Not many new recipes this month. But, I did go back for months and tried to bring some oldie recipes, but goodies, into our menu plan. I've been creating monthly menu plans since 2011, but only began storing them since 2012. While the colors may change every few months or so, they have evolved only slightly from the beginning. My menu planning process is pretty simple but it still takes about 2-3 hours to put one together. That may seem like an enormous amount of time to put a 'simple' menu plan together but it is an entire month plan, not week by week. Monthly plans relieve me from having to spend the time throughout the month that I probably just won't have on a set day, where as I can, towards the end of each month begin preparing the next months in one sitting, or in bits and pieces. Here's what I do:
1) I plug in Taco Night, Family Pizza and a Movie Night, Date nights, and any Boy Scout campouts, or weekend activities that may impact meals. We eat Tacos once a month and homemade pizza once a month and both are on Saturday's now. Once upon a time my homemade Tacos were once a week - and on Tuesday's for Taco Tuesday. But, - life.
2) If there are any meals I absolutely want again, soon, I'll go ahead and add those somewhere, usually towards the end of the new monthly menu.
3) Recently, because of my health, mostly, being so poor, Sunday's, after church we go out to eat. This can only happen as long as I have a job. Before this Sunday's were for those meals that like Sunday dinners: homemade soups with homemade bread, homemade Salisbury steaks with onion gravy and mashed potatoes, you know, those comfort food kind of dinners.
3) Because Wednesday's we have church (we serve up in Elevate, the kid's ministry at our church); the meal has to be something that can travel well because I bring Jeff's meal to him at church. For instance, Wednesday's would not be a breakfast for dinner night. Scrambled eggs or omelets and hashbrowns don't travel well. A casserole is a good bet or spaghetti, etc.
4) I visit Pinterest and my Food Love board for NEW recipes I want to try. There is usually one or two a month that will be a new recipe.
5) Then, I go back through my previous published menus and search for some good meals and just start plugging those in. I try to add salads if the meal doesn't have vegetables in the dish but some dishes, like my Italian Chicken Skillet which is on the menu for this week is loaded with zucchini, roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms, so, with spaghetti it is a complete meal. But, if I'm serving my Spicy Sausage Bundt, for instance, I'll either steam broccoli or make a Caesar salad to serve with it.
6) There is always a 'sandwich' dinner or two. This month there is Hot Italian Subs, Turkey Bacon Melts, and Patty Melts scattered throughout the month. Sandwich-type meals can be easier, sometimes.
7) I make dessert almost once a week - for our small group on Sunday evenings. This was another reason we began going out to eat on Sunday's. Between my poor health, two breakfasts a month for the Elevate volunteers, and small group desserts, Sunday's became too much for me to handle.
And that's my menu planning.
I grocery shop once a week, for the week ahead (usually on a Friday afternoon after work, but sometimes Saturday morning). With the menu all planned out, making a grocery list is a cinch. We only stock up on things when they are on sale and ONLY if it is something we regularly use. Because our dinners are from scratch, the type of sales the stores carry don't benefit us often. One thing we are considering heavily this year is purchasing a whole cow from a local grass-feed farm. While the initial outlay of funds will be costly, our weekly grocery bills will reduce dramatically on those 'beef-heavy' weeks.