Category Archives: Planning

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

[from Freezer: 1.5 pkg chilis]

chili strata strata

.5 pkg chilis back to freezer


[old greens to compost]

strata for lunch pastrami sandwiches, avocado/spinach soup pastrami 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 applecake in fridge

2 loaves of bread

cooked rice

more pepper, celery and onion in fridge

Johnny Applecake



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


[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




brother jonathan

new rhubarb sauce (new rhubarb)

rhubarb sauce

cheddar cheese

fresh red bell pepper

creamed corn

fresh rhubarb


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.

Food & Waste: Week of 5/25/20

Monday’s data is repeated from last week’s post. Because of the holiday, it felt more like Sunday!

I’ve decided I need to really push using up the leftovers and stop being so lazy. I do pretty well, but could do better.

Monday: DH needs to bake bread. We need to use up mozzarella, a chicken thigh, and veggies. Cheese sauce? Lasagna? (No noodles.) Salad with cheese and chicken, like a chef’s salad? We have salami in the freezer still I think? (Maybe.) I’ll look and see what we’ve got. A salad for lunch would work too. We’re busy working on our bedroom revision, so something that isn’t involved sounds good!

I had the last of the skillet dinner from Saturday for lunch, not sure what DH had.

We both must have been wanting more sweets, DH made tapioca and I made a mug cake from this recipe. I had a hard time finding one that didn’t use chocolate chips, which I don’t have and only used cocoa, which I do!

We used the 2nd loaf’s dough for a pizza. We had white pizza for dinner, the last chicken thigh from Sunday, onion, and the mozzarella.

Tuesday: I looked for baked apple french toast recipes. What I found, here, uses more of everything and alcohol, than I wanted to use. I wanted to use the end of the last loaf, french toast dregs from the freezer, and the oldest 3 apples.

I couldn’t find the “french toast dregs” container in the freezer. When we make french toast, there’s usually enough batter left for 1-2 pieces of bread, so I freeze it and use it later.

I also intended to use the end of the last loaf, but DH must have had it for toast, only the heel remained, so I got 4 slices from the new loaf and added the heel to the “old bread” container in the freezer.*

I made a batter of 1 egg and a little milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and started the bread soaking.

I sliced, but didn’t peel, 3 small sweet apples, the end of the macouns, used for the pink applesauce last week. I added a few raisins and cooked them briefly with a pat of butter.

I greased a small rectangular Pyrex pan with an old butter wrapper (from the freezer) and put the soaked bread in the Pyrex, poured over it the remaining batter, and then topped it with the partially cooked apples and raisins. This was put in the oven, covered with foil,  at 350. When the house starts smelling of apples or cooked eggs, I’ll check on it. It’s 10 a.m. as I type this.

It took about 1/2 hour until I pulled the foil off. I could tell the eggs/milk had all cooked. I turned off the oven, and turned on the broiler and briefly put the uncovered dish under that to brown the top slightly. What’s French toast without brown crusty bits?

We had pasta with breadcrumbs for lunch. It really needs something juicy on the side, sliced tomatoes would be excellent, if I’d had any!

We had salad and sausages for dinner with jarred and green salad.

Food Waste

*I need to make bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs soon, the old bread container is nearly full! Maybe pasta with bread crumbs? I make one like this. Good with salad for lunch! (Except of course I do NOT make that much. I use about 1/4th pound of pasta per meal, for 2 of us, instead of the pound used in the recipe. My breadcrumbs are made in advance. Adjust accordingly! Also, I don’t use lemon zest or fennel seeds.)

The chicken scrap bin is also nearly full, I need to make chicken stock! Considering it’s supposed to be 90 at least one day this week,  that’s a night-time project, rather than a day-time one!

WASTED: Two partial packages, darn it! The last of the lentils & onions had started to smell “off.” I’d unfrozen, but we hadn’t finished, a container of garbanzo chili (it was too spicy).

Wednesday: No breakfast or cooked lunch here today. It’s hot and we have a major moving around we’re doing. Also, someone is coming tomorrow and what they’re doing requires moving things around beforehand too.

I just figured out dinner: asparagus vinegarette ,white mac/cheese, salad and smoothies. The mac and cheese is another box of Annie’s. I’ll add some cheese, etc. to it like last time, but it can be served cold, which is a blessing! Also, the end of the last batch of jarred salad, the end of last week’s greens, and fruit smoothies. It will be a bit of a hodge podge, but it will be easy to make and except for the mac and cheese, no cooking, a plus with it 90 outside! Except we only had smoothies…

Thursday: This is farm day. Next week is the last of the greens from the first farm. The second farm shares also starts next week. I only signed up for a 1/2 share, so I’m going to skip the first week there and give us a chance to eat the last of the greens and clean the freezer, before the main season begins.

I went to the farm and did regular grocery shopping. O I also went to the small green market, got ice cream  and finally found wild rice in their bulk bin. Used up the last of what I had early in the Pandemic lock down and hadn’t found any since. I only use a small jar every year or so, but I like to have about a cup on hand. It’s a nicely meaty grain, gives the impression of eating meat when you haven’t. It’s expensive, but as I said, I don’t use a lot of it.

We wanted “instant” dinner because I was gone most of the afternoon, we had green salad with red pepper strips and store bought ravioli.

I wanted breakfast, again. This time I made what is called an “Apple Johnnycake.” It’s cornbread with apples. At the moment, it’s still baking, so we’ll see.

I got the recipe from Cooking Inn Style by Leichter-Saxby, Grosvenor Square Associates, 1983. It uses cornmeal, water, baking soda, eggs, butter, apples, salt, honey and buttermilk.

I cooked it as long as it indicates in the recipe, it was a wonderful golden brown on top, but still liquid in the middle. So it ended up I cooked it almost 2x what was in the recipe!

We had salad for lunch and one of us put carnitas on theirs.

Friday: I’m making my usual summer cold soup: avocados and spinach. Love the stuff. We had it with green salad topped with carnitas.

(I’ll update the expensive meat figure.)

Saturday: We had salad for dinner, with both of us eating the very last of the carnitas on them.

Sunday: We had salad and the 2nd bag of ravioli, again. (It’s hot!) We had the pasta with fresh grated Parmesan and we did our own vinegarette dressing (I use champagne vinegar with tarragon, DH uses basalmic).