Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monthly Menu Planning

I left a comment on Carrie's blog today and then she e-mailed interested in how I limited my trips to the grocery store. I do a big shopping trip once a month. I did a previous post on shopping once a month.  The thing that is most important in doing most of your shopping once a month is menu planning.  I use to plan my meals once a week and found that I would be missing something or would get lazy and not make a plan.  Both of these things cost me money. 

My solution is to make a monthly menu plan.  At the beginning of the month (or the week before) I will do a quick inventory of my pantry and freezer.  I then print out a blank menu for the month.  I sit down and plan a meal for each day of the month.  I make sure to mark the number of dinners that we budget to eat out that month.  (To be honest this is something that I am working.  It is easy to have those spontaneous meals out. )


Beside shopping once a month I have been trying to do some bulk shopping to stretch the budget.  The thing about this is that you have to have a little room in your budget as the initial purchase is a  more. 

After the items are broken down the price is less per normal package.  I also keep a well stocked pantry and freezer.  I am a huge advocate of having a stockpile of food for hard times.  We never know when there will be a job loss or natural disaster. 

Now that my menu is complete and my pantry and freezer are well stocked I am ready for the month.  I don't use my menu in any order.  The day or night before I will look at my menu and decide what to have. 

As I make a meal I will mark it off.  I only plan dinner.  Lunch is usually leftovers or I wing it.  I will sometimes make a note at the bottom of the menu with some lunch ideas. 

I know that some things will need to be eaten first.  Grapes and bananas are the first fruits eaten.  I also make sure to prep my fruits and veggies soon after the shopping trip.  I like to wash my lettuce and make salad stored in Mason jars.  It seems to last longer this way. 

I also use my freezer to stretch things.  I sometimes will freeze fresh veggies until I am ready to use them.  I also make up meal bags.  One month I made soup.  I cooked extra meat and then bagged it and some fresh cut carrots to use in a pot pie later in the month. 

I try to limit my trips to twice a month.  Once for my big shopping trip and then again mid-month for milk and fresh fruit and veggies if needed.  You'll notice I said try.  Some months I am better at this then others.  I do know that the months I plan well and stay out of the store the grocery budget is lower. 

This is what is currently working for me.  As with anything it is constantly changing and being tweaked to meet the needs of my life. 

May your day be filled with joy and contentment.

***I had a question asked:  "What is Find It, Fix It?"  I thought I could answer it here in case someone else was wondering.  I reserve that for nights when I have a headache, am super tired or just don't feel like being in the kitchen.  Basically everyone is one their own.  You can eat whatever you want for dinner.  Megan loves this as it means she can have PB&J or her beloved noodles with Parmesan cheese!  This is also a great way clear the frig of leftovers.  I gleaned this idea from my sister and it is big hit with her kids also.***


  1. I am totally going to try this!!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. hi Wendi, love your calendar idea.
    My problem when I try to make specific meals on specific days is the calendar might say spaghetti but I feel like having tacos.
    Your method is genius :) and solves my problem.

  3. Great post on how to avoid going to the store! I think they trap me once I get in and it's so hard to leave with just 1 or 2 things!!! I was thinking you were having Chili tonight and then saw the other calendar with it crossed off so I know that you had it already. It's so cold up here, Chili would be good for dinner, thanks for the idea.

  4. I just recently made a list of 30 meals that we enjoy. I was hoping to work off of that to make weekly menus. But I like your idea better. That way I can see what we have already eaten so far that month and avoid repeating.
    By the way- what is "find it, fix it"?

  5. What great ideas. I have several years worth of monthly menus that I look at for getting ideas. I find I don't plan for a month now as I never know how many will be here and we end up with a lot of leftovers.

    Have a wonderful day.


  6. I've been working on getting back to more of a monthly shopping schedule and a monthly menu plan.

    I also cross off meals as we use them; I put meals down for certain days but we don't eat them all the day they are scheduled--so I just cross off as we use them.

    I love how you have beanie weenies and fish sticks on the menu showing that menu plans don't have to be full of gourmet meals!:-)

  7. Wendi,

    I do something simliar to you every other week except mine is not as organized as you! :) I just do mine on notebook paper or typing paper, not a calendar. Then I have the list and just see what I feel like having that's on the menu for that 2 weeks or what we have time for. But we still end up stopping in the grocery store for "little things".

    Like you, we "wing" lunch. Alot of times we have left overs, so that works out well!

    Thanks for sharing your organization!


  8. This is a really good idea. I admire anyone who can make a menu ahead of time and stick to it. I have tried and never been successful. I like the idea though of just having the dinners wrote down and then choosing which one I want to make. This might make it more doable for me. I also buy in bulk and have found this does save a lot. But as you mentioned the cost at first is more. I can and freeze lots of food to help lower food expenses. I keep a well stocked pantry because Hubby's work is not predictable. We call it feast or famine work because you really can't control it. So I try to eliminate the famine part and always have food on hand. Enjoy your day and God bless.

  9. Thanks for taking the time to type this out, Wendi. I'm still amazed you only go to the store a couple times a month, since I'm going a couple times a week.

    Something I can strive for!

    1. We shop once a month too. I blog about this and how my family lives on only $14,000 a year. Going once a month has cut our grocery bill in half. It is also nice not to have to run back to the grocery store for that one thing. Love this post and thanks for sharing;)

      Danielle@Blissful and Domestic


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