2015 Menu Planning Challenge
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  1. #1
    Registered User AspiringToBeFrugal's Avatar
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    Default 2015 Menu Planning Challenge

    I've got my blank calendar ready to go! I did really well in 2014 at planning my family's weekly meals (I stopped posting mostly because the rotation didn't change too much each month) and hope to best that record of 40 weeks by planning meals - primarily suppers as the other meals don't change too much or are reliant upon leftovers - for every single week in 2015!

    If you'd like to join me, just share your weekly or monthly meal plans with the group. It may help some people to try new recipes or figure out how planning ahead can help save money.

  2. #2
    Registered User tkn4lif's Avatar
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    I'd love to join in. Meal planning is something I have really wanted to do. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

  3. #3
    Registered User AspiringToBeFrugal's Avatar
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    For the last couple of years I've used one of the free wall calendars that I've received from places like my insurance agent, my church, etc. I hang it up on our fridge near our family calendar.

    Each week I sit down and plan out our meals--usually just suppers as lunches and breakfasts don't require much planning and I utilize leftovers for those--around our events. Really busy nights require quick meals so we don't resort to running through the drive-thru. I generally go with something like soup and sandwiches, fast pasta dishes, or something in the crockpot that I can just have cooking during the day. Other nights, I just go with whatever I happen to have in the freezer that I can thaw, or I go with what's on sale. I also try to use one dish that can be stretched into more than one meal. For example, I will roast a chicken that we'll eat one night, then I'll take the rest of the chicken and use it for quesadillas or chicken and noodles or something like that.

    I really strive to work with what goes on sale and stock up when I can.

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  5. #4
    Registered User SallyC's Avatar
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    I need to do this challenge. I'm pretty good at planning meals 2-3 days out, but I really need to stretch it to 7 days. The hold up is that I have a tough time making up my mind between many good alternatives. The way I'm thinking, though, is I can just come up with a list of 7 things I can make from what I have on hand, do the basic prep on one or two days and then just choose day by day what I'll serve.

    Breakfast is no problem. I usually have a baking day about every week to ten days and bake up 3 or 4 different items for a grab and go meal. Oatmeal or smoothies are daily options. Lunch is usually leftovers.

    I have more than one reason to menu plan:

    -Use up what I have on hand
    -Know when I prepped a meal so it gets used rather than languishing in my fridge
    -Rotate more new recipes into regular use (I'm beginning to explore Russian food)
    -Take advantage of sales
    -Spend less so that I can spend more when good meat deals come along

    Dinners this week:

    Panko shrimp--today
    Ravioli (Italian sauce is in the fridge)
    Curry Rice (curry beef is in the fridge)
    Broccoli cheese soup (made yesterday)
    Chicken salad (made from the chickens I roasted on Monday)
    Spinach mushroom quiche (all items on hand)
    Alfredo mac and cheese (all items on hand--make this if daughter's besty comes over, she will like it)

    Okay, that's 7. I also have enough stuff on hand to choose other meals such as baked mostaccioli, chicken picatta, or gyoza.

    There is a good chicken breast sale beginning tomorrow. I also have a large pork loin in my fridge that needs to be cut into meal sized portions and stashed in the freezer. Pork will go into (among others) a pulled pork crock pot meal and be sliced and frozen as cutlets for tonkatsu (a fried Japanese dish).

    I have at least 3 meals in my freezer: pork chops with apples, island pork, and honey sesame chicken.
    I might have more but can't check right now because everything is jammed in my fridge freezer because the stand-alone freezer has just been defrosted. It's the small type--dishwasher sized.

    Clearly, my struggle with menu planning is that I have too many options at the moment. Now that's something I need to think about.

    Kind regards,

    Sally

  6. #5
    Registered User AspiringToBeFrugal's Avatar
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    If you're still looking for ideas on how to go about planning your meals, here are some links to some meal-planning sites/blog posts/etc. that I found on Pinterest! Some contain free printables you can take advantage of if that suits you!

    Search for "free meal planning" - I am THAT Lady

    Five Fabulous Free Meal Plan Printables - The Taylor House

    How to Meal Plan for a Month {or More!} | Sweet Tea & Saving Grace

  7. #6
    Registered User SallyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AspiringToBeFrugal View Post
    If you're still looking for ideas on how to go about planning your meals, here are some links to some meal-planning sites/blog posts/etc. that I found on Pinterest! Some contain free printables you can take advantage of if that suits you!

    Search for "free meal planning" - I am THAT Lady
    This gal has three different meal plans including grocery lists available on her blog. I was particularly interested in trying them because her grocery lists come from Aldi. I tried the crock pot plan and the gluten free plan. The crock pot one was terrific. In fact, I invested $1.97 and got the file downloads (optional).

    The gluten free one was just okay. There was some overlap with the crock pot one.

    After over a month of having crock pot meals available in my freezer, I'm hooked on this method.

    Kind regards,

    Sally

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    Registered User Raiquee's Avatar
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    I'm in! I do real well when I meal plan, and it's helpful all around. I put it on my google calendar, hubby can see it. That way if I forget to pull out the protein before going to bed to thaw, he will. Also, it takes a LOT of stress out of my day. I get up early, run kids to daycare, drive to work, work 8 hrs, drive home, grab kids, we do homework, dinner baths, bed. I don't have time to go "uhhhhh what can I make?" It also makes me utilize left over proteins and stuff I buy gets used!

    I will post by the weekend end, my January meal plan!
    Step 2
    Will update this when I have time

    Food grown for my family so far: 37lbs 1 oz!

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    I so need to do this that way I will be able to utilize what I have in the freezers. I am sure there is a bunch of stuff in there that is just beyond being good. I have a bad habit of buying stuff and putting it on top so when I want some burger I just take what is the closest to me which is always the new stuff. I need to take stock and defrost them both so that I can take an inventory. Thank you for starting the challenge!

  10. #9
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    I would like to join this challenge with ya'll. I use to menu plan where the meals would be in the house but not necessarily on that specific night. I have gotten away from it and my grocery bill shows it. My freezer and pantry are full so ill just pull some things together and make do. I'm off this week so maybe I can get some things accomplished. Tonight we are having butternut squash soup with ham.

  11. #10
    Registered User Trishagirl's Avatar
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    I'm in I need to do this again.

  12. #11
    Registered User Raiquee's Avatar
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    Meal plan thus far for January:

    1/1- beef pot pies (1 for dinner, make 2 for freezer)
    1/2- sausage, kraut and taters
    1/3- pizza night
    1/4-L/O
    1/5- Alfredo pasta
    1/6 grilled cheese and tom soup
    1/7- taco pasta
    1/8-lemon pepper fish packets
    1/9- sloppy joes
    1/10- bacon Mac n cheese
    1/11- butternut squash soup
    1/12- L/O
    1/13- stuffed shells and garlic bread
    1/14- BBQ pulled pork
    1/15- L/O

    I gotta do freezer inventory, then I'll finish off the month.
    Step 2
    Will update this when I have time

    Food grown for my family so far: 37lbs 1 oz!

  13. #12
    Registered User Mamaw's Avatar
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    I am in for this one. It matches with the freezer/pantry challenge and hopefully will also help with not wasting what we have on hand. 2015 needs to be the year to use what I have wisely, to limit waste as much as possible and to eat out much less. So much healthier for the family and more frugal to boot.

  14. #13
    Registered User Raiquee's Avatar
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    Alright here's the other half of the month!

    1/16- spinach artichoke pasta
    1/17- split pea soup
    1/18- L/O
    1/19- round steak n gravy
    1/20- pad Thai
    1/21- leftovers
    1/22- beef tenderloin (DH birthday dinner)
    1/23- tuna cassarole
    1/24- L/O
    1/25- venizun fajitas
    1/26- brucaluna and pasta
    1/27- L/O
    1/28-ven strognauf
    1/29- BLTs
    1/30- L/O
    1/31- lasagna w/ garlic bread.

    Whew! 1/12 months done!
    Step 2
    Will update this when I have time

    Food grown for my family so far: 37lbs 1 oz!

  15. #14
    Registered User AspiringToBeFrugal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiquee View Post
    Meal plan thus far for January:

    1/1- beef pot pies (1 for dinner, make 2 for freezer)
    1/2- sausage, kraut and taters
    1/3- pizza night
    1/4-L/O
    1/5- Alfredo pasta
    1/6 grilled cheese and tom soup
    1/7- taco pasta
    1/8-lemon pepper fish packets
    1/9- sloppy joes
    1/10- bacon Mac n cheese
    1/11- butternut squash soup
    1/12- L/O
    1/13- stuffed shells and garlic bread
    1/14- BBQ pulled pork
    1/15- L/O

    I gotta do freezer inventory, then I'll finish off the month.
    Way to plan ahead, Raiquee! That's AWESOME!

  16. #15
    Registered User AspiringToBeFrugal's Avatar
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    Can ad Admin please make this thread a Sticky for us? Thank you!

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