I’m going to break down and do an actual menu plan. It’s the only way I can see to help me stop wasting food! I’m on a crusade to eliminate our food waste, if possible.
I have a menu planner I’ve made and the food tracking form I’d made last year. Between them, I should be able to cut the waste down to nearly nothing, (I hope!)
The menu planner is an idea I got from a 1920s housekeeping book, modified to suit us. The tracking form is something I made up.
Menu Planner: The idea from the housekeeping book was to take your recipe cards (because that’s how everyone kept their recipes, right?) and sort them by category: main dish, side dish, dessert, condiment, etc. Punch holes in them in one place, like a corner and put them on a big split ring by category.
Want to plan the week’s menus? Pull one main dish, side dishes, condiments, etc. for each day. Put these cards on a 2nd, smaller ring sorted by daily menus, for a week’s menus.
When the week is over, return the cards to the end of their category on the big ring. You won’t make the same thing over and over. You can pick and choose to make anything you want, using fruits and vegetables in season, for example. You won’t repeat the same recipes over and over as long as you don’t pull the cards from the end of their category.
I have a recipe index in a “house notebook”. I made cards up for the indexed recipes. I have 5 categories. The categories correspond to my meal plan: meat, veggies, soup, egg, sides & seasoners.
Could I do this online? Certainly. But many of my recipes aren’t online. I have no computer in my kitchen and I have, as I said, 100s of books . . . so maybe someday, but for now, I’m doing this old school.
Assume we had salad every night with dinner.
Monday We had chili strata (no recipe. I took frozen chilis, layered them in a Pyrex dish with some shredded cheese and poured 1 egg beaten with a little milk over them) and for dinner.
Tuesday The end of the chili strata was lunch. We had spinach/avocado cold soup and pastrami sandwiches for dinner.
Wednesday: We had Johnny Applecake (actually cornbread, not a cake) from the freezer for breakfast.
There’s still 1 large piece left. We’ll finish the pastrami for lunch, it was a small package.
Thursday: Last day for the spring farm. Used the asparagus from the share + 6 eggs, 3 small potatoes, 1/2 large onion, & oil to make what is called in the British cookbook a “tortilla.” It’s a crustless quiche. Good! Made more than we need for a single meal, 1/2 of it was left after dinner.
Friday: We had the “quiche” for breakfast and DH will eat the last piece for lunch. Next time, I’ll make a smaller one with 3 eggs or I’ll plan on having it for more than one meal!
I pulled the last piece of pork loin from the freezer this morning, (it’s in the fridge) so we’ll have pork (something) for dinner.
I got a lb of ground beef and eggs. Also cheddar spread and crackers. Eggs and cheddar spread are in the fridge; beef is in the freezer; crackers are in the pantry.
DH pulled from the freezer the end of a carrot cake.
Saturday: We had yogurt, apples & rhubarb sauce for breakfast. Also, large takeout lunch and so we nibbled: cheese, crackers, hummus, etc. for dinner.
Sunday: DH made a 3 layer cornbread for brunch. Half was put in the freezer. For dinner we had corn cheese soup (recipe here) with additions: sausage and bell pepper.
Because we also baked bread, we decided to have another BROTHER JONATHAN. I made more rhubarb sauce to go with.
Here’s a simplified version of my tracking form. What I really like is that it semi-automatically tells me what’s leftover so I know what I need to use (column 3) and what I’ve used up during the week — an instant shopping list (column 4).
[from Freezer: 1.5 pkg chilis]
.5 pkg chilis back to freezer
[old greens to compost]
|strata for lunch pastrami sandwiches, avocado/spinach soup||avocado
|Wednesday||Johnny Applecake from freezer
end of pastrami for lunch
2 loaves bread baked
johnny applecake eaten as snack
Stir fry: rice, red pepper, celery, onion
|1 large piece
2 loaves of bread
more pepper, celery and
Mkt added hummus, crackers & cheese
|hummus sandwiches for lunch w/apple, cheese & crackers
asparagus quiche for dinner, 6 eggs, end of the onion
mint is drying
|hummus, apples, cheese, crackers
asparagus ends to freezer
[LO shelf purged]
Neighbor gave us eggs & ground beef
|Dinner: 2 pork chops with rhubarb sauce, rice with peas||rhubarb sauce, rice
pea pods to freezer eggs to fridge ground beef to freezer
|frozen carrot cake pork loin fresh peas fresh rhubarb|
|Saturday||breakfast: yogurt w/apples & rhubarb sauce
dinner: cheese, crackers, hummus, apples, etc.
|Sunday||brunch: 3 layer cornbread w/last of old rhubarb sauce
Baked 1 loaf of bread
dinner: corn cheese soup with sausage, onion, and red bell pepper
new rhubarb sauce, Brother Jonathan from other bread dough
|1/2 corn bread to freezer
new rhubarb sauce (new rhubarb)
fresh red bell pepper
TUESDAY: I filled the compost bucket with the oldest greens. Because it’s been hot, I’ve put off, more than once, drying them. I need to find something else to do with greens when we don’t use them right away. The bottles of this year’s dried greens are nearly full and there’s a lot of the farm season left!
FRIDAY: Top shelf of fridge, my leftover shelf, was full, so I did a clean out. Tossed: 1 serving of chicken soup, a pint of jarred salad, HM salad dressing, a tiny container of veggies, & about 1/2C cooked black beans.