I am really enjoying my two week menu planning! It feels so good to get it out of the way all at once, rather than to have to meal plan each week, and it takes much less time to just do an extra week while I'm already at it. For me, this is definitely the best way that I've done it so far.
Another perk of the two week plans is that I've taken my general planning/shopping strategy and expanded it for the entire month, and it's working better than I expected! For those who don't know what I'm talking about, basically I plan one week and shop accordingly, but also buy extra at the store according to what is on sale, seasonal, discounted, etc. I also purchase more than I need of what I am buying, to stock up my fridge, freezer and pantry. With the excess, I then menu plan out my second week of meals, to use up whatever I have left. The goal is to avoid shopping as much as possible.
Though this works really well on a week by week basis, but it also works just as well when you plan two weeks at a time. The first two weeks of the month, I plan my two weeks and do a bigger grocery shop to get really stocked up. I plan my first week around the produce that will go faster, and the second around those things that won't go so fast (squash, potatoes, things already in my garden or in the freezer, etc.). I get everything I need for those two weeks (instead of only one, as before) and still buy a bit extra of everything.
By the time I hit the end of those two weeks, I still have some good produce left, as well as my freezer/pantry stash, and my fresh milk and eggs. For example, at mid-point this month I still had a couple bell peppers, 1/4 green cabbage, 1/2 cucumber, lots of squash, 1/2 bag potatoes, celery, turnips and baby lettuce in my garden, a head of broccoli and 1/2 a cauliflower, 1 sweet potato and a bag of onions and garlic. Certainly not enough for two weeks worth, but enough to really get me started. I planned out my first week (my third week of the month) using everything that would go bad quickly (peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, etc.) and then the second week (or fourth week) using what would last longer.
Then all I needed to buy at the store this weekend was a bit of produce at my favorite market (including fresh fruit), and then a small grocery store stop to fill in a few gaps (canned salmon, cinnamon, tea, sour cream, cheese, etc.).The reason this works is because I buy bulk in the beginning of the month and am continually stocking up my freezer and pantry with meat and poultry, bulk grains and baking supplies, etc.
For more on how I do my menu planning, here are a few posts that I wrote previously (Part 1 and Part 2), based on a week by week basis, instead of this two week rotation. Both work well, so you could try adapting either way to suit your own needs!
One other thing I've decided to do is to make a regular breakfast plan, with a set breakfast for each day of the week. I tend to do breakfast by the seat of pants, because I always have plenty of breakfast foods that I keep stocked up. The thing is, we tend to eat the same things over and over again anyways, so why not just make it a schedule and then there's less thinking and it makes purchasing the food that much easier and more predictable. Here's mine so far:
Monday– Random/leftovers (because I tend to make bigger, nicer breakfasts on the weekend that often leave leftovers in the fridge or freezer)
Wednesday– Toast and smoothies
Thursday– Oatmeal (steel-cut oats)
Friday– Baking (muffins, scones, breakfast cookies, etc.) and smoothie
Saturday– Hashbrowns/eggs/breakfast meat or Breakfast Sandwiches (toast with fried egg, cheese and some kind of meat if we have it, plus mayo and dijon mustard- these are our favorites!)
Sunday– Baked Oatmeal
I realized as I did this that we don't eat enough protein or fruit/veggies at breakfast, and I'd like to try to add more. My husband doesn't love eating just a bowl of yogurt, or plain eggs or omelets, so it's a bit tricky. I'll keep thinking about it, though. Fruits are fairly easy to do with smoothies, though, and I sometimes add in green foods or kale leaves to them as well, plus they have a kefir or yogurt base for protein. We'll always add smoothies in wherever we're craving them or just really hungry, because we tend to like having them about 4-5 days a week.
And at last, my two week dinner plan:
Monday– Indonesian Rice
Tuesday– Salmon Cakes, quinoa and steamed cauliflower
Wednesday– Butter Chicken over rice (I use a bit less cream and butter, to make it cheaper), with a chunky salad
Thursday– at a church event
Friday– Grilled Reuben sandwiches (using homemade sourdough and sauerkraut and thin sliced roast beef from my little deli), veggies and dip
Saturday– in Seattle
Sunday– Broccoli cheese soup
Monday– Cheesy Beef and Rice with raw veggies
Tuesday– Taco Potatoes with salsa and guacamole
Wednesday– Samosas with NT style plum sauce and steamed veggies
Thursday– At a church event
Friday– Chunky Butternut Soup (I'll try to remember to share this recipe soon!) with bread and salad
Saturday– Spaghetti squash with Janet's Tomato Sauce (with ground beef or meatballs, depending on my mood 🙂
Sunday– Leftovers or homemade Macaroni and Cheese with raw veggies
More menu plans at Organizing Junkie!