With a hungry family to feed, it is important for me to have my menus planned. Getting it down on paper, knowing the ingredients and supplies are on hand mean I don’t have to store all the information in my head or make that last minute crazed dash to town. Menu planning simplifies my life.
The last weekend of each month I sit down and brainstorm a list of meals for the upcoming month. Things I consider are:
- What do I have on hand? Check the freezer, check the pantry, check the baking cupboard. List meals I can create using what is already here in the house.
- What is the weather these days? It’s turning colder so I include more soups and stews and casseroles. During summer I include more salad and sandwich type meals.
- Any special requests or special days coming up? Each holiday requires its own special foods so I want to be sure to have those on in the plan. A birthday? In our family, the birthday person gets to choose the day’s menu (within reason!) so I had better get the request down on paper!
- What are we craving? Is there a dish my family loves but I haven’t prepared in a while? Weather changes and holidays can often spark the taste buds. Like when the hot sweltering days disappeared and it first turned cold and I put on a pot of chili to simmer all day long – so good!
- Mandatory Meals. For years, Monday has been Mexican Night and Friday has been Pizza Night. When I try to change it up there’s mutiny among the ranks. Having a set ‘theme’ simplifies my meal planning, giving boundaries to what I choose.
Next, list out potential meals and the number of times you would like to serve it this month. It might look something like this:
- Tacos (2)
- Enchaladas (1)
- Chimichangas (1)
- Pizza (3)
- Lasagne (2)
- Spaghetti (1)
- CP Chicken (1)
- Chicken Pot Pie (2)
- Grilled Hamburgers (2)
- Chili (2)
- Venison Stew (2)
- Thanksgiving Dinner
I try to have 25-30 meals accounted for. There are periods of time I just leave this master list posted to the fridge, and I choose each day which meal I’ll fix, crossing it off as I go through the month. What’s working for me now is to assign each meal to a day on a blank printable calendar, in pencil. On Sunday evenings I take a quick look and change it up as needed for the upcoming week.
This is how I get started with my menu plan for the month. I have more ideas, more details to share with you in future posts on implementing it all and pulling it all together. I recommend the ebook The ABC’s of Freezer Cooking in which you’ll find an alphabet full of tips and tricks to planning out a month’s worth of meals. You’ll find plenty of recipes, including a couple of mine!
Click here to order your copy.
I’ve been planning monthly menus for over a year now. It’s been one of the best time- and money-saving things I’ve ever done!
One thing I would add to your list of things to consider is to find out which fruits and veggies are in season. Sometimes you can save a little money by using these on the menu.
Good for you Shannon! I felt the same way when I started. Great tip about seasonal fruits and veg. You are right, it does save money. We do not get the paper and ads in the mail, so I don’t take time when planning. But, I do adapt my plan as I do my shopping, keeping an eye out for the good deals. Thank you for sharing, I’m so glad you stopped in for a visit!
I have really enjoyed Donna Youngs helpful organizational printouts, so I am going to try doing a meal plan for the comming week in hopes that I will remember to get my meat out for dinner. I may have one of the chidlren get the meat out of the freezer and the other choose the veggies for that dinner. Just a thought though I am not sure what will work for our family as yet. *smile* Meal planning and cuponing have not been working well for me yet, but I don’t mind trying again. *smile* Have a great week! Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!
Sounds like a wonderful plan. It does take some trial and error to find what works for us. I think it is a terrific idea for one of the children to have the responsibility of getting the meat out of the freezer. Hope it goes well for you this week!
Judith at WholeHearted Home says
I used to plan for the month. I should get back into it. I just planned for two weeks of meals, so I am getting there. Thanks for sharing.
Even planning for 2 weeks is helpful Judith. Good for you! So glad you stopped by today. Have a wonderful week!