Last month, having read various blogs where bloggers were talking their menu plans I decided to give menu planning a go, as I was trying to steer a tight ship financially and thought it might help. I've done it before, but not for a few years so I thought I'd get back into it again. In addition, I thought it might be useful for helping me be more organised in getting a decent meal on the table every night, as some nights in the last few months I'd forgotten to defrost anything and had trouble throwing a meal together as a consequence.
We are pretty much creatures of habit when it comes to eating in our house and the food we eat tends to be pretty simple and quite traditional in many ways. Lots of homemade stews, casseroles, etc. Neither of us are particularly foodie types, but we do like a nice cooked meal of an evening and we are most definitely meat eaters.
With all this in mind, I made my plan last month after doing a big shop at the beginning of the month and more or less stuck to it, although I did deviate slightly and substitute or change round a few meals during the month. I found it a very useful thing to do and it totally took the stress out of thinking each day, what am I going to cook for dinner tonight? I'm continuing with the practice this month and have decided to post my menu plan for others to see.
In addition, I'm doing things slightly differently by making the plan first and then shopping weekly according to it, to see if this is an even easier way of doing it and whether it is more cost effective. In order to compare, I worked out that last month I spent £303 on food which averages out at approximately £75 per week. This does not include any meals out as OH tends to pay for these.
You will see from the plan that we do like meat with most of our evening meals, although I do try to have at least a couple of meat free days a week. For the purposes of this menu plan, I have planned evening meals only. With regard to other meals, breakfast, for me anyway, tends to be either crumpets, muffins, potato cakes or toast with a cup of tea. I alternate between these and may add in pancakes or other bread based products to keep it interesting or occasionally have cereal. Everyone else tends to have cereal or toast or whatever else is in the bread bin. Daily lunches for OH and I tend to be salads or sandwiches, save for weekends when we may have a very occasional fry up, roast dinner as lunch followed by light supper, or bacon sandwiches with salad. Little Bird has a packed lunch for school which I make for her daily. I may make Little Bird slight variations on the menu listed as some items on it she will not eat, but most nights we all eat together at the table and only occasionally will I make Little Bird's meal at a separate time to fit in with activities she may be attending.
To minimise food costs I tend to buy large packs of mince, pork loin steaks, sausages, chicken pieces, diced lamb or chicken and freeze them in smaller meal sized portions. I try to bulk out casseroles, stews, chillis, etc with lots of vegetables too to make the meat go further. I also often freeze leftover portions of meals to have on nights where time is limited and reheat using the microwave. Occasionally, instead of having full roast dinners with a who joint of meat or chicken, I sometimes use chicken drumsticks or legs, or oven roasted sausages, which lowers the meat content of the meal and tends to be less expensive too.
Coq au Vin with Mashed Potatoes (skins on) and Peas/Broccoli.
Sausages and Potato Wedges with Peas
Chilli Con Carne with Brown Rice
Pepperoni Pizza with Sweet corn and Salad. (Fridays I go to a Zumba class at 6 pm so try to feed everyone before I go so it's usually something quite quick and simple.)
Whole wheat Spaghetti with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce.
Roast Chicken Dinner with Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Potatoes and Vegetables.
Fish and Chips with Peas
Sausage, Mashed Potatoes and Baked Beans.
Shepherds Pie and Peas
Sweet and Sour Pork with Brown Rice
Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Garlic Bread.
Bacon and Bean Casserole with Mashed Potato.
Chicken Tikka Masala with Brown Rice and Naan Bread.
Lamb Tagine with Couscous
Meat Pie with Vegetables
Beans on Toast/Baked Potatoes with Baked Beans/Cheese
Toad in the Hole with Roast Potatoes, and Vegetables
Veggie Pasta Bake
Fishcakes with Boiled Potatoes and Vegetables
Braised Steak and Suet Pudding with Peas.
Baked Potatoes with Left over Chilli/Casserole/Coronation Chicken
Lamb Hot Pot or Lamb Chops with Vegetables
Vegetable Pizza with Sweet corn/Peas/Broccoli/Salad
Sausages with Chips and Peas.
Quorn Chilli With Brown Rice or Quorn Spagetti Bolognese. (We possibly have vegetarian friends coming to stay. I'm afraid I'm not terribly creative in terms of vegetarian cooking)
Halloween Supper - Not sure yet, but possibly with guests again. ? Roasted Pumpkin Soup after carving one out, with Hot Dogs (Meat and Veggie) with Salad/Corn on the Cob.
As there is a half term towards the end of the month it is likely that we may go away for a few days, although have nothing organised to date, so this is why I have included 3 OUT days here, but this is subject to change. None of these meals are set in stone, however, and may be varied according to mood, time, convenience or other events.
Does anyone else menu plan?