Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Planning a Monthly Menu

I love some good takeout, but we really need to start cooking at home...
I am pretty terrible at planning ahead for meals. Most days, I do not really think about what we are going to have for dinner until 6 o'clock, when we are both sitting there hungry waiting for the other person to offer to make something. Which kinda sucks. So I have made it a personal goal to try to put together a meal plan for the whole month - or to start, half the month.

Finding things to make for dinner can be pretty challenging. I can't remember if I have shared this or not, but Chris is a fairly picky eater. We typically have to stick with the basics - meats, carbs, etc. Since he does not eat fruit, vegetables, eggs, or seafood, it can feel like we are lacking variety. But he does let me try to be creative where I can and is usually willing to try something, or pick out the things that he doesn't like. I guess I would rather eat together and have our meals be a little boring, than have us each eating separate food all the time.

So after spending some time on Sunday scouring Pinterest, blogs, etc., I put together the following plan for the rest of this month:

10/15: Chicken with Creamy Corn and Potatoes
1016:  Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
10/17: Crockpot Chicken
10/18: Pasta and Sauce
10/19: Homemade Pizzas
10/20: Football Game Tailgating
10/21: Sunday Dinner @ Mom's
Pesto Stuffed Shells
10/23: Mini Meatloafs
10/24: Black Bean Soup and Cheese Quesadillas
10/25: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
10/26: Chicken Fried Rice    
10/27: Event
10/28: Chicken Noodle Soup (can't wait to use our homemade stock!)
10/29: Curry Beef with Peas
10/30: Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice
10/31: Trick O' Treat (may order pizza)

I got some great inspiration from Shannon at Shannanigans - she has been posting her monthly meal plans for awhile. In terms of my planning, my main strategies were to plan for crock pot meals on the nights that I stay late for meetings, account for events where we'd be fed and maybe a day or two where we will want to order a pizza. I also tried to mix up the beef, chicken, pork, and meatless meals - I would love a good piece of salmon or some shrimp every once in awhile, but only if I can make Chris a chicken version. I threw in a few standbys/favorites, like homemade pizza (great because we can each put our own toppings on), good old pasta with spaghetti sauce from the jar, and my favorite black bean soup from Real Simple. I also pulled some recipes that I have been waiting to try, like the Red Beans and Rice. I tried to find things that wouldn't make too many servings - we want enough for lunch, but not something that we are going to get sick of after eating it a few times.

I also started gathering possible future recipes and have them saved as I plan ahead for next month. We will have to keep track of what we like and what we wouldn't eat again. Last night's meal was great for using up some of my last veggies from the CSA basket. I was able to use cilantro, red pepper, and some of our potatoes. And it was a pretty good meal - looking forward to my leftovers today for lunch.

And I cannot wait for the pulled pork tonight! It only added 2 minutes to my morning routine to throw everything in the crock pot, and I expect it to smell pretty amazing when I come home.

If this goes well this month, I am going to try to plan out the full month of November. I am hoping this will allow us to reign in our grocery budget, and the amount of money that we spend eating out.

Do you meal plan? Make ahead your meals for the week on Sunday?

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