I'm sitting down to do our monthly menu planning - yes we do MONTHLY planning - this week. Since
I keep seeing menu planning ideas at the blogs I read, and across the internet. I decided to share ours too.
Within the past couple of months, we have revised our menu style. I was tired of trying to decide what to cook (from our list of 30 - 40 dishes that we have fixings for) or calling hubby to see what he wanted me to make. I implemented a weekly plan. I sorted the meals that we make into 8 categories. Then I chose a category to correspond with a day of the week (plus one extra for more variety.)
Mondays are Pasta Meals - Spaghetti, Lasagna.
Tuesday is Chili Based - Chili Dogs, Frito Pie.
Wednesdays are Baked Dishes - Bisquick Impossible Pie, Meatloaf, Spaghetti Casserole.
Thursday is Soup Based - White Chili, King Ranch Chicken Soup, Salad (with Soup & BreadSticks.)
Friday we do Pork or Poultry - Chicken baked in BBQ Sauce, Pork Chops, Chicken & Rice.
Saturdays are Sandwich Night - Hamburgers, Grilled Cheese, Meatballs in Marinara sauce.
Sunday is Hash - Potatoes with Gound Beef, or Hot Dogs, or Smoked Sausage.
I have an assortment of "Extras" that do not really fit the above categories which I can sub in on any night. - Tacos, Pigs in Blankets, Kraft Salsa Mac & Cheese.
I use a FireFox Add-On called "Grocery List Generator" for our monthly list.
Each item that we might need at the store is sorted into a self defined category. Among them are, Canned Vegetables, Dairy, Produce, and Paper Goods. I have organized the categories to appear in the order that we would arrive at them in the store. Drugstore is first, whereas Produce and frozen are last.
I have entered each of the meals we make (these are called "dishes" in the program) telling it how many of each "item" needs to be bought for that "dish." I also listed the restocking of things we need around the house such as Shampoo, TP, DishSoap, etc. in the dishes as well. Since I can several things, those are also listed as dishes.
I sit down & pick from the dishes which ones we would like and how many times. It compiles the list, and using the prices I have entered, even gives me an estimate.
If you have FireFox - this is a easy add-on to use & has helped us lower our costs considerably. When you go to the store with less planning, you tend to spend more. We are now feeding a family of four (and still increasing our food storage each month) for under $500 a month. If we were NOT able to make our monthly trip down to the Wal-Mart (an hour one way) due to weather, we would NOT have to go to the local much higher priced store, except for the milk & produce that we usually get there. It is comforting to know that we have food in the house for over a month's worth of food at any time.