I've tried planning for just a week, two weeks and a month and have worked out a great combo that works for our family. When you menu plan weekly, you're having to create a new meal plan every week and grocery shop every week which can get tiresome over time. What I use for our family, is to "sketch out" the dinners for one month, build in some new recipes, keep some favorites, some free nights (or left-overs night). But stay flexible! Life happens and sometimes you just need to change up the menu to accommodate. I do our grocery shopping for two weeks' worth of time. This allows me to 1) keep a more accurate inventory of our grocery/pantry needs, 2) allows us to use all of our fresh produce, dairy and breads (If I did it for a month, most fresh produces and things like that would spoil L
I usually will print off a simple calendar to use. There are so many free calendars available online, TimeAndDate.com, etc where you can get something basic or you can find really cute monthly/themed calendars (ahem... Pinterest!) to use as well. Each week I try to have one of the following, and will usually combine a few together:
- Crock-Pot Meal
- Grilled Meal
I ask everyone for some ideas, if there are any special requests that they would like. Sundays are usually the days where I try a new recipe, since I don't really know how much time it will take, how a recipe will turn out etc. Plus it's nice to have a really great, homemade Sunday dinner! Crock-pot nights are usually the nights when I know some or all of us will be getting home a little late and need something ready when we walk through the door.
With each meal, I try to have something fresh, whether it's fruit or veggies, to accompany the meal. I prefer not to do canned foods, but will when I need to or am in a time crunch. Frozen produce is also a great non-canned option!
We like to do the majority of our shopping at wholesale stores like Sam's and CostCo for the bulk items. For our hygiene and dry goods, I will usually get those from Walmart or Target and then for fresh fruits and veggies I either get those from the local Farmer's Market, Market Street or Tom Thumb. In the end, and despite multiple store stops, it really does save us money - money that we can use for family fun, getaways, home improvements, shopping or saving!
I usually don't put too much effort into planning breakfast and lunch. The kids have their breakfast staples at home, I get an english muffin at work; at lunch the kids eat at their schools, and my husband and I usually have leftovers. Not a whole lot of planning here!
But this, in a nut shell, is what has worked well for our family and I hope that it works well for yours!
© Cruzin' Thru | 2014