Well goodness. I had meant to post about my monthly meal planning, but I forgot. As Jenae mentioned, I did post about it on my family blog, but I meant to do it here too. Here's the rundown. I take one day and plan for the entire month. I assign each day of the week a theme. (See Jenae's monthly plan) That makes it easier to plan. Instead of thinking "hmmm 30 dinners to think of..." I think "What are 4 Mexican meals we like? What are 4 casseroles we like? What are 4 soups I'll make?" It makes it much more do-able, and it only takes me about 20 minutes to plan for the month. The first couple months, I saved about $20-40 dollars. I was happy. Last month, I cut $100 off our grocery bill! Hello monthly meal planning, you are now my best friend. Nice to meet 'cha. When you have your meals in front of you for the month, it's much easier to buy the items you need in bulk, or on sale, and you don't waste as much. I also started to strategically plan my menus. For instance, I knew I was making an enchilada casserole where I'd need refried beans. So, I thought of other meals that needed refried beans so I could buy those in bulk and make it stretch. I do one large shopping trip in the beginning of the month and go to the grocery store mid-month to restock our milk and produce. (I have to admit though, that part of that $100 saving is because we've done more vegetarian meals. If you can use beans instead of meat, it saves a ton.)
I recently taught an enrichment on preparing your 3 month food storage supply, and in it I introduced monthly meal planning. I've had several people tell me how it's helped them save money and they really enjoy it. It's taken the stress out of planning/cooking meals and made it fun again. Isn't that how it should be anyway? The idea sounds overwhelming, but it's so easy. I love it. And if it saves me $100 a month -- shoot -- I'm doing it!
So, for a week, you need 7 different themes for your meals. Here are just a few that I've used:
Crockpot (usually on Sunday because we have 1pm church)
Leftovers (usually my Saturday night)