It has been a little over a month since I told y’all about my attempt at a monthly dinner menu, and I wanted to give y’all an update. In short, it is fabulous! This has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Last month we followed the plan almost every single day. There was one day where I said “screw it” and ordered pizza, and there were a couple of times where I moved things around, but mostly we followed it exactly. It made my evenings so, so much easier. There was no running around trying to figure out what needed to be cooked or worrying about what were going to fix for dinner. The night before I checked the menu, defrosted anything that needed it, and then David or I started dinner as soon as we got home.
I would say it saved about half of what I normally spend on groceries. I started with one big trip to Sam’s and the grocery store. First I planned the menu. Then I made a list of everything I needed. I checked that list against what was in my pantry and freezer to narrow it down. Then I went to the store. During the month I only had to go to the store for milk, bread, and lunch stuff (I haven’t got that all planned out yet.)
We have not thrown hardly any food away. We cook what we need for the night and any leftovers are either frozen or I take them for lunch the next day. Also, we have not made hardly any fast food runs because we just didn’t know what was for dinner.
This was a big change for the kids, but they have fallen into the routine and are really enjoying it. The one thing I did not think about when planning before was what are their favorites and how often would they like to have them. Before planning the monthly dinner menu for July I sat down with them and asked what are some meals they would like to have more than once per month (spaghetti, tacos, and breakfast for dinner).
For July I added the things they requested first, then I added some things that worked out really well in June, then I scanned my freezer for meat that I still had that I could use in July and added those items, and lastly I added new items, some new and some that are old favorites that didn’t make the cut in June (like meatloaf).
Another thing I didn’t plan for was the heat. One night last week we had chicken spaghetti that had to be baked in the oven. My house was so hot afterward that it took forever to cool down. For the rest of this month and August I will try to plan things that can be made on the stove top, be grilled outside, or that will fit in my convection microwave oven or in the toaster oven.
All in all, the monthly dinner menu is a fantastic idea. It provided the structure we needed to avoid the dinner time panic, but offered enough flexibility that we didn’t feel tied down to eating one thing. I’ve already started planning my menu for August (I find it works better if I keep it on my desk and add things as I think of them). I hope this is something I can keep going for a long time.
Have y’all considered doing a monthly dinner menu? What about trying just two weeks?