Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
I have become a huge fan of freezer cooking or once a month cooking. Here are 2 books that I like:-Once-a-Month Cooking, Revised and Expanded: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Every Day by Mary-Beth Lagerborg & Mimi Wilson -Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer: Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell & Bonnie GarciaEvery recipe I have tried has been a home run with my family. I don't actually cook all the meals for an entire month in one day. But I do try to group them, maybe 5 or 6 at a time. I've even hosted parties at my house where friends have gathered and brought supplies to do our cooking together. It's great and it works for me!
I kept track of our meals for a couple of months and voila, I had a meal plan! I was able to see what I regularly made and where I needed to branch out. I now plan out about ten days of meals and shop accordingly. I try to have a new recipe once a week or so. If we like it it goes on "The List".I get produce at the Farmer's Market, lots of things through a food-co-op, some stuff at Costco, and only make a bi-weekly trip to a regular grocery store. We cook almost everything from scratch, eating out about once a month, at the most.
I make a menu once a week except on the week that I go to my local bulk club. I hate doing the menu but I like being able to see what I am cooking for the week. The weeks that I do not go to the bulk club I go to a regular grocery store to pick up things that I need for my recipes. When I go to the bulk store I get all of my basics for the month.
I do my planing when ever I think of something! I have a magnet calendar on the fridge and when I am just standing there and something pops into my head I write it on there, like this week, I already planned the week, all the way to Sunday (that never happens) but I want to have tacos so I put it on the calendar for next monday and so the week begins, then on Saturday or whenever I go to the store I know exactally what I need to get for dinners.
I plan for 2 weeks. I go to my military commissary but also Aldi's as they have foods that are cheaper than my commissary. I also check my Kroger flyer as well but try to do my shopping trip at one time. I make a running list on my fridge of what we need or have run out of. Then when making the menu I have a shopping list that is sheet protected which is set up according to the aisles of the store and transfer everything to it using a china marker.
I thought I would hate it, but once I started planning my weekly meals via OrgJunkie (the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday) I became so much more creative with meals, and saved time and money. I typically shop weekly, but do big trips twice a month. Oh and we always make twice as much as we will eat for dinner and heat up the leftovers for lunch the next day.
I plan things that will serve more than one meal...for example, buy the bigger thing of carrots and use them in a salad one day, a stir fry another, and on a relish tray a third...I like to do a large roast (with potatoes, onions, carrots--crockpot or dutch oven). Then the leftover beef I'll use to make stroganoff, philly cheesesteak sandwiches, etc. Roast a whole chicken, use leftovers to make soup or a casserole...that kind of thing. I look at the ads for what is on sale, and get an idea of a few things I can make. I also have a running 'menu' on my whiteboard with meals I can make with stuff I have on hand. I don't plan out what meal for what day, but I do have that reference list. When I shop, I update the list.
I try to menu plan a couple of weeks at a time, and I'm a big fan of Costco for meats and dairy items. As our family expands, I'm sure we'll begin purchasing more produce there as well.A dear friend encouraged me to try and keep it simple with meal planning. So often, I think we as moms feel the pressure to have a new creative, gourmet meal all the time (or maybe that's just me?). We do a basic chicken and vegetables meal at least once a week, and I've realized I don't have to apologize for it! Meals that roll-over well (think ground beef for tacos one night, spaghetti the next) are always good, too. A great tool I've found for menu planning is Google Calendar; I plan there, and then can set certain things to cycle (Friday night pizza), and it takes some of the brain work out for me. Hope this helps!
I created a monthly menu that we repeat every month. There's enough variety that we don't get bored. I posted our menu on my site, it's near the end of this particular post. http://www.texastanya.net/blog/2008/07/my-recent-activities/Shopping is a "whole nother animal." I end up going to Costco and the Local Grocery. I stagger my trips so one week I go to Costco, the next I go to the grocery store. That's what works for me...HTH, T:)
I just found this meal planner the other day while reading a blog. I printed it and filled it out. I posted it on the fridge and like it so far. Cute too!http://www.futuregirl.com/craft_blog/2007/12/meal-planner.html
Monthly, monthly, monthly!!! I just got over a summer of weekly planning and shopping and I'm burnt out. I was so glad to get back to my monthly planning and shopping and freezer cooking. I actually have spent the past few days posting about my monthly menu plan, grocery list, etc.
Wow! Thank you to all who commented and gave such great ideas. I can't wait to put them to use!
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