Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monthly Menu to the Rescue!

It's the beginning of the month and that time again for me to plan our monthly menu.  Yes, that's right, I said monthly.  I like to get all my shopping done at one time because those crazy, grumpy Walmart crowds make me insane.

I make a monthly menu for 4 reasons:
1.  It saves us money.  When I plan ahead, I know exactly what ingredients to buy for exactly what meals I'm going to prepare.  So I'm not buying food we don't need.
2.   It helps me know what to take out of the freezer to thaw in the mornings when I'm walking around in a stupor, well before my morning coffee.           
3.  I know exactly what meal to make.  There's no thinking during the week, no questioning, no "cooker's block."  I do all of that at one time so that it can be all rainbows and puppy dogs the rest of the, at least on the cooking front.
4.  I'm a planner.  I like to plan things.  Did I also mention I'm a list maker?  I like to make lists- a lot of lists. 

By the end of the month, here is what a typical monthly menu looks like.  Sometimes I deviate from the schedule if Justin has a special request or if I have a craving for something.  So, that's the reason behind the check marks...I check off the meals  as I cook them so I know that I've already done that night. This calendar, courtesy of Northstar Bank of Texas, is on the side of the fridge to be my beacon of light through out the month.

My planning starts out as really a brainstorming session.  I write meal ideas on the back of a printed calendar that I find off the web.  Most of the time I dig out my cookbooks and find some new recipes to try.  Once I have about 10 meal ideas, I place them on the calendar very strategically.  The meals that will make the most servings, like casseroles, are always planned for Tuesday nights so that we have leftovers on Wednesdays.  On Wednesday nights we have Bible study and I don't have time to cook.  Nicer meals or more difficult, time consuming meals are saved for the weekends.  I also try to arrange by food type so that we aren't eating chicken for 11 meals in a row, or something.  I love chicken, but not that much!  To fill in the gaps, I ask Justin if he has any thing in mind and scribble those meals in.

So, when I'm finished, I transfer everything over to my handy-dandy Northstar Bank calendar and stick it back on the fridge.  It's pretty ugly, but hey, it's free and in the words of my sister-in-law "free is better than cheap, fools."  ok, ok, I added the fool part...

Now it's time to make my grocery list!  This is its own process in itself...

How do you plan your meals?  Or do you plan at all?  I'd love to hear how you run your kitchen!


  1. What do you do about buying veggies? I'm eating mostly veggies these days and can't keep them fresh long enough. I try to shop for two weeks because of this reason. I'm also a fan of getting out my cookbooks and planning out the meals I want to make. -Rosa

  2. Hey Rosa! I use the Debbie Meyers Green Bags. They really work! I put tomatoes in these bags and put them in our fruit drawer in the fridge and they seriously last up to a month. Cilantro lasts up to about 3 weeks. And they keep bananas good for up to 2 weeks. You should get you a package. You can find them in the “as seen on tv” section of walmart and bed, bath and beyond. I love them!

  3. Will you come to my house? I used to be organized and plan ahead, but we do good to plan the week of now! I'm inspired by you to get back into the habit of meal planning. At least by the week, for now!


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