Archive for Menu Planning
Ok, so I really tried. I started the month with a plan but I didn’t really follow through with it. I think a month’s of recipes are just too much for me. I did really good the first 2 weeks following the plan, then I just kinda fell off the wagon. We had pizza one night, McDonald’s another, ate at my Mom’s one night. Then I guess I was distracted enough to just completely ignore my menu plan clearly posted on the fridge.
It’s still up there and as I am trying to decide what’s for dinner I glance up there and select one of the recipes that I haven’t cooked yet. I’m not really in the mood most nights for what I listed as my dinner for that evening. So I pick and choose from whatever is left on the calendar.
I also went shopping on Sunday for snacks, fruits, and breakfast and lunch type items. I spent a bit over $100.00, so I spent more for the month than I wanted to if you add that in, and you have to add that in. My new plan:
- shop the store ads and plan my menu based on what’s on sale
- 2 weeks at a time of dinner recipes
I really did enjoy having a menu plan. It alleviated a lot of stress in my life and I can tell that the stress is on the rise again. I hate cooking and this little experiment has taught me that having a plan will really help me to get things done, not just wish I had things done. The hard part is actually doing it. So I’m going to take stock of what I still have on hand and the recipes I have yet to cook. I’m going to try and plan again for the first 2 weeks of February.
Wish me luck!
Recently I stated on Facebook that I planned and purchased 30 days worth of dinners for only $170.00. I was asked to explain how I did it. So here goes.
1. First I went to my recipe binder and picked out 30 recipes. I tried to vary it up by selecting a few meatless, crockpot, chicken, ground turkey, tilapia, pork chops and sausage type meals. I put a post it on each page so I could come back to it later.
2. Second I wrote out a list of ingredients. I went one by one with each recipe writing down all the ingredients and separating the amounts by a comma. For example:
Milk: 1 cup, 1 cup, 1 1/2 cups
Ground Turkey: 1 lb, 2 lbs, 3/4 lbs.
Sage: 1t, 1T, 1t
You get the idea. This part took me about an hour. I ended up with 2 pages front and back. I then went through my fridge, pantry and spices to see what I had and marked it off the list. Leaving only the items I needed to purchase.
3. Third I organized the list in an Excel Spreadsheet. You can view it by clicking on the link. I tried to organize it by categories; dairy, produce, canned goods, meat, breads, etc. This was pretty quick. I’m a fast typist. It took about 30-45 minutes. I had to break away from it a few times to get the baby back to sleep though.
4. Fourth is shopping. I spent $120.00 at Aldi and $50.00 at Krogers. I purchased most everything I could at Aldi because the prices are lower. All my zucchini, squash, canned goods, cheeses and meats. They even had jars of artichoke hearts! For the cheeses needed I bought them in block instead of shredded. It takes more time to shred them yourself, but you will save money this way. Also a bunch of chicken recipes called for the chicken to be chunked up. I bought chicken leg quarters for $3.99 a bag instead of the grilled chicken strips for $7.99 a bag. Even the boneless skinless chicken breast is $6.99 a bag. So the savings was obvious, it required more work, but worth it in the long run.
The items I purchased at Krogers were the items I couldn’t get at Aldi’s, such as: eggplant, parsnips, green onions, jar of roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, no boil lasagna noodles, a few spices and a few cheeses that Aldi didn’t have. So all together I spent $170.00! Not bad! Shopping took about an hour and a half.
5. Lastly is prep work. When we arrived home Lou went right to work chopping/slicing up all the veggies while I shredded all the cheeses. I opened up my recipe binder and wrote the recipe title on ziploc bags. Large bags for the veggies and small bags for the cheese. That way all I had to do is to grab the appropriate bag for the needed ingredients. I wrote out the recipes on my dry erase board on my fridge and any recipes that we would eat the last 2 weeks of the month went into the freezer, the rest went into the fridge. This took over an hour, but the kids were quietly playing and the baby was sleeping. So it wasn’t too bad.
The next day we worked on the meats. Lou boiled all the chicken, took the skin off and pulled it off the bone. Then we sorted the remaining chicken in ziploc bags per cups needed for the recipe. He also cooked all the gound turkey. We sorted and bagged all of it too. This took some time but it wasn’t required that we be in there the whole time. We watched a Burn Notice marathon while the food was cooking away.
So all in all I invested around 5-6 hours including planning, shopping, and prep work. I really don’t think that’s bad at all considering I would spend about an hour a day doing my “what are we going to have for dinner tonight” drama. Scouring the pantry and fridge for something that looks good/easy to make. I never have my meat thawed out. So for me it’s totally worth the effort. I say that now, and I fully believe it…but can I keep it up? I don’t know. I hope so.
So how does it all sound? Doable? Leave me a comment with how you menu plan or suggestions to cut some time off my plan. I want to hear it all!