Menu Planning

2 May

This year, 2012, I have decided to try a new thing. It is called HEALTHY LIVING. Oh you heard of it? Well it took me 32 years to figure it out. It is still a work in progress.

I am the food shopper, the cook, and the cleaner. In return, I require full control of the kitchen. I read somewhere that kitchens are very protective domains. I am going to have to agree.

So what I decided to do was to plan out what we would eat. In the past this conversation was nightly

SO: so what’s for dinner?
Me: no idea.
SO: really?
Me: I have better things to do. (Disclaimer- I lied. I had nothing better to do)
SO: I’ll get a pizza and a hoagie

My little menu board

I developed a system which uses my pantry, freezer, fridge, and two grocery circulars. No coupons. I really cannot be bothered. It used to take longer, but I have it down to 30 minutes. I use MS publisher, created a calendar, update it for the current week and make changes to past weeks. If you look on my calendar I attached, you will see the pizza man shows up many times. It is never planned. I said I developed a system. I do not always follow it!

Every week I try to have the following

  • vegetarian meal
  • leftovers (usually crockpot related)
  • chicken
  • fish
  • entree salad
I am not a coupon clipper. I find most of that is boxed, prepared, and not fitting into my HEALTHY LIVING plan. Neither is exercise… yet. I buy my veggy staples from Aldi. They have the best prices. Some complain that the produce is not attractive. You are right. It is not an attractive section. But the items themselves… comparable to those at the two larger stores I frequent.
I buy my meats from wholey’s. Utterly amazing. Plus it helps to be “related” to the meat department manager. I buy my chicken, bacon (thick peppered, ohio made), and pork there once every 6 weeks.  In the same spot “the strip district” I also get my spices at penzey’s and quinoa (in bulk) at penn mac.
I buy my organic and hippi foods from Giant Eagle. Their prices are high, but they also carry the products. They are still cheaper than Whole Foods or Market District! I buy my regular foods from Shop N Save. I like how they are locally owned and run. Buy Local. Not just an idea!
The way I would help those new to menu planning is as follows
  1. Make a calendar, fill in anything that is happening (notice on mine I have D&D- the SO plays nerd games with his friends every other Sunday which is my toast and jam dinner)
  2. Think about your schedule. I do not like to cook after cooking a big meal. (see Mother’s Day? That will be a special menu. I am eating leftovers that Monday and Taco Takeout that Tuesday). Plan on crockpots. Prep and pack all of your veggies for the week on a Monday.
  3. Look in your fridge. Do you have an extra leek from last week? consider how to use it up. Never let anything go to waste! Look in your freezer. Do you have anything that you labeled… weeks ago! (I would say months but I will pretend none of us have that).
  4. Look at your circulars. Look online for recipes. I will post reviews of my two fav sites and those others that I have tried but they failed.
  5. Now make your menu. One week at a time.
Here is my current Monthly Menu (PDF)

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