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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Master Monthly Menu Plan

I grocery shop once a month for many reasons, but mainly because I've found it to be the most frugal option overall for our family. Fewer trips to the store cuts down on impulse purchases and forces me to stick to my menu plan (at least somewhat) and make sure I really use up all of our food.

There's no way I could shop this way without using a master menu plan. I use it to plan out all meals and snacks for the whole month. Although to be honest, I rarely stick to it meal for meal because I like variety. Plus, I don't do well when I feel overly-scheduled. Instead, I plan meals that use similar ingredients to other meals we like so that I can have the freedom to veer of course and still know I have all the needed ingredients.

My master menu plan is 9 pages long and includes all of our family's usual meals, sides, breads, snacks and desserts. (Here is my master menu plan.) I go through the list each month and pick what sounds good, with my family's input. I also write in any new recipes that I want to try. I mark how many times we'll eat each choice and which things I will prepare in advance and put in the freezer for later in the month.
Here is what's on our plan for the rest of January and into the first week of February. Items marked with an (F) can be frozen and I plan to make the full amount and freeze the remaining meals.

(Most of these recipes can be found on this blog now, or in the near future. Some of them can be found on my other blogs - A Simple Walk or Happy To Be At Home.)

  • Oatmeal x6
  • Pancakes (F) x4
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs x2
  • French toast (F) x3
  • Crepes x2
  • Chocolate chip muffins (F) x3
  • Banana bread/muffins (F) x3
  • Peanut butter toast x1
  • Waffles x4
  • Bacon waffles x2
  • Smoothies x8
  • Maple-Oat bread x2
  • Italian breadsticks (F) x2
  • Pita bread (F) x4
  • Tortillas (F) x4
  • Corn bread x1
  • Honey-wheat bread x2
  • Tuna pasta salad x4
  • Quesadillas x4
  • Lunch meat sandwiches x2
  • Pizza pockets x2
  • Veggie wraps x1
  • Easy mac & cheese x4
  • Grilled cheese x3
  • PB&J x2
  • Veggie wontons x1
  • Hummus and pitas x2
  • Tuna patty burgers x1
  • Pita pizzas x1
  • Chicken salad x1
  • Baked potato soup x1
  • Ham & black bean soup x1
Lunch Sides
  • Yogurt x4
  • Applesauce x4
  • Fresh fruit x15
  • Canned or frozen fruit x5
  • Carrot/celery sticks x6
  • Carrot & raisin salad x2
  • Chickpea salad x2
  • Cottage cheese x2
  • Graham crackers x8
  • Wheat crackers x8
  • Pretzels x3
  • Molasses cookies x2
  • Oatmeal cookies x2
  • Homemade hot pretzels x2
  • Homemade apple leather x5
  • Cheese slices x2
  • Peanut butter x4
  • Fruit & yogurt parfaits x3
  • Spaghetti w/ meat sauce (F) and w/ veggie sauce (F) x2
  • Shepherd's pie (F) x1
  • BBQ meatballs (F) x1
  • Swedish meatballs (F) x1
  • Parm chicken fingers (F) x2
  • Chicken & veggie stir-fry x1
  • Chicken hash x1
  • Chicken & black bean (tacos and enchiladas) (F) x3
  • Pork chops Milanese x1
  • Meatloaf and meatloaf cups (F) x2
  • Tortilla pie (F) x1
  • Red beans and rice (F) x1
  • Nachos x1
  • Sweet sausages braised in onions x1
  • Southwestern pasta bake x1
  • Ricotta pasta with spinach x1
  • Crispy turkey cutlets x1
  • Vegetarian lasagna (F) x2
  • Chopped steaks x1
  • Sweet and sour chicken x1
Dinner Sides
  • Brown rice x2
  • Cheesy rice w/ broccoli x1
  • Homemade spaetzle x2
  • Mashed potatoes (F) x4
  • Rosemary potatoes x2
  • Homemade french fries (F) x2
  • Cheesy potatoes x1
  • Potato pancakes (F) x1
  • Couscous x2
  • Brussel sprouts w/cranberries and bacon x1
  • Onions and mushrooms (F) x3
  • Garlic veggie saute (F) x3
  • Broccoli x4
  • Cauliflower x4
  • Peas x4
  • Skillet corn (F) x4
  • Refried beans (F) x1
  • Homamade noodles x2
  • Maple glazed carrots (F) x3
  • Zucchini cakes (F) x1
  • Onion straws x1
(I'm not planning out any desserts for this month since I'm trying to lose weight. We'll have sherbet and ice cream in the freezer for my kids and husband.)

After I fill in my menu plan, I transfer everything over, by ingredients, to my master grocery list. I'll explain more about that tomorrow. Stop by 5MFM for more tackles, Tammy's Recipes for more kitchen tips and I am Blissfully Domestic.

i am blissfully domestic pie


Rachel said...

Wow!! Impressively organized!! Good job!!

Krisi and Adam said...

Wow.. this looks like it would take a good part of the day to tackle!

Hadias said...

Great tackle. Menu planning, organizing the fridge and freezer you are on a roll.

De said...

do you mostly use frozen vegetables? I shop once a week, but lately have found that I am wasting produce. I was actually thinking of switching to shopping more frequently in order to ensure freshness.

Susie said...

Ok...this is the second thing of yours that I am bookmarking today. I like the way you do things.

Kim @ Up North Mommy said...

I am really impressed. I need to pick up and incorporate some of your ideas. Baby steps for me!

Maddy said...

I thought I was 'good' planning ahead for the week. I cannot even imagine planning for a month.
Well done you.

Lynn said...

Great tips. You are very organized.

Sherry said...

Wow! Great job!! Definitely more organized than I in that department. :D

Audrey said...

You go girl! I love your blog(s)!

Anonymous said...

I think this plan is great -- if you're super organized, which I'm not. But I am impressed!

Meg Munson said...

Wow...I'm very impressed! This sounds like a great idea, but lots of planning. I'll have to try and develop a system like this. I have a tendency to buy more items than on my list LOL!

Jerri - Simply Sweet Home said...

Wow! Way to go on the planning. I do good to plan out a week or two in advance. We always have something that comes up and alters our plans a would be a miracle for me to accurately plan an entire month. Very impressive!

Donna said...

Excellent list Kate!
I do once a month shopping too and it's just soooo good! Less stressful to know that there's food in the house, don't ya think!

I don't have a set list because, well, because I'm so moody ;-)..... but my kids are older than most of yours and they'll eat just about anything!

shopannies said...

wow you have this all figured out great work

$5 Dinner Mom said...

How in the world did I not know about this other little gem of yours!!????!!!

Love this post!

:) Erin

Anonymous said...

Found your link on BlissDom. I dream of doing once of month shopping. So far I am down to twice a month. Thanks for the tips and info. I'll see what I can come up with!

Love your site!


Wholegrain said...

I've just found your blog and love it...but...Do you seriously cook everything on that list??
I must have misunderstood something bc I counted 63 side dishes alone!! Pls tell me you don't cook 63 SIDE dishes within a month...either that or pls tell me how on earth you do??

Wholegrain said...

I've just found your blog and love it...but...Do you seriously cook everything on that list??
I must have misunderstood something bc I counted 63 side dishes alone!! Pls tell me you don't cook 63 SIDE dishes within a month...either that or pls tell me how on earth you do??