Friday, 7 January 2011

Menu Planning

I've been using a menu plan for a couple of years now, it started one January when I had 2 freezers full of food but no idea what to have for dinner, so I went through the freezers and wrote a list of all the food and allocated it to days to eat so there was a variety of food each week rather than the same thing over and over.  I found that I had enough food to feed us all for 30+ days!  I just had to buy fresh fruit, veg and dairy stuff.  Thats why I love menu planning, I find I spend much less money and we eat much better food.  I'm not very decisive when it comes to chosing what to eat, left to my own devices I would eat spag bol or chicken & rice every night so having the planning part done aleady makes life much easier.  I'l also a little too Type A not to plan things!!

My menu planing has evolved over the last few years but what I've always done is a monthly plan.  I know that freaks some people out to know what they are going to eat at the end of the month but I find it works well for me and allows me to buy stuff in when it might be reduced and stick it in the freezer knowing that I'll use it next week.  At the moment I have themed days dependant on the families activities

  • Monday - Leftovers from Sunday Dinner
  • Tuesday - Veggie Day (to reduce meat intake and reduce spending)
  • Wednesday - Mince Day*
  • Thursday - Slow Cooker/Casserole Day (busy day after school and need something on the table when we walk in the door)
  • Friday - Something seperate for kids and Parents, usually we all eat the same meal but on Friday I like to cook sponething special just for the grown ups
  • Saturday - Family Treat meal
  • Sunday - Roast Dinner, gotta be done!

* I cook mince in the slow cooker with onions, grated carrots, soya mince, herbs, red lentils, stock, and any veggies that are knocking about.  I cook this up until the lentils are softened and then freeze into portions to cook for our family.  We are 2 adults and 2 kids so I usually cater for 3 adults.  This Mince Base is then used on Wednesday to make Spag Bol, Chilli, Cottage Pie, Curried Mince, Meatloaf.  It makes  the mince go further, is cheaper and healthier than just basic mince and can be made up big batches to be more efficient.  

I use a spreadsheet in One Note to record all the plans so then I can just look straight there to see what we are having that day, you can print it out or display on one of the many menus you see around blogland but I prefer to leave it on the computer.

Usually what I do first is a stocktake of the freezers to see what I currently have, often leftovers from batch cooking or casseroles, I put them into the spreadsheet on the appropriate days.  I also check the calender to include any commitments we already have, parties, visits out of town, meals out etc.    I've come up with a collection of recipes which fall into these categories (some are in more than one category) and then I can pick and chose a casserole to put into Thursdays column, mince meal in Wedneday, Veggie meal in Tuesday etc etc.  I collect recipes from all over the place but mainly on the web.  I make sure that I keep the links otherwise I can never find them again!  For this I use One Note again, I find it a great organisational tool, the ability to write notes, add links, spreadsheets to perferct for the way I work.  I like to collect information, present idea, recipes, holiday ideas and then review them later and One Note enables me to do this well.  

Tuesday - Veggie Day
·         JP Cheese & Beans
·         Lentil Burgers
·         Lentilese & Pasta
·         Potato & Green Lentil curry
·         Chickpea Curry
·         Red Lentil Curry
·         Pasta with Pesto
·         Pasta with garlic & Parmesan
·         Veggie Lasagne
·         Savoury Vegetable Crumble
·         Pasta Primavera
·         Roasted Root Vegetables
·         Macaroni Cheese
·         Pasties
·         Lentil & Cheese Pasta
·         Cowboy & Bean Pot
·         Potato & Bean Bake
·         Spicy Lentil Layer
·         Vegetable Crumble

You'll note that a lot of them come from MoneySavingExpert forum, thats another great tip of mine!  A brilliant group of posters on there with all sorts of information, money saving tips, deals, offers, recipes.  Seriously even if you don't want to check out yet another forum sign up for the weekly email as it will save you money!

Slow Cooker
Matt &

03 Turkey Curry
04 JP Cheese &  Beans
05 Pasta & Meatballs
06 Savoury Crumble
07 Spaghetti Carbonara
08 Turkey Fajitas
09 Roast Gammon Dinner
10 Gammon & Pasta in tomato sauce
11 Lentil Burgers Potatoes & Veg
13 Turkey Casserole
14 Lentilese & Pasta
15 M&C Party
16 Roast Beef Dinner
17 Cottage Pie
19 Spag Bol
20 Sausage Casserole
23 Roast Lamb Dinner
24 Sheppard's Pie
25 Veggie Lasagne
26 Tomato Meatloaf

So this is my January Menu plan, as you can see there are still some things left blank later in the month just to add a bit of flexibility.  If I batch cook a casserole I can immediately allocate that to a day, if OH suddenly puts in a request then I can move things around quite happily.

SO do you menu plan?  Do you do it weekly,monthly, I did hear about a woman who planned a whole year!  Are you a pick it up from the shop on the way home kinda girl?


1 comment:

  1. I can't believe you are so organized. I used to love cooking and then came along two scrummy children and cooking has become a chore... I hate thinking about it, the planning, the shopping, the doing, it all takes up so much time when I could be sewing!! I really must take a leaf out of your book.