Monthly meal planning – tips and tricks!
This is my second foray into monthly menu planning. Last time was a success, so after a couple of weeks off while we went on our road trip and school holidays, I’m back on the bandwagon this month!
The other change is that I am moving from night shifts to afternoon shifts at work. This changes the types of meals that I plan on work days.
I just plan for weeknight meals as that is when I cook, A1 does the weekends. So for a complete budget you would need to add in weekend dinners and lunches.
I’ve had a request on our Facebook page for tips on monthly meal planning. I’m no expert after such a short time, but will share how it works for me…
This way you are regularly cleaning them up AND you have a rough idea of any meat/veg and staples you have on hand to be used.
I love the one that Kate from Picklebums has for download on her site – check it out here… I write my work hours, childcare for the kids and any special things happening that day on there. As well as the meal for each day. It means that everyone knows what is happening!
I grab my phone (with bookmarked recipes), some favourite cookbooks and magazines and start choosing recipes. I write a list of recipes and the ingredients/amounts required as I go. Once you have all your recipes you can write them into your planner.
I do a monthly shop for the basics for the whole month (including meat & poultry, freezing what isn’t required in the next couple of days) and non-perishable for the recipes. I then have a separate list for the few fresh things needed on a fortnightly basis. You can obviously tweak this to suit your pay cycle/budget. By having a list, you are less likely to sneak things into your trolley – I skip the aisles that don’t contain list items. I also get as much fruit & veg from our weekly farers markets, I know its fresh and local.
Mix up your meats – I tend to write up ideas for what I’d like to make then shuffle it around so I don’t have three days of beef in a row.
Team things up so you can use left any overs eg. the Chili con carne will be used in the slow cooker jacket potatoes and pizza in week 5.
If you are working during the day and have a slow cooker, make use of it, it’s your friend.
Look up Freezer bag meals on Pinterest and Google and do a bulk cook. It might take a few hours of prep, but that prep can free you up in busy times.
We all get stuck in a rut at times. Challenge yourself to do something different/difficult once in a while. Pull out some fancy cookbooks and choose something. If it doesn’t work, there are always cheese toasties! If it works then it has expanded your horizons…
I am working this month (except for week one) on Tuesday/Wednesday/Fridays. Since I’m at home with the kids on Mondays, I’ve popped in a couple of new and more challenging meals to cook from scratch.
Friday meal will be something simple that I know the kids will love, as Master O has a full day at care & Miss E a full day of school/care. Lets be frank, its the end of the week, they’ll be tired and ratty. I’ll be happy if they eat at all!
I’ll post up the actual meal plan next week. It’s a five week plan, so you could use the 5th week as ideas to fill in the weekends. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on here or our Facebook page and I’ll endeavor to answer your questions in next weeks post!