Tag Archives: using it up rather than tossing it

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.

More Food Planning/Use

Today is the day I usually go to the farm for our week’s food. If I’d been home yesterday, I would put aside whatever remaining foodstuffs from last week I didn’t think we’d use.

I’ve started that effort today instead, but it IS being done.

I’ve also planned what I’ll get at the farm, that makes food use a bit less random!

Finally, I go right by our favorite markets on the way home, so I’ll do the weekly shopping. There’s a package of chicken thawing in the fridge for tomorrow and Sunday.

Tonight’s dinner is probably a cheese omelette and salad, or that’s the plan. This is subject to DH’s input, how much and types of cheese we have, etc. We had HM hummus, freshly baked bread, and green salad. It was too hot to cook and I’d been gone all day, no interest in cooking at all!

I culled 2 jars from the pantry as their contents will be replaced, starting today.

This is working! We’ll see if I can keep it up. DH and I have had a few discussions about the “menu plan,” and he thinks it’s a good idea and agrees with my long-term goals: getting us used to smaller, cheaper meals like we’ll have when he’s retired, spending less on restaurants/prefab food, less meat, more veggies, better use of the veggies we’ve paid for (from the farm), and less food waste.

Photo by petra cigale on Unsplash

And for me, the kicker is that this isn’t so rigid that I resent it and it takes away the creativity I normally use when cooking. The I don’t know what to make with what I’ve got randomness is the only piece of cooking I really like: taking a bunch of random ingredients and using up what needs it in a meal.

I know people who sit down and plan a year’s worth of menus at once. I couldn’t do that, any more than I could do something similar to Once a Month Cooking or Mega Cooking. I tend to put pieces aside, not meals. (For example, cooked rice and stems from greens for soup.)