the same kind of meals over and over again because I have zero imagination when it comes to cooking and menu planning! Plus who has the time for menu planning?!? So I am very excited about this new menu planning from Diana for a few reasons!

What I’m Excited About

#1) The Work is Done for Me!

The way this program works is that each Wednesday you are sent the new menu plan for the next week. Included is a shopping list {with the ingredients for all the meals written out FOR YOU}, menu plan for the week, and each recipe written out {including full colors photos for each recipe which is HUGE for me}!

#2) It’s a Traditional {i.e. Healthy Whole Foods} Meal Plan

I have seen other menu plans before that seem like a great time saver but the problem is they are not healthy meal plans. They contain lots of sugar and processed foods and I would spend just as much time figuring out what I need to substitute in the recipes as making my own menu plan. Diana explains her meal plan,

Spain in Iowa’s Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget is about learning to appreciate good, whole, simple foods, in season which inevitably brings good health and joy. This menu plan is of course all real food.  We do not use any processed foods.

#3) I really trust Diana!

Diana is the recipe extraordinaire behind Spain in Iowa’s blog. I have followed her for a long time and love her recipes that she posts almost daily. I loved reading about her family’s story of growing up in a traditional culture and know that she lives and breathes traditional food. She is an excellent cook and her recipes are always so great. I expect nothing less from her menu plan.

#4) It will Save Me Time!

This (coupled with the traditional real food healthy recipes) is my biggest reason for trying out this menu plan. To pull out my cookbooks {or pull up Pinterest}, make a meal plan, assemble the shopping list, then do the shopping and cooking takes a lot of time each week! And being busy with two newborn babies, trying to write my book {more details coming soon!!}, and writing and running two blogs sure does take a lot of time!

Something that I am not willing to sacrifice is making healthy home cooked meals for my family so anything that helps me cut down on that time is great and so worth the little bit of $$ each month. I guess some readers were concerned that this menu plan would take too much time so here is Diana’s response,

“Many people have shared concerns if they will be able to cook this way on a tight schedule. The great news is that I’ve designed the menu plan in such a way that you’re honestly only spending, on average, about 30 – 35 minutes per evening on prepping and cooking.  In order to accomodate this, I teach my subscribers how to utilize their weekends on extra prep work to make their cooking during the week a cinch.

#5) There is a Community

Diana has built a community up around this menu plan. This is one of the things I LOVE about the internet. Each week Diana puts the new menu plan out on Wednesday and you have a few days to look over it and get your groceries before you are to start cooking. Then she puts up a blog posts with tips and opens up a discussion for the menu plan that week. This discussion is meant for us to ask any questions we have about the menu plan. Not sure where to buy an ingredient? Or looking for a subsitute for something? Ask away and Diana will get back to you! She also posts videos to help save time and learn new techniques in cooking.

What I’m Nervous About

I’m a little bit nervous about the meals. Every family likes different things right? But from the recipes I have seen on her blog, I don’t think this will be a problem!

Also, one great aspect of this menu plan is that Diana takes cheaper and lesser known cut of meats and ingredients to make healthy meals that cut down on the cost. Will I know where to get these ingredients? What if I can’t find the organic things I need? As I get into the menu plan this week I’ll keep you updated on these things.

Join Me In This Experiment

This menu plan looks fantastic but sometimes looks can be deceiving right? That’s why I am taking the month to dig into her menu plan and see what it’s all about and how well it works! Does it really help me to save time? Can I really cook every meal from scratch in just 35 minutes a night? Are the recipes really as delicious as they look?

I’ll answer all these questions and more as I dig into this menu plan. My experiment starts tomorrow as I go grocery shopping and cook the first meal. I will share with you my experience including:

  • The digital process {getting and printing my menu plans}
  • The shopping process {how hard is it to find these ingredients, how much time it takes, ect}.
  • The cooking process {how much prep is involved, how long do the recipes take, are they really delicious?, ect}
You can read about my week 1 update and what I love/don’t love about this menu plan so far! 

Spain in Iowa's Traditional Menu Plan on A Budget

Try the Meal Plan for Yourself!

You can try out The Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget here! For just $9.99 a month you can get access to the following {or only $4.99 for bi-weekly access} AND you get the first two weeks FREE: 

  • 5 Weekly Dinner menu’s Including 1 Crockpot Recipe
  • A Weekly Shopping List
  • 1 Dessert Recipe
  • 1 Salad Dressing Recipe
  • All recipes serve 4-6 people, PLUS:
  • Additional recipes for stock and condiments
  • Education on cooking real food, traditionally, and in season
  • Easy substitutions make the meal plans suitable for gluten-free diets

Spain in Iowa's Traditional Menu Plan on A Budget

If you have tried out the menu plan then let us know your experience! If not, what would you like to get out of a traditional food meal plan? What are your expectations? 

*Top photo by NatShots Photography

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


  1. I really like this idea! I am terrible at being imaginative when it comes to meals, so we eat a lot of the same things in our house each week. I’m about to be a nurse (I graduate in May), so I like the idea of having plans ahead of time to plan for the week, and be prepared. Plus, given that there is enough for 4-6 in each meal, and our household is just 2, they would make great lunch leftovers for the next day!

  2. OOhhhh. This looks great. I am so looking forward to your reviews, but also just about ready to dive in myself.. hmm what to do?
    Kim Fox recently posted..Seeing DoubleMy Profile

  3. 4HungryBunnies says:

    Ok, so here is the scoop! I am doing the Diana’s menu plan and it is nothing short of revolutionary to me! Though I am a pretty snazzy cook and have made myself a student of healthy living and healthy eating, I SO struggle with menu-planning! Then enter’s Diana’s knowledge and wisdom in this amazing menu plan already done for me!! Perfecto!!! And I am learning so much from her site as well. I thought I understood whole foods and about eating veggies, but honestly this is opening a whole new world to me. It’s AWESOME! I am half Spanish like Diana but have not known the wisdom of Traditional eating. I believe all things happen for a reason and I feel VERY blessed to have stumbled upon her site. It all started when I googled if it was safe to use extra virgin olive oil for pizza crust making and I found her YouTube video about extra virgin olive oil. Anyhow, my advice to ALL is, TRY Diana’s Plan!! Try it, try it, you might like it, I say! (In the spirit of Suess). The kitchen is my playground, it always has been but now I am having more fun than ever and I am especially happy to be giving my family even healthier and more delicious food. So, sign up, try it out, you’ll be hooked!! Then tell ALL your friends and family so they can join in as well!

    • Thank you so much for your comment!!! That is the experience I have had so far as well! I’m really learning a lot and using all kinds of ingredients that I’ve never used before :) I highly recommend it as well so far! Ill share more about my experience so far tomorrow!

  4. 4HungryBunnies says:

    Oh and I just wanted to mention, her plan is completely compatible with gluten-free eating as my family has to! Just swap out the flour for gluten-free (I use Better Batter Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose & Xanthan gum), use your choice of gluten free pasta (I use Tinkyada) and if anything ever calls for soy sauce or worcheshire use Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids instead. Easy as pie!

  5. 4HungryBunnies says:

    I feel like I am running my own personal restaurant and my family are my customers! My husband even said last night that it smelled like a restaurant. And my children have made reference that it feels like a restaurant. I think Diana just knows how to not only make meals healthy and taste amazing but to look aesthetically pleasing, so it’s a real all senses extravaganza!!! (: The meals really make you feel satisfied in every way! If only my hubby could like vinaigrette! Ha!

  6. 4HungryBunnies says:

    Everyone, everywhere should sign up for Diana’s amazing menuplan! She does the work for you and it’s not just any menu plan it’s truly nourishing, so delicious and beautiful to look at! It’s the real deal!! (:


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