Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's talk about menu planning

Happy Monday lovelies!  Hey! Don't you roll your eyes at me!  Monday is a fresh start to a new week, it means you have all week to get everything done before the weekend!  ;)

It also means I'm going to share my meal plan with you.  I know a lot of other bloggers do this, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Before I show you what I have planned for my family this week, I'm going to explain a little bit about meal planning and how it can benefit you if you don't already do it.

1.  You will save money.  Plain and simple.  We used to spend upwards of $800.00 per month on groceries, and by the time payday rolled around, we would be wondering..."What the hell are we going to eat?"  Now, we spend about $600 (We're a family of 5) per month, and we've always got lots to eat, and extras to be used oon the next meal plan rotation.  You also won't be making numerous trips to the grocery store, or ordering out because you've got a plan, you know it's there, you just have to cook it.

2.  You'll eat healthier.  If you plan for 7 days (or 14, or 30, or however long you plan for)you'll have that stuff on hand, and like I mentioned above, you won't have to order out, and consume 1000 calories on two pieces of delivery pizza.  You can go in to more detail and plan your breakfasts, snacks, lunches, dinners, and evening snacks ( I did it this way for the first little while, it wasn't for us)and then you ONLY buy whats on your plan and you really have no reason to eat unhealthy, everything is planned for you.

3.  You'll save your precious time.  I plan up to a month in advance.  I don't buy a month in advance, we shop bi-weekly because that is when my spouse gets paid.  We make a trip to the city and do a major shopping trip at the Great Canadian Superstore, and Wal-mart.  As I browse online, I come across recipes and add them to the meal plan.  Usually on a Saturday or Sunday I sit down with some tea or coffee, and I plan it all out, check out the sale flyers to see if I can substitute with any sale items, make any changes and then I choose my coupons.  (You don't have to, but it helps.)  I make my list in order of the aisles of the grocery store.  So I group together the personal hygiene items, any medication/vitamins or first aid things, cleaning supplies, deli, meat, dairy produce, bakery (I don't usually buy anything but tortillas in the bakery, everything else is homemade.  (Note to self: learn how to make tortillas, lol)  Then I think back to the order of the aisles, and I write down everything I'll need from each one.  It's all in order, and we always go the same way when we shop, for this reason.

4.  I don't hear anymore "Whats for suppppppeeeeerrr" I have a big white board in my kitchen and I have a weekly menu section written on it, and I fill it in on Mondays. 

5.  You'll waste less food.  Which goes hand in hand with saving money.  Plan a leftover night!  Maybe cook one thing, like some mashed potatoes, or pasta, something cheap, and then add all the leftovers in your fridge.  Call it "Buffet Night" - kids will like that.  Let them dish up their own plates, like they would in a restaurant and they'll love it, and you'll use up your leftovers.  Also, if there are any leftovers that you *think* you are going to throw away - DON'T!  Save them.  Put them in something and chuck them in your freezer.  You never know when you might be able to use them.  Google is your friend.  I google EVERYTHING.  If you have a bit of leftover mashed potatoes, just google "leftover mashed potato recipes" and you'll have a ton to choose from.  Until then - freeze em'.

6.  Saving the best for'll spend more time with your family.  I don't think there is a person in the world who doesn't find comfort in a home cooked meal.  Cook your family up a delicious meal, sit down and enjoy each others company.  You'll be so glad you did - and you'll continue to do it.

So there are my seven reasons why I think you should menu plan.  It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it's second nature to me now, and I cannot imagine going in to a grocery store without my list.  I tried it once, I lost my list in the restaurant we had lunch in, and I panicked!  I couldn't find it anywhere.  I went shopping, and I got all but three things.  I wouldn't ever want t do it again, though.

Finally; I'll explain how you can make menu planning easier.  You can do it on your calendar in your kitchen, a piece of paper, your desktop calendar, or you can google one of many many many printable templates online.  There are so many options; do what works for you.  Like I said, I use the bottom corner of a big white board I have in my kitchen.  It holds my kids' chore list, a shopping list, menu, the "honey-do" list for Robert and a big area for  notes, ideas and reminders, etc. 

So, here is my menu plan for the week of March 7th - March  13th.

Monday:  Not sure what to call this.  It's round steak in the slow cooker with mushroom and onions and mushroom gravy.  I'm going to serve it with mashed potatoes & peas.

Tuesday: Homemade chicken burritos in whole wheat tortillas with carrot and celery sticks

Wednesday:  Homemade taco pizza

Thursday:  Slow cooker ribs, rice & corn with some veggie sticks

Friday: Kids are home with grandma for supper, so they're going to have pancakes and bacon with fruit

Saturday:  My daughter is having her 9th birthday party with her school friends, she's requested they make their own personal tortilla pizzas, with dessert pizzas instead of cake.  Fine with me!

Sunday:  Chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice.  I'm going to attempt to make homemade fortune cookies that night.  If I can get the rice paper for spring rolls, I'll do those too.  I can never get them where I shop, but maybe this time.  *fingers crossed*

Which takes us to next Monday.  I'll post next weeks menu, next week!


PS: As I finished writing this, I decided to work on some printables.  Not only for menu planning, but other areas of organization I've been working on myself.  :)