Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - and Menu Plans in General

It's nice to have a place to store my weekly menu plans again. We have been eating WAY too much take out these last several weeks during the move so it's time to get back into planning on a more regular basis.

A few friends have asked me why I menu plan, thinking it was pain the you-know-where, but I am here to tell you that it is a simple and straighforward process that really saves me time and money. I have read lots of different blogs and even a couple of books on the subject, all of which have helped me to streamline my own menu planning process. Here are some of my tips:

First of all, I plan right here on my blog. That way it is posted for me to refer back to for the coming week and also into the future. I can also link to my recipes easily (I have most of the recipes that I frequently use listed in a Recipe index you can find up on the menu bar) and I don't lose it like I would a paper plan!

Truly, the process is simple.

I start by looking in fridge, freezer and pantry to see what I already have on hand(especially meats) and decide what I have available to cook.

I also look at the calendar to see what is going on and what kind of dinner is appropriate. This really depends on whether or not all four of us will be at home for the meal, whether we are having company join us and whether or not we have some kind of activity before or after supper.

Then I just list a meal I know everyone likes for each night. Lastly, I check to make sure I have all the necessary indgredients to make each meal and if I don't, I add those items to my grocery list - which is now much shorter than it used to be!

I used to look at the grocery store flyers on the weekend to see what was on sale and plan menus around that, but that did take a lot of time - perhaps more than the few dollars I ended up saving was worth. Where I DO save money is in two simple facts:
1) I have ingredients on hand to make a fast, nutritious and tasty meal at home instead of buying fast or prepared food which costs more.
2) I am only buying what I need and will use for the week so there is far less waste.

I also use coupons (although I am not a fanatic!) and shop sales to stock up - especially on meats and staples.

That's about it! Really, it's not difficult and once you have done it a couple of times it will only take you 15 minutes to plan your meals for the week. Why not try it? For 15 - 30 minutes of planning you get a week of peaceful evening dinners. Well...I can't guarantee that, especially if you have rambunctious boys like mine, but at least there will be a little less stress over what to serve for dinner!

So with all that in's my weekly menu plan:

Monday: Cheesy Tomato Fish Bake, Rice, Side Salad

Tuesday: Swim night - Chicken breasts done in the crockpot with some bottled BBQ sauce will be waiting for us to serve on hamburger buns along with a salad and raw veggies for the boys.

Wednesday: I am heading to visit my BIL's and (soon-to-be) SIL's new place for a ladies Home Decor Show and Party. I'll leave good ol' spaghetti with meat sauce (already made and in the freezer) for the boys

Thursday: Swimming (last night!!!) Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks will fill us up when we get home.

Friday: Homemade pizza and green salad

Saturday: We're hoping to go to Calaway Park for a couple of hours of rides and have a picnic dinner. I'll pack some bunwiches, juice boxes, some fresh fruit like cherries or strawberries and we'll get an ice cream at the park for dessert!

Sunday: Baked Ham, Schwartzies Potatoes, steamed Broccoli and Carrots.

For lots more meal planning ideas and inspiration, check out Orgjunkie every Monday! And if you try menu planning, I'd love to hear how it goes!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New News's hard to believe it has been over two months since I posted. So much has happened:

Move to new house? CHECK
Find tenants for rental property? CHECK
Hire a nanny? CHECK
Start new job? CHECK (Well, official start is mid-August, but I've already been a lot of hours put in!)

Yeah, it's been crazy, but good. It's nice to have a new start, and we have had our share of them lately. We love our new house and are busy settling in before nanny comes to live with us and I go back to work. And I decided to start a new blog to partly commemorate all this newness, but also for a practical reason. My new job is as an administrator of a large urban high school and although I won't be posting anything controversial or negative on my blog, I decided I didn't want my name in the title of a blog or website...a little more anonymity is in order. So, I have transfered all the content of my old personal blog for future reference and will start posting here on a more regular basis again. If you have my old blog marked as a favorite you may want to bookmark this one or follow it in your favorite reader. I will be deleting my old blog in a month or so.

I am excited to share our new home, new recipes, organizing ideas and of course bits and pieces of my cute little family with you!