Stone Soup for Five: Menu Planning Challenge - Week Three

Menu Planning Challenge - Week Three

In week one, we went through all our recipes and got rid of ones we don't use and organized the rest.

Culling all the recipes!

In week two, we chose our daily themes and made easy-to-access lists of our recipes.  And in week three, we get to pull them all together and plan our menu for May!

I've created a simple calendar for you to use, or just use one you have already or one you print off online.

click on the picture to print out full size

  • Fill in the dates on the calendar (if you use the printable above) and leave the little check boxes blank. 
  • Look over your plans for May and mark or note any days that you won't be eating at home because you're away or doing something different.  
  • Mark in any special events, birthdays, etc that you'll want something special.
  • Now mark the days you know will be crazy busy and you'll need something quick and easy to fix.

  • Next, above of each day of the week (the line above Monday, Tues, etc), write in what your theme for that day of the week will usually be.  For example, if every Monday we're going to try to eat meatless, I'd write "meatless" on the line.  Or if we'll do a beef recipe every Monday, I'd write "Beef."  I know that Thursdays are our long days out of the house, so I chose "Crockpot" to be my theme for every Thursday.  For more theme ideas, see the blog post for week two.
  • Now, go through your recipe lists and fill in your meals for each day according to the theme you chose.
  • Make a plan for special events or busy days if needed.
On Wednesdays, I choose from Pork, Fish, or Meatless recipes (since I don't have a bunch of them) OR I can try a new recipe.  I left the 23rd open to find a new recipe that week to try.

Saturdays are my Make One, Freeze One days (M1F1) so I make a recipe that I know freezes well and double it.  We eat one that night and I freeze the other one.

I used the side column to write down a dessert I could make some night that week too.
Now, let's talk about those little checkboxes.  I put those on the calendar to know if I actually made and ate that meal that day.  Even though I try to plan carefully, unforseen things happen and sometimes I won't make a meal we had planned.  If I make it, I check the box.  If I don't make it, I know I could make that meal some other day.  (If I bought the groceries for it, I freeze them if I can.)

If there is a night that you really don't feel like eating what you had planned, you can switch it with a meal you skipped and didn't make, or switch it with something you had planned on a different day if you have the ingredients.  (If I choose to switch, I draw an arrow from one meal to the other.)

Let's chat for a second about the lists of our recipes.  I have recipes on hand written note cards and on paper printouts.  I usually don't print out a recipe until I've tried it first because there have been some real bombs I've made online.  If it is good, I'll print it out and file it, then add it to my themed lists.

I have a list of all the recipes I have in my binder and notecards and store them in the front of my recipe binder, but many times I've been in the car or waiting in a doctor's office and find myself with time to spare and I wish I had my lists with me so I could start a menu.

You could take a photo of the lists to have in your phone for that purpose, or you could print off a copy to put in a small notebook, which is what I do (since I'm and ink and paper gal).  I keep it in my traveler's notebook and it's always there for planning.  I add any new tried out and approved recipes to the list as needed.

When the boys were little I used to write down what we'd have for breakfast much the same as I did for dinners.  Now that they are self-sufficient, I just write some ideas for breakfast, or I'll make breakfast items in bulk that they can heat and eat on the go.  The same for lunches, especially if you get tired of the same thing, or don't have many leftovers.  I included boxes at the top of the menu page for you to do that, or you could write them in the calendar on the day along with dinners.

If you pop over to the Facebook group, people are sharing their favorite tried and true recipes.  Plus, it's a fun community of like-minded women encouraging each other!  If you haven't joined already, come on over! (It's FREE!)

Next week we'll be talking about grocery shopping tips and tricks to save you money with your menu and to make it quick to get in and out.  And, we'll talk about meal prep and pre-prepping foods!

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