Sunday, August 29, 2010

Menu Binder ~ Part 1

There have been several parts to this project. The first one was coming up with 30 recipes that we all loved. I planned for 5 days a week because there is always a night where we eat out and there is usually a left over night. We can always adjust later if we need to, but for now, 5 days a week, for 6 wks was the goal.

I have said it before, but I wanted to reiterate... I mostly make menus for the grocery lists. There is no set plan of meals on a specific day unless something is going to go bad before the week is out. We choose off the menu what we want to eat that night, and because I have bought for the whole week I know I have everything on hand to make any recipe we have chosen. Then we check the item off the list and the next night we pick something else.

Ok, so step 1. Get together 30 meals that you all enjoy. Then make a set of 30 boxes and start adding in the recipe names in them. For this, I used sheet of paper and 30 post it notes (small ones, like you use for page tags). Then I could move around the notes as I make the menu as perfect for us as possible. For example. At one point, I had 4 chicken dishes in one week. That is just too much meat to buy or to eat in a week. So I moved two of them to mostly veggie weeks, and it balanced out the menu a lot, and because of how I had the recipe names on post it notes, I was just able to pick them up and move them... easy! Like this:

The pink ones are substitutes for the seasonal dishes that I want to make. For most of the time, you want a set of recipes that you can go through, no matter what time of year it is. But sometimes, it is easier to have seasonal recipes on the menu plan already than to sub them after you have made the grocery list for everything else. Esp when you are adding things that you most likely will get for free... like recipes that require lots of zucchini or tomatoes in August. So when finding recipes, I looked at the ones that were more specific to the summer and the fall, and added them too. For example: I can make a roast beef Au Jus sandwich anytime of year... but this time of year, when zucchini is plentiful, I often will make a summer veggie and provolone panini sandwich instead. So I added that to the menu as an 'or' item. I also added that to the grocery list (highlighted for ease)... but that part is later. Pick your substitute items, and add them into the boxes along with your staple year round recipes.

I spent the next hour moving around those little tabs. I wanted a nice round menu that would keep the budget down, and also give us variety. My friends do this different ways. My friend Sarah chooses different nights to have themes (her menu binder was featured here). For example, Monday night is always Crock Pot night. It is a good way to balance the menu without having to move tiny little tabs around for an hour. *blush*

Once you have all your meals in boxes, then make a table on Word or Excel and print it out. This is your 'master list'.

My master list is as follows:

Week 1:

Au Jus Sandwiches or Panini

Fried Rice or Comfort Rice

Potato Chicken w/ Mashed Potatoes

Pasta Alfredo w/ Shrimp

Potato O'gratin w/ feta and pesto

Week 2:

Homemade Pizza

Pasta E Fajioli Soup

*Crock Pot* Pot Roast w/ New Potatoes

Leek & Potato Soup

Teriyaki Chicken w/ Rice Pilaf

Week 3:

Beef Stew

BBQ Chicken Legs w/Ratatouille

Shepherd's Pie

Portabella Mushroom Bake

Ham & Lime Pasta

Week 4:

Chicken or Tofu Curry w/Rice and Mixed Greens

Hamburger Gravy w/Mashed Potatoes

Leek & Sausage Pasta or Pepper & Bacon Pasta

Stir Fry w/ Rice or Rice Noodles

Tacos or Taco Salad

Week 5:


Italian Salad w/Soup

Roast chicken w/New Potatoes

Ravioli w/Winter Squash

*crock pot* Pork Chops & Apples w/Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Week 6:


Dinner Salad w/Grilled Cheese

Pad Thai

Split Pea Soup w/bacon


To be continued.....




Maiden Jane said...

Thanks for sharing your menu plan! I've read ideas like this but have never tried them. I plan my menus weekly - often based on the weekly grocery sales (I only shop once a week and I don't shop around.) As my kids got into the teens, the activities stepped up a bit, so I need to be able to plan quick meals. But I'm sure I could still adapt your idea and just shift around the weekly meals as necessary.

Ashley said...

This is awesome! We have been toying with the idea of meal planning per day/per week and grocery shopping to do the same but haven't taken that big first step to do it. I love this idea though, so thank you for sharing!

I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have yet to comment until today but I couldn't not do it this time, too great of info to be thankful for!

Also, the belly picture...super cute! I'm newly pregnant with #3 and curious to see how different things look this time around... =)

Katie said...

Awesome! I started my household notebook a few months ago and have been wanting to do this, thanks for all the great ideas and sharing your wealth of food knowledge!

Mars said...

I really, really need to do this! You and Sarah have inspired me. I think I'll give it a go!

Amber said...

This is great. I do a similar thing (list all the meals we make) but I only plan one week at a time. Doing it six weeks out would be great. It is such a chore to plan the weekly list. I think I'll try it in a bigger chunk.

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