Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Menu Planning

I find the best way of saving money and running down the cupboards and freezers in a logical way is to menu plan.  Thirty minutes on a Monday morning gives me time to check out what I have lurking in all the cupboards and freezers and write down a basic menu plan.
It saves time on the other days as I don't have to stop what I am doing and start rummaging for what I fancy eating or making for that nights tea.  I can also defrost the main component of the meal during the day rather than worrying it might not thaw out in time or having to zap it in the microwave. 
 It also means that if I do have to nip to the shops I can have a shopping list of any necessary items needed to add to a recipe or meal for the week ahead.  I always have a list on the side of the fridge and the minute I notice I need something I write it down (not that I always remember to take the blasted thing with me....I am only human!!).  If you don't write what you need down when you think of it, you can guarantee you'll walk round the shops to try and jog your memory and buy all those tempting 'must have' bargains that you don't really need instead.
This week however, I am trying very hard not to buy anything and so our meals are coming exclusively from the cupboards and freezers.  I purposely planned all the meals to make use of everything we have already in stock.
*** *** ***
Menu Plan for this Week.
Steak Burgers/Veggie Fingers with Buttered Cabbage and Pine Nuts, served with Onion Marmalade
Garlic Kiev/Spicy Lentil Wedge with Brown Rice and Sweetcorn and Mixed Leaves
'Linda Mc' Cheese, Leek and Red Onion Plaits with Cheese and Tomato Orzo Pasta and Mixed Leaves
Meat/Veggie Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy
Quorn Chicken Style Pieces in Tikka Masala Sauce served with Brown Rice and Naan Breads
Meat/Veggie Shepherds Pie served with Sweetcorn, Carrots and Gravy
Salmon, Rice and Vegetable Parcels
*** *** ***
This should all leave a nice sized gap in the freezer as most things are from there, the veggies we have grown ourselves, both last year and this and blanched and open frozen as I talked about the other day.
All these meals are Harcombe friendly for me with the exception of the Salmon and Rice which is mixing, but I'm not being terribly strict at the moment while we are running stocks down. 
One plus side of running down the freezer is that you find packets of things you had forgotten all about, so last night Lovely Hubby had a tasty little starter before his tea of Prawns.  He likes them just as they are with a little dollop of mayo on the side, and I'm not telling him yet but there are two more bags lurking in the depths of the big chest freezer!
Do you menu plan on a regular basis, and what forgotten treasures have you found lurking in the depths of the freezer?
Sue xx


  1. Well we are certainly not quite as organised as you in the fact that we have a written list. But we do plan we know what we are going to have each day using the stuff that we have.

    I sometimes do like a bit of spontaneaity (spelling?) in my cooking. So I might have scheduled to make a stir fry but might throw in a jar of curry sauce to make it a curry and so on, but still using the same planned ingredients maybe with one or two extras.

    It is a great way to save money and certainly is effective when you are on a budget or are trying to save some £££s!


  2. I dread to think what is lurking at the bottom of some of the freezer drawers, dinner the other day was smoked fish from January (this year) and I don't thinkl that's the oldest thing in there.
    Cupboards are the same, I'm always discovering something I'd forgotten about.

    I just need a bit more discipline to stop buying those bargains until we've used up a bit more. And a bit more organised about what's in the house.

  3. I am loving the sound of that menu plan. I try to menu plan as often as I can. I find it saves me time and money. Unfortunately I am not always so organised these days. Hmm, forgotten treasures...... I did find a lovely tub of blackcurrant juice from last year. Which is good as this years crop here is really poor.

  4. I used to do a monthly menu list, not set in stone, I could move things round to suit. I would do an audit of the freezers to see what was there and then make up my list to ensure I had everything for the meals. In between I used to just buy fruit and veg.

    Recently due to a flare up I have gone shopping each week, just could not carry all the stuff involved in shopping monthly although I did save money shopping that way. Now I go through the freezer and make up my menu's on Thursday, nip to Aldi or Tesco to get the bits I need, I have to use the car just now I cannot walk even though both shops are quite close.

    This weeks menu.....

    Sunday roast gammom, roast spuds, cauli, calebrese and carrots with onion sauce.

    Monday. Beef olives, spuds for OH, carrots cauli, claebrese.HM Tomato sauce.

    Tuesday Liver and sausage, mash for OH just cauli, and calebrese for me.

    Wednesday Tomato pasta and salad.

    Thursday Mince and tatties for OH, veg for both of us, possibly cabbage and carrots.

    Friday Fish chips and peas, just a few chips for me.

    Saturday Pizza and salad.

    Sunday we are on holiday so the holiday menu is also written down.

    As I use something from the cupboards I put it on the bottom of my menu list to add to the shopping list.

  5. I work my meal list and shopping list on the same principle as you do.
    We have a long list of meals we like and chose from that to make each weekly meal plan. Then I sit and work out what I need to buy for these meals. This is saving me money as well as time in the shops. As I go around I cross off from my shopping list until I have all I need to get that week. It certainly pays to be organized!!

  6. I need to sort out my freezer again, and my goal will be to do a meal plan for next week. Just wish me luck in actually doing it and following through!!

    Gill in Canada

  7. moving to the country does certainly mean learning to organize your trips to the market! Someday I hope to be as organized as you. Your menu plan looks wonderful and has inspired me to write my own. If I actually follow it, only time will tell...

  8. Best thing that I ever bought was a kitchen blackboard so that I can write down whatever is used up and needs replacing, or anything I find I have run out of. It has made such a difference to the stocking up of my kitchen and larder.


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