I have been in a serious menu rut for the past couple of months. We've been eating so much chicken, I think we're growing feathers. I haven't been menu planning as religiously as I should, so I come home, tell my family I have no idea what to make for dinner, and if we don't go out, I throw some chicken tenderloins in a pan. This happens, oh, maybe four nights a week!!?! At the same time, our big freezer desperately needs a defrost, and we've only been eating out of the front of it for a long, long time, so I have no idea what's in the back (if you put enough stuff in it, an upright can be almost as bad as a chest freezer). And, we're trying to follow a pretty strict budget in the hopes of having enough saved up to buy a toy hauler and take a trip to Yellowstone next summer.
So, yesterday I sat down with my big binder of recipe printouts and started flipping through, looking for recipes that I had the majority of ingredients for already in the house (in planning for hubby's layoff, I stocked us up really well). By the time I was done, I had all the planning for 23 days worth of menus (only one of which involves just "throwing some chicken tenderloins in a pan"). We had the majority of the non-perishable and meat ingredients for all of these, and I was able to do a big grocery shop yesterday and fill in the blanks. For the next few weeks, I should be able to get by with just buying bread, milk, eggs, and fresh produce each week.
I could have kept going but I decided to stop there for now and re-evaluate in mid-August. I've only worked 21 of these into the actual plan, keeping two in reserve for days when I'm too tired to cook or I get home late and just need something super quick. I've tried to include a mix of meat types, as well as meatless meals one day a week. As I build up my collection of meatless recipes even my carnivore hubby will eat, I'll probably try to up this to two meals a week, but for now one is better than none.
For home use, I've plotted these out on a monthly calendar that I downloaded here. I love these calendars - I've been using them at work for about six months to track my grant submissions. They're completely fillable and customizable.
Here's the plan (I've also roughly planned out a veggie for all the meals that aren't "all in one" but I'm not putting those here - it's salad about four nights a week, with a hot veggie the other three):
- Buttermilk Chicken, mashed potatoes
- Taco Salad
- Stuffed Peppers
- Pad Thai
- Zucchini Bean Casserole
- Pork Fried Rice
- Pork Skewers with Pineapple Scallion Rice (found this one in a magazine years ago)
- Homemade pizza, salad
- No Crabs Allowed Cakes
- Aussie Chicken, pasta
- Impossible Veggie Pie
- Hamburger casserole (hubby's family's recipe)
- Corned Beef Cabbage Bake (remind me to blog about my riff on this one)
- Rotisserie Chicken, baked potatoes
- Shrimp Scampi over pasta (I don't have a recipe for this, but I really should write one down)
- Beefaroni (I have no idea where I got this recipe so I can't give credit)
- Wiener Wraps (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls then baked), Tater Tots
- Chicken Taquitos (I'll post this one when the time comes - it's a good one!)
- Grilled steak salad
- Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes (saving this one for hubby's birthday dinner - it's his favorite)
- Buffalo Chicken Strips, oven fries
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Grilled (or pan-fried) chicken tenderloins.