Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Using My Master Menu Plan and Grocery List

I am finally done with revising my master menu plan and grocery list. The grocery shopping for the month is also done. Now I get to start all the real work tomorrow with the extra cooking and baking for the freezer. Feasibly, I should be able to take the second half of the month off, if I'm able to stick with my plan.

When I am preparing for the month-long shopping trip, I first go through my menu plan and circle everything we'll eat for the month, including all meals, snacks, and desserts. I decide which things I'll double or triple for the freezer.

I'll save you from having to look at my whole circled and scribbled menu plan. But here is what I've decided on for breakfasts this month, as an example.

  • Oatmeal - x3
  • Pancakes (F) - x4 (so I'll make 4 batches at once and freeze all that is left)
  • Bagels (F) - x3
  • Breakfast cookies (F) - x2
  • Peach oatmeal muffins (F) - x2
  • Zucchini bread (F) - x1 (I'll make this soon with some of the zucchini I bought today and just have it on hand in the freezer for later in the month.)
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs - x3
  • French toast (F) - x4
  • Cinnamon rolls (F) - x2
  • Crepes - x2
  • Chocolate chip muffins (F) - x2
  • Banana muffins (F) - x2
Everything that has an (F) next to it can be frozen. For most things, I'll just make that meal for breakfast and then freeze the extra batch or batches. However, I'll make all of the baked goods that use fresh produce over the next few days and just freeze it all. This will allow us to keep a good variety in our meals. It's never fun to get to the end of the month and have pancakes 4 days in a row because that is all we have left in the freezer. We'll also have smoothies with breakfast at least 3 times a week. The kids and I already washed all the strawberries and blueberries we bought today and divided them up into smoothie bags for the freezer. We ended up with 12 bags, although it should have been 14 if we had been able to keep our hands off what we were bagging.

For the dinners I try to mix things up a little bit and instead of making 2 of the exact same meal (1 to eat, 1 to freeze), I try to use variations whenever I can. For example, I'll make two lasagnas - 1 meat, 1 vegetarian, or I'll make chicken and black bean tacos for dinner, make some adjustments to the filling and use that to make chicken enchiladas for the freezer. I plan on making 14 freezer dinners this month and only 8 of those are duplicates or variations of what we'll already be eating.

I also leave enough leeway in my overall plan to allow for different meals or to try new recipes. I try to buy ingredients that are widely-used so that I don't have to be stuck with the plan if I really want to make something else.

Anyhow, after I go through my menu plan, I fill out my grocery list. I double and triple check my lists, as well as what we already have on hand. I'm just too tired of the frustration of running out of ingredients and not having what I need on hand to do it any other way. As it is, I still always forget something. Today it was the carrots. I specifically remember looking at the carrots as I was picking out a cabbage. I was even debating getting two small bags or one big bag. Then I put the cabbage in the cart and kept on walking. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to pick them up at some other time.

The last thing I do is go through the weekly store ad and write down any sales prices and make any needed adjustments. Then I go through my coupons and see if there are any that I can use based on what is already on my list. I rarely will add something to my list just because of a good coupon, but it's been known to happen a time or two. I total up each category (which makes it easier to mentally calculate as I'm going through the store to make sure I'm on target), get a grand total, and then deduct any coupons. The figure I come up with always seems to be a little high because of the unadvertised sales.

Well, that's it for today. I'm saving up one more post on this for tomorrow. Then, I am done with talking about menu planning and grocery shopping until 6 months from now. (Unless someone asks a question, which of course I'll be more than happy to answer, if I can.) I'm getting a little bored with myself and all these posts this week. However, I am excited to start writing some more about our homeschooling plans for this year after we pick up our books on Friday.

5 comments:

Melody 10:16 AM  

I think that breakfast is the hardest meal for me to plan.

I enjoy all your posts on menu planning although I have not been doing so well with it lately.

I am glad that I have a pretty well stocked pantry because that really helps me when I don't plan ahead.

amysfinerthings 10:30 AM  

I can go about 10 days or maybe 2 weeks without a trip to the store, but a month? Wow -- that is some serious organization! Good for you!

Jennifer 1:13 PM  

I do the same thing about forgetting things. My main reason for a trip will frequently be because we are out of it. I have it circled big on my list and will leave the store without it. So even when it makes the list, it doesn't guarantee it will be bought at my house. I have really enjoyed your series here on menu planning, thanks1

Candace @ A Garden of Blessings 3:18 PM  

WOW! Kate, you amaze me. You are so organized, I wish some of that could rub off on me.
Good work, I'm very impressed.

Michele 4:29 PM  

Wow, Kate! You are so inspiring. I really need to go through my list again, with all my recent diet changes and new recipe favorites. I know I need to update my price list too. Thanks for the reminder. :)
Blessings,
Michele

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