Tag Archives: menu planning

The Menu Plan, Working?

I had come up with a general menu plan. Last week I managed what’s in column 3. (I skipped week 2 as I was sick again and the menu was abandoned!)

Day Plan Actual wk 1 Actual wk 3
Monday Double Veg Lentils & Yams green rice & salad
Tuesday Soup/Stew/Salad Garlic Soup avocado toast, roasted red pepper soup, braised greens**
Wednesday 2nd Veg Lentils & Yams green rice, sauteed mushrooms, salad, fruit
Thursday Egg Asparagus & herb omelette HM hummus, fresh bread, salad
Friday Double Meat BBQ Beef blackberry cobbler (a.m.) and restaurant food (dinner)
Saturday Sandwich BBQ Beef Sandwich None, did flea market, followed by ice cream, then home
Sunday 2nd Meat Lentils & Yams*, salad lemon chicken, salad, corn

*The 3rd portion of lentils & yams was frozen Weds. We finished the beef Saturday, so we ate the last portion of lentils & yams from the freezer.

** The roasted red peppers were a container from the freezer, frozen last September!

I can say that menu planning this much it hit a few of my goals:

  • less waste
  • less meat
  • cheaper meals
  • set aside excess for “instant meals” so we don’t buy frozen food

But this is Memorial Day weekend, which means my big freezer needs to be EMPTY next week. Ack!

pointing fingerThe fridge’s freezer needed to be cleaned first. That’s now been done. 5/27/19 noon.

There is one empty shelf in the fridge’s freezer and one empty shelf in the big freezer. More work required! 6/4/19

Trying To Figure It Out

I want a way to track ingredients I’ve used up (a shopping list) and left over items going into the fridge or freezer. I’ve been fiddling with this for some time and haven’t quite gotten where I want it.

But while working on it, I came up with today’s menu. (Sunday is the only day we eat a formal breakfast.)

Breakfast: blueberry pancakes, which were supposed to use up the remaining container of blueberries (bought 2 yesterday).  We usually have pancakes, but nothing so high as blueberry pancakes, but we had the berries and they needed to be used. . . .  It used most of them, but not quite all. They’re out on the counter being eaten as hand food, and that should take care of the remainder.

Lunch: LO fried chicken in a chicken salad for lunch sandwiches, and the 3 pieces of lemon pepper chicken will be added to the freezer. I cooked 2 lbs of chicken during the week, 3 pieces as fried chicken and 3 more as lemon pepper chicken. The plain fried chicken I set aside the biggest of the 3 pieces so that I could use the meat for both of us.

Dinner: LO shepherd’s pie for dinner, with the remaining baby greens, sauteed. The pie was bought yesterday and we had 1/2 of it for dinner.

This will completely empty my LO shelf, which is the idea. My goal is to do that once weekly! But how do I make a system which will give me what I’m looking for? I don’t exactly know. Both of us think a spread sheet might help. It might, but it might not. And it won’t help at all if I don’t have some clarity about exactly WHAT I want to track. If I know that, then the rest is easy. But I’m still not exactly clear about how much info, for what period of time, or how I want it represented! That makes it difficult.

Of the forms I found online, this looks to be the most comprehesive and attractive, to me. Link

Domestic City

Breakfast was cherry crepes with cherry/apple syrup. It was too sweet! The crepes need to be stuffed with something like ricotta and very little sweet fruit and the syrup on top, or something. Sweet cherries in crepes with syrup? Too sweet! We both agreed that “cleaning our plate” with plain crepes was about right.

Other $ savings on food: our local market has started selling “Amish Style” butter in 2 lb chubs. I got one and divided it into two 1/2 lb lots (fit in my 1 pt freezer square containers) and one 1 lb + in a quart container. All but one 1/2 lb container are in the freezer. It’s cheaper than the pre-formed sticks, and it really didn’t take that long to divvy up. Also, buying it in bulk and then being able to put it into the containers I use/plan for anyway, well, that was an unexpected plus. However, I don’t expect the idea of the larger package to “catch” so I may buy another chub just to freeze, before they go “away.” It seems that when I find something food-wise or brand-wise I really like, it’s unpopular, and soon unavailable.

Right now I’ve got one bag of mixed leaves (bok choy and lettuce) and the last of the cherries dehydrating.

DH got the outside trim up for the new window. Looks great!

We’ll go to the dump again today (went yesterday), probably in the bigger car, as there’s now largish pieces of wood/trim etc. to go.

I also need to figure out what to do for dinner?

I have strip steaks we bought yesterday, it would be easy to start a stew and then I could just leave it bubbling in the oven. . . hmm. Hot rolls along with? Then dinner would be: salad, stew and rolls — sounds like a plan! Minimal standing in the kitchen prepping or over a hot stove, uses what we have, multiple uses of the oven, also saves our energy $. Still need to bake bread too, but the oven will be hot, or maybe bake the bread along with rolls and the stew? If I can get it all in there, that’s what I’ll do!

The above “conversation” with myself is why I never use menu plans. I know I’m supposed to. I know it supposedly would save us money, but . . . .

I start with: what’s in the fridge/freezer which needs to be used first? How can I make it a meal? The freezer isn’t bad right now, because I cleaned it out two weeks ago. Yes there are a lot of greens in the fridge, but they’re being dealt with. The steak tips we didn’t grill last night are in the freezer; I should use something older, but I’m not sure what we have.

I didn’t inventory the freezer 2 weeks ago, because I soon should have new freezer space available. I thought I’d have it by now. I know I need to do a complete inventory when that occurs, because food will be in 2 locations. I thought, why do an inventory now and then do it over in a week or two? So I didn’t do an inventory.

Shows you — the best laid plans are nearly always doomed!


First Garden Harvest & First Plantings (Same Day!)

So how did I do this?

My veggie garden at the end of the summer always looks like a messy jungle. Why? And what does that have to do with the subject of this post?

That “messy jungle” is made up of chicory plants, root parsley, and dill which flower then set seed in the fall. Accordingly, early spring I always have some wilted parsley (I  just leave it alone for a few days after I uncover it) but I also have some radicchio (the overwintered chicory) if I can get it before the chipmunks! The dill won’t surface for a while; it comes up at the same time as the self-seeded mustard greens.

But there’s green garlic  (I’ll use some of the tops), sorrel, and radicchio out there to pick — today! We had a taste of the sorrel yesterday Tonight’s dinner will be stir-fried lettuces and ? (I got a bargain on a container of mixed lettuces yesterday). I’ll add some of the radicchio and sorrel and garlic greens to my bargain greens.

First harvest! 😀

 I also planted the first seeds today. Yes this is almost 6 weeks before our “last” frost date (Memorial Day). I planted mixed lettuces and spinach, cold tolerant, but not tolerant of a hard frost. I’m gambling we won’t have another snow. Could be that I just added the seed in 5 4′ rows to the soil to compost or feed chippers. Or, it could be that I’m a lucky soul and we’ll have some lettuce and spinach in a few weeks. We’ll see!

I sprinkled a little water on the bed after I planted the seed then I got a call from my friends who make the compost I use (I can’t make enough for our garden). I got 3 buckets of the stuff, used 2 immediately: over the bed where the radicchio is, the lettuce/spinach I’d just planted, the rhubarb, the sorrel, and lastly, the raised bed where the asparagus is.

I have 1 bucket left: I think that goes on the thymes (I grow 2 types: pizza and regular), tarragons (3 plants, 1 variety) and the wild grape vines.

The folks who make the compost gave me some of their stock, they don’t have any for sale, yet. It was a favor, and I appreciate it! If you want information about where I get my compost, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll posta  link.

It’s finally spring!


Starting Phase II, again

It’s obvious that indeed the four basic items have become habit. I decided absolutely this was true last night, when in sub-zero temps, after a warm bath, I went downstairs to wash dishes before going to bed. Previously, nothing short of having a gun pointed at me could have induced me to go into the coldest part of our house to wash dishes at 2 a.m., much less when it was -0 degrees outside!

So Phase II needs to start. When I’d tried this the first time, I panicked, again. The most urgent item on the Phase II list (walls, windows, doors, floors, and ceilings) is floors.

Figuring out how much/how many things I have to do is what caused the panic last time. I think I just need to start cleaning at least one floor a day. If that works for 30 days, I’ll add something else.

We’ll see how this goes!


A “Not Real” Food Confession

Okay, I’ve been busy and rather than making everything from scratch, I’ve been using prefab pieces to make things, well, at least I did yesterday.

Last night’s dinner was a veggie soup (squash with peas, carrots added) and BBQ ribs and cake with fruit.

The soup was made two days ago, it’s a squash soup with cider, stock, onion, curry powder. I cooked one butternut squash, needed more squash and opened a can of pumpkin to finish it. Prefab, sort of. Last night we had that as a side dish and the end of the previously cooked veggies in it, and that was our vegetable.

The ribs were put in a Pyrex lasagna pan with a bottle of Lawry’s Santa Fe Chili Sauce and some water, and a little sweet onion, then baked until the pork was cooked through.

The cake is a Dr. Oetker mix, with a package of home-frozen mixed blueberries & peaches. When I find peaches/blueberries cheap in the summer I cut up the fruit then put 1C of each into a plastic bag and freeze. I use the premeasured and prepped fruit  to make our favorite cobbler. (here) Of course, in this case, I added the fruit to the pan with the cake batter.

So, instead of making EVEN SOUP from scratch, which is my normal, I cheated, on everything. It was good, probably mostly healthy, fairly fast and (of course) frugal.

I confess. I don’t always cook from scratch. I think I should, always, but like everyone I just don’t have the time or inclination all the time.

The biggest problem with dinner? The soup, the baked cake and the rib’s sauce were almost all the same color. DH said, in mock horror, “Oh noooooooooo! Food that’s all the same color! nOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” and we laughed. But if this was a company dinner or I was cooking for kids, I would have made sure I had a green salad, had some corn or peas, mashed potatoes or something to offset the brown, brown, and dark orange-brown food.

(It was tasty just the same!)

Cooking on the fly, well, sort of

I’ve been doing my usual: finding dishes that use what I have, mostly, then modifying them. A couple of days ago I made a blueberry-peach cobbler from food.com. The modifications there were: 1)I used fresh peaches, since I had them and 2)I greased the pan with butter, as I don’t have cooking spray. That’s it, but it’s not the cobbler as advertised.

The other day  I made a rice pilaf with lemon (also from food.com I think) but instead of using 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice, I used 1C jasmine rice and 1/2C Madagascar Pink Rice. Additionally, I also used twice as much broth as they did and added the juice of a lemon, rather than lemon peel, as I’m out of organic lemons.

It was good, I’ll make it again, but it needed water chestnuts, celery,  almonds or something for crunch. Not sure what I’ll add next time, but the changes I made and what I observed are noted on the printout.

When I was buying Martha Stewart organizing stuff last year,  I bought 2 paper organizer pockets, sort of  like that below (apparently they don’t sell what I actually bought anymore).

martha stewart pocket

[Image (c) Martha Stewart or Staples or  the photographer or Avery/Dennison — this is NOT my image!]

When I find a recipe I like, I print it out and put it in the “tryout” folder. After I try it, as I said, it gets written on, what went well, what didn’t, how I changed it, and if I intend to make it again, it goes in the Tried & True folder. If I had a kitchen computer (on the list — waaaaaaaay down the list) I’d not bother to print out the recipes at all, I’d just save the file and make comments there.

How do you organize new recipes that aren’t in books? Do you do something similar? Please tell me! I’m always looking for better ways, but so far, this one works!

P.S. We liked the cobbler enough that I stuck 4 bags of mixed fruits in the freezer. Midwinter this will seem truly decadent — if they last that long!