Friday, March 27, 2009

Menu plans

I mentioned yesterday that we have bumped up the grocery budget now that hubby has a new job, and that the reduced-for-quick sale and the fresh, in-season produce deals have been great. We have an abundance of food in the house, which I LOVE, and I'll talk a little about what we're doing with it.
I was able to make a complete menu plan for this week, along with a menu plan of entrees for next week. (I'll have to fill in with more fresh produce on Monday) I also was able to make and freeze a few things using the excess. The picture above is of our frozen strawberry treats. I made up this recipe, mainly because the kids like frozen treats and I couldn't find anything sugar free, organic, without artificial coloring or preservatives, AND affordable. I make these whenever we have the ingredients and the kids consider them a big deal. They basically contain yogurt (I use homemade), organic whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and Stevia. I freeze them in cupcake liners (I have an abundance bought after Easter one year for 5 cents a pack). I'll do an e-how on it when I get the chance and post a link here. This made good use of the sale organic strawberries and the yogurt made from the bargain milk!
Another thing I was able to make and freeze was "green potatoes". They are basically twice-baked potatoes with broccoli mixed in and topped with cheese. They freeze well --first on cookie sheets to individually freeze them, then placed in a freezer container--and make a good quick addition to a lunch or dinner when we need a little something extra. These used up about 50 cents worth of my potatoes, some fresh broccoli (.99/lb!) and the sale cheese ($1/8 oz).
I decided NOT to make and freeze pancakes or muffins this week. I found that when cooking from scratch and trying to save money, our diets start to revolve around wheat a little too much. This is probably fine for most people, but for whatever reason my family doesn't do well on too much of it. I especially start to feel lethargic when I eat too much wheat. So we are taking a break from that this week, focusing on all the other goodies we have available.
I'm glad to be cooking less complicated meals, since our evenings are so hectic. Hubby gets home later now and can't help with the shuttling to extra-curricular activities, so 3 nights a week I need to feed the kids early and get my daughter out to swim team or soccer with the 2-year-old along for the ride. Once we get home, we head straight into bath and bedtime routines.
So what have we been eating?
Monday: baked chicken legs and thighs, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and carrots, green salad
dessert:strawberries and whipped cream
Tuesday: Tuscan bean soup, greek salad, whole wheat artisan bread (reduced/$1) dessert:sugar-free ice cream
Wednesday: grilled salmon, sauteed asparagus and red peppers, spinach/strawberry/walnut salad with homemade honey mustard vinaigrette
dessert: sugar-free pudding
Thursday: beef and pasta skillet, green beans (from frozen), yellow squash (frozen from parents garden)
dessert:fresh pineapple
Friday: homemade cream of broccoli soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks dessert:sugar-free ice cream
Saturday:grilled hamburgers, homemade french fries
dessert:sugar-free popsicles
Sunday: pork chops, blackeyed peas, green potatoes, steamed asparagus
dessert:sugar-free blueberry cake (reduced for quick sale; in the freezer)
Next week's entrees: (will decide on sides once I shop and see what I find)
Monday: chicken breast
Tuesday:turkey meatballs, brown rice,
Wednesday: salmon stuffed with spinach and pesto
Thursday: simmered chuck steaks, mashed potatoes (leftover in freezer)
Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday: spaghetti with meatsauce
Sunday:baked chicken (whole, cut up), blackeyed peas (LO in freezer from previous Sunday)
Normally I would have one or two "leftover buffets" per week. However, since the little one and I eat leftovers for lunch and hubby now takes them to work, I just leave the leftovers alone. A couple of times this week we've had even more than we needed for dinner and the next day's lunches, so I froze them into individual meals for hubby to pull out of the freezer when there is nothing else available.
This week has been my first experiment with offering dessert after every meal, and I'd have to say so far I'm pleased with the results. I have been careful not to bribe the kids with it, but when we sit down I make sure to tell them; "I have xxxx for dessert!" They have eaten all their dinner and all their veggies every night, and it has been nice to linger over the table for a few more minutes over dessert and talk. Since they've been eating their meals so well, they've been snacking less. I'd rather they do this, because I've read studies showing that kids who graze all day tend to take in the same number of calories as kids who don't but not as many nutrients and not the variety of nutrients they need. (probably because they don't tend to snack on sauteed asparagus or steamed broccoli!) And while I suppose this is okay once in a while, its not okay every day and my kids were starting to want to do that. So if some strawberries and whipped cream or sugar-free ice cream helps improve their overall nutrition--fine by me!! :)
For breakfast this week, the kids have asked for exactly the same thing every day:
-smoothies made with homemade yogurt, soy milk, a banana and the ugly strawberries that they won't otherwise eat
-ham slices (hormone-free, nitrate-free)
-cantaloupe or fresh pineapple
They eat every bite!
Hubby and I have our own breakfasts--I've been having the millet cereal and he's been having that along with two eggs every morning. Breakfast has been easy at our house!


aka_Nik said...

Wow, how do you plan out your weekly menus? I always WANT to do that, but then all the sudden it's Thursday night and the week is gone.

Do you sit down every Sunday night and see what sounds good? What's your method?

2simplify said...

I try to plan out menus on grocery day, usually a Monday but really whenever I've managed to get to the store. I do it probably backwards from everybody else. I shop with a loose list of what's on sale and what staples we're out of, then scour the produce and meat aisles for reduced items. Once I get everything home, I make a list of what I have and what I can make with it. Once I know what I can make, I space out the entrees and side dishes so we're not having the same meat or vegetable too many times in a row.
Some weeks I'm tired or busy and only plan the meals in my head, but this never works well. I ended up forgetting to defrost something or with only chicken left for the last 4 days of the week, and we end up going out to eat too much.
I used to try planning out the menus before shopping based on what was in the flyers, but I ended up spending more money that way because I couldn't take advantage of last-minute deals. So this is what works for us!

aka_Nik said...

Thanks so much for your method. I always just try to plan stuff in my head and like you said, sometimes it goes awry. I'm going to try this out!