Monthly Menu Ideas & 7 – 30 minute tasks for filling the freezer

It’s been a while since I shared a menu post. Truth be told, I really got away from detailed menu planning in 2014 – seems a lot of my good ideas fell to the wayside with all the travel we did. I am determined to get back on track in 2015 and so I’m sharing with you menu ideas for the month of January in the new format I will try out this month. I’ll let you know at the end of the month how it works out for me. At the end of the post, you will also find a list of seven, 30-minute tasks you can complete to help fill your freezer with nutritious meals to cook when time is hard to find. I get a lot of good ideas from my friend, Robin, and this is menu format is no exception. Thanks, Robin, for the inspiring idea.

Monthly Menu Ideas & 7 - 30 minute tasks for filling the freezer

Monthly Menu Ideas & 7 – 30 minute tasks for filling the freezer

How to use this Meal Plan

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the actual meals, it might be helpful to explain how I intend to use this plan. I go back and forth when it comes to meal planning. I’ve done weekly, biweekly, and monthly plans in the past, as well as no plan at all. Sometimes I follow the plans to a T, and sometimes not all. I try to incorporate planned leftovers to make the next night’s dinner easier – as well as taking the time during some meal prep times (mostly breakfast and dinner) to double or quadruple the recipe so I end up with leftovers for the freezer, too.

My plans also have to be flexible. If I don’t have flexibility, I will just plain lose. I’ve designed this plan based on the days of the week to help make sure we eat a variety of meals – but I’ve not assigned dates to the meals so that I can pick and choose based on what happens to be on sale and/or available. I don’t really care when you eat the meals – It could very well happen that we eat Sunday’s meal on Tuesday.  {Does that make you twitch?} 😉 I just planned the month this way so to incorporate a good variety of food each week.

I plan to make one master shopping list and I do one big monthly shop at Costco and one big monthly shop at Azure Standard. I then fill in with weekly shops for fresh fruit from Aldi and organic dairy as needed from Hy-Vee. I’m not sure yet where I will get the sea food (maybe New Pioneer Coop in Iowa City?) but I’m going to have to figure that out.

Monthly Menu Ideas

Meatless Mondays

Taco Tuesdays

  • Regular ole soft and hard beef taco smorgasbord (making extra taco meat for a crowd)
  • Taco Soup
  • Make your own taco rice bowl {think Chipolte copycat}
  • Chicken Taco Salad

Wing It Wednesdays

Porker Thursday 😀

Pizza Friday

Soupper Saturday

From the Sea Sunday

{I have not been good at serving my family sea food – so this category  is an experiment to add more variety!}

Homemade Breakfast Ideas

Lunches –

Mostly leftovers and sandwiches, fresh fruit and veg.

Seven – 30 minute {or there about} tasks for filling the freezer

It will help you cook subsequent meals quicker if you do these seven tasks on the first full week of the month. That way you’ll have leftovers for other meals this month that will make meal prep faster. However, if you’re really busy or don’t have the ingredients ready to go, just shift the tasks to a day when you are able to get it done! Again, flexibility is key.

You can read how I fill my freezer in 30 minutes a day over at Premeditated Leftovers – I wrote a blog post there a while ago.

1. On Monday, cook up a huge pot of dried beans and freeze in 3-2 cup portions, with the liquid. Make sure you soak the beans Sunday night! I highly recommend owning a really big stainless steel stock pot. I have a 12 qt stock pot similar to this one that I use for canning and cooking beans. It comes in really handy! I generally cook 8 cups of dried beans, which yields about 3-4 bags for my freezer after we’ve eaten the beans for lunch and also for dinner. If you’re not familiar cooking dried beans, you’ll want to soak the beans over night and then cook about 1-2 hours the next day in fresh water. You can read here for more details, need be.

2. On Tuesday, {preferably the week you eat regular ole tacos, so you also get your dinner prep out of the way too} make a huge batch of taco meat using ground meat of choice and beans from Monday’s cook or the freezer, and freeze extra portions of meat.

3. On Wednesday, I will roast an extra chicken in my oven, in addition to cooking a rotisserie chicken for dinner, so that I have cooked chicken ready for the remainder of the Wednesday chicken meals.

4. On Thursday, make enough crock pot ham so that you have leftovers to freeze. Also, cook up a big batch of bacon in the oven. Freeze some in whole pieces to use on the egg sandwiches, and also freeze some crumbles to use on the bacon pizza! Don’t forget to save the bacon grease as it makes a great, free fat in which to cook your eggs and veggies!

5. On Friday,  Make and freeze 4 extra potions of pizza dough for each of the other pizza nights in January.

6. On Saturday, make a huge batch of homemade bread. I bake bread in 5 loaf quantities and then freeze extra or store in my fridge. This task actually takes about an hour and half, start to finish – but really only about 30 minutes active prep and clean-up. I’d also make up a double batch of Artisan Bread Dough on Saturday too, so you have a nice crusty bread to go with your soups!

7. On Sunday, make a huge batch of fruit and honey granola to enjoy for breakfasts and snacks.

At the end of the 7 days, you should have quite a few meal components added to your freezer to simplify meal prep at a later date!

To see how other bloggers menu plan, head over to:

    • Sweet & Savory Eats. Ally’s got a two week plan plus some really cool, free printables. I’m using her shopping list!
    • The Sustainable Couple. Kelli shares a weekly plan for her two person family that’s perfect for the smaller family with no kids.
    • Real Family Adventure. Nicky’s helping people eat healthier by incorporating more fruit and veg into their weekly diets and she’s got a new food challenge as well!

Please tell me what you think of this new menu format! Would you like me to make a printable shopping list? I’m trying to figure out how to do that and if you think it would be helpful, I might be motivated to try harder! 🙂

Linking up: MPM;

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  1. I really like how you laid out your menu plan by day of the week, and how each day had a theme. I think this would make planning a lot easier. I'm going to try your granola recipe, too. The stuff I usually make has waaaayyyy too much sugar.
  2. This is a great meal plan Michelle. I like that you are doing a little extra to fill the freezer. That would help out a lot in our house. Thanks for including me in your list of others. This month I'm teaming up with a few other bloggers for the Real Food Experience. It's a lot of fun.

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