Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Menu 3.0

What brings you your sense of calm?  Is it veggin out in front of the tv, working out and hitting the treadmill, or maybe it's shopping mindlessly at the mall?  Well, I've tried all previously mentioned tactics and found that they offered some sort of immediate relief, but it wasn't long before I was feeling overwhelmed and out of energy again.  What has seemed to work with more of an impact for me is menu planning (and blogging of course ;).  And there you have it folks, I'm officially a NERD!
Hear me out though, there are valid reasons for this:
  1. I get to use all of my planning skills to work within a budget, capitalize on ingredients that we already have and throw in a little creativity because we're trying new recipe items that we haven't tried before
  2. It involves cutting coupons to get the best deals on the groceries that make the meal
  3. Eating in is better on the budget than eating out (and trust me - we've tried the other way giving it a full run for the money!)
  4. I have to care about nutrition or I'll end up right back where I started a few years ago
  5. Nothing brings me a bigger sense of calm, especially after an insane day at work, to come home and know that our meals are planned - all ingredients are accounted for and on average, I know how much time it's going to take to whip up dinner.  Not I said planned, not pre-made or "easy out of bag".  We owe ourselves that 30-40 minutes to make a good dinner, right?  Lord knows, I give at least 30 minutes of my day to someone else every single day... I should be willing to do the same for myself and our family! 

Here's how I go about making our meal plan.
  1. I take 2 week chunks and list out all evening activities (It's looking like our current menu will last us 3 weeks, hence the 3.0 post title).  Lately, there have been a ton of late nights with our work and school schedules.  I make special note of  those nights that we need leftovers or something easy.
  2. I make a list of all protein based items we have in the house (checking the deep freeze is important)
  3. I make a list of items we have that are going to expire or go bad in the next couple of weeks.
  4. I look for recipes using the protein as the main ingredient.  I try to keep in mind what we have on hand and what items we'd need to buy.
  5. I pull together a list of 20-24 possible recipes.  
  6. Then I consult the cupboards to see what we have and what we don't.  This narrows the idea list down by about 4 or 5 each week.  My rule of thumb is that if I need more than 4 ingredients (assuming our cupboards are relatively full) then we don't do that recipe.
  7. Run ideas by Ryan (this usually narrows down the list by at least another 5!)
  8. Finally, I consult the coupon organizer to find out what has good deals and how to make our meal plan budget/waistline conscious.
  9. Make a sub-menu for lunch and breakfast items to round out my grocery shopping list.  Again, consulting coupons and considering leftovers.
Taking a big leap of faith putting my hyper organized life out there... anyone else function like this?  I'm lucky that the person I married does, so all is good in our hood ; )  However organized I am - I still procrastinate with the best of them.
So this brings me to the end of my posting escapades from today...  Below is a list of what recipes I need to post (already made) and what recipes are coming (will post after this week when the cooking is done and before I tackle the new list!)

Recipes to post that we made this past week:
  • Deconstructed Lasagna
  • Turkey Meatloaf
  • Chicken and cheese quesadilla
  • Chicken Stir fry
  • Pot Roast
  • Breaded pork cutlets with asparagus
  • Smothered Cheese burgers
  • Beef and Cabbage Stew
Recipes planned for the next week and a half:
  • Garlic Roast Pork with Sauteed Peppers
  • Cuban Sandwiches
  • Fettuccine with beef and mushroom ragu
  • Tuna Melts
  • Omelets
  • Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas
  • Grilled Chicken and Delicate Mustard Herb Sauce (the word delicate almost made me skip this recipe - I thought it sounded ridiculous!)
  • BBQ Pork Sandwiches
  • Sweet and Salty Pork Stir Fry
  • Curried Chicken and Cauliflower Soup
  • Soup with whole wheat rolls

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