Oct 182017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

You miiiiiiight have missed my post a few days ago about a  that will change dinnertime in your house in a big way. I don’t want you to miss it though, so here it goes again!

I’m excited to be connected with Katie Kimball, the “kitchen whisperer” who has taught thousands of families how to cook and tens of thousands of kids to (gulp) use sharp knives safely (including ours). Apparently, her kids actually stay at the table all throughout dinner most of the time – and she’s willing to share her strategies with us! 😉

These secrets will make dinner with your kids sound better than a hangnail, and you can expect more veggies to be going down the hatch than ever before. #itcouldhappen #evenpickyeaterscanchange

It’s kicking off soon – the first event is on THURSDAY OCTOBER 19th at 1PM EASTERN (10AM PACIFIC), so take 20 secs and register now:

YES! RESERVE MY SPOT!

You definitely should plan to make it LIVE because you get a special gift just for coming(a 10-minute cooking lesson for kids!!!)

If that time doesn’t work for you, you can also catch it on:

* Tuesday, Oct. 24th, at 7PM Eastern (4PM Pacific)

or

* Saturday, Oct. 28th, at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific)

Here’s a bit of what you’ll learn:

  • 7 Tips to Help you Raise Adventurous Eaters (even if you’re not one yourself…yet)
  • How to Make the Clean Plate Club Totally Unnecessary For the Good of Your Kids
  • The Magic of Doing Something Crazy at the Table
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make when inviting their kids into the kitchen…and how to avoid it.

If you’re already registered, awesome! Really try to make it live to get that knife class for your kids, but no matter what, you’ll get the replay, so you can register without checking the calendar and still feel good about it:

REGISTER HERE

We all put a lot of time and effort into being good parents, and training our kids in life skills and mealtime manners is part of it – but it can be hard to know just where to start. I often feel like the focus of mealtimes are getting the kids to not complain about some aspect of the meal, or to stay sitting till they have actually eaten enough to not be hungry again in 15 minutes.

So whether you feel just like me or the polar opposite, unless your kids are already competing for the healthiest eater award, you can probably use some encouragement and fresh ideas for meal times (and kitchen prep).

I’m looking forward to hearing what Katie has to say!

PS – The live event is totally free and all online. Expect no more than an hour with as much actionable info as possible packed in to respect your valuable time as a parent!! Don’t miss it!

Dec 242016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

For those of you who visited the Facebook page yesterday, you would have seen where I posted about the freezer cooking session I completed.  It was somewhat planned, in that I knew the recipes I wanted to make and had already gotten the ingredients for them.

The unplanned part was as to the time I was going to do this.

My first thoughts were to do it on one of the days the kids were otherwise occupied.  However, I ended up doing some much needed grocery and clothes shopping (for myself) on those days.  There is one more day when they will both be occupied for several hours.  That day is already taken by the act of getting licenses plates in our new state and meeting the handy man at our rental house.

Initially I had planned to take the kids on a hike.  However, it became clear that a lazy day at home was what everyone was desiring.  I took advantage of the Christmas movies going in the living room, pulling up the recipes of the meals I planned to make.

Plan to Eat is a meal planning services I have been using for the last several years.  It initially filled the need of a quick way to plan all my meals during the week, often for a month at a time.  It also allowed me to easily move plans around as life happened.

It has also became a great way to organize and quickly find my recipes.  This was very important when my husband decided we needed a slew of new recipes added to our collection.  Not only did this save an onslaught of little bits of paper from taking over my kitchen (he could quickly add them to the recipe collection online), it also allowed us to see if there are recipes we no longer make.

How did today go?  I think it was fairly successful.  The 3 different meals resulted in 4 family suppers or main dishes (one of those we ate last night), and the beginnings of 7 lunches for my husband.

Why the urge to do this now, right before a major holiday?  Two reasons:

  1. My husband needs to reduce his sodium intake.  He has been eating a lot of prepackaged lunches these past few months while living solo; it is beginning to take its toll.
  2. I am tired of having to make supper from scratch every night.  It is nice to have at least part of some meals for the upcoming two weeks already begun.

dishes-kitchen

Before doing any cooking, I washed dishes and ran the dish washer.  Then ran new dish water.  I also started a load of laundry, as that was another job I was trying to accomplish.

Having these things taken care of, meant I could end this session without having to face two foes – Mount Wash-more and Count Dried-on-food.

I gathered the ingredients I could remember of these three favorites of ours, then pulled up Plan to Eat on my laptop, sitting it on the counter.  Not having to search through my recipe binder and various cookbooks saved a lot of time and frustration on my part.

Next, I decided on the order of recipes, taking into consideration the prep and cook time of each.  My goal was to have no down time, utilizing the cooking of one time to prepare for another.  I also cleaned as I went, thereby allowing me more room to work and less time cleaning time at the end.

Some of my favorite freezer recipes have come from this book, including our chocolate chili recipe which I made yesterday.  Initially found at my library, it has become an unexpected resource which changed the way I viewed freezer cooking and associated recipes.

freezer-cooking-ingredients

Once the chili was cooking, it was time to move on to the next recipe – Superfast Salisbury Steak. Not a freezer recipe, per se, but one that adapts well to making ahead. I make it as noted, doubling the sauce*, then divide into freezer bags. When we are ready to have it for a meal, a bag is defrosted in the refrigerator, then reheated.

*As we like sauce with our meals, this recipe makes enough for two meals for us if I double the sauce amounts.

With the chili on the back burner, cooking down, two of the larger remaining burners were utilized for cooking the Superfast Salisbury Steak’s beef/turkey patties.

It was now time to start making the third and final meal – meatloaf.

Dad’s Meatloaf is another recipe I find we can get two meal out of, usually by making two loaves instead of 1. This does mean extra bacon, which I lay side to side, the short way.  Laying it in this pattern, rather than running down the long length of the loaf, I am able to slice between the bacon pieces.

This meatloaf recipe is one I have tried a few ways to adapt to freezer cooking. The best results I have gotten was when I followed all the steps up to the point of baking it.

Instead of baking, I place it on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and flash freeze it. Once frozen it gets wrapped in plastic and placed in the freezer. When I am ready to have it for a meal, I defrost it in the fridge, inside the baking dish I am wanting to use. At the appropriate time, I place it in the over to bake, according to the directions on the recipe.

For yesterday, this meant the only ‘cooking’ part of this third recipe is to make the home made relish. As I was out of skillets, my large sauce pan was utilized to fill the need.

freezer-meals-cooking-on-stove

All together yesterday had been a pretty good lazy day, an unplanned break from a fun filled, productive week.

It took more than 1 hour to do the cooking session I had lined up for the day, mainly due to trying to allowing the extra relish to cook down and post about it on Facebook as I went along.

We ate the chili for supper last night, leaving two servings as lunches for my husband.  I think the meatloaf will make a great meal on Monday, leaving a serving of that as a lunch during the week for my husband.

I am thinking the next ‘freezer meal’ session should include muffins and cookie dough.  Or it could be all this talk of food is making me hungry again. 🙂

 

Apr 032016
 

seeds beginning 2014 garden season

One idea to reduce your grocery bill that I commonly hear, after coupons and shopping sales and eating left overs, is to plant a garden.  While they are correct in a garden can be cheaper than going to the grocery store to buy the same items, it doesn’t mean gardening is always cheap.  It can easily cost a pretty penny, especially if you are just starting out.  Planning ahead and being aware of what you are spending, what you need and having realistic goals can save you quite a bit over a season, or 2 or 5.

Gardening can be done with very little money.  It can. However, it takes time and effort.

Feb 222016
 

This post contains some links that are affiliate links.  If you click through and decide to purchase something I will receive a small portion, at not extra charge to you.  I hope you find these links helpful to your day.Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

The Chocolate Mousse in the picture collage above sounds so very good right now.  I think it has a lot more to do with my scratchy throat than my desire for chocolate.  This also started with George, proceeded on to Jack, who thinks sucking his fingers is fully acceptable.  It was no surprise then when my husband came down with the cold.  He also seems to catch every cold going around, and never just slightly.  I, however, seem to rarely get sick and thought I had made it through this without catching it.  At least I know I will get over it in a few days.  My poor husband has already been dealing with it for 4 days and has a few more before he is out of the woods.

These past few weeks have held grocery trips were I have not needed to buy a lot of the ingredients for our meals.  This has allowed me to buy specialty items or restock on items we  have gone through.

Ibotta sent me $34.75 in rebates.  This is for previously purchased groceries, things I would have been purchasing anyway.  If you have never used this program, I recommend it.  It is easy to use and there is a variety of products offered.  Often they have rebates for produce that I can not find elsewhere.  If you sign-up by clicking this link, you can earn a $10 bonus after submitting your first rebate.

I also redeemed my points earned at Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.  My thought is to use this gift card in conjunction with Amazon Pantry. The idea of having some of my weekly shopping list delivered directly to my door is awesome.  I am trying to reduce the amount of time I spend in the stores.  Not only do I notice how sluggish I become while in stores, and the fact that I get a headache, but my kids also do not like to go shopping.  They sure do like to eat though, so I have not completely given up on this activity.

We already use Amazon to purchase various items, usually in bulk. Have you used Amazon’s Prime Pantry before?  What were your thoughts?

Breakfast:

  1. Eggs with peppers and onions, hash browns and tea
  2. Cereal
  3. Cereal
  4. Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Crepes, bacon, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. OYO
  3. Pizza
  4. Meatloaf
  5. Kheema, rice
  6. Chili, corn bread muffins
  7. Sandwiches, chips, fruit

Supper:

  1. Marinated meat, apple slices, peas
  2. Tomato soup/hot dogs, chips, fruit
  3. Black Bean Burgers, fried potatoes
  4. Tomato soup/leftovers
  5. Buttermilk pancakes, fruit syrup, fruit
  6. Falafel, flat bread, side salad
  7. Eat out

Linked up at This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie.

Feb 072016
 

cleaning kitchen floor collage

Friday, out of frustration I cleaned. At least the broom would not yell at me, try to do things the hard way and then whine about it,  and I could do something about the eternally frustrating, never ending crumbs and bits of dirt that seem to appear overnight on our wood floors.

There are still areas that need a lot of attention, but the floors are swept and the entry way actually feels inviting.  The laundry is also almost caught up from having been given a back seat this week.

Friday night, my friend mentioned their family was going to be in Small Town on Saturday and was wondering if their son could give our kids their guitar lessons (one of our Christmas gifts to the kids) at our house.  Otherwise they would have had to drive back to their Other Small Town and we would have had to drive to their Other Small Town for the lessons right after this lovely family finished their errands in my Small Town.  “Of course!” I responded.  “Why don’t you also come a bit early and have breakfast with us?”

I had no special plans for breakfast, my bedroom is a mess, there is at least one section of the counter in the kitchen that has items which have been waylaid on their journey to their rightful homes, the board game shelf is over flowing, and…and…and… AND these are friends.  Friends are more important than an immaculate house.

These are also friends who value their limited free time.

These are friends we do not get to see often enough.

These are friends who are not expecting a fully set table with linens and silver wear, imported coffee and hand squeezed juice.  They are friends and they are welcome at our house whenever and for however long, or short, the time.

What did breakfast end up being?  Buttermilk pancakes, bacon, bananas, eggs, juice, and coffee.  Again, nothing fancy but it really is oh so good and a great breakfast to have a conversation over.

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Last week I tried 4 new meals.  3 are repeats.  1 took way too long to make.  1 cost way too much. 1 was very flavorful, even Jack has asked for it again several times since.

The 1 that took too long ended up being the one I will not repeat again.  While it was good, it was not great.  The flavor just did not deliver.  We have the left overs in the freezer, so we will see it again on the menu at least once.

The one recipe that cost way too much seemed to also not deliver on flavor … until the final step.  Even the recipe mentioned this would happen.  They were right.  It was a beef stew that had a bottle of wine as part of the ingredients.  The instructions called for half the wine to be put in at the beginning and the rest at the end.  The same for certain spices.  The difference was amazing.  Even my husband was amazed at the difference between the 10 minutes I took it out of the oven and when it made it to the table, finished.  We will adjust it to our liking, including adding more vegetables and less meat.  Again, we have enough left overs to make a second meal in a few weeks.

The one Jack really loved also took a bit of time, but I know now how to help shorted it.  A lot of the marinating process can be done before the meat is put into the freezer, which is what I do when I find meat on sale but do not yet need it.  This step would save me a few hours of prep time the day I want to make this meal.  After that, most of the steps are “Apply this rub and cook.  wait a gazillion hours.  Take from the over and let it sit.  Cook sauce and pour over meat.  Enjoy!”   I think I will also be looking for a boneless option next time at the store, as I used a lot of time cutting the bone out of the meat.

The one recipe that did not cost too much, nor take too much time, and still delivered on flavor was a Black Bean Burger recipe.  It is not going to knock your socks off in the flavor area, but it was for sure not bland.  My husbands verdict? “Needs more onion but is a great substitute for ground beef in burgers.”  Sounds like a win to me.

eggs toast grits breakfast

This week may hold a few new recipes, though they will be soups. I am balancing this with cleaning out some of the freezer and using up some remaining breakfast items. Hopefully no meals that take a lot of time to make.

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes, cereal
  2. Cream of wheat and grits till they are gone.
  3. Pancakes from freezer

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Salad
  3. Chocolate chili
  4. Party – Sandwiches, fruit, dessert
  5. Pizza
  6. Curry and rice
  7. New Recipe

Supper:

  1. Super Bowl Party/jam and cheese sandwiches
  2. Tomato soup/freezer leftovers
  3. Butternut Squash Soup (new recipe)
  4. Freezer leftovers/tomato soup
  5. Hearty Lentil Soup (new recipe)
  6. Salad
  7. Leftovers

Linked up at This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie.

Feb 012016
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

This post contain affiliate links to a great meal planning website.  My hope is that you find something that works for you and helps with this task of homemaking.

Last week I responded to a Facebook post from another homeschooling mom.  The question asked was, “What do your lunches look like?”  The question was brought up by an infographic showing school lunches from various countries around the world.  Let me just state, while I loved some of my school lunches, they NEVER looked like that.  Amazing what food staged for pictures look like versus what food served up by lunch room workers look like. Also, we rarely if ever got a cookie.

It seems I was in the minority, with most of the responses being along the lines of “Whatever we can find” or “They fend for themselves.”  Lunch at our home tends to be the largest meal of the day.  This has not always been the case.

When both my husband and I worked outside the home, I took my lunch (see below) and he would eat out.  Supper was the largest meal, but with only two of us and me not getting home till about 6 p.m. even that meal was not always really large.

Another factor in what our meal plan has become is my husband.  If it were up to me it would look something like this:

Breakfast – egg sandwich and coffee x 7, add tomato or cheese if feeling ‘fancy’

Lunch – peanut butter and jelly with a piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt x 7, change up flavors of jelly and yogurt and type of fruit for variety

Supper – soup and a sandwich (tomato soup, chicken and noodle soup, chili, beef stew, etc.)

And yes, there would be no meal plan each week because, frankly, there would not be much planning needed.

There also may not be a husband in the house because I am fairly sure he would have revolted over a decade ago.  For one, he does not like egg sandwiches.  Secondly, he does not like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Thirdly, he thinks changing the kind of yogurt and flavor of jelly does not constitute having variety in ones diet.  I think he would be okay with soup each night if we have nice break in the house.

Sun Dried Tomato Soup

This is where being a homemaker comes in.  It is my job to make a home for others, a place where they actually want to be.  To think of them while going about my routines of keeping thing going.

While I would not mind such a simple meal routine, I did it for many years on my own, my husband disagrees strongly.  What is one to do?  Tip: Digging in your heels till he sees the error of his ways is not the way to go.  I began looking for new recipes and taking more time out of my day to make a meal we both like.  In order to make those meals, I had to have the ingredients in the pantry.  In order to have them in the pantry I needed to know what I was making so I could buy what I did not have.  And so began meal planning for one or two meals a day.

Yes, it has meant more time in the kitchen and more dishes.  It has also meant finding some really delicious recipes.  This is what works for us at this time.

When a recipe seems time consuming or complicated and I really do not think I have the time to make it, I invite my husband to try it on a Saturday.  He is a good cook and enjoys doing it when he has time.  And time right now, time during the week is often in short supply for him.

Last week was one of those crazy weeks of my own making.  We were going to be out of the house over the lunch hour for 3 days, doctor appointment one day and field trips the other two days.  It would have been easy to say, “You are on your own” and leave it at that.  The result would have been a much higher eating out bill.  Instead, I made two meals ahead and the third one left up to my husband to decide.  There were supplies enough in the kitchen to make a sandwich or soup if he wanted to come home.

By having two meals already made, not only was my husband still able to have his large meal at home those days, but the rest of us were also able to still have a nice meal and not have to eat out.  It did mean making 3 meals one day, which I really did not like doing, but I preferred that over spending 4 times as much each day for us to eat out. (It can cost us $5 -$6 a person to eat out and $1-$2 to eat at home.)

apple muffins in freezer bagMy meal planning took a turn for the more detailed about 5 years ago.  What happened then?  We had two little boys move into our home with a very high need to know what they were going to be eating.  They also had no ability to wait.  If I stood in the kitchen thinking about what to make, 30 seconds later I would have 2 whining kids at my ankles begging for food.

As we found out more about them, the reasons became clear.  That did not make it easier, but it helped when I became frustrated with the issues.

You see, every night when I said, “Good night, I’ll see you in the morning.”  The automatic response would be, “What are we having for breakfast?”  “Cereal” was not an acceptable response as these kids did not eat cereal.  Well, at least not the kind that is in anyway healthy for you.

And so began me planning not only lunches, but all 3 meals. Every day. Each week.

It quickly became apparent that I needed to find a more efficient way to plan some of these meals.  Thankfully, unlike my husband, the kids did not mind having the same meal for breakfast every day.  AND they thought a change in flavor of jelly fully acceptable to keep things exciting.

For the first 6 months of these two little, bursting at the seams with energy, bundles of boy-ness we had the following for breakfast – eggs, toast, fruit, milk.  My husband had his choice of breakfast meals, though he usually opted for a shake.

Not only did having the same thing for breakfast everyday make meal planning easier, it also created a routine.  They knew that food was going to be there and they knew what it was going to be.

After 6 months I decided it was time to introduce a bit of variety into their lives.  Each day of the week, breakfast got a meal type.

  • Sunday – shakes
  • Monday – eggs and toast
  • Tuesday – cream of wheat or other warm cereal
  • Wednesday – a muffin or other carb
  • Thursday – shake
  • Friday – oatmeal or other warm cereal
  • Saturday – eggs, toast, fruit, meat or eating out in Big Town.

And here we are 4.5 year later with almost the exact routine still in place. I can often tell you which day of the week it is by what we had for breakfast.  It really throws off our week if we have shakes on a day other than Sunday and Thursday.

breakfast collage bacon eggs hashbrowns coffee

Over time it would have been easy to stick with what used to work for me, to say “no” to change.  However, my love for others, wanting to show them I care about their likes and dislikes, and wanting to care for their needs, has led me to taking time to do something they may not always think about – meal planning so there is something there for them to eat.

Please, do not take this as me saying, “If you do not meal plan and cook everyday you do not love your family.”  That is not at all what I am trying to get across.  I am saying that this is one way I have chosen to express my love for my family.  I could say the same thing about doing the laundry or requesting movies from the library.  Neither of those two latter things would be activities I would give much thought to if it were just me.  My love for others, though, has shown me that sometimes we have to stretch and be willing to invest in activities that we may not otherwise seek out.

Meal planning has allowed me to do this activity of love more efficiently and frugally.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 

 

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Eggs, toast, fruit
  3. Cereal
  4. Doughnuts
  5.  Shakes
  6. Hot rice cereal with nuts and raisins
  7. Strawberry-jam Hand Pies

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Chinese Barbecued Pork, steamed veggetables
  3. Salad
  4. Pulled Pork Sandwich, potato salad
  5. Black Bean Burgers
  6. Tuscan Style Beef Stew
  7. Sandwiches, fruit, chip

Supper:

  1. Leftovers
  2. Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala, rice
  3. Cream of Tomato Soup
  4. Falafel, barley
  5. TBD
  6. Crepes
  7. Leftovers

 

This post linked up at OrgJunkie.com and This Week For Dinner

 

Jan 252016
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

This post contain affiliate links to a great meal planning website as well as some rebate sites.  My hope is that you find something that works for you and helps with this task of homemaking.

For the first time in about a month, we are back to the routine of my husband being gone two nights a week.  My routine of making meals that he does not like, but which I do, on those nights worked only so long.  After a while he also wanted to be able to eat at home before heading off to class.  The compromise for this week?  Tomato soup.  A serving is a quick fix, so no spending tons of time on a separate meal just for him.  It is also a favorite of his and quick to eat, which helps.  Yes, it means that his portion will cost $1 just by itself, BUT it means he will not be eating out, which will save even more on our spending.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Here are some other ways I use to save money on our grocery shopping:

  • Shopping first at discount grocery stores – places like Aldi.
  • Looking at sales/deals taking place at pharmacies with point programs – CVS, Walgreens, Right-Aid
  • Looking at sales taking place at larger grocery stores
  • Matching up online printable coupons for items I am buying
  • Matching up rebates from apps – ibotta, Checkout 51, Snap, SavingStar, Shopmium

At times, I question whether it actually is cheaper to shop at stores like Aldi before going to a larger grocer.  Recently I was reminded, yet again, that it really does save money.  Aldi had a few cheeses on their shelves.  These were new kinds that I assumed were seasonal as they were not restocked when supplies ran low.  That was unfortunate as we really liked their flavors.

Last week, while at a larger grocer, directly across the street from Aldi, I saw the exact same cheese.  This time, however, it was $3 more per package.  Out of curiosity I check on a spreadable cheese I had been buying at another discount store; it was also several dollars more per package.  A great reminder that we can still buy niceties in our grocery shopping without having to always pay the higher prices.

Ibotta Referral Logo

Ibotta was one of the first apps I began using when looking for alternatives to clipping paper coupons.  It has continued to be one I use regularly.

While having the Ibotta app downloaded on my phone makes it easy to upload pictures of receipts and redeem rebates, it is not necessary.  You can also redeem rebates by going to their website.  As an added bonus for signing up, for a limited time if you redeem a rebate within your first 2 weeks you will earn $10 in your account.

This week I will be using Ibotta to save on several items we need to restock at home.  These items will include fresh fruits, items from the dairy aisle, meat and some canned goods.  Offers will vary between people, depending on stores available, parts of the country, and other factors of which I am not privy.  Some weeks I use Ibotta for a lot of items, and other weeks it may be only for one or two items.  I appreciate not having to clip a coupon or remember to hand it to a cashier.  This helps when you feel like your arms are already full and your brain power is draining quickly.

Shopmium, Exclusive offers in your store

Shopmium is another app I use, though not as regularly.  I appreciate the more upscale offers they have.  At times it is just what I need and contains offers I do not normally find easliy elsewhere. This is especially true living in Small Town.  If you use referral code: FFUEGUVP during sign up to receive an offer for a free Lindt Chocolate Bar.  Might just be the thing you need today. 😉

 

 

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast
  4. Butterscotch Banana Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Steel-cut Oats
  7. Whole-wheat pancakes, bacon

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Ground Beef Curry with rice
  3. Pizza
  4. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, peas, rice
  5. Pulled Pork Sandwiches with potato salad
  6. Salad
  7. Chinese Barbecued Pork, rice, steamed vegetables

Supper:

  1. Leftovers
  2. Broiled fish, quinoa, steamed veggies/tomato soup
  3. Salad
  4. Crockpot Chicken/tomato soup
  5. Black Bean Burgers
  6. Home Fries/Breakfast for Dinner
  7. Leftovers

This post linked up at OrgJunkie.com and This Week For Dinner

 

Jan 182016
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

This post contain affiliate links to a great meal planning website.  It is one I have been using for a few years and really love it.  It has not only made planning more likely to happen, but also cut down the time I spent doing it.  My husband loves that he can easily add recipes he wants me to try; that also increases the likelihood of new recipes happening.  🙂

Each morning I feel like a spy, sneaking through out house, avoiding alerting the enemy as to my actions.  The problem is creaky wood floors, as we live in an old house with very little carpeting.  Meal planning is a pretty quiet activity, so that what I found myself doing on Sunday morning while everyone else was still asleep.  Not sure why my body has decided upon 5 – 5:30 a.m. as a good time to wake up , but it seems bent on early morning hours for me.

Before planning our meals I took a look at our grocery spending so far this month.  I could not believe how much I had spent so far; not exactly a good way to start a new year.  This meant, though, that there should be enough food in the house without having to do a grocery trip in Big Town.  Looking through my recipe options I found enough options to create a meal plan without having to repeat meals, except for shakes which we normally plan twice a week.  I also re-learned a lesson about how shopping at one store and not shopping sales really does increase your grocery spending.

grocery aisle

Our week is fairly empty, though I had a feeling there was something on Monday.  The calendar was empty, but still the feeling persisted.  At church I remembered what it was – George had no school on Monday and would be at home.  While having both my kids at home all day is not a overly disruptive activity in terms of meal planning, in general it throws off the interaction in the house and our routine in general.

By Monday morning I was very glad for the plan of meals for the day.  It did not take long for my strict schedule loving George to become out of sorts, finding solace by invading Jacks’ personal space and enjoying making his brother scream.  If it had not been for the meal plan, we would have had sandwiches and my husband would have been sent to eat lunch away from the house.  Instead, the chili and cornbread was made and ready for my husband to come home.  By that point I had also found things (school work actually) for the kids to do away from each other.

Going into the afternoon I knew that a quiet time and other activities could be put in place as supper was not going to require cooking or a lot of preparation.  I also know that I will not need to worry about cleaning out the refrigerator during quiet time, as it will happen naturally as the week progresses.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Cereal
  3. Cream of Wheat
  4. Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Pancakes, sausage
  7. Eggs, Home Fries, bacon, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Chocolate Chili, corn bread
  3. Lebanese Meat Stuffed Pitas
  4. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, peas, rice
  5. Pizza
  6. Eye Round Roast, potatoes, carrots
  7. Sandwiches, chips, fruit

Supper:

  1. Leftovers Cubed Steak, potato salad, coleslaw
  2. Salad
  3. Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes
  4. Crockpot Chicken (not sure of exact recipe yet)
  5. Veggie and Cilantro Hummus Sandwiches
  6. Tangy Black Bean Soup
  7. Leftovers/sandwiches

This post linked up at OrgJunkie.com and This Week For Dinner

 

Jan 102016
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

This post contain affiliate links.

Last week was a failure in the supper department.  I had great plans, but kept forgetting to get the meals started in time.  With me being gone for 3 lunches this week (2 field trips and a day in Big Town) and having another after school appointment, I am trying to keep suppers to either no-cook meals or ones that will not require too much preparation.  I have even thought about making several of the meals ahead of time, requiring them only to be warmed up.  Not sure if that will actually take place, but it is a good thought.

The beginning of a new year finds us often reviewing our spending during the previous year.  While I thought I knew what I spending in the groceries category, it turns out I actually spent 33% more.  How did that happen?  I can think of a few reasons:

  • chaos in the house
  • husband doing some shopping on his own for snacks and meals to grill (his way of loving me on days when I am exhausted and we still have to go home and cook)
  • small stops into the store to pick up one item (that never turns out to be only one item)
  • not keeping track of spending as the month progressed

Another number I found interesting was the eating out to eating at home ratio.  Seems that for every $2 we spend eating at home, we spend $1 eating out.  I think that number is very high, but also know where it comes from.  Last spring my husband would eat suppers out on nights he had school.  A meal for him to eat out would actually cost half of what it takes for our family to eat out on Sunday after church.  Why?  Different restaurant choices and the option of sharing dishes.  We can feed our family of 4 for $12-$15 on Sundays, while a meal for him on a weeknight would cost around $7.  It adds up.  This is something he realized mid-year and changed his routine.  It helped that we had a oven by that point.

As for this upcoming year, I have a plan.

  • continue using Plan To Eat to create a list of meals for the week
  • improve the thought put into meals and meal preparation, compared to our week’s schedule, thereby increasing the likelihood of making all the meals planned.
  • continue looking for rebates, using various apps, for groceries I plan to buy
  • order bulk items online if it will save me a trip into a store, especially if I have to take kids
  • try to find times to shop when I do not have the kids with me (they really lower the brain power I have to think)
  • use up the items I currently have canned
  • use up the items I have around the house, even if it seems to be an obscure ingredient
  • find discounted gift cards to use in conjunction with coupons to bring our eating out spending down even further

So here goes, the meal plan for the week.  Knowing it will be a busy week, I am trying to keep it relatively easy, using mainly recipes I know, but also trying 3 new ones (on days I am going to be home) that my husband makes as wanting to try.  Hint: I save the most complex one for the day he will be home so he can make it.
Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Cereal
  3. Scrambled Eggs, toast
  4. Shake
  5. Pancakes (from the freezer)
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, hash browns, bacon, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Sack Lunch
  3. Chili, corn bread
  4. Sack Lunch
  5. Field Trip/On-your-own
  6. Milk-braised Pork Loin, potatoes, carrots
  7. Indian Curry, rice

Supper:

  1. Tomato Soup, sandwiches
  2. Kheema (Indian Ground Beef and Peas), rice, vegetables
  3. Falafel, rice, vegetables
  4. Salad
  5. Spaghetti
  6. Salad
  7. Leftovers/sandwiches

This post linked up at OrgJunkie.com and This Week For Dinner

 

Jan 042016
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Over the winter break, my husband has found a new addiction – America’s Test Kitchen and The Great British Bake Off.  We He is going through the early seasons, the ones we have access to on Netflix.  He often turns these on after supper or lunch, and I listen while cleaning up.  This means clean up has been taking longer as my curiosity gets the better of me and I have to stop and see what they are doing.  Another result?  George asked for double layer cupcakes with fondant to take to class for his birthday. He asked the night before he was to take them. He got regular cupcakes with sprinkles.  Sorry, Little Man, we all have to deal with disappointment in life.

We have learned a few tricks while watching the programs and my husband has picked up a few recipes to try.  Thankfully he likes to bake and cook, trying new things when he has breaks in school and work routines.  I would say that the best tip we have picked up so far is the addition of baking soda to ground beef when browning, like in this recipe, and to potatoes when baking.  It seems small tips like these are often what we are missing in the daily cooking of meals.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Cereal
  3. Cream of Wheat
  4. Omelette, yogurt, and toast
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Eggs, hash brown, bacon/sausage, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Pizza
  3. Sack lunch (sandwich, fruit cup, chips, drink) – appointment away from home
  4. Steak, roasted potatoes, beets
  5. Chocolate Chili, corn bread
  6. Roast, potatoes, vegetables.
  7. New Recipe

Supper:

  1. Leftovers
  2. Salad
  3. Falafel, rice
  4. Herbed lentils with spinach and tomatoes
  5. Fajitas
  6. Sandwiches and chips
  7. Soup and sandwiches

This week’s menu was put together mainly by going to the freezer and finding items already there.  The chili, for example, is leftover from the last time I made a pot of it; the roast, steak, fajita mix and pizza were items I found hanging out there.  I will need to go to the store for milk, eggs, bananas and a few other basics, but hope to avoid a large trip this week.

 

This post linked up at OrgJunkie.com,