This Month’s Habit: Menu Planning

Thankfully, menu-planning is a habit that Joey and I have had since we were first married. It is difficult for me to imagine functioning for any real length of time without a menu. I am absolutely horrible at cooking on the fly with whatever ingredients we happen to have on hand. Even though Joey is much better at spontaneous meal creation than I am, it’s still too stressful to try to attempt with the size of our crew.

But our menu-planning habit has varied during different seasons of our lives. When it was just the two of us and we lived in a city, we planned a weekly menu and went shopping once a week. When we had a few small children and lived about 30 minutes from a grocery store, I planned a monthly menu and shopped once a month. (That was also when I attempted once-a-month cooking for about a year before Joey finally confessed that he did not like frozen and re-heated food. Oops!)

Then we started buying a lot of our food in bulk from the food co-op and we still lived quite a distance from a grocery store, so I made a “seasonal” monthly menu that would last us through, for example, the fall, repeating the same monthly menu for, obviously, three months in a row. At that time, Amelia began doing a lot of the lunchtime cooking. She was fabulous at it and seemed to enjoy it much more than I ever did. Clara soon joined in with making breakfasts. Oh, what joy!

But, that didn’t last forever. Big girls grow up and move away and, last fall, I found myself facing the fact that I was now back in charge of all meal preparation. Because she is very sweet, Amelia made me a month-long, crock pot-based menu before she and Clara went off to school. She even made master grocery lists for each week of lunches and suppers. I can’t tell you how much these menus and grocery lists saved my sanity over this last year. They are flexible enough to provide variety so we don’t feel like we’re eating the same thing all of the time. They’re extremely economical, based on the meat that we have in our freezers from our own animals. And I have heard very few complaints from anyone about the meals.

And, because, ala Flylady, these menus have become so routine, when we ran out of pork chops last week, I could easily think, “Ah, yes, Monday evening is pork night, but there’s no need to panic. I will just switch gears and make some ground pork meatballs on Mondays until we process another pig.” Yea! for menu-planning!

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5 Responses to “This Month’s Habit: Menu Planning”

  1. Joey Says:

    PTL for menus and those willing to make (and follow ;-)) them! You’re close enough to perfect for me.

  2. Jen Says:

    I would love to see an example of those menu items. I’m so horrible at menu planning it is ridiculous. My husband is also great at spur of the moment meals…me? not so much.

    You’d be doing a fellow Flyer a favor if you posted it. 🙂 I love your blog, BTW.

  3. in a rut Says:

    I would love to see how to do it also. I am in such a rut with cooking the same 4 to 5 things every week. I need help.

    • thetruevine Says:

      This is what I do: first, I assign a “meat” (which, of course, could also mean “beans” :-)) to each day of the week for both supper and lunch (obviously, if lunch is beef, then supper is something else); then, I go through my Fix It and Forget It Lightly cookbook and plug a recipe in to each meal for each day for a month, based on the assigned “meat” for that meal. If I run into the problem of not having enough recipes that the family likes out of that cookbook for, say, a seafood meal, then I check out crock pot recipes online. That’s really all there is to it for me! My family goes along with the crock pot-based menu and we’re all happy. 🙂

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