Nov 212015
 

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I woke up this morning at 4-something a.m.  However, this time it was my fault.  I told myself last night that I wanted to get up at 4:30 to finish the first coat of paint on the garage ceiling.  Half of it was done last night but I was so tired my bed sounded so much better.  By 8 p.m. I was asleep.  So … 4-something I woke up. Realized I was still tired and went back to sleep for an hour.

Now, I can do math and I know that if I fell asleep at 8 p.m., 5 a.m. means I was able to sleep for almost 9 hours.  That is doing great.  For the past several years 6 hours was all I was going on; not bad, but not great either.  So, when 5 a.m came around I got up.

Intending to tease a friend on Facebook last night about their incoming snow, I had gone to check the weather.  With the news off most days, I take things as they come and not worry about every little drop in temperatures.  Well, unless it is the first or last frost, then it is important.  🙂  That is when I saw snow in the forecast for us today.  Not what I was hoping to have happen.  My plans to paint were for the garage.  With new garage doors and actual insulation in most of the walls, the garage is finally warmer than it has been previous winters.  Does that mean it will stay above 50 degrees if it falls below 30 degrees outside?  I am not sure.  So let’s not test it out with wet paint on the ceiling, okay?

As I laid there thinking about what I could do, I realized I had not shared the great upcoming Black Friday Weekend Sale that Plan To Eat is going to have in a few days.  I really want to share this with you as they do not have sales that often.

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November 27th – November 30th, all yearly subscriptions for Plan To Eat will be half off.  This means that for $19.50 (or $1.60 a month) you will have access to an easy meal planning site where you can even share your recipes with others, or find new one yourself. They will even create a shopping list for your from the recipes you plan to eat during certain time periods.  How easy is that?!

I have found that I save at least 30 minutes each week in writing up our meal plans, which include all 3 meals.  If I sit down to write out the months meal plans it is even more time saved.  I no longer have to work with an Excel spreadsheet that, while helpful and sufficient, really was clunky and left much to be desired.

Not only have the yearly subscriptions on sale, you can also buy an unlimited gift subscriptions at only $15.50 each.  They would make a great gift for a busy household, someone who lives by themselves and may want help ‘diversifying’ their meals, a young couple starting out setting up home, or those who are going through some hard times and are looking for ways to save money or time. Gift subscriptions to Plan To Eat can be given at any time (like Christmas!) and will not begin until the recipient redeems the gift.

I was hesitant when I initially tried out this service maid of mine.  At the time, it was not at a point in the year to take advantage of this deal.  It was the end of Spring and I needed a way to keep the meal plan under control without taking up so much of my time.  Plan To Eat’s free 30 day trial showed me how easy this was to use, how clunky my previous attempts were, and how much time I could save.  I hemmed and hawed, then asked my husband, “It would cost just over $3 a month.  What do you think?”  He asked if it made my life easier, if $3 was worth my time each month.  The answer was a resounding “Yes!”  I have not looked back.

Over the past few years, I could tell the months where I did not take as much time to meal plan.  How?  Our grocery bill jumped significantly.  I was amazed.  Did meal planning really make that much of a difference to our finances?  Obviously it did.  It meant I knew what was in the house, specifically what I needed to get at the store, and how to use what I did end up buying.

“What about the free 30-day trial? I have one/planning to get one/just heard about it?”  Great question.  You can still sign-up for the free 30 day trial AND get the yearly subscription deal.  They will not overlap, but instead flow seamlessly from one to the other, with your yearly subscription beginning at the end of the trial date.

“I already have a subscription, but it is not set to end till ___.”  That is okay, too.  You can still take advantage of this deal, which will then extend your subscription expiration date by a year.

If you are on the fence, like I was at one point, about taking on this maid, I would suggest signing up for the free 30-day trial.  With a week to go before the Black Friday Weekend Sale, you will be able to test out the site, plan this week’s meals, and see if it is something that will help you out in the upcoming year.

Happy meal planning!

 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through one of the links and purchase something, I will receive a small percent back at no added cost to you.  If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can go directly to their site by searching for them online or typing in their address.  Thanks for helping support this blog.

Jul 292013
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

A few weeks months back, while visiting my parents, I noticed my mom’s menu plan on her fridge.  This is something I grew up seeing often, though not weekly.  It isn’t anything special or overly detailed.  I think she would laugh at the extent of my planning.  That is okay.  We are different people with different households.  What is important is that we use what works for us AND we both have a plan.  When I saw her menu plan I knew I just had to share it with you, my readers.  Rest assured, menu planning doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  What meal planning does have to do is work for you and be something that helps, not be one more thing you dread.

So, here is my mom’s weekly menu plan.  On a spare notepad with a magnet on the back.  (Maybe this week’s menu is actually on the back of an envelope stuck to the fridge with a magnet?)

handwritten weekly menu plan 2

At this time it is just her and Dad living at home.  Both work, so no one is there for lunch.  If they choose to take their lunches, then they are each responsible for making their own – usually leftover or sandwiches.  They also aren’t big breakfast eaters.  Dad usually does a bowl of cereal.  Mom … well, I’m not even sure if she eat breakfast beyond a cup of coffee.  That leaves only dinner to really worry about.

Below is a copy of one of my menu plans I used a spreadsheet to make … for the month …

menu plan next to computer

I enlarged it but am not sure you can fully read it, so let me explain.  Each day has a square.  In that square is breakfast, lunch and dinner listed.  If I was good I added sides.  If I was doing great I added sides and snacks.

Here is what my plan looks like now, using Plan To Eat:

Monthly menu made with Plan To Eat

It may look complicated, but it isn’t.  It actually took me less time than a spreadsheet.  Last night it took about 15 minutes to get half of next month planned out.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Additionally, the meal highlighted in blue mean I have their recipe saved online.  Recipes from my favorite ones at home, ones that we actually eat.  Not ones that someone else has chosen. I can then choose to have a shopping list put together by week or month or other range specified by me. I can then add or take away from that list depending on what I have here at home and what else I need or want to get. (Okay, I’ll get back on topic.  Just wanted to encourage you to take a look at Plan To Eat.  Yes, that is a referral link.  However, I really am loving this site, and the time is saves me, and would recommend it to you even if I didn’t have a referral link.)

Even though it looks more complicated than a spreadsheet, it actually contains the same information – meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I use the snack section to list the desserts I am looking to make that week.  If we ate a meal and liked it then it gets a check.  If we ate it and didn’t like it (i.e. a new recipe) then it gets a check and an ‘X’.

Below is a zoomed in view of a few days were life brought some changes – work lunches, out of home appointments, etc.  I rearrange on the printed menu, and then update the one online.  I had used the lasagna earlier in the month and replaced it with another meal I had ingredients for.  Turns out I didn’t make that meal because DH had a work lunch, so the replacement meal was replaced with something super easy for me and the kids.  It is okay to change the menu.  You are in charge, not the plan.

changes made to monthly menu

I have been trying to figure out a way to share my monthly meal plans with you.  A way that doesn’t involve typing it all up.  Preferably a way to link or paste it on the blog or create an online document.  If you know of such a way, please let me know.

If you are a visual person, I hope some of the pictures help show that there are many different ways to plan.  You can also choose how detailed  your plan is.  I am finding that I often forget to add sides.  Not always a helpful thing to forget when we are having peas for the fourth night in a row because that is really all there is in the house in the way of sides.  (This was before canning really began for this year.)

On to this week’s meal plan:

egg and bacon strata ingredients

Breakfast:

  1. Crepes, maple syrup, pureed blackberries, juice
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs/omelettes, toast, fruit
  4. Cereal
  5. Pumpkin Shakes
  6. Oatmeal (with cooked apples)
  7. Traveling

Sweet-n-tangy pork loin 2

Lunch:

  1. Spaghetti
  2. PB&J, chips, yogurt, milk
  3. Eat Out – use gift card
  4. Greek Meatballs with Mint, rice, grilled veggies
  5. Sweet-n-tangy Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Baked Potatoes
  6. Steak au Poivre with roasted fingerling potatoes,
  7. Traveling

 DSCN8139

Supper:

  1. Fruit, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Chips
  2. Pecan-stuffed Pork Chops, Marinated Zucchini Salad, Sliced Tomato
  3. Salad
  4. Cuban Black Beans, rice, side salad
  5. Leftovers
  6. Traveling
  7. Traveling

How do you normally plan your meals?

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s July’s Monthly Meal Plan.

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This post contains referral links to Plan To Eat.

Jul 212013
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Last week I surprised myself by actually following the meal plan most of the week.  It wasn’t until Thursday that I deviated, and then it was only for Thursday and Friday.  The deviation meant that I ‘took’ a meal from later in the month and had it this week instead.  One reason was that we are hoping to invite some friends over for one of the meals.  The reason for the substitution of the other meals?

  1. I had used the freezer meal earlier in the month to give to someone needing a meal.  
  2. I just didn’t have leftovers in the house.  Is that a good thing or bad?  Either way, it meant opening the freezer and looking for ‘leftovers’ there.  Technically still leftovers, just not the kind I was thinking of.

This is the flexibility having a monthly meal plan provides – if life happens, you substitute one of the other meals you you already have items for.  Not searching through the pantry for inspiration.

We also tried a few meals last week.  Finally we had another one that didn’t turn out, and so we won’t be trying again.  Another had a good flavor, the cappuccino mousse, but the texture wasn’t one we liked.  I have a better mousse recipe and will combine both recipes to make this flavor again in the future.

Pantry Challenge Update: I have most of the ingredients for this month’s meals.  I still have some fresh produce to purchase this week and next.  I am pretty sure I can come in under $70 per person this month.  

As of today I have spend  $66 per person for the month. This month’s spending is down from my 3-month average of $97.41, 6-month average of $93, and 12-month average of $94.47.  Wow.  Those number really show that on average I spend about the same per person each month, even if some months are much higher/lower than others.  My goal is $60 per person per month.  As you can see, I haven’t been meeting that number.  The question then is, why not?  The answer is simple.  I’ve been keeping track of my spending in my head.  When I see a ‘good deal’ I buy as much as possible to “save gas and time on having to go to the store”, rather than enough to last till the next sale.  Sometimes this is warranted.  (Such as when I found boneless, skinless chicken on sale for $.99/lb due to the store having ordered too much.)  Most times it isn’t.  (The canned vegetables will go on sale again in about 3 months.)  The extra I spend one month gets forgotten the next month, resulting in habitual overspending.  The solution?  I need to start writing my spending down as I shop and checking the monthly totals before leaving to go to the store.

My spending this month as included taking 3+ meals to other families that had a need for one reason or another.  We have also shared several of our dessert extras.  This just goes to show that lending a helping hand doesn’t have to cost a lot or be overly involved.  A few times the dessert we made would have resulted in extras for days if we kept them to ourselves. (Not something you want if you are trying to not gain weight.) Instead, I gave a call to someone whom had been too under the weather to cook and had family visiting.  They willingly took the extra desserts and their guests “suffered through” helping us out.  Later I was told that one visiting family member said, “Wow. That {having dessert brought over} would never happen where we live.”  To which the hostess said, “It happens more than you might think.”  Hinting that we have called them before to ‘help us out’ in this area.  You never know what small action might leave an impact.

Week before last, in Pantry Challenge fashion, I made due with what we had in the house rather than go buy something from the store.  The menu said, “tomato soup”.  The pantry produced enough for one person.  Hmm.  We still had extra cream of celery soup mix so I grabbed that, a kid, and a few items out of the fridge.  Why the kid?  I wanted to use this as a first “cooking” lesson beyond cooking noodles.

To the can of cream of celery, we the kid cut up left over potatoes from the fridge and added them to the pot.  Additionally, bacon crumbles and shredded cheese were added. The little chef was so proud of the resulting dish.

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My husband is not a fan, to put it lightly, of melted cheese.  He got the tomato soup.  The rest of us had cheesy potato and bacon soup.  Coming from someone who usually needs a recipe to follow, I was pretty proud of the inspiration and the result.

I don’t usually by cream of celery soup, so I am thinking this was from Thanksgiving/Christmas time last year when these go on sale for a decent price.  There are only a few of my recipes that call for this ingredient and so my pantry doesn’t hold many of these.  I am glad to have found a use for those that may be close to their ‘best if used by’ date.

shake ingredients

Breakfast:

  1. Crepes, maple syrup, blackberries, juice
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs/omelettes, toast, fruit
  4. Muffins
  5. Pumpkin Shakes
  6. Oatmeal (with cooked apples)
  7. Eggs, toast, bacon, fruit

Pot Roast with Bacon and Vegetables collage

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Salad
  3. Eat Out – use gift card
  4. Chinese Styel BBQ Pork, rice, grilled veggies
  5. Spicy Pan Fried Sirloin Steak with noodles, peas
  6. Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Grilled Zucchini, rice
  7. Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops, Marinated Zucchini Salad, Pineapple Buckle

Banana Sunday Puff collage

 

A note about the Banana Sunday Puff pictured above: There is no picture of the final, put together dish because it was eaten too fast.  Yes, this is a repeat recipe.

Supper:

  1. Bread, cheese, jam, tea
  2. Red-Currant-Pomegranate Glazed Ham, mashed potatoes, beets
  3. Caribbean Pasta Salad with Tropical Isand Dressing
  4. Salad
  5. Tomato soup, croutons, crackers
  6. Leftovers
  7. TBD

 

Have you found inspiration in making a dish this week?  Tried a new dish?

 

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s July’s Monthly Meal Plan.

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Jul 082013
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Last week I had all the right intentions to post the meal plan for the week.  I didn’t forget.  Honest.  Instead of planning for the week, though, I ended up planning for the month AND adding all my recipes to my Plan To Eat account.  By that point I was exhausted, my kids were threatening mutiny, and lunch had to be made.  🙂  I had been adding recipes a bit at a time but it was taking longer than I wanted.  When I got the urge to plan the whole month’s meals last week I decided I first needed to set myself up to make it as easy as possible. It took longer than I thought to add the recipes, but once I did planning the menu was a breeze.

Today I went to buy some fresh vegetables for our lunch’s salad and decided to go ahead and print off my weekly shopping list.  Yes, this site even saves me time in this area.  I’ve recently tried to do something similar on my own, using a spreadsheet program.  My thought was that it would save me from having to pull out each recipe every month, write down what was needed, add it up, etc., etc.  It was quickly becoming large and cumbersome.  Instead, within a few minutes this morning I was able to select my date range, have all similar ingredients’ measurements compiled, remove items I already had at home, add items I knew I needed and print out a list that included every ingredient from every recipe for this week that I would need.  I am hoping this helps cut down on the running to the store for this and that.

Last week I printed off the shopping list for the month, but wasn’t able to get to Large City to do the shopping for it. It was very overwhelming to see  how many ingredients I would be using over the course of the month.  It was a great reminder of how I have added this and that to my pantry over time.  To have gone out and bought all 10 page worth of ingredients would have not only blown the budget, but given me quite the headache as well.  Lesson learned: To save you budget and sanity, add to your pantry a bit at a time by not overwhelming yourself with lots of new recipes containing new ingredients.

premixed shake

Breakfast:

  1. Camping
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs/omelettes, toast, fruit
  4. French Toast
  5. Pumpkin Shakes
  6. Oatmeal (with cooked apples)
  7. Eggs, toast, bacon, fruit

beans soaking in crockpots 1

Lunch:

  1. Camping
  2. Salad
  3. Grilled Spiced Pork Patties with Greens, mashed potatoes
  4. Pot Roast with Bacon and Vegetables, rice
  5. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, mashed potatoes
  6. Honey-Chipotle Turkey Meatballs, rice, peas
  7. Baby Back Ribs with Spiced Apple-Cider MopRoasted Tomatoes with Fresh Basil and MozzarellaCreamy Cantaloupe Custards with Mixed Berries

Tangy Black Bean Soup in bowl

Supper:

  1. Watermelon, chips
  2. Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup
  3. Tomato soup, croutons, crackers
  4. Fresh Vegetables over Couscous
  5. Tangy Black Bean Soup
  6. Leftovers
  7. TBD

It was so nice to have this week planned out after having been camping since the middle of last week.  It was one less thing for me to have to think about when we got back.

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s July’s Monthly Meal Plan.

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May 112013
 

puff pancakes on plate with strawberries and blackberries and juice

Here is my monthly menu.  I’m trying a new layout here on the blog to give more order to it, rather than just a list.

I know it is almost the end of the second week, but I really have been working on this to finish it up.  For some reason I’ve had more trouble this month coming up with meals, especially dinners.  I feel us starting to get into a rut with our meals.  One of the reasons may be that I have been writting them out here on the blog rather than in the Word document I had been using.  This makes it harder, or rather more time consuming, to look backwards.

Breakfasts:

  1. Deep fried pancakes with warm maple creme syrup x 2
  2. Crouissants with eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon x 3
  3. Cereal x 5
  4. Omelets/eggs, toast, juice x 5
  5. Waffles, fruit, syrup x 3
  6. Pancakes, fruit, syrup x 2
  7. Shakes (using pumpkin puree from the freezer) x 5
  8. Apple Oatmeal x 5
  9. Eggs, toast, bacon, fruit x 5

Sweet-n-tangy pork loin 2

Week 1 (first 3 days are in April):

Lunch

  1. Eat out
  2. Pasta with bacon crumbles, brocolli and salsa (leftovers)
  3. Slow-cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken, rice, peas, apple sauce
  4. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, mac and cheese, peas
  5. Beef Bourguignon, rolls
  6. Leftovers
  7. Visiting Family

Dinner:

  1. Bacon, tomato, onion sandwiches, tater tots, corn on the cob
  2. Lentil soup, corn bread muffins
  3. Salami sandwiches, tomato slices, grilled onions, corn on the cob
  4. Tangy Black Bean Soup, sour cream, side salad, corn bread muffins
  5. Hummus(Curried Chickpea-Yogurt Dip), veggies, cream cheese with salsa and crackers
  6. Visiting Family
  7. Visiting Family

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Week 2:

Lunch:

  1. Visiting Family
  2. PB&J, chips, carrot sticks
  3. Pizza
  4. Sweet-and-Tangy Roasted Pork Tenderloin, fried potatoes
  5. Turkey Chili/Black Bean Chili, corn bread muffins
  6. Breaded Pork Chops, mac-n-cheese, peas
  7. Ribs, potato salad, steamed carrots

Dinner:

  1. Eat out (traveling)
  2. Salad
  3. Tangy Black Bean Soup
  4. Baked chicken nuggets, tator tots, carrot slices, apple slices
  5. Salami sandwiches, grilled onions, sliced tomatoes
  6. Leftovers
  7. Tomato soup, croutons

DSCN7376

Week 3:

We are having a guest stay with us for the next two weeks.  There are going to be days when lunches or suppers are eaten out, though we aren’t sure which ones.  On those days, the kids and I will likely have a light lunch at home.

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Salad
  3. Eat out
  4. Spaghetti
  5. Chicken Piccata, rice, peas
  6. Greek Meatballs with Mint (Keftethes), couscous
  7. Superfast Salisbury Steak, rice, steamed carrots, corn on the cob

Supper:

  1. Jam and cheese sandwiches, tea, fruit
  2. Pizza
  3. Chinese Style BBQ Pork, rice, green beans, steamed carrots
  4. Beef curry with vegetables, rice
  5. Salami sandwiches, tomato, grilled onion, fries
  6. Minute steaks, potatoes with paprika sauce, peas, sliced tomato
  7. Leftovers

light supper of tea and tomato cheese on toast

Week 4:

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Ginger Sauce, grilled potato slices with sald and vinegar,
  3. Salad
  4. Stir-Fried Sweet-and-Sour Chicken, rice
  5. Pot Roast with Bacon and Vegetables
  6. Hamburgers, sweet potato fries, tomato and onion slices
  7. Cowboy Kabobs (new recipe), sweet potatoes and bacon, glazed carrots and thyme (new recipe)

Dinner:

  1. Toast, jam, cheese and tea
  2. Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup, corn bread muffins
  3. Cuban Black Beans, rice
  4. unused meal
  5. Falafel, couscous salad
  6. unused meal
  7. Leftovers

DSCN7069

Week 5 (one day in June):

We may be camping all this week, and if so this menu will be adapted.  Either way suppers will be eaten away from home.

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Greek-style Turkey Meatloaf (new recipe), chutney-glazed carrots
  3. Salad
  4. Spaghetti and Meatballs
  5. Spicy Pan-fried Sirloin Steak with Noodles
  6. Yam Nuea Yang (new recipe),
  7. Beer Basted Angus Strip Steak (new recipe)

Dinner:

  1. Tomato soup, croutons
  2. Camping
  3. Camping
  4. Camping
  5. Camping
  6. Camping
  7. ???

 

This is one of the few months that I am not actually sure how well we will follow the plan.  There are several things that changed within the past week.  Not only school ending but changes in plans of people coming to visit and us going to visit, and our summer schedule taking shape.  This is exactly the point where I need to not give in to the “I can’t make a plan because I don’t know what will happen” thoughts.  It is EXACTLY times like this I need a plan.  The plan may change, but that is okay.  At least I have a starting point for it to change from.

Have you tried making out a monthly meal plan?  Even if you don’t include every meal for every day would you be willing to try? Why or why  not?

Mar 012013
 

If you are looking for a recipe that I previously linked, please check out my Recipes List to see if it is linked there.  If I found, or could find, the recipe online it is linked to the recipe.  If the source was a book, then I linked to the book.

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).

Breakfasts:

Crepes, fruit, juice and coffee x 4

Cereal x 4

Eggs, toast, juice x 4

Eggs, toast, meat, fruit x 3

Chocolate Butterhorns

Chocolate mocha muffins (double and freeze extra for future meals)

Zucchini bread

Muffins (extras from the freezer, apple and chocolate)

Shakes x 4 (bananas, yogurt, strawberries, and PB)

Baked banana-pecan oatmeal

Oatmeal x 2

Grits

Deep fried pancakes with warm maple creme syrup

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.

Lunch:

Boeuf bourguinon

Rosemary beef stew

Eat Out x 4

Black bean and butternut chili, muffins or bread

Salad x 4

Smokey chipotle meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes and bacon

BBQ pork stew

Yam Nuea Yang

Beer basted angus strip steak, glazed carrots with thyme, corn pudding

Chocolate chipotle chili, cornbread muffins (triple chili recipe for future meals)

Spaghetti

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

Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, glazed fingerling potatoes, orange glazed baby carrots

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.  =)

Supper:

Eat out x 2

Leftovers x 4

Event outside the house x 1

Lasagna, cottage cheese, garlic bread

Chicken mole

French dip sandwiches, sweet potato chips

Tea, fruit, toast x 4

Honey chipotle turkey meatballs, rice

Pizza

Stir fry sweet and sour chicken

Curried chickpea and yogurt dip, carrot sticks, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.

BBQ beef and bean stew

Twice baked potatoes

Tangy Black Bean Soup, cornbread muffins

Wine-braised beef stew, biscuits/cornbread muffins

Sweat potato chicken stew

Tomato soup, croutons, grilled cheese

Stuffed savory cabbage

Salami sandwiches, chips

Lemon chicken stew

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?

* This post contains affiliate links.

Dec 172012
 

I do not have a weekly menu to post this week due to other obligations.  Instead I thought I would share a bit about my prefered method to plan my menus.  Have a great week.

Monthly  menu planning is something I love to do (do it once and get ‘er done) and have been doing for just over a year now.  Before that I was a weekly planner, but got tired of always having to sit down and plan.

It was actually Linsay at Passionate Homemaking that introduced me to what monthly meal planning could actually look like and even provided a wonderful document to put it all on.  (If everything could be done in Excel or Word and put into wonderful tables, life would just be grand.)  Although I love to have the menu made up for the month I don’t like to do all my shopping at one time for the month.  I tried this, but it just didn’t work out for us so I went back to buying things as they came on sale, changing the menu plan if needed, and in general tried to keep the house well stocked.

There are some differences between planning by the month versus by the week, but there are also a lot of similarities.  A big one is that when you plan by the week, you can plan around your activities for that particular week and the sales.  When I started planning by the month I had to look ahead and guess at some of the activities, remember to keep things flexible and have a couple easy meals in mind in case things changed.

Also, I try to use the first month, or a random month along the way, to eat what we have and not need to buy a lot.  This then allows me to start buying more of what is on sale and stocking the house better.  (November was one of the months I did this recently.  With the holidays coming up I knew there were going to be some good sales.)  It is easier to plan for the month if you know you already have 5 lbs of ground beef, 10 chicken breasts, 4 lbs of ground turkey, a package of brats, 15 bags of frozen veggies, etc. in the house.  You don’t have to worry about paying full price for those items.  Now, depending on your family, that may  not go a long way.  For others, you could probably make it the whole month plus some with that food alone.

I thought about talking more about this topic, then realized that there were so many other places it had already been talked about.  Instead I am going to share some links to different topics concerning montly meal planning.

http://simplemom.net/how-to-menu-plan/ – “A Basic Guide to Menu Planning”

An article from eHow walks you through the though processes for planning a montly menu.

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2012/09/simple-menu-planning.html – “Simple Menu Planning”

http://simplemom.net/menu-planning-resources/ – “Menu Planning Resources”

Raising a Healthy Family has a Monthly Menu Planning Worksheet

For those who may want to take step up your spreadsheet check out this planner I found on Vertex42.  He has taken the standard menu and added drop down menu you can select you meal list from.  You can edit the meal list to fit your meal choices.  There is also a Montly Meal Planner with Grocery List.

http://monthlymealplanner.com/ – An online version of planning it out on paper.  They also  provide ideas for recipes, a link to their blog, a recipe box and more.

http://picklebums.com/2011/03/07/montly-menu-plan/ – Printable menu plans

At 5dollardinners Erin talk about why she plans her menus monthly.

 

If after reading all of that you still have questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.

What is the best  method for you, at this moment in time, to menu plan?  Have you tried other ways?  Did they succeed at that time or flop?