Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Lately I have been writing out menu plans for two week periods in an effort to help my house run a little smoother at meal times. There are several bloggers out there that are part of Meal Plan Monday web ring and the idea has appealed to me for quite some time. I will post my meal plans on Monday, although I usually make out menus that run Sunday to Saturday. For some reason this cycle of days just works better for me. Plus I make up menus for two weeks at a time, which covers from pay period to pay period.

The advantages of meal planning are many:
1. The kids know what is going to be served by looking at the list on the bulletin board.
2. I know what is going to be served so there is no standing in front of the freezer and trying to put together combinations that sound good.
3. It helps immensely when grocery shopping. I have my list of meals and write the grocery list from there. It also allows me to shop the sales and plan menus based on what is on sale. Big $$$$ saver!
4. It saves money. Since I shop for the ingredients of each menu, I know I have them on hand and will not have to run to the store. Running to the store for one items usually ends with 20 in the cart when it is time to checkout.
5. I have time to think out the menu, find recipes and try new recipes as desired. For example, this month I am cooking from the Once A Month Cooking book and have found 3 recipes that sound good. I've had this book for a while but am finally getting around to making dinners from it. I will try one recipe and if it is a success with the men in the house, I will double it for freezing.

So what is on the menu this week?

Sunday October 18 Roast chicken, mashed potatoes (real potatoes! cheaper and better for you than instant), corn

Strawberry shortcake for dessert using a butter cake recipe that I made and froze to use instead of those weird preservative laden pucks you get at the store.

Monday October 19 Pork Spare ribs (on sale this week) salad and deviled eggs. The original menu was for butter/herb noodles and broccoli. We have a lot of salad that needs to be eaten plus deviled eggs sounded good. dessert is a really easy chocolate peanut butter chip pan cookie I pulled off the Hershey's website.

Even though I had other things planned, I am flexible to a point with the sides. If you have something that needs to be used up like salad greens, you should use them first. Wasted food is wasted money.

Tuesday October 20 Chicken burritos, refried beans, carrot sticks w/ salad dressing to dip.

Wednesday October 21 12 Boy curry (from Once a Month Cooking), rice, canned fruit

Thursday October 22 Baked Jambalya (from Once a Month Cooking), sliced apples

Friday October 23 Homemade Pizza

Saturday October 24 Breakfast : Homemade cinnamon rolls

Lunch: Soup and Sandwiches

Dinner: Leftovers with cookies or canned fruit

Sunday October 25 Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage (whatever the boys decide they want)

Lunch: Hot dogs and chips

Dinner: Hamburgers and French Fries. Hubby makes killer homemade french fries using real potatoes. There is no comparison! Carrot sticks and apple pie round out the menu.

I have made a big effort to cook from scratch lately since I am able to plan out meals and decide how much time I have. On days there is a lot of activity, the meal is an easy one. I use the crockpot a lot and will be using it more in the future. The chicken that we cooked last night had a lot of meat left, so it will be picked clean and the meat will go into the chicken burritos we are having later. I did buy bagged chicken breasts since they were on sale for a really good price, and will add to the burrito meat, but the carcass will be frozen for bones to make chicken stock later down the line.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Theme for the week...

is saving money and getting a handle on a little impulse spending that has been a downfall of mine. That said, I have to confess right out of the gate that I blew it today when I got on and ordered 2 books that REALLY sounded good.

Do I already have a house full of books and many of them either unread or partially read? The answer to that would be a definite yes.

So my goal for the next two weeks is to stay off and read at least one book from the pile that is around my house. Is this going to be easy?

Probably not.

As a matter of fact, it is going to be damn hard! However given the fact the economy is in the tank, I feel it is really important to start getting my priorities in line and put money in savings. Experts say you should have 6 months pay in savings for a rainy day, However, lately I have seen experts changing that number to 10-12 months since the job market has tanked.

Here are some things I am working towards making a habit:

1. Staying off It's just too tempting.

2. Actually planning --and sticking to--planned meals that are made at home from my MANY cookbooks.

3. Only grocery shopping once every two weeks from my meal plans. If I have to have an ingredient, I'll send hubby. He is much better at being able to leave the grocery store with only the items he came in for. If I "run in for one thing", I end up coming out with $50 extra junk minimum. We burn money with that foolishness! '

4. Trying to resist buying new yarn until I have made a sizable dent in my yarn stash. I tend to buy way to much yarn for future projects and should learn to use that up first. Considering I help out at 2 wonderful yarn shops, this is going to be really hard. However, I am going to really make an extra effort to make this work!

5. Be more consistent about the goals and the frequency of posting to this blog. I have been a little chaotic about posting to this blog and a little unclear of it's mission statement. I am going to work towards clarify the theme over the next couple months to reflect my interest in budgeting, cooking and book interests.

I have several really interesting cookbooks that I am going to utilize over the next couple weeks while I am doing all this home cooking. Two that are sitting next to me right now are Quick Fixes with Mixes by Lia Roessner Wilson -- and Make a Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover. I have had both of these for quite some time and figure it is time to use them. The first book uses mixes like cake mix, cookie mix etc. as the base for recipes. In the morning I am trying a cinnamon roll recipe from the book.

The Make A Mix book contains recipes that utilize base mixes that you make from scratch in bulk. For example, tomorrow I am going to make the brownie mix that is the base for brownies, cookies, Texas sheet cake and a Mississippi mud cake. This is a completely from scratch mix, which I find appealing.

However, using convenience products might prove to be useful too. I will let you know what I try and what I think of these recipes as I bake the goodies. As a matter of fact, as I read through the books on my bookshelf, I will be giving my reviews of them. There will be books from all genres since my reading is pretty eclectic.

So those are my goals for now. Check back tomorrow for the recipe reviews. I will not be printing the recipes since they are in the books and the authors need to be able to fairly profit from them if they are good--I will just be giving my opinion of the recipes that I actually make. I'll spend all of October and part of November on these two cookbooks, then move on to the others in my collection and review other types of books as I read them.