So, I finally sat down this weekend to plan out our October menu. As usual, there's always a little wiggle room and flexibility as new ingredients pop up unexpectedly (such as a share in a friend's CSA if they're out of town that week) or we just run out of steam one evening and use the go-to frozen pizza or 15 minute pasta meal. Here's the plan for the month:
Week 1: supper club meal (turned out to be shepard's pie made with venison... yumm), beef and cheddar pie, acorn squash chili
Week 2: barbecue chicken and black bean burritos (recipe from Cheap. Fast. Good!), crockpot vegetable soup (with homemade stock and frozen garden veggies from the summer), fruit and yogurt salad for lunches/breakfast, roasted butternut squash with sausage and apple stuffing (recipe from Joy of Cooking)
Week 3: French Toast Casserole (to make use of more berries from the freezer), sausages on buns (sausages were on sale at HT), perogies (free from a friend) with canned tomatoes, supper club meal
Week 4: Sausage and wild rice casserole (mom's recipe), chili with sausage and beans
We're using batch cooking several times this month. I cooked a pack of chicken thighs in the crockpot today, so we'll have the meat for the burritos and the stock for soups later in the month. The beans are easy to fix in the crock pot and freeze in one and two cup portions so they're easy to put into any meal. We'll also make some flexible Mexican filling (also from Cheap. Fast. Good!), since the farmer's market will close at the end of the month, we want to stock up on local beef for this recipe before then.
Breakfasts will be toast from homemade bread or homemade muffins that I make in the evenings or weekends to have throughout the week. Lunches are always leftovers, with yogurt, crackers, or granola bars to round things out. (We try to eat the more European way with a larger lunch and lighter dinners... it means we have longer to burn off the calories and we've got more energy to get us through an afternoon at work.)
We've done really well sticking to our $100-$150 a month grocery budget, although we went a little over last month to stock up on essentials and restock spices and baking products. This month, we're really going to work out of the freezer and do more to use up stuff that's stockpiled in the pantry and basement. Couponing has really helped, as has the grocery game. (If you decide to sign up, let me know! If you put me in as the person who referred you, I can earn a free month. :))
How's your monthly menu planning going? Have you found new coupon tips and tricks somewhere? I'd love to hear from you!