Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Menu Planning

Not much has been going on around here lately. Sophia's eyes are continuing to improve and we're almost done with her drops. Russell's still doing fine with his blood pressure. He goes back to the cardiologist on April 4th (I got the date wrong in my last post). And needless to say, I don't really have many pics this week to entertain you with. So I thought I'd update you on our food struggles/victories.

To start with, what did I want to achieve? We wanted to have quality meals together as a family. I wanted to introduce Sophia to the idea of eating what we do instead of something special just for her. I wanted to save money and time. I mean who wants to go to the store more than once a week and waste so much food because it spoils before we eat it?

Since this is an area where we struggled initially, it feels really good to say that just about every night we sit down to dinner and eat the same thing (well, sometimes Sophia picks at it). But we always have dinner together even if we're not eating the same thing. Sometimes we have leftovers night and so we'll all be eating totally different things. So I thought I would let you know my process of meal planning. It works for me, but it may not work for everyone.

I started out with the whole idea of menu planning from this blog called Sister's Stuff. I tried to do it their way, but it just didn't work for us yet. Sophia was still too picky, so I realized instead of 30 of your top recipes, I'd pick 10 and repeat those.

I found a meal planner that I use to write down our menu for the week(usually on Wed. or Thurs. for the next week) here Menu Planner at I post it on the refrigerator.

From there, i make up my grocery list. I actually made an excel spreadsheet with everything we typically use from food to toiletries to cleaning supplies. And the best part is that it's in the order of our grocery store. So i can usually get all of my shopping done for the week in just 30 minutes. I wish I could post it but I can't figure out how to add a document. Anyone know? Leave me your email and I can email you a copy that you can edit for yourself.

As for recipes, I have a notebook (of course I have a notebook), that I have divided into sections.

The first section is the recipes I'm using for the week, so during the week I don't have to hunt for them. They're all in one place.

The second section is breakfast recipes I LOVE. Not ones that I haven't tried or just kinda liked.

The third section is a collection of my VERY FAVORITE recipes. I'm not sure how many I have in there. If I just kinda like it, I either toss it or put it into my master recipe collection notebook (yes, I have another notebook, actually 2, that contain ALL of my recipes that I kinda liked or wanted to try and it has all my favorite ones too. It has it all).

The fourth section is the collection of the 10 or so recipes we constantly repeat during the week. I'll be adding to that section as I've introduced Sophia to it and she LOVES it too.

The fifth section contains side dishes.

And then I have a completely separate notebook that I keep recipes I want to try in. Like for example there are some from the Pioneer Woman cookbook that I want to try. So I made a copy of it and put it in that section. That way I don't forget about it. If it's in a cookbook, I forget about them. If it's a recipe from the Sunday ads. I make a copy and put the original in my master recipe notebook.

So here's my menu for next week:
Saturday: Zesty Chicken Pot Pie (a new one for us. I'm on the search for the perfect chicken pot pie recipe, The Pioneer Woman's is pretty good.)

Sunday: Can't Miss Red Snapper (a new one, I'm substituting Tilapia we have in the freezer)

Monday: Sandwiches (for Sophia, she gets a grilled cheese and Russell and I add turkey or ham to it, but they're warm sandwiches)

Tuesday: Quesadillas (I saute those pre-cooked grilled chicken slices in the refrigerated meat section, onion, cilantro and tomatoes for the grown ups, Sophia gets just cheese. I use olive oil for all the sauteing and cooking the tortillas), black beans

Wednesday: Omelets (I use ham, green onions, mushrooms and tomatoes for the grown ups and Sophia just gets cheese), toast

Thursday: Bobby's Lighter Baked Spaghetti (a new one, but Sophia loves pasta so i just rotate through any of my pasta recipes for Pasta Night, I'm substituting ground beef instead of the sausage)

Friday: Chicken Pizza Primavera (really good! For Sophia I just make her a cheese pizza using the same process but I just use an 8 oz jar of tomato sauce and cheese)

In the weekends, I usually try to cook recipes that take longer or that are new. Sophia still gets served the same thing but I always give her at least one thing I know she'll eat with it like toast or applesauce. And trust me, at 36 pounds, she's not starving.

I recently discovered Paula Deen's website and she has a ton of tasty recipes. She even has a whole section devoted to lighter cooking....believe it or not.

So what do y'all do to plan your meals? Where do you get your recipes from? Any tips or websites you use are greatly appreciated!


Erin K said...

Or links. If you have links to recipes...please feel free to leave those too!

Anonymous said...

I have seen that recipe notebook, and it was pretty impressive! I may have to raid it again sometime.

Allison said...

My menu planning is suffering of late and unfortunately I can't steal any of these for Emily. My non-eater...grumble!!! Looks like you have a good system down though - yay for you!
Have you checked out I think you could get a lot of things from her site...