I've received a couple of questions about menu planning and how I choose what to make for meals. I've been using this system for a few years and it's getting fool-proof! Feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions. I will post my monthly menus as I go so you can get a feel for it.
I plan my menu 1 month at a time. At the beginning of the month I start by making a menu of 30 meals. If you count in some lunches, eating out, events and parties, I generally cook 30 big meals per month. I go through my cupboard, fridge and pantry and make a shopping list. I hang my menu on the fridge, and when it's time to cook I can choose any item off the list, knowing that I have every ingredient.
Advantages: I like the freedom of choosing what I want instead assigning each meal to a day. Sometimes the day gets crazy and I just need to throw something together fast like a Taco Salad, other days I have the time and feel like making Chicken Cordon Bleu. I spent $92 at the store yesterday and I will probably make 1 or 2 more small trips during the month for produce, milk or eggs. It's cheaper because I can stock up when items are on sale and keep them in the freezer for the next meal.
At the top of the list I write down some of the meals I have prepared in my freezer. After that, I ask my husband what meals he's been craving. Next, I look through my fridge/pantry and see what items I need to use before they spoil, like spinach or a half-eaten bag of tortilla chips. I like to browse through cookbooks at the library or cooking websites online to try new recipes, this month I used the Taste of Home Cooking recipes for 2007.
Enough talking, here is my June Menu:
Swedish Meatballs (freezer)
Baked Ziti (freezer)
Steak Fajitas (freezer)
Chicken BLT Tacos
Mushroom and Turkey (pg 206)
Apple Stuffed French Toast (pg 84)
Creamy Ham and Macaroni (pg 66)
Twice Baked Potatoes
As you can see, some are complicated meals while others are throw together fast. We are members of a Food Co-op, where we get a basket of farmer's market fruits and vegetables twice a month. You never know what you're going to get, so the basket makes up our side dishes. If we get asparagus, I'm serving it with the Chicken Kiev, corn on the cob with the hamburgers and carrots into the shepherd's pie. And since it's June I am using the grill a lot, where in the winter my meals often use the crock pot. Make sense? Save your monthly menus for a year, and you could have a delicious year-round menu!
Watch for the recipes coming throughout the month!