Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monthly Menu Plan – March

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So, I had questions from some friends how I come up with my monthly plan. As in, what are the steps that I use, how long does it take, how is it working for us, etc. So, here is a step by step on how I do my monthly meal plan:

Step 1: Come up with a theme for each day of the week. For example, right now mine looks like this: Monday – Mexican or Chinese, Tuesday – Something new, Wednesday – Crockpot meal, Thursday – Less than 30 minutes, Friday – Leftovers, Saturday – Family Favorite, Sunday – Italian.

Step 2: Make a permanent list of 5-10 (or more) recipes for each theme. Make sure you have recipes (or know the recipe) for each one. Nothing worse than thinking you’re going to make something, and then not being able to find the recipe.

Step 3: Print out a calendar for the month. I print out a blank one and then add in other events, like fellowship team, date night, weekend activities, etc, that will affect dinner time or my ability to cook dinner that night. I like to do this step on a separate calendar so it’s not cluttered with *everything* that I have scheduled. Also, if it’s not on my regular calendar, it’s easier to cross things out and rearrange as I go to the next steps.

Step 4: After you’ve filled out your other events, count how many of each theme you need to come up with.

Step 5: Referring to the list you already made, pick the number of recipes you need for each theme. I usually write them down on a scratch piece of paper.

Step 6: Plug your choices into the monthly calendar, taking into account how much time each recipe takes and how much money each one costs. For example, I’m not going to plan three expensive recipes in a week, nor am I going to plan three time intensive recipes. I try to balance out one time intensive and one expensive recipe per week (obviously, sometimes these are the same meal, but sometimes not. Noodles are cheap to make, but take for.ev.er.)

Step 7: Gather your recipes and make a grocery list. I still go once a week, even though I plan the whole month’s meals. This is mostly because of fresh food. I figure I’ll have to go to the store every week anyway for vegetables and milk, so I might as well just plan one week’s groceries at a time. I use two resources for planning my shopping trip. The first is this plan sheet that is organized based on how my grocery store is laid out. I just write down each item under the appropriate heading and then it’s all in order when I get to the store. For extra things, sale things, or finding coupons, I use Bargain Blessings. She’s local to me and she runs a great website that is all free. I also go to CostCo once a month, usually after I’ve made the monthly meal plan so that I can get the things that I know I will need.

That’s it! Does it work? Absolutely! There are so many things that I like about doing it this way. We don’t end up having spaghetti every night when I can’t think of anything else. We get to eat the other meals that I was forgetting about when I was just doing it weekly. AND one of the best parts, it really doesn’t take me that long!! I would say it now takes me less than 30 minutes to do, more if I spend a bunch of time looking for new recipes. (stumped for recipes? Try Our Best Bites or Food Network Magazine)

Okay, so here’s the plan for March:

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
3
4
Teriyaki Burgers
5
Orange Chicken Stir Fry
6
Chili Colorado Burritos
7
Texas Roadhouse for Date Night
8
YOYO
9
Chicken Couscous
10
Dinner with Dad & Stepmom
11
Tortilla Casserole
12
Garlic-Lemon  Stuffed Chicken
13
Cheesy Ham & Potatoes
14
Parmesan Ranch Chicken
15 Hubby’s Birthday!
Pizza & Lemon Cake
16
YOYO
17
Basic Casserole
18
Sweet & Sour Meatballs
19
Honey Orange Pork Tenderloin
20
Chicken Chili
21
Rice-a-roni Deluxe
Date Night
22
YOYO
23
Cheater Pot Pie
24
Tortellini Spinach Bake
25
Tacos
26
Green Beans, Potatoes, and Chicken
27
Parmesan Chicken
28
Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Stew
29 
YOYO
30
Spaghetti and Meatballs

One more note: do not become a slave to “the plan”…if you need to make something else that night, do it! I would say I stick to the plan about 6 nights out of 7, and usually it’s just to shuffle something around. Hope this helps! Happy planning! :-) And please, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to try and help!!

~S

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