Sunday, September 16, 2012

Menu planning anyone?

Menu planning is taken very seriously around these parts.  Every Sunday, I sit down in the comfy chair and settle in with my laptop, note pad and pen.  I break my list up between the grocery store, Target and Costco (when I need to go places other than just the regular store).  I list out the week and then I spend about an hour looking around Pinterest, looking up recipes I have pinned, recipes other people have pinned, and looking at other sites, blogs, and last resort I look in my cook books.  I have the most fun during this part because I love looking at cooking blogs.

I try very hard to use the most of each recipe.  I grab 5 recipes (most that I have done before, although I do try to make one new recipe a week) and then I plan them out so that if I can re-use food.  For example, if we have a pot roast on Wednesday, Thursday we will have shredded beef tacos and I will use our left over roast for tacos.  This helps cut back our left overs and also helping us save on waste because left overs don't go over fabulously here.  

So now that I have totally bored you with my strategy, let me share with you what we are having for dinner this week.  

Monday - Mongolian beef with sautéed mushrooms, broccoli and white rice. 
Tuesday - Chicken enchiladas in zucchini boats with chips as a side  (I will also be using her tip, here, of crock pot shredded chicken where I will cook 6 chicken breasts to shred.  I will use approx. two for this recipe and then the rest will be used throughout the week)
Wednesday - Grilled chicken and pineapple quesadillas, possibly with homemade tortillas (this just depends on how ambitious I am feeling)
Thursday - Potato Soup (I don't have anything to link here since I make it homemade by memory and taste.  Maybe on Thursday I will type out what I do and post that)
Friday - PIZZZZZZA!!!  On Fridays we make homemade pizzas (and dough) and we use all the left over veggies in the fridge.  Well not aaaaaall of them, but a good chunk.  This is so that we clear out as much as we can so nothing goes bad.  This week, we will also be having these grilled eggplant things to use the eggplant that I have.
Saturday - left overs.  We hate left overs for dinner, so we try to eat what we can for lunch so there isn't much left, but if there is, we eat it on Saturday.  If not, I find something else to cook, this Saturday, we will have loaded baked potatoes if we don't have left overs. 
Sunday - BBQ/salad.  We usually get a head of lettuce with our Bountiful Baskets on Saturday and since it's super fresh it goes bad really fast, so we usually do a salad with grilled chicken for dinner on Sundays.  It's also a super easy meal, uses hardly any dishes, and I make a homemade dressing which makes it that much more awesome. 
Special treats - Amish Friendship Bread (which will also be my starting bread to always have bread on hand), artisan bread, some sort of breakfast bake or coffee cake for the Saturday morning (this is still up in the air)

When my list is complete, I take a quick walk to the fridge.  I have a "freezer map" on the door where I have listed everything that is currently in the freezer.  I figure out what I need to buy, what I need to take out and defrost, and I make any last minute adjustments (do I use peas instead of broccoli?  Should I add carrots to something?) based on what I have.  If I have enough chicken, I cross chicken off my shopping list.  If I decide that I need a special kind of meat (like I need flank steak for the mongolian beef Monday) then I add it.  

Now this is where I get crazy.  When my list is complete, I RE-WRITE it by category.  I put all the dairy together, produce together, and whatever else.  I also add snacks to the right sections.  I do this for a couple reasons, one, so that I don't have to back track all over the store and two, it helps me not impulse buy everything I see.  If I ever figure out coupons, this will help me with that too. 

Last but not least, I add my tags to my menu board on the wall so at a quick glance I can see what we are having.  This also helps when I lose note pad halfway through the week.  

I hope this doesn't seem too complicated.  It really ends up being a fun process and I always feel accomplished when I am done.  I also really like the idea of posting my menu here every week so that I can look back at past weeks/recipes/etc, so this might turn into a segment, LOOK OUT!

**Edited to add that I have included this post in a blog hop over at Crunchy Farm Baby with their weekly Snack Time Saturday segment.
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