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- Doug SmithKeymaster
Karen and I both enjoy cooking so that makes things easier for us. Karen developed a pretty good system of keeping meals in order that has worked out well. Basically, she keeps a running list of meals that we like. Then she plans out a week at a time pulling items from that list based on what we have on hand.
We don’t always schedule specific items for each day, but have a general idea of what we’ll make this week that can be switched around as needed. For example, we make sure to have something quick on evenings when we have somewhere to go. And Saturday is pizza day, which I make from scratch.
We’ll throw something new in now and then and if we like it then it can go on the list. I tend to be adventuresome in my cooking so sometimes new meals come from my experiments when I get to cook. 🙂
The other half to making this work is having a good stock of staple items on hand. We have a check list of all the items we use regularly, in store aisle order. The list is kept on the fridge for easy access. When we use a regular item it gets checked for the next shopping trip. We have a big garden, a huge farm market, and some amazing grocery stores around here. We actually have multiple lists for different stores, i.e., small country bulk foods store, mega-mart, etc.
We do a huge shopping trip about every four to six weeks. We have a freezer and I built shelves in the basement for storage. We supplement with small shopping trips for fresh produce and perishable items as needed.
Let me encourage those struggling with meal planning. We didn’t get to this point overnight. It’s been a process we’ve refined over the years. The important thing is to find a system that works for you and takes some of the on-the-spot decision making out of the process. If you have some sort of plan, including a plan to stock the ingredients you need, then it becomes much easier.
It’s the same thing if cooking itself is difficult or unpleasant for you. It can take years of practice to get comfortable in the kitchen. I don’t say that to be discouraging but to encourage sticking with it. Find some ways to plan and learn cooking techniques; maybe books or videos. It will save you time and make things more pleasant.
I find a lot of satisfaction in cooking because it brings happiness to others. Food can bring great pleasure to your family. Like so many things, you can do it if you practice, stick with it, and work at finding the joy in it.
I’m trying a new meal planning service that customizes for your family. We’ll see how it goes!
Cool I’ll jump on board with this one! Hi ladies first I have a 3 ring binder with menus in front, a master shopping list for the meals in the menu and copies of any recipes for directions. I start out with a list of our favorite meals and plug new ones in every so often. I have a running of 6 weeks worth of menues 🙂 That works real well for us. Another thing and this is great for those mothers who have girls and need to do a home ec course (My oldest son loved he but he also loves to cook!) is the cookbooks from Sue Gregg. It is all whole grain and healthy meals, and has made a curriculum out of the books. I love the books and the recipes. There is dinner, lunches, breakfast, snacks etc. Another thing that I do is make two meals. Like when I make meatloaf I make two and place the 2nd one in the freezer for later use. I do the same with lasagna, and a couple of other recipes. That way on the real busy nights I just have to pull out the dinner from the freezer and reheat it. When I had a cooking partner we would plan 30 dinner meals like this. I would go shopping she would watch the kids. I would dice up all the veggies used, she would brown the hamburger, chicken etc. We would then get together and put the meals together and would leave the house with 30 dinners 🙂 That has saved me on more then one occaision. I’m still trying to find a cooking partner if anyone is interested and lives in the area of Dwight, IL 🙂 I have the complete set from Sue Gregg and my family has yet to find a recipe that they haven’t liked. She has one that you soak wheat berries over night in the fridge in a blender and finish making them in the morning, Yummy with blueberries. She also teaches how to make your own yogurt. I also found a cookbook called make a mix, they have recipes for things like, pancake mix, bisquick, pudding, etc. So everything is from scratch and you know what the ingredients are going in cause you put them in there. It even has short cut meals to put in the freezer with pork, hamburger etc. All of which my family really likes 🙂 I probably just confused most of you and I’m sorry but this is an area that I feel strongly in my DD11 has high functioning autisim and we had to make diet modifications for her, no red dye and limit wheat because she is intollerant. I used the book Special diets for special kids for most of her meals. So I have had to do alot of modifying of our recipes.
Christie, this service looks very appealing. Please let us know how it goes! ~ HeathercsmammaParticipant
Christie, I’m checking in to see how the Stolen Moments Menu Planning is going. I’m very interested. Thanks!MamaWebbParticipant
Hello All! First to Kim – you mentioned that you have a big family – so do we; five kids here. You also mentioned that you make your own white bread and you’d like to try sourdough. It’s SOOO not hard. You just have to make a starter, which you need to be willing to add a little flour and water to every few days if you’re not using it. also, if you have the hang of making white bread, it’s really easy to vary it just a little to up the nutrition for not a ton of money. I try to keep a little whole wheat flour around. If you are using a standard 1 1/2 lb loaf proportion of 3cups flour to approx 1 cup liquid, just switch out 1/2 to 1 cup of white flour for wheat. Or try buying Bob’s Red Mill 11 grain hot cereal mix (here in NJ only about 3$ and change). Throw 1/4 cup into your bread a few tbs less flour, and you get whole grain (or i call it cracky grain). Or try a yeasted cornmeal…subbing up to 1/2 c flour out for cornmeal, also a cheap product. makes amazing toast! if you use a bread machine, I found several awesome books at my library specifically for bread machine recipes. if you make by hand or stand mixer, your options are near limitless, once you know a few basics.
For everyone out there who’d like to get into home yeasted bread baking, but think they don’t have time, I just found this wonderful book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Spectacular bread so far from what I’ve tried. Basic idea is this. Mix up enough bread dough for 4-12 loaves. Makes a really wet dough. Don’t knead it. Leave in a 5 quart (or larger depending on size of batch you’ve made) for 2 hours while it rises and you do other things. throw in fridge. anytime you want bread, take dough our of fridge. dust top with flour, lop off a grapefruit size lump of dough. shape and let rest for 20 – 40 minutes ( [it depends on what bread is and shape of loaf] say while you prep a meal and oven’s heating). throw onto baking stone in preheated oven, and bake 30 minutes, while you do other stuff. amazing bread.
Also,. to meal plan, I sit down with the grocery store circular each week and plan my meals based on what is on sale that week. I add in the needed pantry items, and go from there, usually using my store’s online shopping service, b/c even with the 10$ fee, i spend less b/c i see the running total at all times for what’s in my cart. In the Maxwell’s book, Managers of their Homes, they pick a few nights per week where they eat the same thing (i.e. every Wed and Sun) to cut down on planning. Hope this all helps!
I received the Stolen Moments plan, but truthfully, I haven’t really looked at it yet. I’ve been in crisis mode getting my CM co-op up & running for the year. Well, crisis mode is a bit too strong a term, but I can’t think of another. I’m going to try to give it a go in the next week or so & will post when I do.
I’ve decided the Stolen Moments plan isn’t for us. Too many new dishes that still aren’t really what I’m looking for. I think I just need to make my own thing.
I’ve just bought a new cookbook Dinner’s In The Freezer and this weekend made triple recipes of many of the dishes. This morning we ate the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf and it was delicious (sub. whole wheat) and tonight we’re eating the first dinner – Baked Steak in Tangy Tomato Sauce. I also made Cheesy Chicken Bundles, Chicken Cacciatore, Meatballs, and Cottage Pie and they all looked and smelled delicious. I now have at least 15 meals in my freezer ready to take out and cook. YEAH!
If I can do this every few months, it should really help. Ideally, I’ll just double or triple recipes when I cook normally.
Doubling or tripling recipes is what I do all the time, and it works so well for me. I’m too independent (tongue in cheek) to follow someone else’s meal plans, and ultimately, I end up tweaking or totally changing recipes anyway because of our family’s preferences, likes, and dislikes. I also tend to lean more toward recipes that have fewer ingredients. Fewer ingredients = less time, less money (usually). I love to buy disposable foil pans to freeze casseroles in. I don’t have to use my Pyrex baking dishes, and there’s no clean-up except to toss it in the trash can or recycling bin.
The easiest things I’ve done all summer have been marinated meats. I simply take 4 of whatever meat I want to use (chicken breast, thighs, pork chops), make up a marinade, put the meat in a gallon-size freezer bag, pour the marinade over, press out the air and freeze. It usually takes less than 10 minutes for me to do that because there’s no chopping, little measuring, and virtually no prep work. I think I have 5 or 6 marinated, grill-ready meats in my freezer right now. Hubby does the cooking, and I stay inside and prepare some jasmine rice and a salad, and dinner’s ready! Living where you do, I’m sure grilling is fine year-round. It’s about to get cold here, and I’m going to be sad about not being able to grill for a while.
I have some great, simple recipes for casseroles if you’re needing more for freezing; just PM me. I just found I don’t like following someone else’s meal plans because they never seemed to be a good fit for my family. I’m guessing that’s been your issue as well. ins/emotions/img/smiley-tongue-out.gif” alt=”Tongue out” title=”Tongue out” />
P.S. I would LOVE the recipe for the pumpkin chocolate chip loaf, if you wouldn’t mind sending it to me!RebekahyParticipant
Oh Lindsey, If you wouldn’t mind posting those recipes I’d LOVE to see them! I have a couple friends and we get together to do “once a month cooking” we started out using an exact guide, but we’ve gotten good enough now that we are able to pick our own selection of recipes and figure out the shopping lists and “formula” for the day of cooking.
I agree about those disposable pans – let me recommend getting them at Costco – WAY cheaper than anywhere else – about 20 cents a pan. Next best is the dollar store wher eyou can get 2 pans for a dollar. Walmart and the Grocery store you can pay over a dollar for a disposable pan.
Oh, and I’d LOVE that pumpkin chocolate chip loaf recipe too!
I’m happy to share.
By the way, I LOVE everything we’ve tried from this cookbook so far – Baked Steak in Tangy Sauce, Cottage Pie, Meatballs and Chicken Cacciatore. I have Cheesy Chicken Bundles made and ready to try soon.
I think this whole doubling and tripling recipes could work for us long term!
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