June Monthly Meal Plan: Changing Things Up

I mentioned the other day that I’ve been a bit lax in the menu-planning and food shopping department.

Truth be told, May was a mess. I never got around to planning our menu – and you all know what happens when you don’t menu plan! I have tons of excuses, but at the end of the day, the net result was the same: Meal time was chaotic, my kids ate waaaay too many scrambled eggs for dinner, and we came dangerously close to going over budget.

And yet, motivated as I am to get us back on track, I have still been drawing a complete blank when it comes to planning June’s menu.

Then I remembered a different form of menu planning that I dabbled with last summer. And since it worked fairly well then, I decided to reprise it.

Theme Menu Planning

Rather than planning out an entire dinnertime meal for each day, I’m assigning a “theme” (using that term in the loosest possible way) to each day. This gives me both flexibility and structure. Two things I seem to be craving in equal measure these days.

Since I know you’re all dying to know, here are our themes:

Monday – Pasta – This can be anything from tuna casserole (egg noodles) to lasagna. As long as the main-ish ingredient is pasta, I’m allowing it. Salad or steamed veggies will be served on the side.

Tuesday – Mexican – This will be a day that my 5 year-old hates. But c’est la vie. Rice and beans, taco salad, creamy black bean burritos, make-your-own fajitas – whatever it is, Mexican is all good as far as I’m concerned!

Wednesday – Stir-Fry – We pick up our CSA share on Wednesdays, which makes it the perfect night for stirfry. This week, I sauteed some bokchoy, broccoli, spring garlic, carrots and tofu for a delicious and quick (less than 15 minutes) dinner.

Thursday – Pizza Night – My kids are such creatures of habit, that they HAVE to have pizza on Thursday nights. Yesterday, we didn’t get around to making the dough in time, but when I suggested something other than pizza, the boys practically mutinied.  So instead, my husband made “fake” pizzas with a tortilla as the crust. The kids seemed to like it, but the next time around, I’ll definitely make actual dough.

Friday – Fleish Wow, so original I know. But after taking stock of my freezer, I realized I have at least 8 meals worth of either red meat or chicken. Since Fridays always seem to be insanely busy, I plan on making very simple side dishes. In fact, tomorrow night is my favorite: One-pot chicken.

Saturday – Sandwiches On the rare Shabbat lunch that we don’t get invited out and don’t invite guests, I will make a big pot of my favorite gazpacho and serve it with deli sandwiches and homemade coleslaw. I know, it’s very (overly) simple, but summer is hot, and long days at home are for the birds. We’ll eat something everyone will enjoy and then head across the street to the park. (By the way, if guests are invited, I’ll gussy up the main course, but still probably make that gazpacho – it’s always a crowd-pleaser and perfect for lunch leftovers during the week.)

Sunday- Cookout We rely heavily on the grill during the summer, so I figured I’d pencil in (type in?) a day just for that. This Sunday we’re belatedly celebrating my daughter’s second birthday. A fancier meal will be grilled up, including skirt steaks (our birthday meal tradition) and veggie kabobs. Plus I’m going to serve a side of either tabouli or potato salad… and of course, cake for dessert!

Shavuot The only exception to this themed menu plan is Shavuot. So far, my husband has planned out dinner for the first night (eggplant parm, fettuccine with marina sauce, garlic bread and salad), and I’m working on dinner for the second night (although I am leaning toward “leftovers from 1st night”. Is that pathetic?) We’re going out for lunch(es), so the chag shouldn’t make too much of a difference in our overall plan.

Have you planned a menu for this week or month? Please share your plans in the comments section and feel free to include a link to your blog, if you posted about your menu plan!

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. I also try to go for a theme, but somehow i still manage to scramble (literally and figuratively) at dinner time. There is one theme you might want to consider adding which i actually rely on a lot, crock pot night! I do it for nights where we have a later evening activity like swim class at 5 PM, that way we get home and dinner is ready!

  2. I have been a bit lax too. I think Pesach preparation sort of took its toll on our house, and then I have been traveling a lot for work (and now deployed to the Tornado in Joplin). I had had a lot of coupons that expired on 5/31 that I had wanted to use. But 5/31 came and went with me working 12+ days so the coupons are all going into the recycling bin. Not only have the cupboards gone a little bare, but so have the toiletries and diapers. It wasn’t exactly desperate but I got a call while deployed asking me where I had put the ‘extra’ diapers I had stocked up. Sadly, there were none and we ended up paying $0.14/diaper because I did not have time to seek out the next ‘deal’. Hopefully I will get a little time in the next few weeks to land a few deals and stock up on essentials.

  3. I really like the flexible yet structured approach! I had to get creative with my plan this month since we’re moving and all. http://lifeinthemarriedlane.com/2011/06/03/june-menu-plan/

    Have a great Shabbos!

    • I’m so proud of you that you’re planning despite the craziness of moving. I bet that really helps to get your budget LOW this month! Good luck with the move.

  4. Laura lee Blechner says:

    So, I had ankle surgery a few weeks ago and am on crutches. My now extra beloved husband has taken over all household duties in addition to his job for pay. BH for him. But, he refuses to menu plan. The earliest I can get him to decide on a possible dinner is the morning of, IF he’ll commit. So, to satisfy my anal need to have some sort of order and ability to plan a shopping list for him, and so we don’t do takeout every night, I made a list of all of the staples that we mostly have that might get us through these 6 weeks. It is a little pasta heavy and hot dogs on the grill heavy, but I do get him to sneak in some salmon or tilapia or Indian or thai (thank you mara & leigh ann) chickpeas for variety.

    • Refuah Shleima! Glad you are getting such good care, and a bit too much pasta (or scrambled eggs) is surely not the end of the world! Feel better soon.

  5. Laura lee Blechner says:

    OH, I love your themed night idea!!!

  6. caroline says:

    We’ve been trying to put together menu plans, but we have been a *little* busy with other stuff lately. :) Having a new Trader Joe’s (with LOTS of kosher meat) only 3 blocks from our building has not helped. However, we’re settling back into some form of normalcy, and I think the idea of themed nights might make this work for us and help us limit our last-minute grocery trips each week. Thank you!

  7. Menu planning is still a far-off idea for me, but I do have 2 questions:
    1) What do you eat other times of the day besides dinner and how do you plan for that?
    2) How long does it take you to check veggies? Maybe I am missing something, but every time I buy unhechshered romaine I end up throwing it out, because I never find the time and patience for it. More expensive, but so much faster and easier is to reach for a hechshered bag of shredded romaine. I would definitely like to incorporate other veggies into our diet, but I fear they may all end up in the garbage. I notice frugal vegetarian food takes much more time to prepare (wash, clean, check, cut etc.) than meat or fish (already cut-up), which you can cover with sauce and dump in the oven. This point is to add to the discussion of eternal time vs. money trade-off.

    • No matter how you do it, menu planning WILL save you money. You will be shopping from a list based on actual meals you plan to make vs. random throwing stuff in your cart. Once you have a plan, you will waste far less food – which means you waste far less veggies. You will make far fewer last minutes trips to the grocery store, which are always much more costly since you aren’t as organized or planned.

      If you’re not ready to cook fresh vegetables and tofu, yet, don’t! Stick to what works for you and your family. Get into the routine of planning the menu – whether for a week, two weeks, or a month. Again, no matter how you do it, menu planning WILL save you money. (And you don’t even have to clip a coupon to realize that savings!)

      For breakfasts and lunches, we tend to have a rotation of similar type items. Cereal, smoothies, bagels, eggs for breakfast. Lunches are usually sandwiches, potatoes & cottage cheese, left-overs, salads, bourekas or mac-and-cheese. I’ve written before about lunch ideas and also how I incorporate that into our meal planning, so you may find a quick search on those subjects is helpful to you.

  8. I really like this idea. My hubby and I are going to be meal planning tonight and I’m going to suggest this. It will make a monthly meal plan a lot easier to do.

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