For about 4.5 years I have been planning out our meals monthly (sometimes it is biweekly). I make a calendar in Microsoft Excel and then each month I fill it out, print it out and then change it for the next month. I'm not very good at having anything planned other than the main meal, but whatever, right?
This is what my October Menu looks like so far. I have the next 2 weeks for sure (it's been a busy weekend!) and I'll get the rest done pretty soon.
Anyway, there is a great concept that I am going to try. Freezer cooking. I know that EVERYONE has heard about it and is probably doing it....Anyway, my great friend, Jennifer, has been doing it for years. She picks one Saturday a month and cooks for the ENTIRE NEXT MONTH!
I am not that good. What I have decided to do instead, is find recipes that will freeze well. When I make it, I'll just double the recipe and freeze it for the next month. There are some recipes that I will triple. Just make sure that if you decide to do this, you are prepared. (see below)
Also, to make things a bit easier (this may not be for those that like variety) I have 'assigned' food types for each day. For example: Chicken Mondays, Crockpot Tuesday, No Meat Wednesdays, Ground Beef Thursdays, Pizza Fridays, Breakfast Saturdays. Let me tell you...it has made this so much easier and I don't have to have too many all chicken or all beef weeks or all cereal weeks :).
I have found some AWESOME websites and there are tons of books if you are interested.
When looking for recipe ideas some key words are "freezer meals" "OAMC" (once a month cooking)...
I have been making Lasagna Rolls, instead of Lasagna..genius I tell you, PURE genius. When dinner is over, instead of having to finagle the lasgna..I wait for it to cool, wrap the rolls in foil and put in a freezer bag.
Anyway, there really are a ton of places to find recipes. Let me know if YOU do the same thing. Do you have more ideas on recipes?
- Plan out your meals ahead of time. Weekly, monthly, whatever.
- Go through your fridge, freezer, cupboards and food storage and inventory.
- Make a shopping list. I like to go through and make a master list of everything that is needed for a recipe. Then as the next recipe comes around, I can either put a tally mark (and how much is needed) or add a new ingredient to the bottom of the list. THEN I break that shopping list up either by where it is located in the store OR in different genres (Chicken, Beef, Canned Goods, Produce, Misc.)
- BUY FREEZER BAGS! They have to be freezer bags. Otherwise the food won't stay good as long.
- Make sure that your family will like the meal. Don't make seafood for a family that doesn't like it=waste money and time.