Recipe For A Simple Life

Simplify your life, one day at a time

Try This! Monthly Menu Planning

Do you menu plan?

I grew up thinking my mom could snap her fingers and make meals appear.  At least that’s how it seemed to me.  She made it seem so effortless.  Imagine my surprise when I grew up and realized how much thought and preparation it takes to make balanced meals without running to the store on a daily basis!

Over the years I have discovered that I am a planner.  I need to write down at least an outline of what I will make each week or we will end up eating cereal or drive thru fare on a regular basis.  Lately, however, I’ve been struggling to get a meal plan done each week.  It’s been even more difficult to get to the store to make sure I have all the ingredients I need.  This month I decided to experiment with monthly meal planning.  I know a few people who plan this way and decided it might help me get back on track.

At first, I was overwhelmed with where to start.  For those of you who check in often, you may remember the weekly meal planner idea I had in November.  It’s still cute and I like to look at it, but filling the weekly sheets in has become a bit of a tedious chore and I’ve only printed and filed 3 recipes since November.  (Thank goodness I decided to just print pages as I needed them instead of printing a year’s worth all at once!)  Then I remembered a few people who commented on the Facebook page about how they have “theme” nights to help them plan.  The wheels started turning in my mind…….

It took surprisingly less time than I thought it would to decide on categories and find four favorites from each category.  I won’t list out my entire plan for you (you’ll have to get it in weekly doses on Mondays) but here are the categories I decided to work with: Crock Pot Meals, Vegetarian Meals, Breakfast for Supper, Soups or Stews, Pasta or Pizza, and “other” for those things that just didn’t fit the other categories.  As I mentioned, I tried to pick 4 recipes from each category to keep it balanced and tentatively decided which day of the week we would eat from each category, although I am sure that part will change as our activity calendar fills up and my work schedule fluctuates.

Even though I’ve got an outline for the month, I’m still going to have to choose what to make each week.  The good part is that I’ve already narrowed it down to only 28 recipes.  As I see yummy new ideas online or in magazines this month, I’ll bookmark, print or file them  for April’s menu plan.  I’m also going to work on freezer cooking like Carrie posted about last week – More on that later this month.

If any of you are monthly meal planners and would be willing to share your system, I’d love to hear it!

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