Tag Archives: menu planning strategy

The Menu Plan, Working?

I had come up with a general menu plan. Last week I managed what’s in column 3. (I skipped week 2 as I was sick again and the menu was abandoned!)

Day Plan Actual wk 1 Actual wk 3
Monday Double Veg Lentils & Yams green rice & salad
Tuesday Soup/Stew/Salad Garlic Soup avocado toast, roasted red pepper soup, braised greens**
Wednesday 2nd Veg Lentils & Yams green rice, sauteed mushrooms, salad, fruit
Thursday Egg Asparagus & herb omelette HM hummus, fresh bread, salad
Friday Double Meat BBQ Beef blackberry cobbler (a.m.) and restaurant food (dinner)
Saturday Sandwich BBQ Beef Sandwich None, did flea market, followed by ice cream, then home
Sunday 2nd Meat Lentils & Yams*, salad lemon chicken, salad, corn

*The 3rd portion of lentils & yams was frozen Weds. We finished the beef Saturday, so we ate the last portion of lentils & yams from the freezer.

** The roasted red peppers were a container from the freezer, frozen last September!

I can say that menu planning this much it hit a few of my goals:

  • less waste
  • less meat
  • cheaper meals
  • set aside excess for “instant meals” so we don’t buy frozen food

But this is Memorial Day weekend, which means my big freezer needs to be EMPTY next week. Ack!

pointing fingerThe fridge’s freezer needed to be cleaned first. That’s now been done. 5/27/19 noon.

There is one empty shelf in the fridge’s freezer and one empty shelf in the big freezer. More work required! 6/4/19

More Thoughts on the Cooking Plan

Back in the Maslow post. I talked about supplies I’ve bought over time for the kitchen system. I’ve finally decided what to do. I may change this later, but here’s my plan.

Before I do anything else, I need a current inventory!

I’ve no idea what I have, so that’s the first step. The pantry inventory hasn’t been updated since 2/21/11, almost exactly a year ago! (It’s set up to be updated quarterly.) I’m going to do the inventory today. My pantry inventory isn’t just food, it includes cleaning products, trash bags, home/beauty products, and office supplies too; it’s anything that I want to regularly have on hand.

My inventory looks like this:

Item date_1 hse_1 pty_1 date_2 hse_2 pty-2 type
wh tomatoes 2/21/11 2 3 can

This tells me there were 2 cans whole tomatoes in my grab & go cooking area and 3 in other storage. The page has columns for four quarters. When I do this regularly, I can see over time if we use 5 more cans of tomatoes in winter and be prepared. This actually works, when I do the inventories quarterly. Once a year is NOT enough!


One of the best ideas I’ve found in an old housekeeping book is a way to vary menus. You put the different types of recipes, entree, etc. on different colored 3 x 5 cards with a hole punched in one corner. Mix up the cards, turn them over, then sort them into lots. . . . 1 red (meat), 1 or 2 green (vegetable), and 1 white card (side dish/condiment/dessert) or whatever your plan is. This gives you random combinations so you don’t always make the same things together. You thread the sorted groups onto a split ring with a marker for the “current” set, and that’s today’s menu. Yesterday’s set is moved to the back. (Put a paperclip on the first previously used card.). You can hang the cards by the split ring and there you have it. Instant assorted menus, all of which will fit whatever menu pattern you use.

I have library catalog cards so I have cards with a hole in the bottom. I think I have color coding dots? I don’t need colored cards or to punch holes. We rarely have more than 1 meat/protein, 1 vegetable and sometimes a dessert, but mostly not. I think I’ll try the menu sort for each quarter, to help me use more seasonal foods with more long storage foods, something I’m bad at. I’ll put a color coding dot on the back and the name of a recipe on the front.

The other menu planning wrinkle I use is something I found years ago called DOLDOL which is
I’ll just put a D, O, or L on the dots for the entree and possibly the vegetable, if it fits. D is a double meal, meatloaf one day, crumbled meatloaf w/gravy on the the L (leftover) day, and a single meal between (O).

This idea came from my first how to save money on food book, this one:
Omohundro – How to Win the Grocery Game: A Proven Strategy for Beating Inflation

The data in the book aren’t new, the prices will be all off, for example, but the ideas still work. I learned a lot of basic cooking from that book!

The Rolodex will hold the actual recipe cards. I’ve already designed the card, all I have to do is the data entry and get the cards printed. I have a partial data list of which recipes are best during which months. If/when I get the recipes on cards I can SELL the cookbooks. [Less stuff! More $$$!]

Now I have a detailed list of tasks. . .

1 Figure out what I have (inventory).
2 Make up a seasonal list and menus using what I have first and then implement a buying plan to replace and supplement, as needed for the current quarter.
3 Make menu cards (library cards) for the recipes. Do the sort/group with the library cards.
3 Make up the quarterly seasonal food and recipe lists for the other quarters.
4 Print recipes on the Rolodex cards and file them.
5 Sell books as appropriate.

I’ll update this post as I complete the steps.