Do you plan for a different dinner each night? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 09-11-2011, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've noticed that whenever I ask for lunch ideas on this site, people say they eat leftovers from dinner.  We never have leftovers from dinner because we plan only a few dinners a week and eat them each for several days.  I'm wondering if planning a dinner each night (and leftovers for lunch) is easier or somehow more cost-effective than the way we do it.  In particular, I'm looking to reduce our food waste.  In find that we often end up adjusting our food plan during the week and end up with wasted leftovers or extra produce.  What works for you?

 

(BTW:  I'm a SAHM with a very hard to feed 17 month old; DP packs a lunch, but works outdoors (i.e. no microwave))

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#2 of 27 Old 09-11-2011, 07:13 PM
 
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I plan breakfast, lunch and dinner.   I usually don't have leftovers from dinner, and if I do, it's not a lot and it's perfect kid size.   Or I will be creative with it.   For instance tonight we had roasted chicken legs and stuffing.  I used a slab of the leftover meatloaf in the stuffing.   I try to make dinners so we DON'T have leftovers.   More so meats, but sides I have no problem getting rid of.  lol  

I buy eggs, cereal, yogurt for breakfast, deli meat and a crunchy thing for lunches.  Make and freeze pancakes and waffles.    DH does not pack a lunch, I wish he would, but DS brings a lunch and the girls and I will eat whatever.  Salad, pasta, deli meat...etc.   I am not sure if it's more cost effective to plan to eat leftovers for lunch, than to plan for lunch.  But I really don't have much food waste.   Since my last shopping trip, I have only thrown out a bunch of cilantro that was a couple of weeks old.   If I see the lunchmeat isn't going as quickly as planned I throw some in a salad for us for lunch, or eggs for breakfast.   If the bread is getting stale it's french toast for dinner.

I make a bi weekly plan for all meals, but I get creative when I see things going bad or sitting too long.  I buy mostly fresh food, we don't do many preservatives.   I always plan my big shopping for 2x a month, but always have to go once in the intrim for more milk. So that's when i would pick up the fresh green beans on sale or corn...etc.   I won't buy all my produce at once b/c it will go bad.   I also have these tupperware fridge savers (I think they are called).   They are special containers with vents for your produce.  I have grapes in my fridge that have been there 3ish weeks and they still are good and look just as good as the day I got them.  


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#3 of 27 Old 09-13-2011, 05:45 PM
 
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we are boring and eat cereal and fruit for breakfast - DD will eat z bars and an occassional waffle..   I tend to make a meal that'll give at least me several pms in a row of dinners- DD will eat pasta every night - and DH is so darn picky that he can fend for himself - leftovers or frozen food.  At last I know im getting a good meal :)

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#4 of 27 Old 09-13-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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I plan a different dinner every night. I guess dh and I are just picky like that and need some variety. Neither of us mind eating leftovers from dinner for lunch (though that's a rare thing, I try to just cook what we need for dinner), but we won't eat the same dinner twice in a row (or twice in a week for that matter).

 

I don't meal plan breakfast or lunches though. Those are totally "fend for yourself". We usually have bagels, frozen waffles, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, etc for breakfast. For lunches are sandwich, salad, fresh fruits, veggies, etc. DH tries to take his lunch to work 4-5 days a week. DS takes his lunch to school every day. I usually eat whatever is around the house for lunch.


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#5 of 27 Old 09-13-2011, 09:20 PM
 
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Yes, a dinner for each night. Leftovers are lunch fodder.
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#6 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 02:30 AM
 
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We do a different dinner every night as well. Leftovers are frozen for DH to take to work, me to eat at home or for us to use on nights when cooking just seems far too much like hard work.

 


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#7 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 04:19 AM
 
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Like a pp, we don't eat the same thing over and over again.  I cook something new 5 nights a week and rarely repeat a recipe within about a 2 - 3 month period (we like LOTS of variety!!)  Some things may be repurposed for another meal (for example, leftover roasted asparagus or fava beans might be incorporated in a bulgur pilaf or omelet later in the week).  One night a week we eat out and one night a week is "clean out the fridge night".   Otherwise any left overs are lunch the next day.  We waste almost no food.  If I think something can't be repurposed, it gets frozen to either be used in stock or soup or another dish later.  I also keep a magnetic pad of paper on the fridge and write down leftovers that need to be eaten up (or foods that need to be eaten soon) so that the family can pull them out for snacks or if they are making their own meals.

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#8 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 04:37 AM
 
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I plan lunch and dinner, or at least I try to. Surprisingly often, I'll have to work late and DH will take the kids out for fast food...should kick that habit! And planning breakfast is impossible with a teenager in the house, so I don't even try that ROTFLMAO.gif Lunch is always arranged, though! I can make a mean bento box.


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#9 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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Yes.

 

Leftovers are usually lunch since dh and I take a lunch almost every week day.  Sometimes if we have a ton of leftovers, we'll have them for dinner one night.  I don't plan breakfasts or lunches, I just make sure we have plenty of stuff that everyone likes available.  The boys pack their lunches and sometimes take leftovers, but it's usually sandwiches.

 

Sometimes leftovers get used in another dinner, like the fries I made the other night will be made into potato nachos tonight.  One way or another, the leftovers get eaten and since I plan, cook and pack lunches, it's pretty easy to do.

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#10 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 07:07 AM
 
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I plan menus for a week, with a different dinner every night. I may incorporate some leftovers as ingredients in a new meal (eg. leftover grilled chicken is sliced up and mixed in with sauteed veggies and pasta) but I rarely serve the same meal twice in one week. Partly because I like to keep things interesting, but also because I just don't like to eat leftovers myself. 

There are exceptions - mostly soups, stews, dahl, and similar foods where the texture doesn't suffer from sitting and re-heating and the flavour actually improves over time. I'm grateful that DH and the kids eat our leftovers for lunch. 

 

 

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#11 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 03:35 PM
 
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Different dinner each night here...DH usually takes leftovers for lunch, and occasionally the girls and I eat them for lunch.  There is usually only enough for one of DH's lunches -- maybe two.  If we don't eat any other leftovers before I have the chance/inclination to freeze them, I skip the kibble and feed them to the dogs.  They are fans.  :)  Some stuff, like cold veggies, are eaten as finger foods or sometimes reused in soups/spaghetti sauces/fried rice. 

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#12 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 03:40 PM
 
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We do different dinners each night and Sunday-Thursday we make enough so that we have leftovers for work lunches. Somehow we don't mind eating the same thing for lunch that we had the night before, but it just kills us to have the same dinner two nights in a row... Breakfasts are different each morning, though we only have a couple standbys we do in our house - eggs with bacon and toast, pancakes or baked goods and fruit. Sometimes French toast. 


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#13 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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We always eat one meal twice. Sometimes two days in a row, sometimes with a new thing in between. I don't make many quick meals, and don't want to devote 1 1/2 hours to cooking every night. Plus, I have to cook two different meals each night. DH is vegetarian, DS is not. 

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#14 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Namaste Amma View Post

We always eat one meal twice. Sometimes two days in a row, sometimes with a new thing in between. I don't make many quick meals, and don't want to devote 1 1/2 hours to cooking every night. Plus, I have to cook two different meals each night. DH is vegetarian, DS is not. 



this sounds like us - Im pretty much veg (occassional fish) and DD is completely veg., DH is not .  We have a 2week old so right now our survival (well, mine at least!!) depends on leftovers

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#15 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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I plan a different meal most nights but sometimes we eat leftovers in some form for dinner.

This week I have planned to use leftover meat in a stew so it is using leftover item but in a totally different meal.

If we have quite a few leftovers I skip making something new and we eat leftovers for the next meal or I freeze them.

I often have dinner leftovers for breakfast/lunch. Dh does take lunch every day and some go in his lunch. Dd and I eat lunch at home every day since she is homeschooled.

I try not to make more food than we will consume- with a small family this means making half a recipe sometimes or using frozen vegetables/fruit and just taking out the amount we can eat at one meal.

 

I have a list of 28 meals. We rotate through those meals.

 

 


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#16 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess my problem with making smaller recipes is, as someone else mentioned, that it takes the same amount of time to make the full recipe as it would to make half.  I think that's why we tend to have so many leftovers.  That and we have the world's smallest freezer.  I used to freeze leftovers, but now I buy larger packages of meat and freeze those, and that takes most of the space.  I think there's definitely a family-size thing to this.  I think it's easier to use up food with a larger family.  I have to say, though, I'm surprised how many people cook a new meal every night.  I honestly don't think I could do it.  I have a really hard time getting anything done with DD around, and DP doesn't get home until 7 or 8, so I think that makes a big difference.  I'm also surprised at the antipathy towards leftovers.  I LOVE leftovers! 

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#17 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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Oh, I love leftovers too - but for lunch! It's just so easy for us to have them for lunches instead of making a separate lunch of buying it out. And I really like to cook, so making a new meal every night is something I enjoy - I like planning out meals and looking in my cookbooks and whatnot. Mostly, we have a pretty standard rotation of 12-15 "everyday" dinners that we cook, and most of them only take a half hour or 45 minutes to get on the table. Since I view that time cooking as my personal relaxation time, it doesn't feel like a chore to me. I'm lucky too, because we just bought a 7.0 cubic square foot freezer, so I have the room to store both bulk meat from shopping as well as a good amount of leftovers. Sometimes I even double or triple a recipe, just to have the extra for the freezer, for those nights when spending 45 minutes in the kitchen isn't going to happen. 


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#18 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

I guess my problem with making smaller recipes is, as someone else mentioned, that it takes the same amount of time to make the full recipe as it would to make half.  I think that's why we tend to have so many leftovers.  That and we have the world's smallest freezer.  I used to freeze leftovers, but now I buy larger packages of meat and freeze those, and that takes most of the space.  I think there's definitely a family-size thing to this.  I think it's easier to use up food with a larger family.  I have to say, though, I'm surprised how many people cook a new meal every night.  I honestly don't think I could do it.  I have a really hard time getting anything done with DD around, and DP doesn't get home until 7 or 8, so I think that makes a big difference.  I'm also surprised at the antipathy towards leftovers.  I LOVE leftovers! 


I like leftovers too. I like them for breakfast because I hate breakfast food. I hate cooking in the morning or figuring out something to eat. I love leftover soup in the morning.

 

One reason why I do not like always making enough to serve 8+ people when we are 3 people is that at the original meal it lends itself to overeating and wasting food. I grew up cooking for more people with bigger appetites and it took a number of years for me to figure out healthy portion sizes and that I should sometimes scale down recipes. We still have some leftovers but it is a more manageable amount- what we can finish in a week or fit in our freezer space. We do not have a huge freezer either.

 

My dh also gets home around 7:30 pm and some days are long and tiring. Having a limited menu of 28 meals that get repeated each month, frozen leftovers and the slow cooker are helpful.

 

Here is how our week is playing out with a different meal each night-

Sunday we had grilled sandwiches and baked french fries. Each sandwich was made exactly the way each person wanted. Dh showed up just as I was cooking dd's sandwich so he cut some cheese for his sandwich and put it together and then I cooked it next. There were no sandwiches or fries leftover.

Monday we had baked fish, mac & cheese and peas. I fed dd before dh got home as he was running late. There was just enough fish for each person. DD wanted to eat dh's food after scarfing down hers and having a second helping of mac and cheese but I told her she could eat fruit or a granola bar if she was still hungry. Dh and I both had 1 serving of fish, mac and cheese and peas. There were only some leftover peas that I ate with my lunch the next day.

Tuesday I pulled leftover curry out of the freezer and re-heated it. I cooked rice. Dh made it home about 7pm. Dd had snacked around 6pm. I think dh and I both had 2 helpings of curry and rice. Dd was cranky and refused to eat the curry and ate rice and a sandwich dh made her later. Dh took the remaining leftover curry and rice for lunch the next day.

Last night we had gyros. We had gyros last month and I had frozen half of the meat and tzatziki sauce so I pulled those out. I made fresh pita bread in the afternoon and we had toppings on hand so I just had to slice a few things and warm the meat. Dh was home early so we ate around 6pm. Dd and I both had 1 gyro each and dh had 2. The meat was totally eaten up and the tzatziki sauce was pretty much gone. The leftover pita bread went in the freezer for falafel next week. People would have eaten some of the pita bread if I left it out but now I don't have to make it again next week.

Tonight we will have pancakes.  I have half a package of sausages in the freezer and some frozen fruit that I will get out to have with our pancakes. There might be one or two extra pancakes that I will put in the refrigerator for dd to snack on.

Friday I will cook chicken strips, mashed potatoes and baked beans. There won't be any leftover chicken strips or mashed potatoes. I might have leftover beans and I will probably freeze them to have next week when we have veggie burgers.

Saturday I will cook roast beef in the slow cooker. I have planned to use part of the meat again in a beef stew/soup next week. I'm going to try a new pasta dish with squash on the side. I don't know how much will be leftover of that.

 

 

 

 

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#19 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

I guess my problem with making smaller recipes is, as someone else mentioned, that it takes the same amount of time to make the full recipe as it would to make half.  I think that's why we tend to have so many leftovers.  That and we have the world's smallest freezer.  I used to freeze leftovers, but now I buy larger packages of meat and freeze those, and that takes most of the space.  I think there's definitely a family-size thing to this.  I think it's easier to use up food with a larger family.  I have to say, though, I'm surprised how many people cook a new meal every night.  I honestly don't think I could do it.  I have a really hard time getting anything done with DD around, and DP doesn't get home until 7 or 8, so I think that makes a big difference.  I'm also surprised at the antipathy towards leftovers.  I LOVE leftovers! 

 

I love leftovers, too.  And we are a family of 4 (3 adults, one child who eats as much as me).  But most meals are about 8 servings and if dh eats two servings at dinner and sometimes my mom eats 2, then there is barely enough left for lunch, let alone two whole dinners.  I do repurpose food, though.

 

We have a lot of freezer space.  2 full-sized uprights and 2 smaller in fridges.  I don't freeze a lot of leftovers, but could.  I don't want to because I LOVE to cook.  I do average a couple, three hours in the kitchen each day, prepping and cooking.  I enjoy it, though.  For those that don't enjoy it (my best friend, for example), I know it's torture.  Just do what works for your family.  I have over 100 recipes that I cycle through and try a couple of new ones each month.  We just love variety.  If your family doesn't, don't worry about what others do.  If you're not wasting food, you are doing better than most Americans.  winky.gif
 

 

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#20 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 12:19 PM
 
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Another leftover lover here. We make a different dinner every night, although lately with evening activities, we've been having pasta two nights a week. I purposely make enough for leftovers & usually DH and I eat those for lunch. Sometimes DD1 and I will eat leftovers for breakfast - we don't much like "regular" breakfast foods. DD2 usually takes a PB sandwich for lunch, so sometimes I make DD1 and myself another big pot of something to eat all week for lunch (DH takes the leftovers then). A couple weeks ago it was bean chili, this week chap chae (Korean noodles with vegetables). Right now I'm working out the quickest, easiest way to get healthy food on the table because this school year we (by conscious choice) have a lot of activities, and that includes DH and me, not just the kids.


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#21 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 01:07 PM
 
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I cook something new 5 or 6 nights a week.  I cook enough for a meal plus at least 3 lunches, some of which get eaten as breakfast by the preteens.  Anything else left over either gets repurposed in some way or occasionally gets overlooked and fed to the pigs.


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#22 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 01:21 PM
 
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some of which get eaten as breakfast by the preteens

Ah, yes.  I am often teased in this house for eating roast beef and mashed potatoes or chicken casserole or some other dinner leftover for breakfast that is not your quintessential breakfast fodder.  I figure, "what's the diff?"  I sometimes eat eggs and bacon for dinner, so who says you can't have a "dinner" for breakfast?

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#23 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 01:59 PM
 
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We're fine with leftovers, but we've noticed that as DD grows a lot of our meals that used to last us two suppers are down to a supper and a lunch. 

 

Either way, lately I've been making a list for the fridge of at least 14 suppers.  These are different things that we have everything for.  Some are crockpot meals, some are very easy things like pasta and a veg and other things are more complicated.  There's a variety and the most important thing is that we have all of the ingredients for all of them.  This has worked really well for me.

 

I don't plan lunches or breakfasts.  Most weekends I do something like baked oatmeal or waffles but during the week we eat simple things like eggs and muffins or cereal and fruit.  DH takes his lunch to work.  If we don't have leftovers he takes a salad or a sandwich.  DD takes her lunch to school sometimes and I just keep a variety of easy lunch stuff to make hers.  It's usually simple stuff like fruits and veggies, cheese or yogurt, nuts or crackers, hummus and a sandwich or a wrap.  I usually have a sandwich for lunch.  Snacks are things like crackers, boiled eggs, fruits and veggies, etc.  A huge part of our grocery budget goes to fruits and veggies.


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#24 of 27 Old 09-15-2011, 03:58 PM
 
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No kidding!  I love soup for breakfast, or baked beans on toast.  

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Ah, yes.  I am often teased in this house for eating roast beef and mashed potatoes or chicken casserole or some other dinner leftover for breakfast that is not your quintessential breakfast fodder.  I figure, "what's the diff?"  I sometimes eat eggs and bacon for dinner, so who says you can't have a "dinner" for breakfast?



 


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#25 of 27 Old 09-16-2011, 10:43 AM
 
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Well, I totally get you! Meal planning is just not that easy, especially with my kiddos! Because I'm not the best cook in the world, and winging it is just not easy for me, i plan out my dinners a month at a time. I have the menu posted on a bulletin board with the name, what recipe I got it from etc. for each month. I usually take one day or so like a Sat. and just plan meals, make up the grocery lists for each week of the month( to be added to and tweaked when I actually get to that week). Planning meals on a weekly basis was just too stressful for me, so planning by month has been easier. I also plan at least 3 big meals a week, to have leftovers for me and the kids and hopefully hubby's lunches too. He also works outside, so everything he eats is cold leftovers. For all of our lunches, I usually buy a rotisserie chicken (that lasts for days worth of lunches) tuna, quinoa, or PB+ Js for lunch. Occasionally i buy lunch meat as well, and sometimes we eat leftover dinners for lunch. 


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#26 of 27 Old 09-16-2011, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just want to thank everyone who's responded to this because it's been really helpful.  I do love to cook, and do love food variety and trying new recipes, but it's very different when you add a toddler (and one with lots of tricky food issues, at that) into the mix.  I guess I'm just still struggling to adjust my usual leisurely, haphazard enjoyment of cooking to the kind of responsible cooking you have to do for a family. 

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#27 of 27 Old 09-20-2011, 07:07 AM
 
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I do both.  I plan 5-6 meals a week but several of those meals incorporate things from another meal.  Pork roast with boiled potatoes and broccoli one night; sliced pork with gravy, fried potatoes with bell peppers and onions, and peas another night.  And there was pork for sandwiches in between.  I don't plan what days I have each meal weekly but the list of meals goes up on the fridge to remind me what is available that week.


Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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