Part 2 of Once-A-Month-Shopping ~
The first crucial piece of this shopping once a month puzzle is the Master Meal List. There are several ways you can go about sculpting this bit of domestic art.
- First, you should consider how you want to set up your meal plan.
I do mine by general categories.
I have 4 categories: BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, MISCELLANEOUS/SIDES. Some of you may not need the Breakfast category, but I do. My brain simply does not work in the morning. I have long since resolved myself to this fact, yet I continue to stand in awe of those of you who are at the top of your game in the morning.
Some of you may prefer to categorize your meals by the day of the week. We live a rather “flexible” lifestyle, so that way does not work for us, but for many people it works quite well. If you choose this way of categorizing, your meal list would look something like this:
Day of the Week
lunch & sides
dinner & sides
Or you could use a fill-in calendar like I sometimes use when I specific events happening in a month that need specific meals.
You could also make a repeating menu if your family doesn’t mind the repetition. That means EVERY Monday contains the same meals, EVERY Tuesday is the same and so on and so forth. There are many families out there who love this kind of menu–particularly Scheduled Families.
Another option similar to this, is to do a themed menu plan:
Mondays are Italian
Tuesdays are Mexican
Wednesdays are American
Thursdays are Chinese
Fridays are Soup
Saturdays are Finger Foods
Sundays are Sandwiches
The reason I do general categorizing is because I like the flexibility of glancing at the list and picking and choosing from what sounds good to me or what I have time for that day.
So, really what you are considering here is more personality type than anything. Do you like things set in place ahead of time or do you like things flexible?
- Next, decide how many meals you will need.
Once again, this is a personal thing. Does your family eat out? How often? Do you have a date night where you will need someone else to feed your children something simple? Do you have regular potlucks at church or days you consistently spend elsewhere, like with friends or family? From this brainstorming, you will pull an approximate number of meals you eat in your home per month. Now, this is where it could get kind of hairy if I try to give you examples of every type of Meal List out there, so I am going to simply explain the way this works with our meal list.
My family does not mind repeating breakfasts, but I like to have a lot to choose from. We never eat breakfast out, so I have somewhere around 15 on my list.
I used to combine the lunch and dinner categories because my husband’s hours used to be rather random. However, of late, he is rarely able to break away for lunch, so I’ve made a separate lunch category that features fairly simple meals.
Because there are often leftovers (as your family grows, try to learn how to make meals that will equal leftovers!), I only plan 10-15 meals in both the lunch and the dinner categories. We also eat out fairly regularly (I say as I duck to avoid the flying frugal comments).
Some of you may be a bit confused by my Miscellaneous/Sides category. This is where I put anything that doesn’t fit into the previous three categories. This is dessert, bulk recipes, special sides that actually have to be made and not simply opened, special snacks, things I need to make for a certain event or gathering. It’s really my catch-all category. Once again…personal preference. This category for me does not need a specific number.
OK, you have a general idea of how many meals you need. Now comes the fun part…
- Find your meals!
You can simply pull from tried and true meals you know your family loves, you can poll the husband and children on what they would like to see on your meal list, or you can do what I do and randomly pull out a cookbook and write down what sounds good! My Miscellaneous category is a direct result of these random gatherings. If I see something I want to try that doesn’t belong in the other categories, into the Miscellaneous slot it goes!
You will also need to somehow document where you’ve pulled the recipe from. This could possibly be an abbreviated cookbook name with page number or marked “card” if it is on an index card in your recipe box. Just some way for you to easily find the recipe.
Now you can neatly pull your Master Meal List together either by a word document or in your own handwriting on a sheet of paper or on a dry erase board. Mine is in a word document because I know my meal list will change every single month. There will be recipes that too many members of the family dislike, or I will need a change of cookbooks, or the change of seasons will bring about my need to bake more or less…you get the idea. My children get in on the action by choosing clipart and a color scheme for the list!
OK, now that we have a workable meal list, it’s time to create our master grocery list from this meal list!