Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Menu Planning...

When I was a footloose and fancy free single gal, I scoffed at the idea of menu planning--after all, it was just me, I'd go to the store, buy whatever struck my fancy, and eat it whenever I wanted. I didn't do much better once Matt and I started dating, mostly due to the fact that we were a couple in love with the idea of spontaneity, and whims, by their very definition, don't exactly announce themselves ahead of time. But once we got engaged and I moved in, I got sick of running to the store every other day pretty quickly, and I started making a list of meals for the week, with some space for take out or dinner at parents and whatever thrown in for good measure, and I did my best to do ONE big shopping trip (though you always end up running out of milk or detergent or something unexpectedly). Since we moved, we've been back to our old ways of near-daily store runs and whims and such, and it's wearing me out. SO, back to meal planning I go, and I was wondering how many of you plan your meals out in advance, how many times you shop, etc? What day do you do your shopping? Do you have a giant chest freezer and buy for the month? Do you cook all your meals on Sunday and freeze 'em up for the week? Is Thursday your designated night for meatloaf? Do you make daily store trips, and cook what you feel like? Do you eat frozen pizza every night? Are you a take-out junkie?

In short, kids, how do YOU feed your family?

I've decided that, as with so many things, technology keeps me on track, so from now on I've got a Word template for my shopping lists and my weekly meals, and a space on the fridge (with magnets!) to post it all. Accountability, even self imposed, is my ultimate motivator.

Here's my menu this week:
Tonight...well, tonight we're eating out at Nama, because Matt knows that my other ultimate motivator is Sushi.
Chicken, White Bean, and Winter Greens Soup
Cloverleaf Rolls

Dinner with the fam, no cooking for me!

Panko and Nut Encrusted Fish Fillets
Sauteed Spinach and Garlic
Baked Winter Squash Casserole

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Corn Souffle
Buttered Green Peas
Cabbage Casserole

Spicy Chicken in Coconut Milk over Basmati Rice
Fried Plantains


Is that cheating to *plan* for leftovers? I don't really care.

So, looks like today has just become my weekly shopping day. Other plans for the day include a couple loads of laundry and some fish tank maintenance. Maybe even a trip to Sams! The fun never stops here at Blue Meadow Lane!


KatieKate said...

hmmm. This post hits a little close to home.

I love to cook- and am really good at the MAIN dish part, but often leave out the sides. I love sides, but darn it all if they aren't the first thing to go when it's been a *day*. We're big meat people 'round here... and I'm a winter cook- stews and chili and casseroles and one-pot wonders mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

BUT it has been my dream to be the kind of wife/person who can plan menus a whole week in advance. I shop once a week, so I should be able to do this. Why can't I do this? I think if I could do this it might make me an 11 on Curt's scale.

Can you help me?
Will you help me?
Can you be my menu yogi?

CortneyTree said...

Oh, KatieKate, I was just sure you were going to say you plan everything out for a month in advance! Hooray for human-ness, right? I know that's not a word but I can't exactly think of the word I mean. Anyway, yes, we can totally figure out a meal planning system, I just know it. I will work on some pointers and think about some of my stumbling blocks and email you. We'll get this whole she-bang worked out and you'll be an official 11 in no time. When Matt came home today and saw the weekly menu posted on the fridge he got all mushy on me too--who 'da thunk it? The way to a man's heart really truly is through his stomach...

Leigh said...

I try to be the plan-ny person, but usually fail, and here is why: very often I simply don't feel like eating whatever was scheduled for that night so I switch things around, and the next thing you know, I am running to the store for one ingredient. I cook for just myself and my 4 yearl old daughter. I have mastered the "art" of one pot wonders, usually starting with some sort of boxed Asian noodley thing, adding tons of veggies and baked tofu cubes, and putting it on the table. Or frozen organic pizza and salad. Pretty lame, I know. But I have found that she likes simple meals at night the best, the soup and croutons and carrot stick nights, the cheese quesadilla nights, the plain spaghetti and steamed broccoli nights. So I am trying to feel less guilty about spending 30 minutes max in the kitchen, and remembering that she has a pretty healthy diet, even in the bones of the meal come from a box.

CortneyTree said...

Leigh, that's totally my typical downfall too--the ol' switcheroo and the single ingredient store trip! I don't think your meals are at all lame--the most important thing is that you're feeding yourself and your kiddo well, and you certainly seem to be doing that by building on a box meal. Since we haven't jumped the baby hurdle yet, I've got tons of time to play around with my meals and the only picky person I have to deal with is Matt, who thankfully just isn't that picky! It sounds to me like you're doing great, and by spending less time in the kitchen you're getting more time to spend with her.

I think meal planning is just one of those things that doesnt' work for everyone-I know I never thought it would work for me, and even when I do plan, I'm right there on the *edge* of organized--I don't do any real fix-ahead and freeze kind of things, and one good cooking show on the ol' TiVo can send me off into a plan-ending obsession to cook something new, but I'm trying to keep myself in check, ya know?

sunday said...

i tried really hard to plan for the week. i was doing really well and then the holidays hit, in August :) oh well. we have been going to the store everyday it seems and then getting lazy about it. i will get back to the weekly plnning though. i just know it. it makes life simpler for me. growing up thursdays were spaghetti night. friday we went out to eat and dinner. saturday was pizza night. sunday was a fancy dinner, and tuesdays were leftovers. good times!

thekooiet said...

So, I'm bored....not moving from my rocking chair because it's cold and snowy outside, and all my children are still snoring....AND I'm stalking everyone's blogs!

I hope it's okay that I'm commenting on here.

I have a template for my shopping lists and my weeks menu too! I have my shopping list organized by isle of the store I most frequently visit (Meijer) My attempt is two weeks out...but that doesn't always happen. I can be really gosh darn lazy.

I am a huge crockpot cooker! I am or someone's inevitably gone each night (except for Fridays) for something. The crockpot is so convenient...I use it about 2x a week.

A wonderful website for busy gals like have great ideas for once-a-month cooking, what a well stocked pantry should look like, and even weekly meal plans.

What's your recipe for the Chicken, White Bean, and Winter Greens Soup...that sounds marvelous!

CortneyTree said...

Jami, of *course* you can comment here, any time you like!

I'm completely jealous of your snow, we had probably our best chance for any white stuff today, and alas, it's just cloudy and gray and cold, with the occasional miniscule flurry. Boo.

The soup is terribly easy, I don't even really have a recipe, it's a thrown together sort of thing--I always start with some onions and lots of garlic cooked until they're soft, then add chicken stock (this time I had half some homemade frozen stock and half from the ol' box), a couple of cans of cannellini beans or other white beans, some chopped greens (I used turnip, but you could use kale or mustard or collard greens, anything), seasoned with some salt and pepper and maybe a pinch or two of red pepper flakes if I want it spicy, and let that simmer until the greens are tender. In the mean time I put some boneless breasts or tenders under the broiler and cook till they're just completely white through and through but still very tender, and then let them cool and shred with a fork. I dump that in the pot, taste for any more seasoning, and serve with some rolls and butter. I bet you could easily adapt this for the crock pot as well, and the leftovers freeze nicely!

E said...

Yes I plan...I plan to eat a frozen pizza or tv dinner every night. I'm afraid that we aren't very big on cooking, so we buy lots of frozen foods and meal-in-a-box things. The whim is still there (pepperoni or three-meat pizza?) but we don't eat as well as you do. Can I come eat at your house since we're fellow Knoxvillians? Your menu looks fabulous!

CortneyTree said...

Come over anytime, I always make too much! ;)