Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Making a Monthly Menu

Step 1:
Pick out enough recipes to cover everyday of the month. I pull recipes from Pinterest, recipes we have had before and enjoyed and from a cook book I have. But to be honest most of my recipes come from Pinterest. This takes a while so I usually do it while watching tv.
As I find the recipes I print them out. Here is a link to the meals that I am using this month. If you click on the name of the dish it will take you to it.

Step 2:
Fill your Calendar with all the special events you need to work around for the month. I always put holidays (the regular ones and some unique ones), birthdays, and special events or meetings on the menu. This way when I am making out my menu I can see what's going on each day. So if need be I make a crock pot meal that night or decide that everyone is on their own I can. Sometimes what we have for dinner depends on the holidays, the regular and unique ones.
Something else I try to account for is that every Thursday Eli has Mexican with the gang at work. So I try not to make mexican dishes on Thursdays.

Step 3:
Fill your Calendar with meals. Make sure you don't clump all the chicken recipes in one week. Spread them out have a variety during the week. I have a set day that is crock pot meals, I don't have to do anything special day. This for us is Tuesday since I have Women's Group. I try to alternate chicken, beef, sausage, ect... so we don't get overwhelmed with the same thing. It has been pointed out to me lately that I make a lot of chicken dishes. So this month I am striving to add more variety.
I always go through and put the main dishes in first and then go back and add sides.

Step 4:
Once I am done putting everything in the menu I organize the recipes in the order they will be prepared. It just makes them easier to find them. And then they hang on the side of the fridge. Not going and looking for them.

Step 5:
It's time to make the grocery list. For me I try to buy most of the groceries at the beginning of the month. Eli gets paid once a month and so buying the groceries at the beginning of the month just seems to work out best for us. When I was working I would grocery shop once a week. So the way you grocery shop is really up to you, your schedule, and how you budget your money. Now there are times that I make a grocery run other times during the month. But it's usually for Milk, or if something special comes up and I need supplies.
I have a spread sheet that I made for my Grocery list. It has made things much easier and I even have a section to make note of a price match.

Step 6:
This is the not so fun part. I go through all the ads the week I am going to shop and price match things. Most things I get at Walmart because I can price match them. But there are still a few select things that I will buy at Kroger no matter what. Like Sausage, they have a kind of sausage that we really like and so I just buy it. Also I get coupons from Kroger and so if they are good then I buy the product there so I can use the coupon. Kroger has some pretty good sales once in a while but those things can also be price matched at Walmart.

Step 7:
Get on line and print coupons. Also go through the coupons that I have gotten from the paper or the internet. This month I sorted them out. I have a coupon I wanted to use immediately.
Kroger had batteries on clearance and I had a coupon for $1 off. So I wanted to use it while I could get this great deal. We go through a lot of batteries. Anyways...
I also stacked up all the ones that expire on the 31st. Let me clarify, not all of them but all the ones that are for products we would use or I would be buying next month anyways. Since Eli gets paid the 31st this month I will be sure to at least make a grocery run on that day so I can use the coupons before they expire.
Then I made a pile of ones that I knew I would use in the next month but I didn't have to worry about their expiration date.
I go through the grocery list then and look for coupons for items that are frequent to the coupon world. You know there are some items that seem to frequent the fliers and coupon.com.
Don't forget about those coupons you can load on your Kroger card. Sometimes I get a higher value paper coupon. If that's the case I don't let them swipe my Kroger card until I have used the paper coupon.
Oh and did you know that Sams also has coupons you can load on your card.
In my spreadsheet I also make note of whether I have a coupon or not.

Step 8:
Now for the grocery shopping. Sometimes this can be a 2 day process. It depends on what stores I am going to. If I need to make a Sams run
I try to get there when they open and then I usually make a Big Lots run if I am going to Sams. Fruit snacks, cereal, crackers, and spices are often cheaper there.
So usually if I make the trip to Chilli then I don't make it to Kroger or Walmart before Lilly is done with shopping and I need to get the kids at school. So then The Kroger/Walmart run happens the next day. I have learned the hard way that it is not good for me to take all three kids to the grocery with me. I will only do this in an extreme emergency. This really is only for the sake of my sanity.

Step 9:
Put it all away after you get home. There are somethings that I prep and freeze and such. But it really depends on the menu. I like to make ahead cream of Chicken soup and freeze it so that it's ready to go.

Here is a link to the menu I use:
Monthly Menu
This website Money Saving Mom has lots of free downloads. I really like her stuff. Most of her stuff can be edited on your computer. So if you download the menu you can type in the stuff instead of printing it out and writing it in.
I am sure if you don't like this one you can go to Pinterest and find something that suits you. I have searched Pinterest and there are many different menu planning ideas. This just happens to be the one that works for me.

I am going to try to figure out how to give you a link to my grocery shopping spreadsheet. If I get my hubby to help me I will update with it. If not and you are interested in it let me know and I can email it to you.

I think that covers it but I could be forgetting something. If you ahve any questions please feel free to ask. If you want to go through this with me step by step I am very open to that as well. And if you want me to do this for you I am open to that as well. I had someone tell me one time, will you just make up my menu and do my shopping? I have been thinking about that statement and I think that could be a cool thing to do. So if you need a little help let me know.

The one thing to remember is to be flexible. Things come up and sometimes you just don't feel like what's planned for the night. Don't be afraid to switch it around if you need to. This is the reason I do mine in pencil.

oh and I always have a couple meals stored up in case something isn't tasty at all. I haven't ran into that but maybe once but theirs always cereal right?

I hope this helps.

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