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Frugal Mom Goal #1: Create a Monthly Menu Plan (And STICK TO IT!)

Earlier last month, I wrote about my wish to become a frugal mom. There’s a great deal of planning involved in doing this, and I give many thanks to any and all resources available to me on the internet in order to plan well.

With the exception of getting household finances in order, creating a menu plan is high on the list of priorities for many a frugal mom. In creating a menu plan, a frugal mom can grocery shop much more productively, using weekly store ads and coupons to her advantage.

SO, I went back to my Lancaster Family Monthly Menu and Recipe Book that I created in October 2007 and made several modifications.

(Many of the dishes I’d planned on cooking that month turned out to be waaayyy too gourmet and difficult to prepare, and halfway through the month we were back in the booths of restaurants and spending entirely too much money eating out. I abandoned the plan in November and December, and a few days ago I ran an excel report to see how much money we were spending on dining out, and for December alone, it was $651–in addition to what we’d bought for groceries! No wonder we’re broke!)

Anyway, I reshaped the menus to include several crock pot dishes to save time on cooking. Additionally, I added recipes that cash in on the use of leftovers so that I get the most bang for my buck. (I.e., I’ve got a beef roast recipe to be made on a Tuesday, and then a few days later I’ve got a recipe for shredded beef enchilada casserole, which uses up the leftover roast beef.)

To view the Word version of my monthly menu, you can click here.

The “whole” finished product of the plan is a three-ring binder, tabs numbered 1-31, and each recipe in a page protector behind the number of its corresponding date. I keep the binder on our kitchen counter so that the first one home can begin cooking. The ingredients for a weeks worth of recipes are on hand, so there is no last-minute stopping at the store, which only delays dinner and requires additional spending.

Once I create the meal, I make notes to the recipe and put them in a “keeper” binder so that I can refer to them another time, either to make for a potluck, to add to another months’ plan, or to never use again. (No more wondering if I’d ever made something before, only to be disappointed with the results. A “keeper” binder is also good for collecting recipes from newspapers or various online sources for future use.)

My January menu plan includes the source of the recipes for the month so that you can look them up online. (If I have time, I’ll link them all. I just wanted to get the list up and running so you can get an idea of what our monthly menu plan looked like.) If you are interested in obtaining any recipes that say “Original” or “Auntie Cookie,” send me an e-mail and I’ll forward the recipes to you.

(PS: “Easy Freezer Pop ‘n Bake” makes use of various frozen stuff in our freezer, like fish sticks, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and pizza. The one evening we get to eat out is for take-out pizza, for which we have coupons.)

To keep myself in check, I’ve resolved to take a picture of every dish and post a review of how the family liked it.

If you are wondering why the recipes look so fatty, its because I plan to run them through the Weight Watchers Recipe Builder prior to creating them.

So, wish us luck for January–my goal is to avoid eating out altogether and keep that $651 in our checking account!


5 Responses

  1. This could be really helpful. We eat out a lot too. Lately it’s be all fast food… that can’t be too healthy. We have been trying to cut back on how much we’ve been spending and I know the majority of the time it’s eating out that puts a big hole in our pockets. This should help.

  2. Lisa: You should come over (we don’t go out anymore, so we should be home!) and look at the binder. Since I’ll be getting all of the links added to the recipes, all you would have to do is print them out and put them in your own type of folder or binder. You can also go to recipezaar and pull some more stuff down that your family might like better than what I’ve selected. My goal is to get through the month so I can post how much I spent on groceries. Wish me luck!

  3. I just might take you up on that offer. Thank you and Good Luck!!

  4. This is a great idea. I should really try to do it myself.

  5. Enjoy your blog! How is the monthly menu coming along? Do you have Feb’s menu?

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