Monday, February 8, 2010

Planning a Menu

I recently read a poem over at Ditchin' the Kitchen. Jaime has a really fun blog where she writes poetry about her daily life, from discovering what the strange smell in her bathroom was, to reading to her son at night. Go check her out....

But, the point of this post is that her most recent poem relates to her struggle to decide what to fix for dinner. I also hate to decide what to cook in the evenings. Especially, because I'm starving and all I want to do is eat, not cook! I want to dive into a bag of chips. I want to eat spoon after spoon of peanut butter...I would prefer to snack until my appetite is completely ruined than decide what to cook when I'm already hungry. That's why I love to plan menus. I know, most people cringe at planning a menu. Many of you feel it takes too long, and makes it too strict on what you will eat. I find planning a menu liberating. It is such a relief for me to know that no matter how hectic our life will get, I have 14 meals planned to feed us.

For example, on Mondays I work a 10 hour day. Studmuffin coaches Popcorn's basketball team that same day. This means that the earliest he will be home is around 6:30. So, I got out some fish to thaw this morning. I planned for him to cook some new potatoes with this, and a salad. The potatoes are sliced, add a few pats of butter and top with parsley and garlic salt. Microwave covered until done. The fish is cooked in EVOO with greek season in a skillet on the stove. Dinner can be on the table in less than 15 minutes if you plan ahead and slice potatoes the night before.

On Tuesdays I work an 8 hour day. I pick the kids up from the sitter's, then it's off to piano, and after piano, Bookworm has basketball for an hour. Hence: We will not be home before 7pm. I planned for homemade hamburger helper for one of these nights, and spaghetti for another. Both of these meals can be on the table in about 30 minutes.

So, yes, we are eating relatively late both nights, (I am a freak about the kids being in bed, lights out by 8:30. But, then they have to be on the bus by 7:20 am) it would take longer for us to drive out of our way in our little town to grab a fast food meal, then go home than it would to just cook the meal at home.

So, that was a just a really long, rambling explanation of why I plan a menu, leading up to an example of my menu. I typically write a brief note to myself on each day of what is going on. Of course, I have the same notes in my planner, but I'm just psycho that way. I decided to post this riveting bit of info for you! Aren't you excited?

Wednesday, February 3rd:
Grocery store day, laundry day, bill pay day, church
Dinner: Tacos, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice...sides include lettuce, tomatoes, and all of the usual toppings.
*I usually cook at least 3 lb of hamburger at a time, then freeze it in one pound portions for a quick add in for chili, or hamburger helper.

Thursday, Feb 4th
Dinner: Pizza
*you will note that Thursday is ALWAYS pizza night. This began with the advent of Survivor. We used to order Papa John's, but that was when we lived in a place that actually had such a luxury, and we had money to burn...Now, I keep Chef Boyardee pizza kits, along with frozen pizzas and refrigerated pizza dough on hand. Yes, I have a wide variety of choices, just to keep it fresh.

Friday, Feb 5th
Dinner: meatballs, mac & cheese, green beans
*did you know my kids don't like green beans? Can you believe that? My brother-in-laws grandma always said that green beans give you big boobs. I have perpetuated this legend with my girls. They will eat all of their green beans, but only because they think it'll give them big boobs some day. Kind of like Popeye with spinach. Aren't I shameless?

Saturday, February 6th
basketball games
lunch: chicken & rice
dinner: dove, marinated then placed in a jalapeno half and wrapped in bacon, cooked on the grill

Sunday, February 7th.
lunch: Spaghetti, or one of those Bertollie frozen pasta meals. We love those things!
dinner: popcorn, cheese,and apples
*this is the meal we ate frequently at suppertime when we were growing up. Mom cooked a big meal for lunch, or dinner as they call the noon meal on the farm, so everyone had plenty to eat to get through the day. Then, we ate a light meal for supper.

Monday, February 8th
work, basketball
dinner: pan-seared fish (bass in this case) cooked in evoo and Greek seasoning in a skillet...okay this meal is already mentioned, but replace salad with cole slaw.

Tuesday, February 9th
work, piano, basketball
dinner: chicken quesadillas made with the extra chicken I made when I cooked chicken & rice

Wednesday, February 10
chores, chores, chores
Dinner: ham, pasta salad, steamed broccoli
*You will have leftover ham. Freeze this in 1 c portions and freeze for later.

Thursday, February 11

Friday, February 12
Parent's Night Out at church. No cooking tonight!

Saturday, February 13
lunch: hamburgers
*Try sauteing or grilling some poblano peppers and onions to top your burger with. Add some guacamole and ancho mayo and you have a real treat!
Dinner: Nachos. I will probably still have a bit of taco meat and chicken left over as topping for these.

Sunday, February 14
Lunch: EAT OUT!!! Or, if I don't feel like it, there's always ingredients on hand for chili, which I can start before we leave for church, then put in the crock pot on low until we get home from church.
Dinner: You guessed it, popcorn, cheese and apples

Monday, February 15
work, basketball
Dinner: Homemade Hamburger Helper, salad
*Check out this recipe over at Chickens in the Road. It is really good, and super easy. Plus, I have to admit I love hb helper, but had given up eating it after kids because I didn't know what was actually in it, and decided that I was obviously too grown up to still eat it. Now that I've discovered these recipes, I'm totally hooked again.

Tuesday, February 16
work, piano, basketball
Dinner: ham & noodles, salad
*I simply have to share this recipe with you. It is the ultimate in comfort food, and it is quick & easy!

Ham & Noodles
1 c cubed cooked ham (okay, I use a lot more, more like 2 cups, but just add however much you want)
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 can milk
2 c cooked egg noodles (I recommend the frozen egg noodles. They are way better than the dry)
cubed cheddar cheese
Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish and bake 30 minutes at 375, or until it bubbles.


That was way more information than any of you asked for, isn't it? I just wanted you to see how the menu thing works for me. I try new recipes at least twice a month. I get them out of magazines, the internet, whatever. If I like them, they go in my arsenal, if not, we move on. Also, I always keep plenty of spaghetti on hand, tortillas for quesadillas, and eggs and ham for sandwiches or omelets. I realize there aren't nearly enough vegetables listed here. I usually serve carrots at dinner. I realize that's not much variety in veggies, but my kids love them, and there's a lot to be said for that!

Anyway, plan a menu! Plan a grocery list according to the menu! Organize the list in order of the store, and before you know it, you will be every bit as psycho as me!


thelumberjackswife said...

Goodness, you are on top of things over there!! I think I know what I am cooking tonight. I think.

Anonymous said...

I am forwarding this to my hubby. he already knows you are psycho. I have tried the menu thing, but it seems they aren't in the mood for what I planned on cooking that night. How do you deal with that one?
Miss you

Dawn said...

You are amazing! I too have the problem with no one being in the mood for what I plan on making. But they never want to decide on anything!

Jaime Kubik said...

Thanks for these ideas. I have done the whole menu before, but (though I am an overly organized gal) this is one area of my life I've never been able to organize! I don't know why!! I think part of my problem is I get bored with the same things over and over and then I get out of my "menu" grocery list. I will know God has completed his work in me when I can plan a menu for more than three months! Ha! Also, thanks for the blog plug! It's always nice to know someone else enjoys your stuff!

Jaime Kubik said...

Hey, I hope you don't mind...I wrote another "What's for dinner" PART II to send people over here for your great planning advice!

Andi said...

Okay, the whole point is you have 14 meals to choose from. You don't have to cook it those specific nights. The only ones that are really stuck to are popcorn and pizza. The rest vary. And, of course, I tweak it also, but again, if you have ingredients for these meals, you can go several directions for meal time...

mindy@thesuburbanlife said...

Oh, how I love me a menu. Now, in full disclosure, I never actually prepare one. But, I love reading over other people's. Maybe someday I'll get smart and do one myself. Until then, I'll just salivate over yours. =)

Christina said...

I just have to say that if that green bean myth were true, I would have boobs the size of Texas. And I live in Texas, so where would that leave me? Mexico?
But...I won't tell your girls, and maybe it'll work for them. Maybe I ate something else that counteracted the green beans' power.
(And I'm assuming it's obvious, but I do not have boobs that are remotely big. They're hardly even boobs.)

Jaime Kubik said...

I understand that you're just trying to have 14 meals ready to go no matter the evening, but I did like some of your suggestions like browning a lot of hamburger and freezing and even some of your meals were good and different than ones I typically cook. If nothing else, your menu helps us "menu challenged" people to think outside the box (or plan better inside the box??) Ha!

Getting My Words Out said...

I have to wonder how much money the delivery pizza industry owes to Survivor...AKA The Behow'show On TV!!! So many people I know (including me) have been eating pizza on Thursday nights for ten years now!!!

I love planning meals ahead--it simplifies so many things!! Why I (like Jaime) can't seem to do it consistantly is beyond me!!


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