Category Archives: New Habits

Menu Planning — What Works & Doesn’t: 6/1/20 – 6/7/20

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).

Date/Day Made/Used Left Over/Remainder Shopping/Out
Monday

[from Freezer: 1.5 pkg chilis]

chili strata strata

.5 pkg chilis back to freezer

Tuesday

[old greens to compost]

strata for lunch pastrami sandwiches, avocado/spinach soup pastrami avocado

spinach

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 applecake in fridge

2 loaves of bread

cooked rice

more pepper, celery and onion in fridge

Johnny Applecake

pastrami

Thursday

Farm added asparagus, peas, dill, mint, lettuce, kohl rabi, kale, scallions & argula

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

 

fresh asparagus

fresh mint

Friday

[LO shelf purged]

carrot cake

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

lunch: out

dinner: cheese, crackers, hummus, apples, etc.

rhubarb sauce yogurt
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

bread

onion

sausage

brother jonathan

new rhubarb sauce (new rhubarb)

rhubarb sauce

cheddar cheese

fresh red bell pepper

creamed corn

fresh rhubarb

FOOD WASTE

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.

Why All the Links? & a Link — to an Article About Grocery Shopping, Safely

To read this regularly, you’d think I spend much of my time doing internet research, right? Wrong!

The motivation behind the advice links is that I know I should read them all and make informed choices. I should have a routine for dealing with groceries and mail coming in the house. I should be disinfecting every square inch of the house, the cars, the mailbox, etc.

But, like most SHOULDs, only some of it gets done. The piece which does happen usually doesn’t happen immediately.

The links and links lists are my bookmarks. It’s useful for me to have them all in one place. If others find them useful too? All the better!

One thing I learned after decades of dealing with amorphous, traumatic distress? Concrete and practical advice is almost always more helpful than platitudes and motivational speeches. An unempoloyed, depressed person will usually respond more positively to a revision of their resume than an hour’s worth of sympathy, although do give both.

The two most popular posts here are how to cook pink Madagascar rice and how to estimate linear feet of needed book shelving. I don’t think that’s an accident.

The post about cooking pink rice was written because I went looking for exactly that and couldn’t find it. I used a cookbook I own, guessed based on data there and it worked. That’s what’s in the post.

The how to estimate needed book shelving post was part of a series of bookselling “how to” posts I made on the late, lamented site 43things.com.

It helps that I used to write instructions for a living, yes. But that isn’t the only reason that those posts are my most popular. Both are simple, concrete and practical advice.

I found this article about how to shop for your groceries safely. Unfortunately for me, I found it after I got back from this week’s marketing. Next week!  link