Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To date

My thoughts on my menu planning adventure thus far.

I'm loving the freedom it has given me. It's so nice to know exactly what I'll be making for dinner. No wondering and shuffling through cupboards or cookbooks to figure out something at the last minute. On the other side of that, and this is going to sound ridiculous, I do sort of miss the spontaneity. Not necessarily the mad dash and rush part of it. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I miss some of the adventure of it. I guess I need to find another way to live dangerously.

It's also lovely to have the kids now only ask me 50, instead of 100 times a night, what we're having for dinner. All they have to do is go look at the menu posted on the refrigerator.

Since I love it so much, I can't see myself giving up this planning thing anytime soon. It's really been a lifesaver to my sanity.

I mentioned a while back that I found a book called I Dare You To Eat It . I haven't read it cover to cover yet. I've pretty much just skipped around in it. Basically, it's about building up and then using your food storage. The thing that jumped out at me was how to plan your menus. I can't remember the length of time she advises you plan for. Let's just say that you plan out a month's worth of menus. What the author recommends is that when you go shopping, purchase 3 months worth of the item. In other words, enough to make the dish 3 times. Of course, this doesn't mean that you buy three months worth of the fresh fruits or vegetables that may be in a recipe. They obviously wouldn't keep. This is talking about pantry items that would be used in the recipe. Let's use this recipe as an example:

Burrito Casserole

10 flour tortillas

1 can refried beans

2 c cheddar cheese, shredded

1 4-oz. can green chilies

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

1/2 c milk

1 16-oz. can enchilada sauce

1 c olives

Fill tortillas with beans and cheese. At times, I have also filled them with seasoned ground beef, or canned chicken. Fold in sides and roll up into burritos. Place the burritos in a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Combine the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/2 c of the cheese, and pour it over the burritos. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

Instead of buying 1 can of anything listed there, buy 3 and you have enough to make it for three months. I don't shop for an entire month's worth of groceries at one time. Although, I suppose if you planned right with budgeting, etc. that would mean you only have to grocery shop (for ingredients) once every 3 months. You would obviously have to go more often for fresh items and other staples. I shop for 1-2 weeks at a time. Even if I have 2 recipes that use something like Cream of Chicken soup, I buy enough to make each recipe for 3 months. Instead of buying 3 cans, I buy 6. You will be amazed at how quickly your pantry and storage will build up.


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What's on the menu today: Chili Relleno Casserole. This one is super easy.

10 comments:

Jillene said...

I love having a menu to follow. I can't stand not knowing what to make for dinner. I am going to go through your recipe blog so that I can plan my next 2 week menu--time for some new ideas!!

The Boob Nazi said...

My brother and his wife do that too. They have SO MUCH FOOD! (And sometimes, they let me shop there. ahh, bliss.)

SO said...

I usually try to do menus for two weeks out. In the Summer it kind of goes down the tubes because I hate cooking in the Summer. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Jo said...

Yum. I sort of do a menu. I know what I am going to cook for the week (when I being good about it) and I buy everything I need. Some dishes take longer than others, so I let my days guide what I am cooking that night. Stir fry doesn't take long, (I buy frozen stir fry veggies!) so I will make that on a night when time and/or patience is short. Other nights when I have more time, I will cook something more time intensive. Sundays I know Bald Man will be home, so I can always plan a yummy meal for all the kids when they come over. The other thing I have done, is even though most of our kids have moved out, when I cook, I still cook as though they were home. That way if they show up unexpectedly, there is always plenty and if not, we eat the leftovers. Works for us!

Sheri said...

Sounds yummy!

Erin said...

I definitely need to do a menu. My husband's grandparents had a weekly menu, where they made the same thing every week. Like, Mondays was tuna casserole. Tuesdays - Shepherd's Pie. Etc. That is way too mundane. But thanks for reminding me that a menu would actually help make my life easier.

kristen said...

That is a very good idea. I don't know WHAT I'm going to do when I have to cook for myself... I'm so spoiled since I don't have to yet. I can do it, I just have the hardest time coming up with what to make. It's quite pathetic really.

Holly said...

I use to do "once a month" cooking. There are a couple of books out on it and they include the recipes and shopping lists. It's fun to do if you have someone to do the cooking with since it takes an entire day to do the cooking, but fun.... especially for the next 29 days!

Rosie and Derek said...

It makes me crazy when I don't have a menu. I usually end up taking all night to figure out what we can have, and then we don't eat until super late.

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