Friday, November 28, 2008

MENU Mon Nov 24th through Fri Dec 5th

Happy Thanksgiving! What a crazy week it was, but at last we have several days of rest - and we got to spend yesterday with family, which was wonderful.

Mon 11/24 - Onion Soup (RR2/172), pork chops, butternut squash

Tue 11/25 - I had to work about an hour and a half late, so I called in Chinese & picked it up on the way home.

Wed 11/26 - Baked Fish with Mushrooms (BH&G/282), rice, broccoli

Thu 11/27 - TONS of good food for a Thanksgiving lunch ... then leftover Chinese for dinner.
For Thanksgiving, I brought Artichoke Dip for an appetizer, and Apple Pie for dessert.

Fri 11/28 - leftover Thanksgiving for dinner

Sat 11/29 - at last, make the Jambalaya I've been meaning to cook for ages

Sun 11/30 - Chicken pot pie

Mon 12/1 - Salmon w/ Caper Relish, rice, broccoli

Tue 12/2 - Lasagna (from freezer), salad

Wed 12/3 - Cashew Chicken (RR1/105)

Thu 12/4 - Shredded Pork Wraps (a Crock Pot meal), chips & salsa

Fri 12/5 - Pork fried rice (using leftover cooked pork in the freezer)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MENU Mon Nov 10th through Sat Nov 22nd

We just had a weekend of eating out (celebrating our anniversary then eating out with a group of friends) so it's a fine time to create a meal plan based (almost) entirely on what's already in our refrigerator.

11/10 Mon - Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan, salad on the side (I have lettuce, carrots, onion, and cheese for the salad - optionally could add walnuts & craisins, but probably won't add those two items for this meal

11/11 Tue - Happy Second Anniversary to Us! :) BBQ Chicken legs, mashed sweet potato, cooked carrots

11/12 Wed - Sausage Soup with cornbread on the side.

11/13 Thu - Pasta w/ red sauce and ground turkey, salad on the side

11/14 Fri - Baked Fish with Mushrooms (BH&G/282), rice, and veggie (okay, so we will have to go to the store for mushrooms and a veggie for this meal ... salmon's on sale, too ... )
**we never made this that week... ended up going out for Mexican b/c I had to work late**

11/15 Sat - Chicken pot pie (use the bits of leftover canned veggies I have saved in the freezer, the celery that's still in the fridge, and any leftover fresh carrots we still have) - make lots extra to freeze for future meals

11/16 Sun - Pork tenderloin (I'll bring the extra to work for lunch) and acorn squash

11/17 Mon - chili and cornbread

11/18 Tue - steak (the last Porterhouse we have in the freezer!), salad, potato

11/19 Wed - Lasagna (make in small pans & freeze one)

11/20 Thu - Chicken & rice & sausage meal

11/21 Fri - Stir fry w/ chicken and tofu (from freezer - it was on clearance one day, and I saved it in the frzr)

11/22 - Jambalaya

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Plan Succeeds

This is why I plan

Two weeks ago, I had a pretty busy Saturday planned, and I knew I would not have the time to do much menu planning.

The solution? I asked my sweet husband to go back through and pick out a menu he'd like to have again.

The restult? We repeated the menu from July 26th to August 8th. It took just a few minutes to throw together the grocery list, and the planning was done.

Now it's two weeks later, and I again have time for planning, so I'll add to the list of menus.

My Long-Term Goal

The whole idea here is to compile lots and lots of menus, so that one day I won't have to spend an hour planning two weeks of meals ever again. I'll just use existing plans, probably with minor variations.

What I am (very) slowly working toward is having menus whose individual recipes work well together.

Many recipes call for an ingredient that you then have to figure out what to do with the rest of. These ingredients fall into to categories: (1) those that can be saved for another day with minimal effort and (2) those you have to use or they will go bad.

(1) Those that can be saved
A recipe calls for just a bit of ricotta cheese ... you don't have to use the rest of it in this two-week menu plan; it will keep in the refrigerator for a while. But you'd better use it pretty soon.
A recipe calls for just a bit of tomato paste ... you can freeze the rest in an ice-cube tray (about 2 TB fits in a cube) and use it sometime in the next 6 months - no worries!

(2) Those you have to use
Many produce items cannot be frozen for another day without turning into squish.
Celery - you will need to use the rest of it in the next two weeks. Maybe in the first week have salad with dinner a couple of nights and add celery or have some as a snack. Then in the second week, have a couple recipes that need celery cooked in them. (I don't like it in salad after a week b/c it gets rubbery.)
Water chestnuts - when you're making stir-fry for just two people, a whole can is too much. The other half of a can will get funky in not too much time - you really have to use the other half in the next couple of weeks. Be sure to plan one stir-fry meal per week two weeks in a row!

So, I would like to develop menus that don't leave items like this left over, leaving you (and me!) to stress over what to do with the rest of them.

Leave your problem items in the comments - or recipes you've found that work well together, using up all of a problem item.