When I was single, menu planning was the farthest thing from my mind. I would head to the grocery store once a week or twice a week and “pick up a few things” and head home. My menu usually consisted of frozen meals, eating out, and noodles. That was it unless I was on another diet again and then I was supplementing my diet food with a few things from the grocery store. When I got married, my husband got me in the habit of creating a weekly menu and then using a list at the grocery store. This is probably one of things that I have to thank him for (don’t let it go to your head hun).
Weekly menu planning worked great for 8 years, however, lately I have been trying to cut our grocery costs by shopping monthly at Costco and now only grocery shopping once a month. This means that I plan the entire months menu out prior to going shopping. I know what you are thinking – that is A LOT of work and I don’t know what I feel like eating from week to weeks. It is a bit time-consuming until you get the hang of it. I spend about two hours total planning the menu and then putting together the lists. Also, if you don’t feel like something one night and want something else – just switch it out for another meal on the menu. You can be flexible with it. I also have a few meals in the freezer for what I call emergency nights where I don’t feel well that day and can’t cook or our plans for the day go crazy.
I have a nice sheet that I created that should help you come up with your monthly menu. Check it out below:
To plan the menu for the month, I figure out how many dinners I am going to need taking in to account any nights that we are planning to eat out or family functions we might be attending like dinner at my parents. I then have been trying to have new things each month and I use Pinterest to come up with many of my new meals to try. I then use my new re-arranged cookbook to find some of our favorites to throw in. For lunches and breakfasts on the weekends, I usually plan for things like sandwiches, hot dogs, personal pizzas, turkey sausage and egg casserole, waffles, pancakes, and a few eating out meals.
I gather my laptop, cook book, and camp out on the couch working on the menu. For those new recipes that I want to try, I print them out and keep them in a binder that I can go through when planning the grocery list and also have the recipe handy in the kitchen without exposing my laptop to potential disaster. My favorite recipes are in my cook book binder. I then use the calendar template in Word and just start entering in the meals. I leave grilling and complicated meals to the weekends. I usually stock up on from steamer veggies and a few other favorite sides and don’t really plan for them. Fridays usually are always spaghetti or ravioli since it is the end of the week and we are all tired by then. You can take a look at my April and May menus to get an idea.
This has really saved me aggravation and also saved me money. If you are new to menu planning, start off simple and try a week at a time and then work your way up. Once you get the hang of it, it really does set you free from that “what am I doing for dinner tonight” panic.
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