Mommy's Kitchen - Recipes From my Texas Kitchen: Menu Plan Monthly at Mommys Kitchen


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monthly at Mommys Kitchen


I have added a new feature to Mommy's Kitchen called Menu Plan Monthly! I am a firm believer in organizing and planning meals. If you plan a menu and stick to it not only will it help you save money on your grocery budget but, time as well.

How will it save you time and money? Well how many times have you started on a recipe just to realize you don't have all the ingredients to make that particular dish. For me that was more times than I can count. If  you're really committed to that particular meal then you have to stop and make a quick run to the grocery store. I'm sure this happens more times than you can count. Wouldn't you love to do away with all that?

Why do I Menu Plan?
Before I started Menu Planning that's exactly what was happening to me. If I wasn't missing ingredients, then I would just stand in front of the pantry starring at everything trying to figure out what to cook for dinner that night. It became so frustrating that I knew there had to be an easier way.

Menu planning isn't for everyone, but it works best for my family. All I can say is give it a try and see if it helps you get a bit more organized in the kitchen. Menu Planning is second nature to me. I've been planning meals for so long that I can't function in the kitchen without a plan. 

What type of Menu Plan do I use:
I only plan a menu for Dinner meals. We always have breakfast and lunch items, so that's not a big problem in our house, dinner time was always the complicated meal. I plan a dinner menu with a months list of meals. You can do a weekly or biweekly menu. It's really what works best for your family.

The reasoning behind my monthly menu plan is because my husband works for the state. When you work for the state we get paid once a month (at the beginning of the month). 
Our big grocery shop is done the first week of every month, so it is just easier to plan for a whole months worth of meals. If you get paid every 2 weeks then a biweekly menu plan would work best for you. With Menu Plan Monthly, I always post my dinner menu on the blog around the first week of every month, so be on the look out for it.  

Steps on how I plan my Monthly Menu:
I usually start planning my menu at the current month. I get some input from my family on maybe a particular dish they might want me to make then add it to the menu. I use cookbooks, blogs and websites. I also always add my rotation meals for the month (spaghetti, taco's, breakfast night etc). Once I have all my meals together (around 25 meals). I do 25 to leave a few openings for eating out, birthdays, holidays or if we just want to have leftovers or a free meal night. 

Once my dinner menu is complete and printed, I make my grocery list accordingly to my dinner meals. I write down all the items and ingredients that I will need to make those particular meals. Then off to the grocery store I go. We try to allow about $400 a month for groceries for our family of five. That includes toiletries and everything, sometimes we go a bit over, but we are working hard on trying to keep it at or around $400. With the increase in food prices it's hard to do that some months. 

I still plan a trip to the grocery store once a week for milk, bread and produce, since we go through those pretty fast and produce is perishable. In the summer we have a vegetable garden so that helps as well. 

We do not buy a lot of prepared packaged foods. Our dinner meals are cooked from scratch or semi-homemade so that helps out a great deal. I mean we do buy just a few for quick lunch stuff but not for dinner. You would be surprised at jut how much of your grocery bill is eaten up on prepared connivance meals. 

After my meals are all written down, I type up my menu in a List Format, save it on my computer in my (menu folder) and then print it off and place it on the refrigerator. The reason I do my menu in a list format rather than assigning meals to certain days is to give me more flexibility and choices with my meals. For example if I'm having a really busy day then I will want to pick a quick dinner meal. If it's the weekend or I don't have anything planned then I can save the more time consuming meals for those days. 

Now that my menu is complete and easily accessible all the hard work is done. Now all I have to do is each morning I take a look at my menu and decide on what I want to make for dinner that night. I choose a meal, cross if off my list and take out anything form the freezer that needs to thaw out and that's it! I have everything I need to make that particular dinner meal. No more running to the store for missing ingredients. No more standing there in front of my pantry or freezer trying to decide what to throw together for dinner.

My thoughts on Menu Planning:
Menu Planning isn't for everyone, but you should really give it a try and see if it helps your family. It's true that sitting and planning meals takes time, but in the end you will see how just how much time your are really saving instead of wasting.

I've been doing my dinner menu this way for 10 years and I love the simplicity of it all. It just comes second nature to me now. I will post my dinner menu every month. Just click on the link below and you will find links to all my menus according to months.

I forgot to mention this above. A lot of times throughout the month a particular meal or dish will catch my eye. You know something you see online or on someones blog and you say to yourself....... I really want to make that.

Well most times I end up forgetting about it, so to solve that problem I do this little trick. I go and get my current menu off the refrigerator and on the back of the menu I jot down the name of that particular dish and where I found it. (example: Buttermilk Chicken Strips - Pioneer Woman). This way I don't forget to add that particular meal to my menu for the following month, plus I already have a start on a few meals for next months menu.

7 comments:

Michelle said... #

I love how you plan your meals out for the month. I do a tentative each week. You have such an awesome site. Almost every recipe you make I want to try. I look at yours almost every day! I'm jealous you live in Texas; I lived in Live Oak for over 3 years and miss Texas. My parents just moved here last year from Port Aransas so we don't even go visit TX any more! :( Keep up the great recipes!

Lynne said... #

I just read how you planned your meals. My problem in the past has been what if we're not in the mood for Chicken & Dumplings tonight. Your list idea just made me thunk my forehead of course! I've done it in the past and haven't been too successful. Mainly, because I was so rigid with a calendar. I'm going to try your list idea and see where it takes me. The month is still young. Thank you.

Gwen (Pooh) said... #

Tina, I just love your site! I need new recipes, and more organization. :) I have used weekly or bi-weekly planning before and it does help. I got out of that habit and am just getting back into it. My bankbook and waistline will thank me, too, as we do eat out too much. lol Unfortunately when I was growing up, my mom never learned how to cook herself, so she couldn't teach me. My family was from Texas, too (I now live in Nebraska), and my grandma was the kind like you mentioned, that didn't really want people in the kitchen while she was cooking, so my mom never really learned. I've learned how to cook from my mother-in-law and she's gone now, and I miss going to her for recipes and how-tos. So, I'm glad to find your site and others like it. Take care. Thanks for all your hard work!

leaphart2 said... #

We also do the monthly menu. I do have it for each day for the month and not just a list. I can always change something or switch it around.. and if something comes up then I will make sure to add that meal to the mext monthes menu. My husband also gets paid once a month so it works best for our family. I also look for coupons online and in the paper to match to my menu items. I know we save time and money!

Perfect Papercuts~ said... #

Love the list idea! Working on not being so rigid with my meal planning :) Blessings~

Anonymous said... #

i have that exact problem. im always scrambling on what to make for dinner and end up making it super late. especially since i have to wait for my husband to get home from work to make a quick stop at the grocery store because i never have all the ingredients. this has helped a lot and im definitely going to try it. i love your blog !!

jakesma1999 said... #

Anonymous, I couldn't have said it better myself! As they say, "How's that workin' for ya?" Well, for me, its not, so I'm gonna give this a go. So far the recipe's I've tried and tweaked.......just a little, have been good, and fun too! My hubby and our son have been along for the "ride" and so far, have enjoyed it! Happy cooking y'all! !