Menu Planning 12/21/2008

Menu planning is one of the areas of homemaking that I really struggle to keep up with, but it makes such a difference when I take the time to do it. Menu planning serves so many purposes. It saves a lot of money by utilizing what you already have on hand and reducing the amount of waste. It saves time spent trying to decide what to have for dinner and being prepared with things that need done ahead of time. It saves frustration of not having advanced steps ready (ever forget to soak the beans or pull the chicken out of the freezer to defrost?) and it makes scratch cooking so much easier.

I always plan my weeks meals around what I already have in the pantry. First I check the upstairs freezer for any leftovers that need used up. Right now I have pork roast, chicken breast, turkey, and pinto beans in the freezer already cooked and just needing thawed and thrown into a recipe. If there is nothing suitable in the kitchen freezer, I check the downstairs freezer. It has whole chickens, one turkey, a few potroast cuts of beef, a little ground beef, and several packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I also plan for leftovers to be rolled into other meals. If I roast a chicken at the begining of the week, I plan at least two other meals that week that use cooked chicken such as soup or cassarole. AllRecipes and RecipeZaar are great websites for finding recipes to use what you already have in the house. Durring my weekly grocery shop, I shop to stock the pantry and freezer, not for specific meals. If there are a few ingredients or spices that I need for something specific I’ll go ahead and pick those up, but I don’t buy a whole meals worth of ingredients in the week that I make that meal. This saves a lot of money because I try to plan meals that use spices I typically have on hand, or just buy small amounts of spices/ingredients if it’s something i don’t use often. Also, say I was planning a chicken meal that needs boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These are usually $4.50/lb making them a fairly expensive (to our family anyway) cut of meat. But several weeks ago they were on sale for $1.88/lb, and I got 6 packages. So now I already have chicken in the freezer and don’t need to pay full price. So I plan all of my shopping trips around what’s on sale, and I plan my menus around what’s in the freezer.

This weeks menu:
I have pork roast, cooked diced chicken breast, and pinto beans in the freezer that I pulled into the fridge to defrost.

Sunday: Pork roast with gravy, sweet potatoes, peas
Monday: Crockpot pork and beans, popcorn cauliflower, applesauce
Tuesday: Chicken noodle soup, bread, kale
Wednesday: Christmas Eve dinner with family
Thursday: Christmas Day dinner with family
Friday: BBQ chicke pizza
Saturday: we leave on vacation. Cancun here we come!!

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3 Responses

  1. Consistent meal planning is a struggle for me too! I have 5 people in the family with vastly differing tastes and (self-imposed) dietary restrictions. It can be quite the challenge to put good meals together everyday.Thanks for helping me to remember that this is both important and approachable.Mary

  2. Tell me more about popcorn cauliflower.If I were the only cook, I would menu plan around the freezer and pantry. Alas, my husband cooks a lot and has no concept of planning or using leftovers. He would be happy going to the grocery store every day to buy just what we need for that day. So…we do the best we can with menu planning for meals a week ahead and then I use leftovers for lunches.

  3. Rachel, I added the link to my popcorn cauliflower recipe. It’s basically cauliflower cut into popcorn sized pieces, tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted on a cookie sheet until caramelized so it’s sweet and crispy. It was pretty good, and that says a lot coming from someone who despises most vegetables.Mary, I hear you about the picky eaters. My 3yo rarely has what we’re having for dinner. I allow him the choice of a pb sandwich if he doesn’t want what I’ve cooked. I’m trying hard to include the 1yo in dinner, hoping he’ll develope a wider palate.

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