Thursday, March 4, 2010

Menu Planning...

See that up there? That is evidence that the sun was shining into my kitchen window yesterday. It felt so good to feel it on my skin as I walked to the mail box and out to collect the bird feeders. Spring, oh, Spring...come quick!
Menu planning...oh my, it has been my saving grace these last months. I can't believe that I haven't been doing it for years. It just makes things so much easier. I spend a couple of hours each month planning for the next month. I use a blank month sheet that my Mom gave me a large tablet of. I usually only plan for dinners as lunch is leftovers or things like Macaroni and Cheese or PB and J. I don't lock myself in either, depending on what's on sale or what we are in the mood for, I feel free to switch things up as the month goes along. Once I do my planning I attach all recipes needed and the month sheet to a clip board that I hang next to the refrigerator. It's a good place for me to reference what's up coming.
Then each week when I get the Highlander and Logli ads, I review what I have listed for the week, what's on sale and I then make any changes. I usually only do the major grocery shopping every two weeks, but if there is a killer deal on something I will stop by the store. Plus, we usually need a staple item, like milk or yogurt from time to time on the off shopping week. I have sworn off Walmart all together. The stores I now frequent do double coupons and tend to have great sales on meat and other items on a regular basis. I just have to watch and then stock my freezer to tide us over until the next sale. I have saved lots on things like chicken and bread this way and I have a nice pantry full of canned goods because of shopping sales. These methods have helped me plan our meal more effectively as well.
On a rolling cart that I have in my kitchen I stash all of my latest food magazines and any recipes that I have come across that I want to get into the meal rotation. It's a great place for them for easy reference and to keep clutter off of my table and counters. I file away the magazines or recycle as needed.
This weeks menu is:
Creamy Tomato Penne
Asian Beef Stew and Rice
Shredded Apricot Pork Sandwiches
Big Salads
Royal Round Steak
Leftovers

I always allow for a least one dinner of leftovers to clean out the fridge and to try not to waste any food. I am also using my crock pot a great deal more which makes things even easier. I may only list the main course, but we always have vegetables and/or fruit as well. I try to keep us balanced, but sometimes grilled cheese and chips is all I can manage and I try not to feel too bad about it.
I file away past months menus for reference, plus I try to make notes as to how the recipe was recieved and if it was something that I should make again or never dare to think of making again. This doesn't always happen, but I do try to make an effort.
What tricks or tips do you have that makes cooking easier? I would love to know.

2 comments:

Lorenz Family Blog said...

Tips or tricks? How about fasting?? :D That would certainly work for me! More power to ya, Sista!

Fairlightday said...

I love having a monthly menu. I used to do just one week at a time, but having 3-4 weeks planned out sure helps my budget so much more. I can stratagize my meat purchases better that way. One thing I have learned is to always write with a pencil rather than a pen. Sounds silly but I made that mistake over and over. Also, I love fixing huge meals the 1st week or so of the month and then freezing half of it to be eaten the last week of the month (when money is really tight) or because it;s the week of my period and I just don't have the energy to cook. That is about all of my tips though. I love how you gather all the recipes on a clipboard with the menu. Handy!