Blog Beginnings: Menu Planning

       During the last 14 years of marriage to a high school football coach and 12 years of motherhood to two boys who play sports year-round, I have tried every method known to man to provide my family with home-cooked meals despite our busy schedules. For a while, I was spending the first weekend of the month cooking in bulk and freezing meals (particularly casseroles) for the rest of the month. However, we quickly became tired of eating the same meals several times a month. I knew I needed to find a solution because our weekly routine sometimes has us walking in the door after 8 P.M., hungry and tired, and ready for food!
       We've gone through phases of resorting to fast-food on the way home from practice. Not only did the expense become too much on two public school teachers' salaries, but the high-calorie, fat-laden food quickly gave me an extra 20 pounds to tote around each day. The recipes I will share with you aren't gourmet by any means, and I don't claim that they are all the healthiest options available, but they are certainly better than McDonald's every night! When you are pressed for time and on a budget, the recipes I will share will allow you to provide your family with inexpensive, home-cooked meals every night of the week!
       The key to making this work is a monthly menu. The first month, I spent the majority of a Saturday afternoon with my recipe cards, family cook books, laptop, and two children. We decided upon 30 of our favorite meals, some as simple as tacos, and I made out a monthly menu. This was easy once I categorized each recipe: Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Southern comfort foods, etc. For example, we have Mexican Mondays. I simply fill in each Monday with one of our favorite Mexican dishes.
       After filling in the month, I used cheap index cards to make ingredient cards for each recipe, listing absolutely everything needed to make the meal complete. Then going through each ingredient card, I made a shopping list for the entire month, categorizing the list into sections of the grocery store: dairy, frozen, breads, canned goods, etc. It only takes me about three hours at the beginning of the month to shop for the entire month! All I have to do each week is to buy milk, bread, and produce. Of course, I can do this because we get paid once a month. You may have to break your menu into two week segments depending on your budget.
       Using this process, I have cut my grocery budget nearly in half! I also know that I have everything I need on hand to prepare each night's meal. AND...we never eat the same meal twice for an entire month!!! I plan to post recipe ideas as often as possible. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment