Friday, February 19, 2010

Meal Planning Made Easy


Planning Your Menu a Year at a Time
WARNING: My meal planning method may make your life much much easier, for years to come.

With that said, I swear by this method. It may seem crazy that anyone could plan a menu for a years worth, and make it functional, but I do. And so does the sweet lady who taught me this method. And so do many other groups of women that I've taught this method to. I wish I could just link you to a word document, but I don't know if you can do that in Blogger. So I took pictures of documents, and if you would like the originals emailed to you, I can do that too. Hope this all makes sense.

The goal is to create a tentative menu plan for a years worth, so that you don't have to sit down every day, week, or month to plan a menu-which can take a lot of time. Once you have the basics established, you can do a years worth of planning in 1 hour, or less.

The very first step for me was something I was already doing. I keep a 3 ringed binder with sheet protectors that hold 4 4x6 pictures or cards. I found them at a scrapbook store. In this book I only put recipes that have been tried and found true to my family. I know they will eat it because I've made it before. Now you can follow the instructions below.

Meal Planning Made Easy

M- Make your master list
Go through recipe books and files
Make a list of all meals your family eats
Categorize them by poultry, beef, meatless, seafood, pork, etc.
Keep this for future reference and to add new favorite recipes

E- Evaluate each meal
How often do you want to have it?
Every month, every other month, quarterly, twice a year, etc.
You can use highlighters for each category, or make separate lists

A- Add all meals to a pocket calendar
Start by adding repetitive meals, like Sunday roasts, date night, eating out, pizza, etc.
Add a night for leftovers each week
Add in how often you want a surprise or new meal
Leave empty spots for holidays, seasonal foods, sales, garden food and so on
Fill in all the rest of the days from your list for a year

L- Look ahead
Check your menu each morning/evening
Consult your menu when making your shopping list
You have a whole year until you need to do this again!
Buying groceries at least a month at a time saves so much money!
Go to the store weekly only for perishables you need.

S- Sit back and watch your new menu plan bless your family. We, as parents, have a sacred duty to provide for the physical and the spiritual needs of our children.
You are setting an example for your daughters who will grown up to be mothers to their own children.
You are teaching your children the healthy eating and budgeting skills.
You are taking care of yourself, and you will perform better in your role as a mother and wife as you experience the benefits of regular, planned, nutritious meals.
You are conserving your time, money and energy to be used on other things.



Here is a sample of my food lists, categorized by meats, or the lack of. You could add a seafood list, but I can't stand the stuff so I don't cook it. I add in new dishes I've made with red pen, that I want to add into the next years planning.



Here is the calendar I have to wright my menu down. Buy them at the dollar store.

This is a sample page of a months menu planning.

The most important thing to remember in all of this, is that everything is subject to change. If you don't feel like taco's that night, trade around nights. Someone brought you dinner, forget your plan. Roast on sale, skip the spaghetti. But the glorious thing is, that you have a plan.

I usually save 150-200 dollars a month if I do all my shopping a month at a time. So when each month rolls around, I just look at my preplanned menu, make a shopping list, with perishables listed weekly. I buy all the groceries for the month, and if there are perishables you need to buy that week, only buy those. It works best if I have a list and give it to my husband to pick up after work. Then I'm not tempted to buy the things that look good, but I don't really need. I stretch the snack food to last a month, rather than buying needless junk. If ever I stray from this method, I end up spending so much on groceries.

Hope this all made sense, and I hope it can benefit someone out there. It really has made a difference in my home. I now have so much more time to sew and craft. Who out there can turn down those benefits?


25 comments:

Tricia said...

Okay. Wowza! You are my new kitchen hero! I am going to include a link to this post in my Inspire My Saturday post tomorrow, because you have rocked my socks off! ;)

XO*Tricia

Cris Goode said...

Love this idea! It would go great with freezing meals ahead of time.

Infarrantly Creative said...

Wow I have never met someone who planned for the whole year. That is pretty incredible! Thanks for linking up.

Girly Girlz Bows said...

I totally need help with meal planning...Starting my list of main dishes by type right now. Thanks for the idea!

Sara @ Best Thing Since Slice Bread

Cami said...

I would love a copy of your documents. camloups@msn.com. I am going to try this! It looks so easy and a great way to save money! Oh and I am Cami too....even spelled the same!

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

I too would love a copy!
baker7202@comcast.net

Brandi @ Frugal Farmhouse said...

WOW! this is brilliant. I absolutely looove it! thank you thank you :) I would love a copy of the documents! frugalfarmhouse@gmail.com

Also, I'm your newest follower :)

Tiffany said...

What a great tool! I would love to have the word documents:) tiffanymwilliamson@gmail.com

Kimberly said...

I love this! Could you send me the documents as well? kemmett5 at gmail dot com

Thanks!

~*Nomie*~ said...

You are my HERO! I have problems with meal planning everyday! I hope you don't mind me linking to you. Would it be possible if I could have the document as well?? nomieecoware@gmail.com

Michelley! said...

this is INTENSE! but i love it! and yes, i would love to take you up on the offer to have you send the copies of your documents! this is very awesome! thanks so much!

buchristian09@yahoo.com

Pinkie said...

Thank you for sharing this. I have a binder like this that I used to use for my coupons. I have a ton of recipes that I've ripped out of magazines and now I can recycle my coupon binder into a recipe book. Thanks!

Casey said...

I just found your post via a link from Infarrantly Creative, and I LOVE this idea! I will so be starting one of these over the weekend!! Could I possibly get you to email me the materials you were talking about to mrscllc@gmail.com Thanks so much!

Casey

Amber. said...

Okay, I realize I'm a year and some months overdue for realizing how cool this is, but is there any way you can email whatever materials you use to do this to achieffe3@gmail.com? I'll be your best friend if you will. :)

cyndi said...

Please help i would love a copy of your documents. I have been needing to do this for a while, but felt overwhelmed and needed help. i am so glad I found this post :)
cbcreations4u at gmail.com

Look forward to your email

Tania said...

My sister just sent me your link and told me about the year meal planning and I LOVE the idea!!! My husband does all the cooking right now and I want to take it all over so I am have to start from scratch. I have very few meals that I make I would love your documents and I am not sure if that includes recipes but if not I would love any recipes you can send and anyone else reading this post I am so excited to get this started and am happy I found something that will make my life easier. Thank you for sharing!!! dolfinchick26@yahoo.com

kandra said...

I would REALLY REALLY love it if you could email me your documents! I love this! I've been grocery shopping once a week, and I always spend too much. My life is changed!
kandraconary@yahoo.com

E & H said...

I would love the documents sent to me! harmjoy@gmail.com

allboymama said...

You inspire me. I'm a horrible meal planner. I would love for you to email your plan or any materials that would help me get started.

allboymama said...

whoops just in case my email isn't visable it's mrsginther at gmail dot com

Kathleen said...

I would love a copy of the documents, too. I really want to do this. Looks too easy. Thanks! Loving this blog!
teacherkaty@charter.net

a.k.a happy heart mom said...

Will have to come back to this when I have more time to read this - but it looks like a great idea for planning meals!

bookladyjkd said...

You might look into mega Cooking by Jill Bond. She cooks/freezes meals for 6 months at a time, no junk. Anyway, it might be a way that you could save a bit more time/$.

Judith

bookladyjkd said...

You might want to look at Jill Bond's Mega Cooking cookbook. She cooks twice a year, no junk.

Thanks for the ideas!

Judith