Tag Archives: menu planning

Menu Plan Monday

Still don’t have the graphic for this meme, but one of these days I’ll figure it out!

I still have not tried menu-planning since we went gluten-free, but I did a little research on menu-planning last week and found this. Nice pictures, simple ideas, doable suggestions. Maybe by next Monday I really will have a menu plan for the week to follow.

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Menu Plan Monday

…actually, this post is something of a fraud. I don’t have a clue what we’ll be eating this week. I think I cooked two home-cooked meals last week, and the rest of the time we were either eating out or eating sandwiches in the car. (Buying lunchmeat and bread and fruit and chips and making lunch as you travel is a lot cheaper than take-out.) I’m out of the groove.

Got to clean out the refrigerator of the stuff that didn’t get eaten last week, what with all the traveling and reveling and that sort of thing, and then I’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to eat. Lots of salad, at least, because we got beautiful lettuce from our CSA this week. Not sure what else, yet. Will let you know.

Menu Plan Monday

This is not what you think it is.

Or maybe I should say, it’s not what it looks like.

First off, it’s Tuesday. A “Menu Plan Monday” post probably ought to go up on… yes, you guessed it… Monday.

You see, I hit the wall on menu planning about three months ago. Yes, just before the holidays.

No, it wasn’t the holidays that derailed the plan. It was going gluten-free.

Here’s the scenario:

I had a nice little deal worked out where the four of us female-types were working a rotating schedule, so far as meals went. (There are actually five female-types living in our household, but one of them is canine and doesn’t have much to say about the menu, except perhaps that she lusts after everything. And I mean everything. That dog even eats lettuce, when she can get it.)

I assigned “days” to the calendar (one “meat” day, one “poultry” day, one rice/pasta day (could include meat or fish), one crockpot day, and two meatless days. That adds up to six, with the seventh day being a shared meal at church, thus no big meal at home. We’d have leftovers that day, and the meal-maker would plan something special for Sunday afternoon tea.

To start out the system, we brainstormed main dishes in all the main categories, giving us lists to choose from.

It meant I only had to cook one day out of four. At the beginning of the month, we four would sit down with the calendar and pick the meals we wanted to make; no repeats allowed to encourage maximum creativity and variety.

Then a friend suggested that we go gluten free, in an attempt to help Eldest’s ever-worsening migraines and food sensitivities. All the medical doctors were doing was throwing more and more powerful drugs at her problems, and she was getting worse, not better. Frankly, she wasn’t getting any relief at all, and I was worried about the drugs being prescribed, especially after hearing on the news about people dying from those same prescriptions.

This friend said her migraines disappeared after she went gluten-free for other reasons, a nice side-effect, wouldn’t you say? I figured, what harm would it do?

The  migraines dropped off, then disappeared altogether.

But… it meant that I took over all the cooking at the time, to make sure that things really were gluten free. It meant adapting some recipes and learning new ones, and using ingredients I’d never used before, in some cases. The younger two girls were resistant to the idea of going gluten free, and that was also a reason I took over their cooking days.

Two months into the new regime, the Head of the household was diagnosed with gluten problems. Good thing I’d been practicing, eh? I’d worked out a lot of kinks by then and was just about that time tackling the challenge of homemade gluten-free bread.

But man, I’m tired of doing all the cooking. I’m sort of cooking by the seat of my pants, planning the menus a day at a time. The plan has to be in place before 10 a.m. just in case I have to take meat out of the freezer. Learned that from Emilie Barnes or Bonnie McCullough or Deniece Schofield, don’t remember which. Maybe all three.

Got to get back on that horse, even if it means taking the extra time to teach the girls the ins and outs of gluten free cooking. Actually, that’s not such a bad idea. It’s just hard to get over the threshold. You know, that horribly deceptive trap that it’s faster and easier to do it yourself. You fall into that trap, your children don’t learn life skills and you end up as maid-of-all-work while they sit around or contribute to the mess (but not the cleanup).

What I need to do is brainstorm lists of GF main dishes (just as we started out before, with the girls’ input about their favorite meals over the last three months) and then get out the calendar and sit down with the girls, the same as we used to do.

Meanwhile, I looked up a few GF menu planning links and will share them with you, in case you’re in a similar quandary.

Amy’s is a commercial brand — I’ve seen their TV dinners (are they still called TV dinners?) in the freezer section at the local whole foods store. This link is to a two-week menu plan with breakfast, lunch, snack(s), and dinner for each day. The menus include, of course, Amy’s products.

The Gluten Free Diva (link is to her new website) published weekly menu plans in her old blog. Here’s one. Here’s another.

Gluten Free Mommy hosted a GF menu swap, encouraging other bloggers to share their menu plans. This page seems to be old (2007 and 2008 dates) and some of the links are dead, but there are also some links with good info.

If I can get my menu planning back in gear, I’ll post a real “Menu Plan Monday” post next Monday.

Best laid plans

Well, it was grilled cheese, um, rather quesadillas for dinner tonight (out of bread, will bake more tomorrow) instead of lasagna. By a unanimous vote, instead of skipping lasagna night, we’re going to slip this week’s menu plan by a day. So lasagna tomorrow, fried chicken the next day, and I forget off the top of my head what follows, but Saturday will not be leftover day, but rather what would have been Friday’s menu.

Flexibility…

Menu Plan Monday

I’m not sure how to do the “Menu Plan Monday” button, or where to go to sign up, but when I do figure it out I’ll incorporate it here.

This is the menu plan for this week.

Monday – Crockpot Chicken ‘n stuffing (Youngest)

Tuesday – Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Mom)

Wednesday – Stir Fry (Eldest)

Thursday – Cheese Pizza (Middlest)

Friday – Roast something or other (depends on what we have in the freezer) (Youngest)

Saturday – leftovers (Mom to organize)

As you see, there’s a cooking rotation. Each person picked what meals they’d be making, during our meal planning at the beginning of the month. On the day you cook, you’re also responsible for washing up. The menu plans revolve around this schedule:

Sunday – tea (the main meal is a shared meal at church)
Monday – crockpot
Tuesday – pasta
Wednesday – chicken
Thursday – meatless
Friday – meat (pork, lamb, beef, sausage, bacon, etc)
Saturday – leftovers

What’s your plan for the week?

Menu Plan Monday

Well, we did it.

I’ve been thinking about menu planning for a long time now. (How long? you ask? Well, I’m calendar challenged, and add to that I have very little sense of time, so let’s just leave it at “long time now”. Years?)

Oh, I’ve done menu planning before. Before the food allergies hit so hard (oh, my, that would be 14 years ago!) I would look at the inserts to the Tuesday Food Day and plan menus around the sale items.

While we were on our rotation diet I planned two weeks of menus at a time.

Tried once a month cooking. Threw my back out. Tried a variation–doubling recipes and freezing half. Worked for awhile but then the girls started their growth spurts and quite often that “extra half” got devoured, or seriously depleted, leaving enough leftovers for lunch but not enough for everyone to have for another dinner.

When life got busy and the allergies had abated somewhat, I started cooking catch-as-catch-can. I’d found I pretty much bought the same staples every week (milk, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies, bread either bought or baked) and once a month or even less often I could stock up on pantry items (pasta, rice, dried beans, half a side of beef for the freezer, that sort of thing) and I just fell into a rhythm of cooking.

But sometimes when life is busy the rhythm sort of stumbles. You find yourself fixing spaghetti twice in one week. Maybe even thrice. (I guess it’s the equivalent for working-outside-the-home moms when they’re going through a drive-through several times a week.) There’s the occasional night when the children just graze and there’s no formal dinner on the table. You know things have to change.

So… I brainstormed lists of foods. Beef/pork/lamb (“meat” in other words), chicken, pasta, meatless, pasta, crockpot. Sunday is a shared meal at church, so “Tea” is the order of the day.

I assigned an order to the days. For the summer, starting with Sunday, it’s Tea – Crockpot – Pasta – Chicken – Meatless – Meat – Leftovers. When fall hits, we might have more than one crockpot day, depending on our schedule, and it might not be Monday but some other day. Still, the summer is a great time to have a regular slow cooker day, when we can try out new recipes and also avoid heating up the kitchen. The other days can be slow-cooker days, too, depending on the recipe chosen.

I put all the names of the recipes I’d brainstormed onto quarter-index cards. (Cut an index card in half. Cut the halves in half. That’s what I mean.) I happened to have four colors of cards, so I assigned a different color to each category (except crockpot, tea, and leftover day).

I wrote down a cook rotation schedule on the July calendar. Mom-Eldest-Middlest-Youngest-Mom-etc. We then took turns selecting recipes. (I went last, after the girls had taken turns selecting all their recipes. We avoided conflict, in that Eldest got to be first to pick from the Meat category, Middlest got to be first to pick from the Pasta category, and Youngest got to be first to pick from the Chicken category. Since they all had favorites in every category, they seemed satisfied.

The choosing went on sort of like captains picking players for teams, until we’d assigned a meal to every day of the month.

It’s worked pretty well so far, five out of the last seven days. We were thrown off a little by park days where we went to a local river to cool off and so dinner didn’t get cooked. But other than that it’s working.