Category Archives: Retirement Frugality

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.

What We Ate

Monday: I wanted breakfast, which we normally don’t do as a “meal,” it’s usually catch as catch can with both of us finding cereal or whatever suits. I made herb/cheese omlettes. It was okay, but I’m trying to use up the artisinal cheese we got and it’s “sour” by nature and I’m not fond of that. Would have been better, I think, with other cheese. I also used fresh dill, parsley and tarragon, because I have them. Some time ago, I stopped making 4 egg omlettes for us and use 3 instead.

  • There’s a video of Jacques Pepin talking about how to make omlettes I found interesting and instructive, here.
  • Or, there’s another with him, slightly different, that’s here.

We had cheese, crackers and apple for lunch. Not exciting, but it works.

I made more garlic salt this afternoon.

Tonight’s dinner will be the lentils, rice, and onions dish I’ve made before. I have some small sausages to add. I’m feeling lazyish, in that I don’t want to research another recipe for something new to make, either in one of my cookbooks or online!

We have an actual head of lettuce from the farm as well as jarred salad, which has become a staple here.

Tuesday: No organized breakfast. Lunch was LO lentils/rice. Dinner? I have no idea, except salad and more LO lentils/rice. We’ve been discussing going to the small natural market after work . . . maybe we’ll pick up instant dinner?

DH made hamburgers with onions, his usual burger. We had it with leaf lettuce and jarred salad.

Wednesday: No breakfast. I really need to research breakfast casseroles or something like it so that we can just get up and eat breakfast, even if we’re not sitting down. Both of us snack too much and we agreed we need to eat a “formal” breakfast. I guess that means overnight oats (which I’ve never made) or a casserole of some kind.

I found a recipe in a cookbook for “blender applesauce” which I made as a side dish for dinner. I’m cooking pork chops, which leaves 1  “thick slab” and a little carnitas still remaining of the expensive meat.

Here’s the recipe for blender applesauce and my modified version. Original recipe from Everything But the Kitchen Sink, by Eliason, Harward & Westover, 1986, HP Books. The cookbook is subtitled “A Plan-Ahead Cookbook” and was designed to use the bits & pieces leftover after other recipes and turn them into useful food. It’s great for us, as the yields aren’t huge most of the time. (These are the same authors who wrote the Make a Mix Cookery,  and  More Make a Mix Cookery.)

Fresh Blender Applesauce

  • 4 lg cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed (about 4C)
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/4C water
  • 1/3C sugar
  • 1/8t ground cinnamon (optional, the person who owned the cookbook before me wrote in “apple pie spice” and crossed out “cinnamon.”)

In a blender/food processor with a metal blade, combine all ingredients. Process until mix is smooth. Transfer to a saucepan, bring to a boil. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Makes 2C.

My version:

Pink Applesauce

  • 6 small macoun apples (or other red, sweet apples), cored, sliced and diced (keep peels on) , 4C worth.
  • 2T lemon juice (1 lemon’s worth, when lemon is zapped 10 sec. in a microwave and then rolled on the counter to make it juicer). Remove seeds from juice.
  • 1/4C water
  • 1T vanilla paste*

Combine lemon juice, water, and vanilla paste in the 1C measure after you put the apples in the blender or food processor.  Follow instructions above, but leave mixture slightly chunky so as to keep the red bits. The sauce turns pink with red dots. If it sits long enough the entire thing turns pink, or it did for me!

It’s sweet enough for us between the sweet apples and the vanilla paste.  (If you want it sweeter, add a little sugar or syrup. Or, omit the vanilla paste altogether and add some sugar.)

*My husband loves vanilla, and is always on me to use less sugar, so I almost always have this. It’s expensive, but a bottle lasts about a year.

Thursday: I made the “breakfast casserole” for lunch/brunch. Dinner was salad and smoothies. It was hot!

Friday: Lunch was catch as catch can, left overs, hummus on crackers, etc. Dinner was smoothies and salad again.

Saturday: We had left overs for lunch. I made the skillet dish I talked about here for dinner. There’s barely enough rice/veggies left for one person’s lunch.

Sunday: We had oven fried chicken and salad. DH had his with a quasi-mole sauce. I had mine plain. We have one left over chicken thigh to use up.


Photo by Angela Bailey on Unsplash

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 sweet stuff, DH made tapioca and I made a mug cake from this recipe. I had a hard time finding one that didn’t use chocolate bits, which I don’t have and used only cocoa, which I do!

We had white pizza for dinner, the last chicken thigh from Sunday, onion, and the mozzarella.