Last month, I shared 30 Easy Meals for the Fall, a monthly meal list of 30 simple dinners that fit our busy schedule. I used it (almost) every day in September and am doing it again this month, so I wanted to share how it's working so far:
Saving Time & Stress
I printed up my list of 30 and stuck it on the fridge. Then, each week when I sat down to do a weekly meal plan and grocery list, all I had to do was choose them off the list. No stress! It also saved me time. It made the planning/list chore take only 15 minutes a week at most.
I tried two of the three new recipes I put on the list. The Honey Parmesan Pork Roast from Sidetracked Sarah was so easy and so flavorful. We've had it a second time already, and it's definitely going in the permanent rotation. The Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein from MomAdvice was also easy, and didn't take too long standing at the stove. I used whole wheat pasta, and my family loved it. They've asked for this one again, too.
Most of the times I made a casserole, I made two instead, and put one in the freezer. That's making October even easier, and it's given me the opportunity to help others with ready-made food. When my twins club asked for meals for a new mom, I had one ready to go. Going into the winter, I'm trying some new casserole recipes shared by MoneywiseMoms readers on Facebook, so that will give us more variety.
What Didn't Work
I planned several “leftovers nights” since we've done that for dinner in months' past. It didn't work at all! Either we didn't have leftovers (are all three kids in growth spurts at the same time?) or there wasn't enough of various things to feed all five of us. We used what leftovers we had for school and weekend lunches, but that left me with several open nights with no meal plan.
We Still Ate Out
With visitors staying with us twice in September, we still ate out despite my plans to cook 30 days in September. It didn't help that there were no leftovers to fall back on! I did manage to stay on my $500/month grocery budget for September, but our cupboards were very bare by the end of the month. With my husband off work right now due to the government shutdown, we've been cooking every day and avoiding spending any money at all, so we're on track for October as well.
Ultimately, working off a monthly meal list is helping me, so I'm doing it again this month. Instead of the cold salads I had on the list for September, I've added warm comfort foods. I'll publish a new list for winter in a few weeks, and you'll see more soups and stews as well as casseroles and easy one-pot meals.
This post is linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.