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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Menu Planning Basics

This week, for Finding Freedom Friday at Cents To Get Debt Free, we are sharing our menu planning basics. Because menu planning is a subject so near and dear to my heart, I just had to participate.
  • How many weeks you plan at a time. I plan for a month at a time with a master meal plan. However, I don't plan specific meals for specific days. After the monthly meal plan is created, and after we have done our grocery shopping for the month, I plan individual weekly menus. These weekly plans correspond with the monthly plan for the most part. I will admit that we don't always stick to the exact plan because I need variety in the kitchen.
  • How do you keep track of it all? I use a master monthly plan and a master monthly grocery list. The monthly menu plan then stays on top of our microwave throughout the month and I use it to create my weekly plans. Usually the weekly plans are written out in a notebook and then transferred to my other blog for Menu Plan Monday.
  • How do you decide what to eat? As I said, I like variety in the kitchen. I try to rotate our meals so that we eat something different at every meal on a weekly basis. We definitely will repeat meals throughout the month, especially breakfasts and lunches. I do some batch freezer cooking at the beginning of each month so I always make sure I plan for at least 6 dinners and 12 breakfasts that can be frozen. Even with all the planning, I rarely stick to the plan as it is written. I shop and cook in such a way that I can make lots of different meals from the same basic ingredients.
  • How has it helped you? Menu planning like this has been a huge help! It allows us to stay at or below our monthly budget of $350. It has also helped nudge me into freezer cooking and I know enjoy being able to take several meals out of the freezer throughout the month. Even without having a stand-alone freezer, I am able to fill it enough that we can make it through a whole month with just one big grocery trip.
You can read more in-depth posts of my menu planning here and here.

Don't forget to stop in at Cents To Get Debt Free to read how others menu plan. And then stop by Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday.

7 comments:

Nicole said...

I love your Master Menu Plan-do you mind if I "borrow" your idea?

Nicole

momstheword said...

I think it's very cool that you're batch cooking. I need to do more of that. I usually only have two or three freezer meals in the freezer at any one time.

Rona's Home Page said...

Menu planning is definitely a great money and time saver

BarbaraLee said...

I lost my menus when my computer went on the bliz.
I am lost w/out them. They help things go smoothly.

Kat said...

I am in awe of people who can grocery shop for one month at a time!!

Phoebe said...

Oh how I would love to be able to monthly menu plan. It is on my "to accomplish" list! We live about 20-30 minutes from our main grocery store--so we go shopping every 2 wks. Would love to just go monthly. Thank you for your tips and links to your lists.

More Love, Less Debt said...

What a great blog with wonderful recipe's. I cannot wait to try some of them. Love the menu idea too. I am trying to shop big for the month as well when there is less "bills" and set aside a few dollars for the basic weeksly things, bread and fresh fruits. Thanks for posting on Phoebe's so I could find you as well.