Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo

Gorgeous logo by Vin Vogel
I am determined to give myself plenty of time for PiBoIdmo this year. As a result, I have put together a month's worth of wholesome family recipes. The plan feeds a family of  4-6, depending on the appetite of your eaters. If you have a larger family, feel free to add a fruit, vegetable, bread, or even dessert to the menu for the day. Most recipes can be doubled as needed.

My goals in preparing this list were simple: save-time, eat decent food, avoid dinner-time stress. These recipes are not gluten-free, vegan, Kosher, or paleo. I do not claim they are the most economical or labor-free. Nor are these 30 meals, strictly-speaking, the healthiest choices for your family. But anything is better than a steady diet of fast-food, right? The plan was to prep food a little at a time in October, and to minimize the prep time in November.

How to Use This Menu

Option 1, If you want to follow the plan exactly, just print out a full menu and download the weekly shopping lists this month. Keep everything next to your planning calendar and follow along on this blog. I'll be posting recipes and links to help you maximize your writing time for October and November.

Option 2, Strapped for time? Browse the list of meals, replace select  recipes with frozen entrees, take-out, subs, or the occasional pizza. Be sure to adjust the shopping lists as well.

Option 3, Use the planning calendar for the first two weeks of the month. Repeat to complete your list of 30 meals.

Option 4, If after following the meal plan and churning out dozens of new picture book ideas daily, you find yourself with time on your hands, double up on the ingredients for freezer meals. Prep an additional meal, label, and freeze. Now you have extra meals for those busy days in December!

The first shopping list will be posted on Saturday and the first prep list on Tuesday. That should allow everyone to schedule prep time into their week.

What You'll Need

Some of the more complicated meals can be prepared and frozen ahead of time. Many rely on a slow-cooker, a few on prepared foods.

These recipes assume you have basic kitchen equipment, a slow cooker (mine is 7 Qt, but 5 Qt will probably work), Ziplock freezer bags, aluminum foil, a Sharpie, and some freezer space. Disposable foil pans can come in handy, too.

In addition, you'll need the following pantry staples:
butter or margarine
basic spices, salt, and pepper
condiments like mustard or relish
salad dressing including vinaigrette
Parmesan cheese
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce (You can substitute if need be. A1 steak sauce or soy sauce and a little molasses will do.)
gravy is optional

You also may want to keep a box of corn dogs, some pasta and sauce, or a few frozen entrees around just in case things go awry.


There are ways to shave even more precious minutes off your meal-time efforts, including buying more frozen and pre-made ingredients. I have not listed those here, because I cook from scratch whenever possible. The most notable exception in the monthly menu is the use of frozen meatballs on Day 7. These can easily be made ahead of time and frozen instead if you like.

I make it a point to shop the local farmer's market on Tuesdays. The majority of my regular shopping is done at Aldi, and once a month I try to visit a discount food warehouse. I have chosen the November recipes with this in mind. The cost to follow this menu should be moderate. Especially when compared to the cost of eating out several days a week.

Also it should be noted we have raised our children to eat almost anything. Many of you have picky-eaters at home. Next week I'll be posting strategies to overcome Food Neophobia.


As promised, you can go to the menu here or follow the link to a PDF of the full monthly menu for download. If anyone has an easier way to share these documents, please comment below so I can make it easier in future posts. Thanks.

You should be able to view a downloadable calendar here.

Visit my Writer's Menu 2014 Pinterest board for links to some of the recipes for this month if you want a sneak peek.

Here's a website to help you locate a farmer's market in your neighborhood.

If you live in the Eastern half of the United States or in Southern California, there might be an Aldi grocery store near you.

I am not a professional chef. I relied on many talented internet cooks and organizers including OnceaAMonthMealsSixSistersStuff, and StockPilingMoms.

If you are interested in making meal planning a habit, I highly recommend the Don't Panic, Dinner's In The Freezer books from The Baker Publishing Group. Also check out the tips for beginners complete with free printables on MoneySavingMom

Please feel free to contact me with questions anytime. Email Joanne,
I regret I won't be able to customize a meal plan for your family (at least not this year), but I will do my best to make this resource both practical and usable.


  1. Wow! You're not playing around. That's some menu! I'm highly impressed. Thanks for sharing it on the PiBoIdMo FB Page!

    1. It took a lot of planning, but I know it'll be worth it for me. Besides, I hope to use it again sometime. And if it helps even one writer, then I've given back a bit of the enormous amount of support I've received. Thanks for looking!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Meg! Are you doing a Revi Mo Event in the new year? That was so productive for me. Thanks!!!!!!

  3. I am planning a cooking binge on my 1/2 day before PiBoIdMo begins, large pot of chili, one dutch oven of potato curry, one casserole dish full of dal, a crock pot meatloaf(thank goodness I have 2 crockpots) and a ginormous pot of pasta and sauce.All I need do then is have the salad fixin's and some bread, chapatis and tortillas for to scoop the goop and I shall be set!

    1. Yikes! I am absolutely coming over!! I spent two glorious weeks in Kerala and miss the homemade chapatis. I almost added some Indian staples to my menu, but went with less complicated recipes in the end. Maybe you could post some recipe suggestions . . . .?

  4. Wow! I was just gonna eat Ramen noodles...

    1. Day 23 is actually Ramen noodles and leftovers. I figured, why break with tradition? I can't thank you enough for the inspiration and productivity your career produces in me.


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