Friday, January 8, 2016

Foodie Friday: Monthly Meal Planning

Wait,what, Foodie Friday?  Are you at the right blog?  Isn't this Beyond The Picket Fence--the blog that shares fun home decor made from old wood and stuff?
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
Yes, yes it is and no worries, that is not changing.


But, I have decided to try a new post once a week on food.  After all, there is a lot of food in my life too--I like it, I cook it, I eat it, and eat it, and eat it. So, I decided this year I will share some of that with you. 

Sometimes I have to take a break from woodworking to hang out in the kitchen.  I enjoy cooking for the most part and see it as another creative endeavor.  I also have the added challenge of cooking gluten free because my hubby has Celiac Disease so I want to share some of that with you too.`

In my other life, our PCL (pre-celiac life) I meal planned a month at a time.  But, when my husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease five years ago, meal planning went out the window.  I survived cooking one meal at a time.

Fast forward to now, where cooking gluten free is natural and I am ready to move beyond planning only 4 or 5 meals at a time.

I love this method because meals are not repeated during the month (except pizza), calories and nutrition are balanced out, there are fewer trips to the store, you save money, and it works with your schedule.

Have I sold you on monthly meal planning?  Here are the basics:

Start with a calendar.  I printed this one from Shining Mom. Gather your schedules for the month--sports, meetings, etc.
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
I start by marking events, times we will be out of the house in a colored marker.  Now, when I had three kids at home I had different colored pens for each kid. (Trust me, I am NOT this mom--the organized, scheduled one. That is only a dream.  But, this works well!) This is an important step, you need to know which days you need dinner ready early, which days you need something really easy. (My second half of the month looks empty because I am not sure of my daughter's VB schedule yet.)
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
Next, I write down the meals we have every week.  For us that is pizza on Friday, and soup on Sundays.  Pizza may be takeout, homemade, delivered, take and bake, or at a pizza parlor. If pizza isn't your family's cup of tea, pick something they never tire of--tacos, spaghetti, chili.   

I decide on types of soup after I have the other meals written in.  If I am having tacos on Tuesday, I don't want to have taco soup that week. 
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
Now fill in the rest of the meals for the month following these guidelines:

  1.  Ask each family member which one meal they would like during the month and fill that in on a day you know they will be home to eat it.
  2.  Fill in some of your favorites too!
  3. Try 3 or 4 new recipes each month--something you pinned or something from a cookbook. Write on the calendar where the recipe is located so you know where to find it.
  4.  Spread out similar meals such as chicken meals so you are not eating chicken 4 days in a row.
  5. Plan crockpot meals (I try to do at least one a week) on busy days.  I lead bible study on Tuesdays so I like to put something in the crockpot before I leave in the mornings,
  6. I plan a breakfast for dinner usually once a week. We normally don't make big breakfasts in the morning and breakfast foods are easy and a favorite.
  7. Write in leftovers 2 or 3 days after you have cooked some big meals.
  8. Plan actual meals with leftovers.  For example, we are having a pork roast on Saturday and pork tacos on Monday.  Some leftovers I plan to freeze for next month's meals and I write that on the calendar so we don't eat them or so they don't sit in the fridge and get moldy.
  9. Keep one day a week really loose.  We tend to be out and about on Saturdays so I usually have leftovers or MYO--make your own nights or we eat out.
  10. I do not write in sides, but they are usually simple--salads, fruit, potatoes.
  11. I write my meals in pencil in case things change.
I have just started making lots of freezer meals (which is another post for another Friday).  I highlight those meals that are in the freezer so I remember to get the out of the freezer the day before.
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
Keep a grocery list nearby to fill out as you list meals.  
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
I usually go to the store once a week to buy fresh produce.  We typically go on Sundays after church so I write the things I know I will need for the week to the side of the week.
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
I hang the menu on the inside of the pantry door.
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
And I list them for the family to see on our chalkboard.  It is amazing how much easier this makes like, really!
meal planning, recipes, menus, healthy eating, budget meals, organization, saving time, http://bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com/2016/01/foodie-friday-monthly-meal-planning.html
Let me know if you have any questions or if you try this and what works for you!

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