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I have talked several times about my monthly menu plan, but have never posted it. Last month I tried to figure out how to post a Google Document that you could all see, but couldn’t figure it out. (If you are able to help me figure it out I would be greatly appreciated.) As I was thinking about it I decided that I was not going to let that fact stop me from sharing with you all. After thinking about it for a bit I decided to just list them under the appropriate meal titles (breakfast, lunch or dinner). I will still post weekly menus in case you are looking for some ideas those weeks.
When I initially was looking to change up my menu planning I was inspired by Confessions of a Homeschooler’s monthly meal plans. Actually, her format is the same one I use. I made a word document and add a month at the end. This means I can look back to past menus if I need ideas. The months that are empty are the ones I decided to not do a monthly menu. When I start to have trouble with my planning I go back to see what I have done and often find that I have not planned for two months or so. That right there answers my question, “Why am I finding it so hard to plan each week?” I really like being able to look back and see what we have done previously. If we try a recipe that we don’t like I use the
strikethrough feature on that month’s menu so that I’ll know later on and not try it again thinking we really liked it.
There have even been times that I don’t have time to create a new meal plan. At those times I can take a previous month or week and just repeat it. If you really don’t like planning you could create three or four months worth of meals then repeat them. Imagine, planning 3 or 4 time for the whole year instead of 12 or 52 times! Personally I find our summer and winter meals change, so it might be that if I chose this route I would have to plan four or six times.
Right now we are trying a lot of new recipes so I do not find I need to plan only 3 months worth and then repeat them. (There have been times that is what I have had to do due to time constraints or needing my thinking brain to work on more important things.) What I do find is that I can go ahead and plan a new recipe 4 months ahead of time. For example I have the new recipes I want to try broken down into months all the way into July. When I start working on April’s menu I will already have some meals filled in.
Some other ways I make it quicker to plan meals is by having certain days always having the same meal. You may have noticed on my weekly menus that my breakfasts don’t vary much from week to week. Here is how I have done our breakfasts:
Sunday – pancakes or crepe, syrup, optional: bacon, fruit
Monday – cereal
Tuesday – eggs, toast, juice
Wednesday – breads (muffins, rusks, quick breads, hand pies, butterhorns, etc.)
Thursday – shakes
Friday – oatmeal or grits, optional: fruit
Saturday – eggs, toast, bacon or fried salami, fruit, juice or coffee
Though I have something for every day, things can change. If we decide to eat out for Saturday breakfast, then great. We just don’t eat the planned breakfast. If Tuesday morning we wake up late and are rushing around to make work and school times then cereal may be on the menu again. Usually it is just Saturday’s breakfast plan that gets interrupted but all are flexible.
I try to have the items for Wednesday in the freezer or fridge the night before. This not only saves time but makes my morning much easier. For example, it is very easy to pull some apple muffins out of the freezer and place on a plate when I first get up. Then I start the coffee and pour juice. After that I continue on with my morning routine. By the time everyone else is up and dressed the muffins are ready to eat. If I want to make it even “nicer” I place them in the microwave for about 30 seconds each. Now everyone has a warm breakfast that took me less than a minute to make. This is often quicker than me pouring cold cereal and adding milk.
All of our meals are not as planned out as our breakfasts. Still, I find that some days of the week find us eating the same meals. Tuesday’s lunch is always salad. Sunday we like to eat our lunch. I’ve recently made Monday’s lunches a soup and muffin/biscuit meal. The soups changes each week but it does help narrow down the choices.
March has several things coming up that I have had to plan around. The first week has us gone in the morning, as does a day in the second week, so I purposefully have put down crock pot recipes for lunches. The end of the month contains Easter, which we will be traveling for. This means no meals here at home. However, I do have to plan on food to take along for the family Easter dinner which is a pitch-in (pot-luck).
Crepes, fruit, juice and coffee x 4
Cereal x 4
Eggs, toast, juice x 4
Eggs, toast, meat, fruit x 3
Chocolate mocha muffins (double and freeze extra for future meals)
Shakes x 4 (bananas, yogurt, strawberries, and PB)
Oatmeal x 2
We are all home for lunches and suppers, so this affects our menu. Lunches used to look very different, when we were both working outside the home and had no one else here to feed. However, life changes and so does the menu. It used to be that I would take leftovers and my husband would eat out. Now, we are both home at lunch time and have a sit down meal.
Eat Out x 4
Black bean and butternut chili, muffins or bread
Salad x 4
Beer basted angus strip steak, glazed carrots with thyme, corn pudding
Chocolate chipotle chili, cornbread muffins (triple chili recipe for future meals)
Pork loin with marmalade sauce, mashed potatoes
Cilantro buttermilk steak, mac-n-cheese, peas
Cowboy kabobs, chutney glazed carrots, wine braised cabbage
Greek beef and lentil stew, biscuits
Breaded pork chops, potato gratin (double or triple, freeze extra for future meals)
Beef curry, rice
Sticky blackberry barbecue pork ribs, potato salad
Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup, cornbread muffins
Greek meatballs, barley
Sweet-and-Tangy Roasted Pork Tenderloin, stuffing, steamed carrots
As I said above, we are all home for lunch. This means that I try to make lunch a larger meal and supper lighter. I’m still working on this as having sandwiches or leftovers every night for supper doesn’t go across very well. What I have been trying to do instead is look for meals that we still make, but which may be lighter. An example is tomato soup and croutons. Okay, not home made by any means, but it isn’t near as heavy as beef stew. There are some days when lunches are lighter, due to our schedule, so supper is a larger meal. Or perhaps I just really want to try a recipe and there is no other time to do it … I view my “rules” of menu planning as more of guidelines. =)
Eat out x 2
Leftovers x 4
Event outside the house x 1
Lasagna, cottage cheese, garlic bread
French dip sandwiches, sweet potato chips
Tea, fruit, toast x 4
Stir fry sweet and sour chicken
Curried chickpea and yogurt dip, carrot sticks, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.
Twice baked potatoes
Tangy Black Bean Soup, cornbread muffins
Wine-braised beef stew, biscuits/cornbread muffins
Tomato soup, croutons, grilled cheese
Stuffed savory cabbage
Salami sandwiches, chips
There you have it, my menu plan for March. It actually took me longer to link-up all the recipes than it did to actually create the menu.
How do you normally menu plan? Have you changed over time?
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