Sunday, April 10, 2011

Planning Makes Me Happy

I let it slip to my ladies Bible study group that I'm a bit of a planner.  I fear they realize I'm even crazier than they thought.  Anyway, I felt compelled to share the religion of menu planning with them.  Okay, maybe religion is a slight exaggeration, but I take planning pretty darn seriously...

Here is a copy and pasted version of that email for your reading enjoyment:

Hey, in case you haven't noticed I'm desperate for blog material lately!

Okay, I know many of you think I'm totally crazy for my planning and scheduling and whatnot.  What can I say?  Schedules make me happy.  Knowing exactly what to expect for the week or better yet the month puts me at ease.  That is why I was so stressed over are we/aren't we moving.  Just give me an answer, and even if I don't like it, I know how to plan my life accordingly!

So, I decided to send you some spam (this is my permission to delete this email should you have no desire whatsoever to do this) and share an example of a menu with you.

I always have people ask me:  What if you don't feel like eating what you planned on that day?  Well, to that I say, simply choose something else off your menu!  You have 12 meals planned, something will sound good.  And to be honest, if I don't' feel like cooking it's usually because I have no idea WHAT to cook...

Okay, the first step is to look at my calendar and decide what is going on each evening and what time I will be home or if I will even get home in time to cook.  The meal is planned according to time and simplicity.  Obviously, Brent gets simple, quick meals.  He does not like to make elaborate meals.  He wants quick, easy one dish meals. I do too.  That's why we're a match made in heaven. <3

After I look at the calendar, I peruse my pantry and see what I have.  I then start thinking about what I'd want to cook for the next two weeks.

Yep, two weeks.  I hate going to the grocery store, and find I spend more money if I go too often.  My answer to that is only going twice a month.  Of course, now that I've been sucked into the dark world of couponing, I find myself "needing" to go more often so I can get cheap stuff.  And I find myself reluctant to buy anything without a coupon, so I tend to run out of things unexpectedly because I failed to buy ahead since I was hoping the item would go on sale/I'd find a coupon.  Obviously, my couponing has a few holes in the system.

But that is all too much pointless information.  I will now stop blathering at you and share a menu.

We eat out for lunch or if we are in a money crunch we eat fried egg sandwiches for lunch or something equally simple...  You know something that only takes 5 minutes to cook with minimal cleanup.
We eat popcorn, cheese and apples for dinner.  Or cereal.  Or leftovers.  But again, this momma ain't cooking on Sunday.

Tacos.  Go ahead and brown at least 2 or 3 lbs of hamburger.  You will need that later on.  Divide it up and freeze the unused in approximate one pound portions.  (Megan is laughing at me again here)
Slice up some onions and peppers and sautee them in olive oil.  It only takes a few minutes and it smells like you have made a complex meal.  Your husband will sing your praises when he walks in to that smell...
Refried beans (from the can, of course)
I actually make myself a huge salad out of these ingredients and spoon salsa and a dab of ranch dressing over lettuce.  It is fabulous and filling and better than all of those taco shells for my figure!

Money saving tip:  I buy Old El Paso taco seasoning in the jar.  It's easier to control the seasoning of your meat, and you can get a lot of tacos out of that one jar as opposed to seasoning packets.

Cuh-RAZY day...I'm on call, the girls have softball and piano and poor Brent has to be two places at once.  This day is a must on being quick and easy.

Crock pot chicken is a good answer for this.  Before I leave for work, I throw the following in the crock pot on low:
LOTS of chicken breasts (still frozen), can of tomatoes with green chiles, onions, garlic, and peppers.  I like to season it with Greek seasoning...Basically whatever you want.  It has all day to cook, so just have fun with it.  If you aren't crazy busy, and can actually watch this, you can throw in some rice or pasta in the last two hours of cooking.
Be sure to throw in lots of extra chicken.  You can take whatever you don't eat and shred it/cube it and freeze it for later use.  It has a great flavor and you are prepared for a quick meal another day!  Your food processor is your friend if you want to slice up lots of chicken double quick.

My day off!  Therefore my favorite day of the week.  I usually endeavor to make something fancy, like a lasagna. Everyone has a lasagna recipe, so I won't bore you with it, but you can email me and I'll send you my easy one if you want it.
Make some homemade garlic toast with any leftover hamburger or hotdog buns you may have.  Simply use 2 T olive oil (or butter for those women who's husband isn't complaining that they're killing him off with tons of cheese and he's watching his cholesterol) to 1/8 tsp garlic powder, a pinch of dried parsley and basil and brush it over the buns.  Rub the spices between your fingers to wake up the oils and have better flavor out of them.  I actually just toast these in my toaster (before I put on the oil mix).  If you want to do it in your oven on broil you can do that too.  Just keep an eye on it.  I actually caught my buns on fire a few months ago.  It was pretty exciting, let me tell ya!
Serve it with a tossed salad and your family will rise up and call you blessed!

Thursday has been pizza day in our house for over ten years.  Why change a good thing?  We all sit down and watch Survivor and eat our pizza.  We love Chef Boyardee pizza mix. 

Homemade hamburger helper (this is the basic recipe but it's never the same two times, change your spices to make it more Italian or whatever you want)
1 lb browned hamburger
1 pkg macaroni & cheese, uncooked
1/2 c milk
1 can ranch style beans, drained
1 can tomato sauce (or rotel, or diced tomatoes, whatever you have on hand)
1 T onion powder
1 clove garlic (or garlic powder, or refrigerated minced garlic, or whatever you have on hand, heck you can even leave it out!)
1 T chili powder
1 T corn starch
Mix the dry cheese from the macaroni with spices and corn starch in the milk.  Add all ingredients to skillet with hamburger.  Put in enough water to cover your noodles well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until your noodles are cooked.  Top with grated cheese and let set to melt cheese and thicken mixture.  This is guaranteed to get lots of hugs and kisses from the family.

I generally serve this with corn and salad.  We eat a lot of salad around here.

Who wants to cook on Saturday?  I recommend planning to grill that day for supper.  It gives your husband something to do and reaffirms his position of provider in the house.  I'm all about keeping roles clearly defined.  And grilling is defined as a man's job in this house...And that's a convenient excuse to grill some burgers!
For lunch, why not use that leftover chicken to make some easy chicken quesadillas?  You can slice a dab of onion and cook it in the microwave until tender to give it a little extra flavor for the adult ones!  I consider a side of salsa the vegetable, but that's just me!

Hey!  We're back to Sunday, and I already covered that there is no cooking on Sunday!  Long live naps!

Easy chicken pot pie:
leftover chicken from your crockpot chicken (see why you wanted to cook extra?)
1 can cream of chicken
frozen vegetables
refrigerated pie crust
combine the first three, and throw them in your pie crust.  Bake at 350 until done.  It is simple.  It is fabulous.  You will never buy another Banquet pot pie as long as you live.  (Unless you have a coupon where it's free, and then you're forgiven.)

Remember crazy Tuesday?  I will give the husband a break and let him feed the girls corndogs or some other such shameful junk food that he chooses.  I keep them on hand for his use.  Of course, he often makes them a fried egg sandwich.  The good news is, my kids don't eat the yolk, so he fries the egg white in a dab of butter, fries up some deli ham, and serves it on toast with a slice of cheese.  He usually adds grapes or apples to this meal.  The kids love it.  I love it.  Everyone loves egg sandwiches.  They are comfort food at it's simple finest!

I happen to have a gazillion (slight exaggeration) roasts in my freezer.  I will put one in the crock pot (frozen of course, I really can't be bothered with thawing meat) along with some vegetables.  If I have two that will fit, I would like to leave out the vegetables and serve it with some green beans or steamed broccoli.  That way I will have leftover roast to make barbecue sandwiches out of later on!
Easy potatoes:
Scrub and dice potatoes. Place in microwave safe covered dish.  Drizzle on a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with garlic salt and add pepper and parsley to taste.  Microwave until done. 


I will be tired from a long week at work.  Possibly even cranky.  I will be more than happy to take that leftover roast, coat it in some good barbecue sauce and serve it on a bun that I will toast to make it seem like I did some work.  We will probably just eat some chips or maybe some of this cabbage salad with it:
Cole slaw that people like:  (hehehehe)
1 pkg cole slaw mix
3 green onions, sliced
1 pkg chicken ramen noodles
sunflower seeds
1/2 c oil
1/3 c vinegar
2/3 c sugar
Toast the noodles and nuts in the oven a few minutes to bring out the flavor.  Add to cole slaw mix and onions.
Mix the last three ingredients, plus the chicken seasoning packet from your ramen.  Poor over slaw just before serving.  

Hey!  It's the last day of this tedious two week menu that you thought would never end!

Reward yourself with a lovely Mexican casserole that is easy and yet quite delicious!
Combine the following in a dish lined with crushed corn tortilla chips
1 lb hamburger (Hopefully you still have some left.)
1 can green chiles
1 can tomato sauce
1 can cream mushroom
1 can cream chicken
Top all of this with generous amount grated cheese.  Bake at 350 until it bubbles, about 30 minutes.
Add in ideas:  Dark red kidney beans, drained.  Replace tomato sauce and green chiles with tomatoes with green chiles (drained), corn, chili powder...
Serve with a tossed salad and give yourself a big pat on the back for providing so many delicious, home cooked meals for your family!


Ronella said...

Love love love it! I needed a laugh today. Thanks for your entertainment. Haha

Megan said...

Yep, I was laughing again...thanks for sharing all of these recipes!!

Taylor said...

You are a silly goose!

Crazy Sister said...

I read somewhere that men only cook at BBQs, or if they're celebrity chefs.

In other words, men only cook if they are being SEEN to cook, or being PAID to cook.

Which is very clever!

Freckled Hen said...

It hurts my head to think about cooking that far ahead. I like reading about what you make, I think you would laugh at how we eat as many of our TX friends do.
But we are alike in that we eat egg sandwiches all the time.

Marilyn said...

How about popcorn on Monday night while you watcch antique Road show and you forgot to fix it on Sunday night?

Dawn said...

I would have loved to see you with your buns on fire--I'll bet it was pretty exciting!!