Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu planning


There are a lot of bloggers out there who share their menu plan every Monday (or whatever day they happen to plan on), how they plan and the groceries they got that week. I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from those women and if you're really looking for good planning skills, read their sites, not mine. I'm not here today to do that and this will not become a regular feature here on Part of the Miracles.  I'm lucky enough just to get it written down in my own little calendar.

However, I did have a few someones ask a couple of weeks ago how I did my planning, so here we go.

Some things to keep in mind before you venture forward:
  • there is some madness to my method
  • I only plan one week at a time.  I shop every Monday at City Market (Kroger) and Walmart.  Costco is reserved for Tuesday and Friday (for milk refills).  I am religious about this.  I don't know why but it keeps me sane somehow.
  • I like trying new things a lot so there are always new recipes on the menu
  • it sometimes takes me up to two hours to make a menu and the grocery list to go with it, depending on interruptions and how hungry I am.  If interruptions are few, and I'm only so-so hungry (enough so that food looks good but I'm not stuffed so nothing looks good), it could be wheedled down to an hour.  That's assuming I don't distract myself with something.
  • I'll plan one night for either leftovers or omelets (typically a Sunday evening) and I'll make enough of each meal throughout the week so that either Adam can take lunches or Puck or I can have it for lunch.  Soups are favorites of the big kids for their lunches at school.
  • I'll choose to make a more-expensive meal (ie lamb, Ahi, steak, etc.) in lieu of eating out, since our dining money comes from the grocery money envelope.  If we're eating it, it counts as groceries.
  • I try (and often fail) to have one meatless meal, but always with a protein. We are meat-a-vores in this house.
  • I write out the main dish plus sides and/or bread I'm making.  If I don't, I always forget to make it and then it stays in my fridge and rots.  Just being honest.
  • I don't particulary love menu planning.  I do love cooking, eating and saving money.  And that's where the planning comes into play.  If I don't plan, I don't cook much, we eat crap and we spend way too much trying to make up for the unplanned meals.
  • Sorry I just wrote "crap."  Again.
One last warning:
  • this aspect of my life might confuse those of you who know me in real life and think I'm really easy-going.  This is the part of me that is just a leetle bit uptight.  And, believe me, it surprises the heck out of me, too.
To get started, Monday mornings I grab my calendar plus a few recent food magazines (usually Eating Well and Rachael Ray), Jamie's (Oliver's) Food Revolution cookbook, and my personal cookbooks.  It makes for quite a pile.

menu planning 1
Personal cookbook #1 up there consists of my sides: veggies, breads, desserts, ect.
#2 is crockpot dishes and vegetarian meals.  I wish this one was fuller.
#3 is full of main dishes, meat or pasta.  Mmmm, pasta, my downfall.  I could never go Atkins.

I open my calendar and mark any days that Adam won't be home for dinner that week.  I'll either make those nights breakfast for dinner or some other meal he's not overly fond of but the kids like, but not always (he would have liked that meal!).  After that, I look at our schedule.  If I'm tutoring or there's a sport that night, it's often a crockpot meal or something else super easy. 
Then, the fun begins. 
When a new magazine comes, I read it, cover-to-cover, dog-earring the recipes I want to try as I go along.  I've also sticky-noted Jamie's book so much it's looking a little mishappen.  I go through those first, choosing at least one new dish for the week.  Sometimes one of the family will have a request for something in particular, so I'll put that down.  Or, I'll have a hankering for something (I currently can't get pulled pork off the brain), and that will go on the menu. 

Friday night is often a "fun" food, like pizza or stromboli or tacos.  Something that takes a bit more prep and clean-up, but which I don't mind if there's time (and help from the Daddy!) for it all.  Saturday will typically be based on what we've got going on for the weekend.  If the day will be spent out and about but we don't want to eat out (our valley can be so expensive!), I'll make sure to have something ready to go, or possibly even a Costco ready-to-make meal.

There you have it!  Terribly riveting stuff. 

Good {Monday} morning to ya!

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post.
I thought it was pretty.
It was taken on April 3 of this year.

No comments: