I am almost through my second month of planning our dinner menu a month at a time. Last month I went a little over my normal budget of $400. This month I believe I will be under budget which was part of my yearly goals for 2013.
A few days ago I went through our deep freeze and made note of all the meat we had in it. I then started to plan the menu for March based on what I had on hand.
This is the planner I bought specifically for menu planning
Isn't the cover pretty? It has a plastic sleeve on it also so I don't have to worry about it getting messed up. On the inside cover is a little pocket that I keep my extra care bucks and all grocery related receipts.
I really liked that each month took up two pages and had a little section for notes, which is where I keep a running tally of how much I have spent.
When planning my menu I make note of leftover days, which is every Friday. I also make note of the days I would like to use the crock pot and plan those dinner first. Right now that is on Tuesday's as this is our busiest day of the week with kids activities. I try to use up the meat that I inventoried from or deep freeze first. I have everything I need for 3 of the 4 crock pot dinners. I will need to purchase some chicken for the last one. I write that down on my grocery list.
I also make note of any day that I know ahead of time we will be out of town or eating out.
I then ask for requests from my family of things they would like to have for dinner. I work those into the menu.
My husband requested lasagna. Since he likes to cook and normally does on Saturday and Sunday each week, his request will be planned for one of those days. I do not have the stuff for this meal so I add that to the grocery list. Kid # 5 request ravioli, since we are making sauce for the lasagna we will make sauce to use for the ravioli towards the end of the month, at the same time.
We also try to have soup once a week in the cold months. Kid # 3 requested Cheese Soup , I have most of the ingredients for this and it will fulfill one of the soup nights for the month. In my freezer I had a container of Chicken and Rice soup. Will use that up in March also. That only leaves two other days I will need soup for.
As you can see, just in this short time I have 12 days planned already. Now I just need to fill in the gaps. I use the calendar to help me plan but often times if something comes up I can easily move dinners around. By planning this way at least I know what dinners I have available even if we don't follow the calender.
As of right now I have spent $281.40 on groceries and household items this month. This weekend I will make a run for butter, a few snacks and produce. So I estimate that my total cost will be around $300 this month. I will update again at the end of the month :)