The first thing you want to do is print off a calendar month (or two calendar months if you are really ambitious).
1. I immediately fill in Friday’s as Pizza night. Now, we could have homemade pizza or we could have Little Caesar’s or we could order out. Every week we do have a pizza night and it may not always be Friday night but we do usually have one. For your family I am sure you have a traditional night that you do something like this. If you don’t – make one. It is fun and it will make your life easier.
2. Next, I write leftovers or “Sunday Dinner” on Sundays. We sometimes try to have a nice meal for lunch like Roast in the crock pot or if we aren’t having anyone over we will have leftovers. Either way I don’t “plan” a meal for this day because I usually have roasts in the freezer and I almost always have potatoes and other side items to go with it so I don’t need to plan for this day.
3. Now I start filling in the meals. I try not to have chicken two days in a row and I definitely plan to do one or two slow cooker meals a week – love ’em! You could do theme nights to help you better organize. For instance -Monday – Slow Cooker night; Tuesday – Mexican night (tacos, enchilada casserole, etc.); Wednesday – Soup and Salad night; Thursday – Italian night. I don’t do this but some people do.
4. Figure out what I can make ahead and freeze for the month once the menu is done for that month. If I am doing a meal that calls for cooked chicken, I can figure up how many meals call for that and total up the amount I need and add that to my list of what I can make ahead. I will do the same thing with hamburger (such as for my sloppy joes and tacos and cheeseburger soup).
5. Institute a few “To Try” nights a month. I think two would work best for me. I think we all have some recipes bookmarked or printed off to try. I plan to do that on non-busy nights (ha non-busy nights with 3 kids under 4, ya right).
Just filling out my menu it looks like I kind of did themes:
Monday – chicken night
Tuesday – Mexican night
Wednesday – something easy – soup, sloppy joes, foil packets
Thursday – Asian inspired meals – stir fry, fried rice, etc.
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Whatever
Here is my problem – I would like to be able to do two months of menus and with 20 or so favorite meals I feel like I can only do one month. Any suggestions? Until you all get back with me I think I will go ahead and fill out the next month like I did the first month and then only add meals that I know my family love and will eat two months in a row.
Tomorrow I plan to join Money Saving Mom and Fish Mama for their February Freezer Cooking Day and I will list my monthly menu plans and my list of what I am making and freezing. I am not going to actually freeze most of my meals this time. I am going to freeze the meat and sauces and various other things to make it easy to throw the meal together. I will explain more tomorrow. I know you can hardly wait right?