Homemaking September Shape Up ~ Menu Planning

Barbara over at Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers is hosting the Homemaking September Shape-up. It’s an all around comprehensive house to home style of posts to help us get our homes and lives whipped into shape.

She has asked me to write some guest posts for the kitchen section and I’m really excited to help her out.


There is more to menu planning than just deciding what to make for dinner, at least for the average family. We’re a military family used to getting paid once a month and trying to make it last. So for me, menu planning also encompasses recipe scouring, coupon clipping (we love to read the Sunday papers and have coffee. One of the things I always go for first is the coupons to see what I can save for us – hubby always laughs when I get excited at a large coupon for something already on the list – LOL), sale ad reading and logical common sense planning. I do participate in Menu Plan Monday, but I actually prepare my menu for the entire month all at once and then just break it up for posting.

I start the last week of the previous month with checking out what I already have in the freezer inventory and then the ads for my local markets for the upcoming week. I see what meats will be going on sale and then scour my recipe file for recipes to match. One of the biggest things I do to help not only with cost of ingredients, but also waste is to make sure to back up recipes to each other that use similar ingredients that I can buy in bulk. For example if a recipe calls for 1/2 an onion for Monday night’s recipe, I make sure Tuesday night’s recipe uses the other 1/2. I also know which meals we’ll probably have leftovers for so I plan to either freeze part of it for a future meal or plan a CORN (clean out refrigerator night) within my plan if there is only going to be a little of this and that leftover. I write my list and then I match up the coupons for whatever staples (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, etc…) I need and then the luxuries if there is room within the budget. If there is a really good sale I buy in super bulk for the following month also. Now I know this sounds like a lot of work, but the whole process takes less than an hour and then it’s done for the month.

I have every scrap of a recipe I ever saved as well as many of my grandma’s too. It’s like an obsession with me. If a recipe sounds good in a magazine, I figure I can make it better based on my family’s likes and dislikes and tuck it away to try and manipulate at a later date. I recently decided it was time to clean-up this mess.

I found an old metal LP file box at a garage sale for 50 cents and dressed it up a bit so it didn’t look like a trash bin on my kitchen counter. (it was a beat up lime green with stickers everywhere). I have written 2 family reunion cook books in the past which helped some with eliminating the scraps of paper and I’m also in the midst of writing a Tastebook to use as family Christmas gifts that is helping to clean up this mess on a permanent basis.

I have a perpetual list on the counter and every time we use something or run out of something, everyone is trained (finally) to list whatever they used or ran out of on an ongoing basis.

We keep a pretty concise calendar with everyone’s activities, appointments, meetings and such on it. I also write what we will be eating on each day so they’ll know what to expect. For the planning purposes here I’ll show you the rest of the month so you can see the pattern(s). If for some reason we have to cancel a night I will rearrange the week so that the meal actually canceled is one using something from the freezer, not the fresh ingredients I’ve already purchased. When I do the shopping I buy in bulk to cut the cost and since I have my menu plan ahead of time, I break down the bulk package into meal appropriate sizes before freezing when I get home.

9/8 MONDAY ~ Meatloaf & Scalloped Potatoes
9/9 TUESDAY ~ Stuffed Shells & Salad
9/10 WEDNESDAY ~ Seafood Salad & Parmesan Rolls
9/11 THURSDAY ~ Chicken Cacciatore & Salad
9/12 FRIDAY ~ Chicken Carbonara & Salad
9/13 SATURDAY ~ Lemon Lime Pepper Chicken & Rice Pilaf
9/14 SUNDAY ~ Hot Wings and Home made bleu cheese dressing

9/15 MONDAY ~ Out for my birthday dinner
9/16 TUESDAY ~ Mexican Baja Casserole
9/17 WEDNESDAY ~ Spaghetti Bolegnese & Salad
9/18 THURSDAY ~ Sauteed Garlic Shrimp & Salad
9/19 FRIDAY ~ Meatloaf Muffins & Garlic Smashers
9/20 SATURDAY ~ Chicken and Onions in White Cream Sauce
9/21 SUNDAY ~ Beef Stew & Cheddar rolls

As you can see the theme for this month is chicken with a bit of hamburger
thrown in. Anything with seafood is made with shrimp from the freezer. The Beef Stew is also from the freezer and was made previously. By the middle of the month I will harvesting apples from our own tree and putting up applesauce for the winter. As you can see based on the previous pantry and essential ingredient posts, the only fresh ingredients I’ll be buying are the produce as well as milk and eggs.

9/22 MONDAY ~ Taco Ring Salad
9/23 TUESDAY ~ Chicken Cordon Bleu & Applesauce
9/24 WEDNESDAY ~ Orange Honey Chicken & Fried Rice
9/25 THURSDAY ~ Grandma’s Chicken and NoodlesI’m working on a written recipe for this – I’ve made it from scratch for so long – it’s hard to write it down – LOL
9/26 FRIDAY ~ Chili and Beer Bread
9/27 SATURDAY ~ Chicken Enchiladas & Refried Beans
9/28 SUNDAY ~ Stuffed Pork Chops & Salad


I do the memes: Menu Plan Monday hosted by Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie, Favorite Ingredient Friday hosted by Kathryn at Overwhelmed with Joy, Freezer Food Friday hosted by MJ at mjpuzzlemom, Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Meredith at Mercedes Rocks, Tasty Thursday hosted by Pumpkin Patch, Watchin’ What We Eat hosted by Lorie at Honey I Shrank Myself and Slow Cooking Thursday hosted by Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. Doing them all make great additions to help keeping me on track and finding so new recipes!

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Wow! You are one organized lady! Plus, I loved that you listed all of your cooking memes. I am going to have to record this so I can get involved! This is awesome! Thanks for joining and hope to see you again next week!


You are even more organized than I thougth! I’ve been doing my menu planning a week at a time, it would work well to plan a bit more in advance in terms of saving money. October will have to be a test case. I’ll keep track of what I do in September, and then October and let you know how it goes.