Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Meals, Menus, and Planning

I know that I chose Celebrate for my March focus word, and that I am still finishing up my Finances from February, and that Routine is still a conscious priority, but do you think I should do something with my meal planning notebook?

As we set a tighter family budget and I continue to work on our routine, it seems as if getting dinner meals under control would be a big help. Levi now has Tae Kwon Do three nights a week and piano one (late) afternoon a week, and that seems to be doing a number on my throwing-dinner-together skills. I need a plan. I need a stocked pantry. I need easy access to my recipes. This mess isn't doing it for me.

I could use a little help. I am in need of easy recipes that can be thrown together with little effort, that 3 picky boys would eat, and that are more substantial (and healthier, home-cooked, and cheaper) than chicken nuggets or fish sticks.

Just to be fair, I'll share a few of my favorites with you:

+Chicken strips (pre-cooked or homemade from frozen chicken breasts), grated cheese, lettuce, tomato, and salsa wrapped in flour tortillas (I buy the uncooked ones at Costco and heat them on my flat stove-top griddle).

+Taco Soup: a can of chili heated with a can of diced tomatoes, topped with Fritos, grated cheese, chopped tomatoes and olives. A pan of cornbread served with honey-butter.

+Spaghetti: jarred spaghetti sauce with browned ground beef added (and steamed, pureed veggies if I'm industrious) and whole wheat noodles. Bread, salad, and corn served as well.

+If I'm feeling lazy but still have the time, we love to eat glazed spiral ham and cheese potatoes with a veggie.

I have two boys who don't care for potatoes, one who doesn't want to eat anything with tomatoes/tomato sauce, two who don't care for anything spicy... I need to get better about making the kids go hungry if they don't care to eat what is on their plate!

So, favorite (preferably easy) recipes you all would like to share?


Kristy said...

I'm a huge fan of McCormick marinade mixes - they're easy to make up, the meat only needs to marinate for 20-30 minutes, then broil it and its done! I do these often, and cook some canned or frozen veggies to go with them.

Barb said...

I'm not a very good planner. I may write ideas down but often divert from the plan. So instead I've come up with a weekly plan for cooking in categories
SUNDAY: we only eat lunch after church, usually a roast of some sort, the rest of the day is leftovers
MONDAY: Rice and beans or legumes and beans or tofu stir-fry - it's our vegetarian night
TUESDAY: Another vegetarian night with pasta
WEDNESDAY: Breakfast! Could be pancakes or waffles or eggs
THURSDAY: Sandwiches, we've down Ree's Marlboro Man's, hoagies, paninis
SATURDAY: In the cold weather it's all about soups and in the summer, salads.

SO following this type of schedule gives me freedom to alter with the parameters

Anonymous said...

We've done menu planning in the past like the commenter above. Right now, I've come up with a two-week plan that I'm recycling over and over (at least for a few months, to see how it goes). Kinda boring, but things are busy right now, and really - it's only eating the same thing twice a month. We probably do that anyway without planning. And I do tweak it some from week to week, depending on what I have on hand.

Do you have a crock pot? I use mine several times a week. Also, we do homemade pizza every Friday. It sounds more difficult than it is. When I make the dough, I double (or sometimes triple) the recipe, and then freeze them for later weeks. I also make a big batch of pizza sauce and freeze it as well. Then on Friday mornings, I take the dough and the sauce out of the freezer, and all I have to do is slap them together with cheese and toppings!

Here's my pizza dough recipe (it's actually on Thursday this week...):

Hope that helps!

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

If you go to my blog and look on the sidebar under Homeschooling Helps, there is a link called "What's For Supper." There aren't too many recipes here, but it gives an idea of what we do here to streamline the eating process! One of these days I'm going to update it and add more recipe links....

Anonymous said...

We are on a 3 week menu rotation. It has greatly simplified life for me. I made a list of all of the things we like to eat and then plugged them in. Some of the things I like to do and the kids will eat include mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy, grilled hamburgers/brats, chicken noodle soup, fried rice, fried noodles, meat loaf (I make in bulk and freeze), meat pie (also in bulk), pizza, spaghetti and meat sauce, and stir fry.

It has taken me a couple of years to get to this point. Take your time and start small.

martha said...

My family loves crockpot chicken. I just put a few chicken breasts in the crockpot, cover them with a jar of salsa OR a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook a couple of hours if thawed, 5 if frozen. Shred it with forks, serve on buns or tortillas. It's never failed!

Anonymous said...

here's a quick easy meal that my entire family of 6 devour! i serve it with a veggie, usually grean beans, and some kind of bread or salad.

cut up and brown 3-4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken.

pour in 3 cups uncooked minute rice.

add 2 cans chicken broth.

add 1 can cream of chicken soup.

mix well, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or so.

its so easy to make. i come home from doing taxes all day and make it in no time!


Heidi said...

Hey, thanks everyone! I appreciate the suggestions and am frantically writing them all down. :) I can't wait to get my notebook all organized and easy to use! I'll keep you posted...

Mary~ It's nice to 'see' you here! Thanks for the recipe. It does sound easy and I bet the boys would like it. We'll give it a try.

Beth said...

Stomboli- easy, yummy, do ahead of time

1. frozen loaf of bread (sit out in the morning according to pkg instructions to let rise- about 4 hours)
roll out dough in a rectangle on baking sheet
2. place any or all of the following ingredients down the center of the dough: mozerella cheese, Italian dressing, postrami, ham, pepperoni, onions, peppers, olives, (I've used ground beef, sausage, chicken- leftover from other meals throughout the week)
3. Fold the 2 sides over the top and pinch the seam together and the ends also.
4. Brush some Italian dressing over the top and bake at 350 for 20-25 min.

This is kind of like a large calzone. It can be tailored however you want! Cut it into slices and serve with heated pizza sauce to dip in.

Marlana said...

Do you receive the Kraft Food & Family magazine? It has the easiest and yummiest recipes that my hubby, 8 year-old and 1 year-old all love. It's a free magazine or you can look it up online.

Heidi said...

The Stamper Story~ You have no idea how hungry you made me with that recipe. I'll be adding to the list...

Mommy~ I'll check that out online. Thanks!

Carolyn said...

Just surfin' by and stopped by for a visit.

Very Nice Blog!

I use the Kraft 1 Bag Five Meals for quick and easy dinner ideas.