Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Long Term Menu Planning

As a stay at home/homeschooling mom I have to plan and cook three meals a day and I don't know about you but that job can get tiring! I find that if I try to fly by the seat of my pants our lunches aren't very healthy and my poor husband has to eat cookies instead of a nice warm lunch.

As a family we are giving up buying fast food for the next 40 days so I needed to prepare myself for cooking all our meals for that long! My first thought was just to feed everybody pasta for the next few weeks, it's quick, it's easy, and it's free from my coupons! However, I'd end up with an uprising after about two of those meals! Truthfully this will be an immense challenge for me, I get bored or lazy with my cooking and it is so easy to send out for pizza or have my husband run out for Wendy's. I need to prepare meals that will be easy, tasty, frugal, and liked by everybody! At first I was going to plan weekly menus and then shop the pantry/freezer and store for everything I needed but I realized I would be tempted to pick up extras every week that I don't need. I decided to plan a four week menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here's a quick way to plan out a four week menu. First decide what types of meals you want to serve each week. For example, at our house Monday is chicken night, Tuesday is beef, Wednesday is something quick, Thursday is crock pot night, Friday is homemade fast food, Saturday is homemade pizza or leftovers, and Sunday is a fancy dinner. Once that is done you only need to pick out 4 different chicken recipes or four beef recipes. We eat a hot breakfast at our house each day so I planned a rotating schedule for that muffins/Monday, pancakes/ Tuesday, waffles/Wednesday, cereal/Thursday, muffins/Friday, big breakfast/Saturday, overnight coffee cake/ Sunday. That meal plan will not change at all during the 40 days. Lunches are a hard thing for me because my husband is home from work at a different time than when we eat so I need to plan something that be reheated quickly. I decided to also plan a weekly lunch plan that will not change and will only be used if we don't have enough leftovers from dinner. Some examples are chicken patty sandwich, hamburgers, grilled cheese/peanut butter, sloppy joes, tacos, chicken/fries, and other quick meals.

After writing down all my meals I then pulled out all the recipes for them. I assigned meals to different days and then put the recipe behind the menu sheet so it will be ready when I need it. My next task was to write down everything I would need for all the recipes, side dishes, and snacks. I originally wrote out weekly grocery lists based on my menus but I am in the process of switching to a monthly one.

This weekend I will be putting together my breakfast meal kits and doing a small once a month cooking session. I will also be gearing up for any of the monthly things I need but don't have on hand ( should be a small list thanks to my stockpile!) This should help cut down on my cooking time during our fast food fast and make it slightly easier to pass by the drive thru.

This works for me! Check out Works for Me Wednesday for other tips!


Hadley Coble said...

I am definetly going to have to work on this! My "fly by the seat of my pants" menus usually include too much takeout! I like the ideas of a theme for each night of the week.

I am the worst with lunch, though! that really needs tweaking!

Missy said...

Thanks for these great ideas. Great idea to have each night have a "theme". I'm definitely going to have to try your suggestions!

Ali said...

Good luck! It sounds like you are well on your way. We do theme nights and it really does help make menu planning so much easier!

Prudent Homemaker said...

I wrote up a month's worth of meals for each season that includes things from my garden and seasonal sales. It helps me to know what sides I like with each meal; that used to take me a lot more time.

BarbaraLee said...

I have the same plan. I even had my menus on my i-cal but it die. I have to rewrite them.

Jennifer said...

I am contemplating trying to plan out my menus for the month of March. I have never planned meals for more than a week at a time before, so it should be interesting. thanks for the tips!

Audra Krell said...

I really admire what you are doing for the next 40 days. You will be so much healthier for it. Thanks for putting this plan into a doable format. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you're using? I'm
going to start my own blog soon but I'm having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm
looking for something unique.
P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

my website :: business vehicle insurance