Monday, August 4, 2008

Menu Planning for Dummies

I've been in a bit of cooking rut lately, due largely to not making a very good menu plan and then finding that there are too many options by the time I want to start preparing dinner. So we'll see how this new idea works. Each night of the week we will have a theme and I'll do my best to work within that theme to use what we have to prepare that dinner. This will be the first week for me to try this. As I get this down pat, I will add breakfast and lunch plans. My specific menu plans for each will depend on the grocery sales of the current week or the stockpile of cheaply acquired ingredients from previous weeks. We are a family of 5, with a monthly grocery and household supplies/diapers/personal goods budget of $300/month. Homemade whole wheat bread may be added to many of the meals in one form or another.

Meat Monday - I'll cook something with beef or pork which will likely be the "meat & potatoes" meal of the week. I'm thinking roasts, steaks, pork chops, meatballs, etc. paired with potatoes or rice and a salad or vegetable.

Tex-Mex Tuesday - Meals could include tacos, burritos, taco salad, quesadillas with meat, fajitas or rice bowls with meat served with a vegetable or salad.

Chicken/Turkey Wednesday - Possible meals are grilled chicken breasts, roasted chicken, roasted turkey, chicken casseroles, turkey soup with homemade noodles, served with fruit and vegetables.

Third World (or Thrifty) Thursday - Bring on the beans and rice with whatever bits of meat are in the fridge from former meals! If we have a surplus of leftovers, we'll opt for clearing those out instead. This meal will likely be served with smoothies from fruit that needs to go. Smoothies in our house are made with any combination of fruit, yogurt, milk, juice and small amounts of ice cream that needs to be used up. Since I generally shop on Friday, it'll be nice to have the fridge clear for the new purchases. This is a day to use what we have and use inexpensive ingredients.

Family Friday - A meal catered toward what the kids like....pasta with meat sauce, pizza, burgers and oven fries, tacos, meat and cheese pockets, hot dogs wrapped in whole wheat bread dough, etc.

Savor the Day Saturday - For breakfast we'll have a better breakfast than we take the time for during the week which will likely be any combination of oat waffles, eggs and bacon, omelets, muffins, fruit, juice and smoothies. Lunch will be sandwiches or eating out, if we are able to do that on any given week. Dinner will be something prepared on the grill.

Simple Sunday - For lunch we'll have some kind of entree that I just have to pull out of the freezer on Saturday night, from times when I cook in bulk, or something I can assemble for the crock pot on Saturday night. For dinner we'll do some kind of soup and salad. Some soups we serve around here are chili, taco soup, chicken noodle or chicken rice, broccoli cheddar, vegetable beef, baked potato, and pasta e fagioli (from a copycat Olive Garden recipe I found online). Soups also seem to be good ways for us to use up little bits of this and that which are lingering in the fridge without any other purposeful use.

So, with that in mind, here's my plan for this week.

D: mesquite pork tenderloin (we like the Hormel Always Tender which I found on a good sale this week), green beans, green salad with cukes, peppers, celery, asiago, banana peppers & Tuscan dressing

D: taco on soft corn tortillas, carrots, celery, and peppers with dip

D: light chicken fettuccine alfredo, broccoli, breadsticks

D: leftovers and/or black beans and rice, fruit smoothies

Friday Dinner - Sunday Lunch: Camping Meals
beef hot dogs with chips & salsa, BBQ beans and fresh fruit
sub sandwiches, crackers, jello
cold cereal & milk, yogurt, white grape juice
oat banana pancakes with blueberries, orange juice and bacon
taco soup with chips, guac, sour cream & shredded cheese
tequila lime turkey tenderloin (grilled), creamy corn, rice (pre-cooked)

Oh, it feels good to have a solid, but simple plan!

For more menu ideas, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.


Amy said...

Welcome to MPM! I love your theme night idea!

I pretty much plan my menu around what's in my freezer.. and what's in my freezer is pretty much bargain meats found on my grocery trips a few times a month. It works out really well for me.

Bobbie said...

Welcome to MPM. I know you will enjoy it here and I love your organizing thoughts on each night.

Anonymous said...

Welcome -- Your menu looks great. Thanks for joining in!

Mom2Drew said...

Gosh...that sounds so incredibly organized, but what do I're Rachel:)

We do something similar on Fridays and it's a fun tradition to start. I know A loves it when we serve something she really enjoys.

We need to get together soon friend.

Sandy said...

Thanks for visiting me earlier.

We're winging the meals this week! Daily doubles for our boys and soccer and we're all over the place (but just for this week).