My Winter Monthly Menu Plan 2011-2012

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I have been a fan of monthly menu planning for the past couple of years because of the simplicity it provides for my life. It enables me to decrease my grocery shopping excursions to twice a month and have more free time to focus on my family and home. How do we do it? Learn more with my step by step guide on this process here. It may not be for everyone, but it is a fun adventure to try it out. It really takes one solid chunk of a few hours time to plan out a monthly menu that can be rotated for several months. I usually make two monthly menu plans per year – one for winter/spring and the other for summer/fall. This season we are utilizing the crockpot a lot more. I wanted to be able to prepare nutritious real food meals without consuming too much time. With three little ones, getting dinner prepared in the morning is so much easier! There is less clean up and less hassle. You will notice many of recipes below come from Crockpot 365, which we will be sampling and experimenting with this year.

Here is our updated winter/spring menu plan for the new year!

Breakfasts

These remain the same on a weekly basis with some variety:

Monday – kefir green smoothie, fried eggs, bread (muffin or toast)
Tuesday – Soaked Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Wednesday – French toast
Thursday – Soaked Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Friday – Eggs (Breakfast burritos) or Fruit salad, yogurt & granola
Saturday – Soaked Pancakes
Sunday – Granola or cold cereal (a quick breakfast before church), hard boiled eggs

Lunches

Lunches are a bit more flexible, as often times we will have leftovers on hand to eat from a previous meal, but if not, I keep the ingredients on hand for these ideas:

Monday – Salmon Melts
Tuesday – Egg Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday –Tomato Soup & grilled cheese sandwiches
Thursday- Ham & Cheese sandwiches, fruit/vegi, Crockpot Mac & Cheese
Friday – Peanut Butter & Jelly or regular sandwiches
Saturday – Leftovers (Saturday is generally leftover day or clean out the fridge day)

In addition to our weekly menu, we have a baking day on a weekly basis. Every Tuesday afternoon, we will rotate through restocking some nutritious snacks and baked goods, such as granola, protein bars, granola bars, muffins, and/or biscuits for various meals. 

Dinners

I like to choose dinner themes for each night to work around. This time around we are using the following themes:

Monday – Stir Fry/Date night
Tuesday – Soup
Wednesday – Chicken
Thursday – Beef/Mexican
Friday – Family Night – Pizza (homemade pizza is a family favorite)
Saturday -BBQ (my hubby likes to BBQ, so I am happy to give him the opportunity!)
Sunday – leftovers, hospitality (BBQ beef sandwiches), or Baked Potato Bar

Other themes could include: crockpot, Italian, etc. I have heard other creative ideas such as Meat Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Have fun and be creative! Anything to make meal planning enjoyable for your household.

Here are our four weeks of dinners which we rotate monthly:

Week 1:

Monday – Stir Fry
Tuesday – Clam Chowder
Wednesday – Whole Chicken in the Crockpot (followed by slow cooking the bones to make broth)
Thursday – Beef Bourguignon in the Crockpot
Friday – Pizza w/homemade soaked crust
Saturday – Hamburgers
Sunday –  Burritos w/homemade refried beans

Week 2:

Monday – Date night
Tuesday - Zuppa Tuscana
Wednesday - Chicken Curry in Crockpot (using shredded chicken from the whole chicken I made the previous week)
Thursday – Spaghetti
Friday – Fish Tacos
Saturday – Ham/Ribs on the BBQ
Sunday – Sloppy Lentils in Crockpot

Week 3:

Monday – Stir Fry
Tuesday – Chili in Crockpot (cook beans the day before in the crockpot)
Wednesday – Coconut Chicken
Thursday – Crockpot Lasagna
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Pork Chops on BBQ or crockpot
Sunday – Baked Potato Bar

Week 4:

Monday – Date night
Tuesday – Garden Chowder
Wednesday – Chicken Cordon Bleu in Crockpot
Thursday – Fajitas or Mexican Casserole in Crockpot
Friday – Blue Cheese & Cherry Meatloaf in Crockpot
Saturday – Pot Roast
Sunday – Hospitality (BBQ Beef/Pork Sandwiches in Crockpot or Pasta Presto)

Free Templates

Winter Menu form
Monthly Menu Planner form

Looking forward to trying some new recipes this season and simplifying my life at the same time! Real food crockpot recipes here we come! What recipes are you excited to try this season?

For more on the topic of monthly menu planning, check out Simplifying Grocery Shopping & the Benefits of Monthly Menu Planning.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

37 Responses to My Winter Monthly Menu Plan 2011-2012

  1. Maegan October 30, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I am starting to menu plan, and I have to admit that I have used many of your meals in my own plan.

    I am wondering if you have a certain strategy for meal prep. For instance, do you make an entire weeks worth of meals and freeze some, or do you chop all your veggies for a week or two worth of meals & freeze? How do you find is easiest to prep & cook for the month? Organization is a weak point for me, and I’m hoping to glean some wisdom from your experience here.

  2. Jennifer November 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    I just wanted to say thank you for all the work and dedication devoted to your website. I’ve planned a lot of my meals after your recipes this week and I look in my email for new posts because I’m always interested and encouraged by what you put on here. Thanks again and just wanted to let you know that you are making a difference and the world a better place, one post and person at a time! Have a blessed evening…Jennifer

  3. Carol October 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I just love these kinds of post! They help focus my efforts to make different and tasty meals each night. Also every recipe I’ve used from this blog has been great! Thank and keep up the good work :)

  4. Sarah October 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Do you use whole wheat flour in your clam chowder recipe…I saw that the recipe calls for ap flour?
    Thanks, Sarah

  5. Michelle October 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    I love this menu plan! Since going back to cash for grocery shopping, it has forced me to menu plan again. However, I have been contemplating doing it more monthly. Reading over your lists, it definitely seems worth it. Life has just been so crazy since having our second child, I feel quit frazzeled. The search to simplify in on all over again. Thank you for sharing this with your readers!

  6. Jill October 19, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    This is great! I really need to start monthly meal planning…or at least laying out a pattern for breakfast and lunch. It would make my life so much easier! I love the idea of themed dinners too. Seems like it would make my planning easier when I’m feeling stumped…

  7. Shannon Hazleton October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Oh, I needed this- thanks, Lindsay… I also appreciate the tips in the comments about produce, b/c that is always what keeps me in the grocery store every few days.

  8. Ruth Hill October 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Goodness you are so organized! I don’t think I could ever plan out this far in advance. I plan to check out some of your recipes!

  9. Sarah-Anne October 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Oh Lindsay, thank you for this post!! Quick question, how much are you spending on groceries per week or month? Has the cost increased since you last shared this?

    I’ve been trying to find a meal plan that works for our family, and have continued to struggle mightily with this. Yet I know having a plan–and especially using some of these crockpot recipes–will greatly help our family during our busy season. Again, thank you for sharing.

  10. Emily Brown October 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks, Lindsay, for this! What a lovely meal plan! I just want to give you a virtual *hug* in return!!! :D

  11. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} October 14, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    I love the idea of having a monthly plan! It really simplifies things. Quick question though: if you only shop 2X per month, how do you have fresh produce on hand? Thanks!

    • Lindsay October 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      I find it is fairly easy to keep produce fresh. It’s key here to make sure your produce is really fresh. It will last longer this way. This is one reason we buy directly from local farms, CSA’s, farmer’s market, etc. Also, we just consume the veggies that tend to wilt first – lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. and then use the more hardy veggies the following week – squashes, potatoes, carrots, etc. I also found this guide for storing vegetables without plastic to be very helpful for preserving your veggies – a paper towel in with lettuce really does preserve it soo much longer! Green bags are another tool we use that extends the life surprisingly well.

  12. Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage October 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Lindsay, you mentioned that you grocery shop twice-a-month. I would love to cut down our weekly shopping to once every-other-week, but am not sure how to stretch the fresh produce (or keep it from wilting or “going bad”).

    Any tips?

    • Lindsay October 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

      Check out my response to Maryea who asked the same question.

  13. Julie Bastuk October 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    I think I’m just going to steal your plan for this winter…
    :)

  14. Karen October 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Thanks for this post! I was planning to plan a month’s worth of meals before I returned to work from maternity leave, but didn’t have time to do it. We’ll be needing to eat more rice and beans to save money, but I don’t know any good bean recipes yet. Dried beans and brown rice (in the bulk bins) are so cheap — even the organic kind; I’m hoping to learn many new ways to cook/season them.

    • Amy S October 14, 2011 at 7:07 am #

      Karen, I love this cookbook “Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker” by Robin Robertson. It’s a little over $10 on Amazon. It’s full of inexpensive bean based dishes, and has a complete section on cooking with beans and grains. I use it all fall & winter! You could easily add simple meats to just about any of these dishes (and stretch out the cost of meat with all the beans & grain). It’s a little over $10 on Amazon.

      If you want you can email me, and I’ll send you some favorite recipes amycorene at gmail dot com…

  15. Desiree October 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    You posted at such a great time for me. I used to plan our meals out for a few months ahead of time, but after a cross-country move I got out of doing it and haven’t pushed myself to start planning again. Your plan helps me out tremendously by giving me a starting point. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

  16. lesley ann October 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    what is this “date night” that you speak of and how can i get one??? lol…
    i SO wish that was possible even ONE night a month, but unfortunately i don’t get to see my hubby except on saturday and sunday :(
    but thanks for the ideas… we REALLY need to work on this part of our “planning” :) we have our budget down, now it’s just organizing the food and days! :D it would help a lot for this indecisive mommy ;-)

  17. Amanda : Grace & Gusto October 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Every couple of weeks, I try to actually sit down and plan the week’s meals. It really makes life easier, but for some reason it’s hard to make myself actually do it. I had never considered planning on a monthly basis, what a brilliant idea! Setting aside a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon with a hot cup of tea and some scones by my side sounds like a wonderful time! Thanks!!

  18. Kay October 12, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Hi Lindsay,

    How did you adapt your Beef Bourguignon recipe to a crockpot recipe. it’s one of my favorites too :) I’d love to come home to that ready for us to eat!!!!

    thanks!

    • Lindsay October 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      You simply layer all the ingredients in your crockpot over a thin layer of oil (including your uncooked bacon and stew meat) and cover with your wine. Toss the meat with the seasonings. You can skip the beef broth in this version. You will want to saute your mushrooms and add them in the last 30 minutes-1 hr. Add the thickener (arrowroot powder or flour) at the end to thicken. Cook on low for about 5-6 hours. Yum! I made it last week and it turned out great!

      • Kay October 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

        Thank you! IT’s on my menu for next week!!!!! you’re the best :)

      • Samara November 4, 2011 at 7:02 am #

        Thank you! I just came by to see if you had adapted for the crock pot :) You’re awesome!

  19. Regina October 12, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Hey Lindsay,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now, but this is my very first comment :)
    Wow, I’m just really amazed how well-organized your life is. I’m still learning it and honestly I struggle a lot with all the duties I have. But I always realize what a great support it is to have a well-organized schedule.
    So thanks for sharing your tips! I think it’s time for me to try monthly menu planning.

    P.s. Isn’t it great that a wife from the U.S. can teach another in Hungary? :)

  20. Tracey M. October 12, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Very interesting … I never thought of doing a month of menu planning at a time. For the last couple years I’ve done weekly menu planning … I just love it. Not having to wonder what I’m making, and I can switch my nights around based on what we’re doing. I like what you shared. I have a recipe blog over at traceyskitchen.blogspot.com if you ever want to drop by.

  21. Katie October 12, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    Great post! I need to start menu planning again. Have you thought about having another nourishing crock pot carnival to gather new ideas?

    • Lindsay October 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      I posted it on our facebook page to gather some fresh inspiration. You can see the discussion here.

  22. ac October 12, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    What do your kids eat on date night?

    • Lindsay October 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      My parents watch them on date night and they feed them whatever they are eating for dinner. In times past when I didn’t have this luxury, I fed them Trader Joe’s uncured beef hot dogs. Yummy and fast!

  23. Mindy October 12, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    I spent a couple hours yesterday starting my monthly menus. I was thrilled to see your post today. I plan to simplify my life by taking a lot of your meals and using them for us too. Thank you so much for sharing all the work you have done and lightening our load! My husband and I moved to our home a year ago to plant a new church. We have three young children and I homeschool two of them. Life is busy for us. The menus and recipes you share on here save me so much time and truly make a huge difference for me as I learn how to feed and care for my family as best as I can through this insanely busy time of life. My husband greatly appreciates a nice calm home and table of warm food to come home too after a long day. Thank you!!!

  24. LaShanna October 12, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    Thanks so much Lindsay…for this post!!!! I have just begun working on our new menus (for the 100th time) :) This gives me even more inspiration, as I am also trying to do more crock-pot. cooking. I really appreciate the time that you put into this wonderful blog.

  25. Beth W. October 12, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    Seriously? The more I read of your blog the more I love it! Adding several of these meals to our plan now . . .

  26. Ashley Willcox October 12, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    These are my absolute favorite posts of yours–so practical and helpful! I basically need it laid out for me and it is so encouraging to begin melding it to our own tastes. Thanks for the tools!

  27. Mrs. Graham Gardens October 12, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    I’ve just printed some of your recipes that I’ve somehow missed (sloppy lentils look yum!) – thank you for the handy links and helpful menu ideas! I was in need of a bit of creativity . . .

  28. Kayla October 12, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    About a year ago, I started this same idea of seasonal planning/rotating through meals and love it. I also typed up my grocery lists for each week and put it below my weekly menus. (in columns by category like produce, dry goods, etc.) Then when I’m ready to go grocery shopping, I cross off the items that I already have. Thoughout the week, if I run out of a staple like eggs or flour, I add it at the time I run out. Lastly, I check the ads for sales and add any items that I want to purchase to add to a small stockpile. Makes writing my grocery list take like 5 minutes.

  29. RE October 12, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    Thanks for your menu plan! It gave me some great ideas – especially for lunch. For the past 2-3 years, I planned our menu in 3-month cycles. However, we have recently moved overseas. We don’t have a car, and our refrigerator is only about half the size of our one in the states. (And no deep freezer either!) As a result, I have had to set the 3-month menu plan aside, and now I focus on a week or 10 days. We shop for groceries once a week, and I visit the fruit/veg stand twice a week. I miss our ability to buy in bulk. Between higher food prices, ingredients that I can’t find, and the need to shop more than once a week – it has definitely been a challenge. Each week is a little bit easier – I hope we get the hang of it soon!