Sunday, February 7, 2010

Menu Planning for a Month


As promised, today I'm going to tell you how I menu plan for a month. It's really no different than planning for a week, except that you need more space. Space in the form of a calendar, to be exact.

Like this. Just click on it before you save it to your desktop, and you'll get the best resolution possible. You could print it on card stock or photo paper and then laminate it so you can reuse it with a washable marker, or you can just print out a new one each month. I designed it as an 8-1/2" x 11" calendar, so you will get the best results if you print it that size as well.

I think I've shared with you before that I loathe menu planning. Would rather dust kind of loathe. Yep, that much. But we need to eat to survive, and I'm pretty sure I can continue living amongst the mountains of dust, so I'm forced to menu plan.

Dang it.

Well, I finally figured out that if I sit down and menu plan for a month at a time, I don't have to do it as often. How cool is that? I love it. Well, I don't love it, but I hate it less.

I sit down with my recipe box and just start filling things in on my calendar. In pencil.

The nice thing about doing it for a month at a time is that if I'm in the mood for chicken and I can't decide on a recipe, I can put a different recipe down for each week. It's also a way to make sure we're eating that cow we have in our freezer.

I usually only plan on cooking full on meals three or four times a week. That way we have at least one day to eat leftovers, there's a day to eat unhealthy crap from the freezer, and sometimes we even go out to eat. Since I went back to work we've been going out to eat about once a week. I know, so bad, but I've gotten good at rationalizing it because I'm working now, and I'm dang tired.

As you can see from my menu above, I've sketched out which days we'll eat what, but really, it's not etched in stone. It's in pencil. I'm pretty much only limited by what groceries we might have in the house at any given time. Grocery shopping is a crap shoot these days. We keep a running grocery list and when we run out of something that we cannot live without (chocolate), somebody makes a list and goes. Peanut Head even grocery shops. By himself. [Gasp] I know. He's a man of many talents.

As I was saying, sometimes I cook what it says for a given day on my menu, and other times I'll jump around and pick something out of order. More than anything, the menu plan takes the guesswork out of  "What am I going to make for dinner?" These here are my choices, pick one and get on with it. I'm big on no brainers like that.

One of my snoopy readers (Ter) wanted me to actually share with you what was on my menu for a month, so here's what we're eating, in no particular order:
The items with links are recipes that I've made recipe cards for. And speaking of recipe cards, I have a little surprise for you.

Remember these recipe card dividers I gave you awhile back? Well, I made tabs for them, just for you.

Click on them before saving to your desktop, then print them out as 5x7s and you're in business.


If you thought this was fun, you should go check out The Organizing Junkie. She does a Menu Plan Monday round-up every Monday, and you can see how other people menu plan.
Bon Appetit!

28 comments:

  1. When I started reading this, I thought to myself...no way...so not for me. But dang it, by the end of it, you had me convinced that this is what I should do!

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  2. Very cool! I love your comments on the meals:-)

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  3. I can barely meal plan a week at a time. I have no clue how you manage a month at a time AND work full-time!!!!!

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  4. Wow, awesome job! I've been meal planning for a week at a time and so far it's going well :) I'm not sure I could do a month!

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  5. I use to plan a month at a time when hubby was still active duty and we lived near a commissary. Now I do 2 weeks at time.
    One thing I noticed that you need more of on your menu plan is crockpot meals. We use the crockpot 2 nights a weeks and I love being able to throw all the stuff in set the timer and walk away from it.

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  6. I should be offended that you called me snoopy. You're lucky I like you! *sniffle*

    My problem is trying to decide what to put where, so that I am not eating say, chicken, 3 days in a row.

    But dang, that's hard. I like chicken.

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  7. p.s. thanks for the links to the recipes. I am definitely trying some of them.

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  8. wow great post...thanks for all the right-clicks!!
    I try to menue plan in advance - it helps with the grocery bill indeed!

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  9. I'm with the other Suzanne, and why should I NOT be??? You need more crock pot meals on there...nothing like coming home to a meal ALL DONE already! Need crock pot recipes?

    Suzanne

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  10. Wow. You are one talented gal. I still am in awe every time I come and visit your blog. I menu plan a week at a time and have been trying to do a month but have yet to succeed. Will have to try this!

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  11. You never cease to amaze me.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  12. very cool! I love the tabs. However, I tried to print out one of your recipe cards once; I did right click and saved it to my hard drive. then uploaded to winkflash and test printed just 1. came out blurry. what am I doing wrong? can you please advise? I'd really like to use these. thanks!

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  13. You are so good!! I like the monthly menu plan. Sometimes when I am inspired (which is rarely) I do a six week plan. It makes life so much easier. Thanks for the adorable tabs. Can't wait to use them!!

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  14. I love this method! I did it once a month for a year, and kept each month to reuse. --teehee, I have not menu planned in 3 years. I am giddy with delight. I do try new recipes occassionally, and then replace tired things, but only when I am in the mood.

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    Replies
    1. Sarah,
      What a brilliant idea! I keep trying to plan the same menus for each month. But, let's face it...no one wants Pea Soup in July. If I do one for each month for a year based on what is on sale and in season I will get the best of both worlds..menu planning and variety!

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  15. Sigh. I so wish I could be more like you! One of these days...

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  16. Love this! I like that you have been posting more often lately. When my reader says you have a new post I am so eager to read it!

    I have left some sunshine on my blog for you!

    Aimee

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  17. Wow, great resources! Welcome to MPM!!

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  18. OMG! Thank you so much for posting the Zuppa Toscana soup recipe! It is my favorite and I cannot wait to make it at home.

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  19. very organized auntie! I love some of your dinner selections! Fish tacos! yummmmmm

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  20. this just reconfirms what i've known since i started reading your blog many months ago. we are twins separated at birth. i do this "month-at-a-time" thing for the exact reasons you do and it is THE BEST IDEA EVER for a busy person. i've taken it a step further and digitized the whole thing by buying The Living Cookbook. All the recipes are on the computer - drag and drop to the calendar and it automatically generates a shopping list. Takes 10 minutes girl! Yeah, believe it! Worth every penny of the $35 i spent on it.

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  21. You are amazing as always! Maybe I'll get back on track!

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  22. Hum, my comments are getting rather boring a repetative. Because again, all I really have to say is that you are amazing!

    Thanks so much for sharing, I may actually start to do this one day. I even went to a class about menu planning. So, I'm getting closer!

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  23. Jill!! Yeah, I am SOOOO excited about the divider cards tab!! I think I am ready to go print more recipes & now that I have the tabs, I will be OH-SO ORGANIZED!! Thanks so much! Erin from www.stampwitherin.typepad.com

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  24. Thanks for this post! I've been a little intimidated about planning meals for an entire month, but you're post has been very helpful.

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  25. So I came over here via OrgJunkie to check out your post about planning for a month and you've got so many other darn cute projects to check out I'm going to have to spend some more time here....good thing I'm organized so I can spend time doing that kind of stuff! :-)

    BTW, I plan by the month too and have for years...people always wonder how I do it but I find it to be easier than picking up each week and planning it multiple times...I say knock it out and I'm DONE! Plus our lives are pretty well planned out far in advance with all the kids' activities I usually know what's going on when.

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  26. OK, this is now my GO TO LIST for my first OAMC day in the last TWO YEARS! I'm ridiculously motivated now, watching the sales and such... gotta get my freezer stocked before "Bean" arrives... I LOVE THIS LIST!!! Thanks for posting the inspiration and DELICIOUS MENUS! YUMALICIOUS!

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  27. I have just recently startd planning a menu out a month at a time and it is GREAT! I go to the grocery store every two weeks, now Im not sitting there the night before for 1 1/2 hours deciding on what were going to eat this week. What I do though is the first time I did it I sat planned out an entire months worth of dinners. Now at the end of the week I add a week worth of dinners to the end! That way Im always a week ahead and it doesnt take as long as planning for a nmonth! And I do this in my planner so I can look back at when was the last time we ate this or that! I love you blog! ITs great! And the puppy had me rolling on the floor!

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