How to make a monthly menu and shopping list
Menu planning is key to you having your homeschool day run smoothly. Once you’ve prepared to plan your menu you can start thinking about what meals to include and begin your shopping list. Shopping online is the best way I’ve found to stick to your menu and budget.
Start by noting down all your regular favourite meals. Then flick through your recipes – you’ll be surprised how many you’ve forgotten about. Don’t forget to ask your family what they want included on the menu.
Some tips before you begin:
- A rule of thumb I use is to include some greens in every meal if possible.
- Try not to use pasta, potatoes, rice and bread as fillers, but rather serve larger quantities of vegetables. If you must add more carbs, make it a dessert.
- Buy frozen onions!
- I always use chicken thigh fillets – they have more protein than breast fillets, and they just taste better.
I have only included evening meals in this menu plan, so you might want to add in lunches and/or desserts as well. I also assume you will buy your fruit and vegetables from a green grocer, which is usually cheaper than the supermarket. If you have a large family, meat is sometimes hard to find in large quantities, so I buy mine from a butcher so I can get the amounts I need.
- Choose your meals. If you want to shop monthly, then list 28 meals, unless you want to repeat them. I like to list 28 different meals to start with and then I have the flexibility to lessen that or have some spares if we end up not choosing them (if you go out for dinner, for instance). It’s also helpful to include some bigger meals for if you have visitors, but this is optional.
- Group your meals. Sort your recipes into meat types and vegetarian. This will help you work out how much of each kind of meat you will need. If you have 6 beef mince meals and use 1kg for each, you will need 6kg.
- Regroup your meals into ingredients they have in common. This is useful if you need to buy a whole bunch of something, e.g. kale or lettuce, but know that you won’t use all of it in one meal. You can organise the meals that share some ingredients close together in your plan so that excess is not wasted. There will be several meals that will have several ingredients in common, so choosing fresh ingredients is best for your groupings, in particluar the ones that are most perishable.
- List your meat amounts. Start your shopping list with your meat. Buy this in bulk at a butcher if you can. Package it in the amounts you will use for each meal and freeze. Some butchers may take your order over the phone for you to pick up, so check for that option. Otherwise, buy it from your supermarket.
- Modify your meal choices according to what’s on special. This is optional as it takes a bit more tweaking. If a particular cut of meat is on sale at the supemarket, then include meals in your menu that will use it. This will become easier as you build up your repetoire of meals/recipes. It’s also easier if you choose to shop online as you can easily click through the specials.
- Allocate your meals. Once you’ve worked out your meals, it’s time to list when you’ll eat them! Using your common ingredients groupings as a guide, try and list these meals one or two days apart. I have a template you can download at the bottom of this article to make this easier for you.
- Do your shopping. If you choose to do a 4-week menu, you will need some help at the supermarket, and possibly two trolleys. Again, shopping online is a boon here.
- Package and freeze your meat. Divide your meat into meal quantities and freeze in freezer bags. Make sure you label them for the benefit of others.
- Assign cooking tasks to family members. If you have children old enough to prepare meals, note their name on the menu next to the meal they are to make. Remind everyone at the start of the week what they are responsible to cook, considering their other committments for that week so they don’t clash.
- Download a prepared 28-day menu and shopping list to get you started. This is a Word doc so you can make changes to suit your family. It also includes recipes of many of the menu items. Some I haven’t included because you will likely have your own versions.
Needing some insipration for recipes to add to your menu plan? Check out these:
Got any menu planning tips? Share them in the comments below so we can all improve our home economy knowledge!