Have I posted this before? Not sure. But anyway, it’s worth talking about again. My sis-in-law and I were talking about menu planning for a minute today and it got me thinking. You all probably already have your own systems for grocery and meal planning and such, but I’m going to share mine and if you’re struggling with finding ways to save moolah and make nummy meals AND get rid of that “what to fix for dinner” panic that hits around 4pm every day. 😉
Here’s what I use. I got the calendar off of frugalmom.net. I don’t visit that site much, but if you’re interested I’m sure there are some tips there that can help you! One problem is that it seems to be a daunting task to fill in a whole month of meals. I try to simplify it. I only actually “plan” dinner on my menu. Our breakfast and lunch options are pretty standard. Oatmeal and PB&J or ham and cheese make up a lot of it. 🙂 But there is plenty of room if you do want to do a B: L: D: on each day… or if you’re from the south it would be B: D: S: Ha ha ha!! Sorry… couldn’t help myself.
So I generally begin by filling in the “leftovers” day that is the same each week. I always want a leftovers day!!! Mine happens to be Thursday, because it’s my favorite day and I feel that it’s nice to “take it easy” that day. Ha! So that’s one day a week down. I usually put at least 1 crockpot meal on each week… sometimes 2, because those are also low-maintenance. Another thing I do is to have one meal a week that is “easy” like grilled cheese/tomato soup or pancakes (yes for dinner!). So that takes care of 3 meals a week. In the summer months I schedule one “grill” night a week. That way Stu gets to take care of the meat and I just fix veggies or chop fruit to go with. That’s 4 down. 🙂 Now I fill in the holes with recipes that I know are family favorites or things that I find easy to cook like spaghetti, quesadillas, fajitas, or casseroles of some kind. After that I will chose one or 2 meals a month to experiment with a new recipe or make something that’s a little more complicated. So this is what my menu for this month looks like. IT’s a little ratty, sorry about that. 😉 And yes, there are gaps on Sunday because it’s difficult to plan for that day when they are so crazy. We usually end up doing something simple like nachos or leftovers on that day as well. 🙂
I know some of the chicken scratch is illegible, but ya get the idea. I make notes to myself on there where to find the recipe. That’s why you see AYOSC on there because as I mentioned before I’m using recipes from that blog “A Year of Slow Cooking” yum!
It might still seem daunting to put that much thought into what you eat. Here’s the deal. Start slowly!!! Do only ONE week at first if you’ve never done this before. Then fill in the next week and so on. In a month you’ll have a month’s worth of meals. Do it again for another month or 2 and you’ll have 3!! Then it gets really easy! Most people eat the same meals over and over anyway…. seriously. So if you end up with 3 monthly menus to go through it’ll make each months planing easy because you can just transfer the winners over. 🙂 And you always have the flexibility to swap something out with a “new” item if it floats your boat. 🙂
Now how does all this planning pay off???? Thanks for asking! 😉 First off, it’s going to shrink your grocery budget because you’ll know EXACTLY what you need for the whole week of groceries! Make a list and stick to that… no, you don’t need all the extras… you don’t! You’ll be surprised how this cuts down time and money in the store! Next it will save you time in the long run because you won’t have to scramble each day to find something to fix for dinner. Cool and calm will reign. LOL!!!
This is getting longer than I meant so I’ll wrap it up for now. Tune in next time to read about shopping in your own pantry and freezer. 🙂