March 29, 2010

Something New for Me: Menu Monday

Lots of things have happened over the last year in our household.  Some are good, others are awesome.  One of the sanity savers is planning our meals.  Oh, the other big bonus is that we are saving money in addition to the sanity.

We got into a very bad rut when my sister was in town.  She was eating Gluten Free, which meant we had to watch what we ate when she was home.  (She's also picky, but I didn't say that...)  It got to be that she was working evenings and we would treat ourselves to dinner out to celebrate that we didn't have the GF burden.  This led to us having four or five dinners out each week.  That adds up.  Fast.

In September we were grasping at how to do better for ourselves both time wise and money wise.  Oh yeah, and health wise.  We talked around it for about two weeks before I just took a pad of post-its and wrote down everything that we cook on a regular basis.  It amazed me how quickly that turned into five dinners a week for a seven weeks!  Since we try a few new recipes every month, our project became not only essential, but really really easy.

We had always shopped with the best of intentions, but something would happen and we would default to ordering take out.  Forgot to thaw the chicken?  Let's order pizza.  No onion for stir fry?  Let's order Chinese for dinner and use the other stuff next week.  Then things would go bad in the interim, too.  This meant even more money we were wasting.  By writing down exactly what we are having and when, there is no excuse to forget to take things out or to not have ingredients unless the one making the grocery list does not know the recipe and tries to wing it.  (Another bonus - either of us can quickly come up with a grocery list because we both know what we'll be eating next week!  We do build in flexibility in case there is a sale we can not pass up!)

The one thing missing in our plan is an intentionally vegetarian meal each week.  Because of my diet restrictions it becomes really hard to do that, but it's something we are working on. 

So, we have a Google Calendar that has our dinners each week.  There is a fairly steady pattern:
Sunday - harder meal that takes more time
Monday - fish something (quickly becomes another chicken something when we don't have fish)
Tuesday - chicken something
Wednesday - easy something (hot dogs, burgers, kielbasa)
Thursday - Family Dinner (no meal plan needed!)
Friday - Breakfast for Dinner
Saturday - Out or Leftovers (or Fried Rice!)

We have had a great time sorting and fitting things in, and basically I just replicate a month at a time and toss in new things or take out weather-specific things (no soup in the summer!).

Well, as it turns out, there is a weekly meme devoted to Menu Planning over at I'm an Organizing Junkie, and today is my first entry!

This week our Menu Plan is:

Sunday - Frozen Pizza
Monday - Chicken Lasagna (twice the size so we can freeze one to have in two weeks!)
Tuesday - Turkey Stroganoff
Wednesday - Taco Salad
Thursday - Family Dinner
Friday - French Toast

What are you eating this week?

(and thanks to Amy over at Flexible Dreams for getting me wanting to do this meme with her!)


  1. I like the way you plan out your weekly menu. Welcome to MPM!


    Come on over and check out my menu plan at Free 2 Be Frugal.

  2. Stroganoff is one of my favs for using up leftovers. So good with wide egg noodles. Taco salad too yum. I've started making pizza once a week. It's better than any of our crappy delivery options (until Ledo opens anyway) and it's really easy. I use a crust recipe from cooking light.

    One day I'll be organized enough to plan for the whole week.

  3. I don't do this nearly enough. I try to have a simple salad with a protein at least twice a week just to keep dinner light.

  4. Welcome! So glad you've joined us. Menu planning has been a lifesaver for me and I hope it is for you too!

  5. YAYY! Way to go!

    I've went back to meal planning last month and this is the second month in a row that I haven't gone over my grocery budget.

    One thing that I started doing that might help you. Often I will look at the grocery store flier before planning my menu and plan it around sales and coupons.