Menu planning is essential to the smooth functioning of our household schedule and food budget. The beauty of menu planning is that there are LOTS of different ways to do it that fit different kinds of families with different kinds of schedules.
Growing up, I was in charge of making weekly menus and shopping lists. I naturally carried that into my college and "grown-up" years. Just this past year, however, I started to try out monthly menu planning, and it has made a huge difference in keeping me on track with our monthly budget, and it saves me a lot of time in the planning process.
I adopted my menu planner from my friend and college mentor, Phyllis Daniels. She uses it for her family, and has so graciously given permission for me to post it here!
4-Week Meal Plan (Blank)
The first month using this, I had to come up with 4 weeks of dinners. That took a little time. But, after making the first month's menu, the subsequent months have gotten much easier as I just tweak and add or subtract a few dinner each month (normally takes me about 15 minutes each month). I'm sure to keep each month's menu in a binder so I can look back on it and remember any old recipes I used but forgot. For example, I just looked back at last year's fall menus, and realized all the glorious pumpkin and soup recipes I used!
When grocery shopping, I try to grocery shop once every 2 weeks (with a small trip in between to pick up fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy). We end up picking up less "extras" and hence keep within our monthly food budget more easily.
To get you started on your monthly menu, I'll share mine for this month, as well as a few blogs that I love getting recipe ideas from because they are always delicious, affordable, and kid-friendly.
Six Sisters Stuff
Nap Time Creations