Leave it to me to modify a plan. I don't think I can ever follow directions exactly because I always think of something that can work better for our family or just plain better all around.
Even with recipes, I don't think I ever just follow the directions, the main exception being baking. I just don't mess with that because you can screw it up in a heartbeat - ask my son.
Anyway, the premise of the year long menu is to plan out your dinners (at minimum), breakfast and lunch if you are really ambitious. I chose to go with dinners.
Then you basically have to decide on seven categories. I did it by meats - beef, chicken, pork, fish. We are doing 2 beef nights, 2 chicken nights, 1 pork night, and 1 fish night with the last night for out-to-eat or eating leftovers.
Others have done styles for their categories - Spanish/Mexican, Italian, Asian, Comfort, Pizza, etc. That did not work as well for us, so we defaulted to meats.
I brainstormed last night and came up with 24 beef meals, 24 chicken meals, 12 pork and 12 fish. That is 3 months of meals (average). The main idea is then to just repeat it - you would essentially only eat 1 meal 4 times per year. Which is not bad for variety.
However, I KNOW we are going to add recipes to the mix. So, I am putting together a master spreadsheet and giving each meal a name and where the recipe is located (if I need a recipe). Given this, we are going to start with 3 months and see how we feel about repeating or adding in something new. The good thing is if we are busy - then we can just repeat. If we feel creative, we can try something new.
I am not using this menu as the end all be all - moods change, you forget to go to the store, someone gets sick, you have to suddenly go out town - the list of possible derailments are long and not very distinguished, but the basic plan is there, so on Sunday, there are no excuses. We have it available.
Here are my meal ideas - I am not putting sides with them because it depends on what is at the farmer's market that week and what is on sale. Sides are not difficult though - some beans, rice, or pasta and greens - viola!
Now, we just got our side of beef, so all this will come from a no antibiotic, grass fed cow.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Spaghetti with meat sauce or meatballs
Cajun Dirty Rice
Chipped Beef Sandwiches
Grilled Steak (with various rubs)
Steak and Pepper Stir Fry (asian)
Beef Tips and Gravy
Vegetable Beef Stew
Potatoes, Sausage and Green Beans
Sausage Pasta Stir Fry (with onions and peppers - so good!)
Italian Grilled Chicken
Mexican Grilled Chicken
Vegetable Chicken Soup
Breaded Chicken Tenders
Cheesy, Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole
Chicken and sausage Skewers
Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Chicken Stir Fry (asian)
Baked Garlic Butter Chicken
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Grilled Chicken Salad
Pesto Tortellini Chicken Salad
Chicken and Stuffing
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Noodle Soup
Bone-in Chicken and Vegetable Bake
Ham and Potato Soup
Lemon Pork Piccata
BBQ Pork Chops
Pork Stir Fry (Asian)
Cajun Pork Loin
Red Beans and Rice
Zuppa Toscana (italian soup)
This is a little harder for us because we have not eaten much fish, but we are going to give it 12 weeks, if it does not work, we will blend it with a veggie night.
Baked Trout with lemon
Blackened Mahi-Mahi with lemon butter sauce
Striped Bass (need recipe)
Grilled Red Snapper
Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya (probably a little fish in there as well)
Mystery fish - this will depend on how well the rest of this has gone - worse case, we go out for shell fish (I refuse to cook shellfish at home after getting violently ill one time) or we simply make Fish Tacos with Tilapia.
There you have it! I am glad to have this much done. I now need to put it a calendar type of form.
What about you? Do you think you would try a year long menu? Maybe 3 months like I did?