Menus

You know how you get so excited when you have a date to go to a nice restaurant, maybe a favorite one, only to have “menu anxiety”. 

What, am I the only one that gets menu anxiety?  You know, the waiter/waitress hands the menu to you, you open it, he/she goes into the specials for that night, and suddenly you have heart palpitations.  You have no idea what to get.  Several things sound delish, they come back asking if your ready, you try to convince your significant other to order one item while you order a different just so you can eat both.  He/she comes back to ask if your ready….you still need a few minutes.  The longer you look at it the harder the decision is. 

Am I the only one that goes through that?  Good, I am glad I am not alone!

Lucky for the both of us, I am not going to discuss that type of menu tonight.  I am going to discuss a different menu with you.  No not the SPA menu…..but can you convince the hubster to take a peak at that one??  PLEASE!!!

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Several people have inquired how I handle groceries, and how I plan our meals along with recipes to feature on the blog.  Some people think that I may go overboard with buying things so I have material to blog about.  I have to admit they are right.  So instead of explaining this in several different conversations – I decided to blog about it.  Thanks for giving me the material to blog about guys! 

I am going to talk to you about my dinner menu.  Yes you read right, mine.  As in the Helen Naturally kitchen menu.  No I am not opening a restaurant.  Although that is not a bad idea….do you think I would get more chances to read the spa menu if I did?

I am getting off track as usual.  Back to my menu.  Being the foodie that I am I could totally spend my entire check on food items.  Okay maybe not the entire thing – girls gotta shop too – but a good chunk of it.  Truth is that I have often been in that situation.  Where I am looking at the bank account and trying to figure out how to make what’s left stretch until pay day because I have gone crazy and made multiple trips to the grocery during the week.  Honestly.  One week I tracked my trips – four!  FOUR trips to some type of grocery store…..WTH!

I had a very bad habit of seeing a recipe, wanting to try it, and going straight to the store to get the ingredients I needed.  This was causing some major problems….that and the frequent stops to Target-Ross, etc.  So I had to get the spending under control. 

I tried to make a budget.  I allowed myself a certain amount to spend.  I stayed within budget for about two weeks! 

But let me back up just a little.  The hubster and I have separate accounts.  Don’t ask, it works for us.  We both have expensive habits.  We also have the bills worked out so we are both contributing to them.  One of my responsibilities is the groceries.  So you see where this is going…..I run out of money and have to go to the hubs.

I get paid once a month.  Which means that I have to buy “big groceries” once a month.  I have a budget amount that I spend on pay day, and I allow myself a small amount weekly to replenish necessities such as milk, bread, eggs, etc.  Sounds simple right?  I was still having issues with spending too much too fast.  So I decided a different approach was needed.

I have been using weekly menus for a while now to help out with what to cook after work.  This helped me with getting dinner prepared since I knew what I was cooking as opposed to standing in my kitchen for an hour making a decision.  I have problems with decisions….are you catching on to that pattern?

Well no more people.  I have finally found a system that is helping tremendously.  Luckily for some of you I will share 🙂

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I now have a monthly menu.  Yep, you read right – monthly.  Here is how it goes down.

  1. I have a print out of a blank monthly calendar. 
  2. I gather my materials (cookbooks/recipes), I check my pinterest recipe board for recipes I have saved to try.
  3. Make a list of the recipes you want to try, any new ideas for blog features (if you have a blog), and add in some of your old trusty ones the family loves.
  4. Start plugging those recipes into the calendar.
  5. Once calendar is filled up make your grocery list for all items needed to cook each meal.  Then include the staple items needed such as oats, cereals, nut butters, coffee, etc. 
  6. If an item needed has to be purchased fresh the day needed, then place on separate list for weekly purchases.   
  7. Go grocery shopping!

 

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You will have your “big grocery list”  which covers non-perishables and staples (oats, flours, frozen/canned items, etc.).  You will also make small weekly grocery lists to cover fresh items (lettuces, veggies/fruit, dairy products, etc.) that you will need to replace.  If you get paid twice a month or weekly then you can make smaller menus.  Just make the menu to cover the time needed in between pay periods.

Now is the most important part – stick to the menu!  I always include several simple meals like salad night, pizza night, and breakfast night.  That way if we have a busy day and need a quick meal it is planned for.  I also swap meals if needed – have what was planned on Wed. on Monday – have Monday’s on Wed.  – you know for those unexpected events.  But stick to what you have on the menu since that menu is what you based your groceries on.  That way you are guaranteed to have what you need for dinner 🙂

So what do you do if you see something on a blog that you really want to try – pin it.  Start an account at Pinterest and pin the recipe.  Or start a file under favorites to save a link.  The recipe will be saved for you to add to next month’s menu.  Of course if it is a simple recipe and you have the items handy, then feel free to try it out.  But only if you have the ingredients, and only if it doesn’t interfere with ingredients needed for remaining dinners.

This process has really helped me stay on budget.  I have to admit that I have still made impulse buys – hello white chocolate wonder- but I am working and improving.  I am happy to say that I am down to my last week and a couple of days before pay day and not having to explain to the hubster why I need money.  Of course I still do not have as much money at this point as I would like, but it is a work in progress.  I will give an update in a couple months to see how things are progressing.

I hope this helps those of you that have inquired about how I handle groceries and recipes for the blog.  Hopefully some of you guys will try it out.  If you do let me know how it works for you, how you tweak it, and any suggestions or changes you may have.  I love to hear from you guys!     

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Menus

  1. Wow Helen such a great and organized process!!!! Getting paid only once a month must be tough when it comes to budgeting ect. Luckily, I get paid bi-weekly (and the hubby weekly) so I only plan my meals one week at a time and I do a medium sized shopping trip once a week! I love meal planning! I think I need to start a pinterest account, because there are so many blog recipes that I see online and want to try but forget about!

  2. I love seeing how other people meal plan! Or that other people meal plan at all. Sometimes when I meal plan I feel like such a control freak, but seriously it’s a life saver. Pinterest is the best!

  3. omg I totally get menu anxiety!!!! haha I usually look over the menu ahead of time (if I can, online or whatever) so I don’t have to freak out when I get to the restaurant! haha

    Meal planning is such a good idea! I’m terrible at it though. I usually just end up eating the same things over and over, because I’m bad at planning ahead!

  4. Not only do I get menu anxiety, but once I make a decision I immediately start to second guess myself! Love the menu planning. I have dabbled with it from time to time and am always amazed at how well it works but then I get overwhelmed deciding what to add to the menu and all bets are off!

    I hear you on the multiple trips to the grocery store. I walk by our local store twice a day and I bet you, on average, I go there at least once a day – yowsers!

  5. J and I have been talking about the importance of menu planning. We never really did it before, but we were so busy that we only went to the grocery store once a week. Now, I find myself stepping out to pick up “just a few things” every day. We’re eating awesome food, don’t get me wrong…but our spending’s getting a bit out of control. Thanks for sharing your process! I’m going to re-read this and do some thinking. (And also, I definitely get menu anxiety. It usually ends with me getting the same thing I always get, since I’m afraid that I’ll be disappointed if I try something new.)

  6. Sam

    i love a good system like this!! way to go for being so organized 🙂

    Sam @ fitness food & faith

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