July 10, 2014

An Experiment

I'm in the middle of trying something new.
It's an experiment ~ at least, for me it is.
I've planned meals before ~ usually a week at a time.
I've even done it for a whole month ~ rarely.

The challenge with planning a menu for each day of the month
is that I don't do very well at seeing it through.
I get lost after a week or so.  It's discouraging.

But then.  Then!  A fresh twist on the old idea emerged as a result
of some online reading.  It was nothing new, really, it was just that in that
moment my thoughts gelled.  I got excited about the possibilities.
My goal is to challenge myself to feed my family well while
paring down my current rate of grocery spending.

I implemented the idea and am in the midst of seeing it through.
It's going very well.  It's not restricting.  Actually, it's liberating.

The idea?  Sit down with your calendar and your recipes.
Grab a pen and a stack of paper and a cup of coffee.
(Yes, the coffee is essential...or tea...it could be tea.)

Figure out how many weeks are in the coming month.
Take a piece of paper for each of those weeks and write the days 
of each week on top of the separate sheets of paper.
The papers in the above photo have dates corresponding to the 
weeks in July ~ 30-6; 7-13; 14-21; etc...

Then, look at all the *special* things coming up.

Write down main meal ideas on the papers corresponding
with the weeks those special things are happening in.
Then, jot down enough main meal ideas to fill in the remainder of the days.
Don't assign specific meals to specific days of the week, unless you want to.

Continue until you have enough ideas for the entire month.

Simple?  Yes.  I leave things kind of loose for breakfast and lunch.
If you prefer, you could plan ideas for those meals as well.
I have found, however, that it's dinner that stumps me most.
So, dinner is all I plan for in this detailed way.

Once the plan is in place, I make a master list 

of the ingredients required to pull it all off.
The fresh stuff I buy weekly, as needed.
But, the pantry staples are shopped for in one fell swoop.
It seems to have streamlined things around here.

Oh, and a fun feature is that, except for those special occasions,

it's flexible ~ mix it up and make what you want within your plan
for the week or the month....whatever works!
I am liking this new system.

What about you?  Do you plan it all out or wing it?

I've done it both ways and I must say, I prefer it planned.

So, you gonna join me and plan a month of meals?
Apparently, it makes the food budget go further.  
I'm out to prove it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Many Blessings,


Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

We grocery shop monthly. Except for milk and eggs (which we buy local) and an occasional refresh on fruits and veggies... it's that once-a-month grocery shop, an hour and a half away.

I should plan it more. In fact, I like your idea here. People ask me all of the time if I meal plan. I don't. I wing it!! :) Usually my meal ideas are prompted by say a tomato that needs to be used or what ever the case. Time factors in as well, as my creativity. I'm often do something Concocted in the kitchen. My hubby likes to tease, by saying, "well, it's a shame we'll never have this again" - which is really funny if it was a hit. It makes sense when said derogatively if it didn't go down so good.

Thanks for sharing your idea here-- again, I'm liking it!

Anonymous said...

Always wing it but NOT really a good idea! Can't wait to hear how it goes. For the entire month of March we only ate what we had on hand except for dairy and fresh salad ingredients. It was hard really hard but we did it and I "hope" to try it again. I enjoyed the challenge though I did not blog about it.

1HappyWife said...

I should really try this! I think I will print it and get the coffee and if I don't follow through I'll give it to Hannah as she has been begging to plan meals :). I am soooo blessed! I should try first though,especially if it means an excuse for coffee.
Meal planning is on my list every summer and I don't think I have accomplished it since the bigs were all littles.
Thanks for the encouragement :).
Have a blessed day, Friend!

Pam said...

I really like your idea. Especially the part about not assigning specific meals to specific days... that gives flexibility, which is what I need. I was reading a gals blog who used post em notes and her day planner; she wrote her menu plan on the post em notes, and put one on each of her calendar days, then she could change the post em notes when she wanted to change or fluctuate her written plan. In that way, she was able to stick to a plan, but not be locked in. I liked that, because often I have something come up in the week that changes our plans... and I find that I get off on my written plan, and then feel discouraged to keep up. Your idea is very similar.

I have a hunger to write things out... and am always interested in ideas and inspiration of what other ladies are doing. I have been rolling around some ideas for organizing and planning like this... I haven't settled it all yet. You make me feel inspired to get my pen and notebook (and cup of coffee haha) and go to it.
Have a great day Camille,

Anonymous said...

Did Calvin get his novice licence yet?

Camille said...

Dear Bevy ~ Here's to fresh inspiration! I find that making a sketchy plan helps keep the what's-for-dinner stress levels down. I hope you find a good balance in it all. Hugs to you. :)

Dear Nikki ~ Ah, yes...the use-up-what-you-have plan. That one is good to clear out the cupboards and begin fresh. Wow...you lasted a whole month? Good for you! :)

Dear Joleena ~ You have a LOT on your plate (no pun intended) so don't feel badly about not getting the meal planning done. But, oh...that little bit of time spent in planning does reap such benefits in the long run. I am SO enjoying this month plan! It's working out nicely. Once a week seems to sneak up on me too quickly and then I let the ball drop. :)

Dear Pam ~ Yes, the coffee really helps...LOL! Seriously though, it is so much better for me to have that flexibility woven in there. It's helping me to stick with it and I've made it nearly two weeks now. I think it's working! :)

Dear Anonymous (Krissy?) ~ Not yet. Hopefully in August. :)

With love,

Jill said...

Please let me know if you received my other comment, if not I will rewrite it 😊 thanks!

Intentional Living Homestead said...

Oh Camille, I REALLY need to try this. Our grocery bill climbs higher and higher and maybe this can bring it down. Thanks for sharing.


Camille said...

Dear Jill ~ It's lovely to have you back in the blogging world. :) Thank you for your email expanding your comment...sorry it disappeared!

Dear Connie ~ It is definitely working for me! I hope you find it works for you as well. It's tricky, isn't it?

Many Blessings,

Heather said...

Since we've been eating "clean", I'm shopping A LOT more, as it means you need perishables more often. Besides that being a bit of a pain, I have a few go-to meals that my family loves and we basically stick with these (which makes life simpler). I do change things up from time to time and learn new recipes, but in general, all of us loving what I cook and it being healthy is really important to me. I may try planning a menu in September as summer is so unpredictable for us! Thanks for the tip! Oh, and coconut curry ANYTHING... Yum!

Heather said...

Did I mention the love for sugar that doesn't really go with the eating "clean"? Ya, that's what can keep our bill high, even if I'm good with the meals! Lol! We eat well for meals and then splurge on the treats. Yikes!

Donna said...

When my girls were at home I always tried to plan my meals in advance. It was so much easier and less stressful. Now with just my husband and I we go with what I have on hand. Tomorrow I will cook fresh veggies out of our garden and a meatloaf.
You are so smart to plan a month in advance. I never planned more than a week at a time!

Camille said...

Dear Heather ~ Ah, yes...the unpredictable-ness of summer! Sounds like you have a good plan. Yaay for eating clean...but, the sugar...I hear you on that one!! :)

Dear Donna ~ It's lovely to hear from you my friend. Thank you for joining in on the conversation. It's interesting how the stages of life change for us, isn't it? I suppose it's like being Newlyweds all over again when it comes to the kitchen duties. How quickly it sneaks up on us! :)

With Love,