Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Monthly Menu

One item that will probably be a regular feature here is my meal plan for the month.  I used to fly by the seat of my pants when it came to groceries and meals. We would kind of make it up as we went along, which seemed to work pretty well for the first two years we were married.  That was when Hey, Babe was still working managing a pizza place and we only ate dinner together a few nights a week (the other nights he ate at work and I didn't bother cooking for just myself).  When Hey, Babe got a new job and was going to be home by 6:00 every night it started getting a little tense around dinnertime.  Especially since I got home at 4:00 and should theoretically have had plenty of time to get just about anything ready.  Then I got pregnant and suffered from miserable, and constantly changing, food aversions.  So every night Hey, Babe called on his way home to find out what I thought I could eat for dinner and picked up the necessary ingredients.  Most things ended up being quick processed foods which meant dinner was rather unhealthy AND pricey.

We finally overhauled the system when we bought a house and moved away from our dinky little apartment and it's corresponding dinky little fridge and ended up with a beautiful large fridge in our new kitchen plus a decent sized spare in the garage.  With all the wonderful new fridge space, along with the fact that the best grocery store was a 25 minute drive (one way & without traffic) we decided to try monthly shopping.  This of course meant that we needed to know everything that we were going to need for the month, excluding produce which we would buy at the farmer's market.  There are the occasional items we miss, but it isn't too much trouble to pick up one the odd missed item here or there.

During second month of our new system I got pregnant again and took the food aversion symptom to the extreme.  Nothing was appealing. Ever.  I decided to stick with the menus anyway, figuring that since I didn't want anything and had to eat something anyway I might as well keep making menus since it made shopping and dinner time easier.  Eventually it went away and we have now been monthly planning and shopping for one whole year.  I'm very pleased with how well we have stuck to it.  In the moment it is easier to just plan a week or a few days worth of meals, but in the long run it saves a lot of time and money.

Some people may think that shopping for the month would take too long, but we actually save quite a bit of time since we only walk the length of the store once a month, instead of every week, and we only make the hour or so round trip drive once a month.  Another plus is that I don't have to worry about running out of food, or needing to go shopping while I am sick, or in bad weather, etc.  In fact, we skipped shopping for two months when my daughter was born (excluding the weekly farmers market, and a few gallons of milk, diapers and cheerios).  Even if you don't think you personally can get rid of your weekly (or more) grocery trips, I highly recommend planning out your meals for the month.  I find it helps with what can otherwise be the most stressful time of the day, dinner prep time.

Mon. Tues. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun.

Bean Burritoes Crepes Pasta & Sauce Veggie Pizza labor day picnic at church
Taco Dip BBQ Chicken Quesadillas Omelets and Homefries Stuffed Zucchini Cups Penne with Vodka Sauce Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry Salmon Salad Sandwiches
BBQ Chicken, Corn, Mac Salad Tex Mex Mac & Cheese Chicken Caesar Salad Fish in a Bag, Broccoli, Br. Rice Pasta & Sauce Shepherd's Pie Salmon Salad Sandwiches
Chicken Parmadillas Potato Nachos French Toast, Sausage Herbed Chicken & Sweet Potatoes Spaghetti & Meatballs Chicken Stir Fry Salmon Salad Sandwiches
Slumgullion Pancakes & Bacon Cobb Salad Fish in a Bag, Broccoli, Br. Rice

I actually plan first Sunday to first Sunday since I only have Hey, Babe's help to grocery shop on Sunday mornings, and it takes two carts.  So here is the beginning of October as well:
  1. Chili
  2. Moussaka    
  3. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
There you have it.  We don't actually always eat the meal for the day it is scheduled, but we try to at least make it happen in the correct week, otherwise it messes with our produce quantities. For those of you who are curious, we have only skipped two planned meals so far, and both were for unscheduled events that conflicted with dinner at home.

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