Last August, I started a monthly menu. I was trying to be more organized and make limited trips to the grocery store. I sat down with an empty calendar and my recipes and started planning. The last year of doing this has been awesome for our family. I rarely have to wonder what's for dinner which is absolutely awesome. I make one big shopping run towards the end of the month/beginning of the month. I can make adjustments as needed AND we are saving money because I can buy in bulk.
So here is how I do it....
1. Print out (or write in your planner) a calendar. (www.calendarsthatwork.com)
2. Look at your current calendar and put any times that you all will be out of town or have an out of the house dinner commitment. Mark all of these on your calendar.
3. Pull out your recipes. I keep mine in a binder by the microwave.
4. Start plugging in the meals you want to make.
(I know that on certain days we have extra curricular activities that run late, those are my
typical crockpot days.)
5. Once you have your calendar filled it's time to make your grocery list.
6. I look at the recipe and write down everything I will need. I do this for each one. I make tick marks when I need one pound of meat or chicken. Then I add it all up at the end.
7. Once you have your grocery list, go to your pantry and fridge and see what you have. You probably have most of your spices. I mark off what I have on hand.
8. Take your grocery list that you now have. I look at it and see what can be bought at the bulk store and what I can just get at my grocery store. Like if I need 6 packages of spaghetti noodles, I know that they are cheaper for a box of 6 at Sam's then buying 6 individual packages at the regular grocery store.
***All of the steps above might take 30-45 minutes.
9. Then I add the menu to my calendar that is in my phone/laptop. This is great because I can always look to see what's for dinner.
10. If I don't use a meal that month, I just put it at the first of the next month.
Then on one day, I go to the bulk store (Sam's in my case) then head over to Walmart or Target. I get everything that I need. Then each week if I need fresh foods or bread I go early in the week. I write on the calendar what I will need that's fresh for that week (see the Sundays below). Hope this helps some of you! It definitely was a time saver for me as well as taking away the stress of wondering every day "what's for dinner?"