What's Cookin' Good Lookin? 8/8/10 - 8/31 Edition

It's no secret, I posted it all over the internet-osphere. I made the rest of our family's menu plan for the rest of the month. That's right! The REST of the MONTH! I had an idea that I thought would likely work, and I even put it into action (shocking - I know!).

So, I made the menu, and then did all of the grocery shopping. NUTS, I KNOW! But, today's the 17th - and it has WORKED so far! No joke. Amazing for us!

So many of you have asked what I did, and how I did it.

The Plan (aka So, here's what I did)...

We have a big honkin' calendar I kep on the fridge. Usually it keeps track of Steve's rotating days off, special events, my (rare) days off, doctors appointments and other such nuances. It also, when I have it created, keeps our menu plan. Having it on a calendar makes it easy for everyone to know what I have planned (even our friends and family who just happen to show up for dinner on their favorite dinner days).

I sat down with this years calendar and the last two years worth of calendars (me, a hoarder? never.... It's a memory keeper!!), and wrote down all of the different meals I had made over the years.

Then I sat down with this month's calendar, and started plugging in meals keeping our schedules (days off, Boy Scouts, birthday's holidays, weekends, etc) in mind.

Once I had all the meals plugged in. I started my grocery list. I created a form some years back that helps me plan both my menu and my grocery shopping for two weeks. You can download a copy of it for yourself (it's in MS Word here and in pdf here). Basically, as I review the menu, I write down all of the ingredients I need to make everything - regardless of whether I think it's in my pantry or not. Don't forget about staples like spices!

Then, I make a visit to my pantry to see what I need for the menu, and what I am in need of by way of restocking. I draw a line through what I don't need, and then I add on whatever else I do need.

Normally, I would do all of our grocery shopping at that point, going from the list.

However, since my goal was to do all of our shopping for an entire month, I had to make some adjustments. Instead, I bought anything that wasn't perishable; so canned, frozen (including meats that could be frozen), and the dairy that would last and still be good for the amount of time I needed to store it for (normally cheeses, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurts, butter, etc).

Each week, I stop by my local farmer's market and pick up the produce and any other small items we need (bread, dairy, and sometimes meats) for that week.

Here's how it's working so far... (just under two weeks in):

GREAT!!! Seriously! GREAT! We may not have followed the menu exactly every day, but our main goal was to not go out to eat - and we have NOT gone out to eat! My second goal, was to curb my shopping by eliminating extra superstore visits (you know you can't leave Target without at least one thing that wasn't on your list!) - and I have done very well there! There have been a few days where we had leftovers (easy days for me) so those meals were either worked out so that the ingredients didn't go to waste - or if the ingredients were not perishable, they went into the rollover/pantry storage.

I think another part that has really helped our plan to work so far, is that I planned meals that Steve would either know how to cook, or could easily find out. So, if he wakes up (he works nights, remember) and is raring to go before I get home from work with Fred, he can get things started. Knowing what we're having in advance also helps because the guesswork is taken out of the equasion. I also planned EASY dinners (box chicken, freezer pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches) so that if I have a hard day at work, am exhausted, or have other things yet to accomplish that day, i'm not spending what I have left of my energey in the kitchen. So far, so GREAT!!

Here's what I have planned out for the month of July. (I'm including the days I already posted).


Robin Thomas said...

That is so smart. Now that it is up and running it will be easier to prep each month. I usually only do a week at a time and it is such a help. Good for you. I still need to check out Aldi...

T. said...

I so need to start doing this. Funny how I can be creativenin other parts of my life, but when it comes to food, meal planning, etc. I'm clueless. Thanks for sharing a starting point!!