What do you always have on-hand & how do you plan what to eat? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-02-2005, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am just curious. We are having to skim down on our food budget and I have been through many different phases with cooking.

I've planned meals and bought just for that, I've bought a ton of necessities and created things from that and I've been a lousy cook too who prepares nothing.

I don't want this to be a hard thing to do and I know I need to find what works for me so I am looking for new ways and inspiration.
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Old 02-02-2005, 02:27 PM
 
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Some of the thigns I like to keep on hand:
grains like rice, Quinoa, bran
flours
vegetables- preferably fresh or fresh frozen, but canned also works
pasta- good for soups and casseroles as well as in a traditional sauce
butter, shortening, milk (for baking)
eggs
boullion- I use it for soup and grains

We have a general outline for our weekly menu-
soup
breakfast
2 meat
3 meatless

I try and make double batches of thigns that freeze well- soups, casseroles, pasties, etc, and I try to use the crock pot at least once a week.
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Old 02-02-2005, 02:59 PM
 
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I've found cooking 2 weeks on, 2 weeks of freezer, keeps me interested and creative. During the 2 weeks of freezer food I start to feel like cooking again and start looking for new recipes, then when it is the 2 weeks on, I have new things to try. Suring the 2 weeks on, I make everything in double batchs so we can eat it when I'm off.
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Old 02-02-2005, 07:53 PM
 
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I have an 8-week meal plan that is basically 3 meals a week and a wild-card day. I make enough of each of the three meals I cook that we can have them twice in one week, and on the wild-card day we have leftovers or I make soup out of what's on hand (and as long as I add pasta, the kids will eat it).

For me the key is to find recipes that rely on staples and aren't very fancy. I glance at lots of recipes, and any of them have ingredients that I wouldn't normally use or buy, I don't bother with them.

I don't like gearing my shopping toward what's on sale because I have found that doing so just encourages me to buy things I don't want/need/use.

I'm working on buying staples in bulk so that they are cheaper and needn't be purchased as often.

Namaste!
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Old 02-02-2005, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Those are good ideas

I am not sure i could pull off the two whole weeks of freezer thing but perhaps I could try one week/ one week.

I guess that it just really works well for me to look through a cookbook and make a list of the things i need and shop for them. Then when that night comes, go to the page in the cookbook and make it.

Only when I am really creative can I just whip stuff up several night in a row with what ever we have.

My creative energy goes to other things right now.
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Old 02-02-2005, 11:50 PM
 
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I found that narrowing my choices for meals has actually helped. Monday is pasta day, tuesday chicken and wednesday is beef (usually hamburger). Thursday is leftover or eat out night and I gave Fri-Sunday to DH. I'm not real strict about it, but when I'm confused, I can say - pasta day - spaghetti or tortellini? It seems to help me make a decision about what to cook.

It's not a whole-foods-from-scratch thing, but I REALLY love desperation dinners. We both work full-time outside the house and I was never a fancy schmancy cook. I find DD approachable as a cookbook.

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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Old 02-02-2005, 11:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stretchmark
I guess that it just really works well for me to look through a cookbook and make a list of the things i need and shop for them. Then when that night comes, go to the page in the cookbook and make it.
.
How do you remember what you planned to cook? When I do that I find the avocados and sweet potatoes rotting 2 weeks later. It just doesn't stay in my head what I meant to cook. :

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Old 02-03-2005, 04:13 AM
 
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I always have hamburger or ground pork on hand for dh.
I also have black beans
tortillas
noodles( various)
spag sauce- or canned tomatoes
CHEESE!
Yogurt
Mushrooms- I live off of mushrooms and add them to everything I make.
Pizza crusts- or bread.
I also love the day idea-
I think I will do the same when dh is in town. He travels for work- which is helping out alot- since I do not eat too much and no meat.
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:31 PM
 
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We do the weekly thing too, although I'm too scattered to stick to Mon/Tues... Instead I think one meal of each, whenever it works out.

Breakfast (eggs, pancakes...)
Beef (spag, tacos, steak, potroast-we live on a beef farm, always got beef)
Chicken (baked, in pasta, wings, sandwiches...)
Frozen Pizza, or like
Soup/chili with rolls/biscuts
Meatless/fish (tuna casarole/salad, mac and cheese, ...)
Dinner out

We always use pretty much the same stuff, so shopping is a pretty easy routine.

I never worry about sides, there's always applesauce or cottage cheese and some veggie (can/frozen) or make your own salad (lettuce and whatever else you can find) to round out the meal. That way all I have to focus on is the main thing. And I love to bake on the weekends!

Works for us!

Who else has good ideas?
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Old 02-03-2005, 08:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C
How do you remember what you planned to cook? When I do that I find the avocados and sweet potatoes rotting 2 weeks later. It just doesn't stay in my head what I meant to cook. :

I have a menu grid I print out. Its just two weeks worth of boxes with space for a date and plan, plus a box for "extras and weekends." I fill it in, make a grocery list (also printed so I can circle what I need and write in anything different), and hang the menu on a clip inside the pantry door.

I may switch the dates as the week wears on, but it helps me to think about the day it will probably be served. For example, Thursday: girls and I will have lunch at the cafeteria (kids eat for $.99!) and they are hosting playdates all afternoon, so simple and easy works best. Friday: I have spiritual studies, so something easy for dh to serve.

If I am using a recipe from my collection, I put the card in a particular place in the kitchen. If I am using a recipe from a book, I jot the page number and title on the menu grid.

Last year I challenged myself to select at least one new recipe per week. Haven't done that this year as much. I like the idea of 2 weeks on 2 weeks off, don't know if it will work for our meals though. Many aren't too freezable, iykwim.

I love this new forum, btw!
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:41 PM
 
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I've got my recipes on index cards. Once a month, I go through and sort them for the coming month. (Just did mine today for Feb though... running behind.) Once I have them in order, I make my shopping lists from the recipe cards- one for the first two weeks, the second for the last half of the month. It takes about a half hour a month to do it, and I know we're buying only what we need, and using all that we buy. I might have to make a quick trip to the farmer's market to get fresh veggies, but that's about it.

I always have herbs, spices, lemon juice, pastas, flours, and other staples on hand, as well as a few jars of pasta sauce and a few frozen meals from earlier in the month. I have a pretty small freezer so I can't double batch food as much as I'd like.
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Old 02-03-2005, 10:21 PM
 
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Ann Marie, I have a system very similar to yours. I have an 8-week meal plan, and I also plan the meals around what we are doing that week. Easy meals for busy nights, more complex ones for free afternoons/evenings. I also take the recipes I need and put them in a certain place (on top of the microwave). I also have a pre-printed grocery list and I just circle what I need. Mine is arranged by store (I shop 4-5 stores every week) and, within each store section, in the order I will get to that item as I walk through the store. I also have a list of the ingredients in each recipe that I use so that, as I sit at the computer looking at my meal plan, I can circle things on the master grocery list based on what I need for each meal.

The whole thing took 3-4 hours to do (over time, I didn't do it all at once), and it saves me at least an hour every week.

Namaste!
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Old 02-04-2005, 08:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
Ann Marie, I have a system very similar to yours. I also take the recipes I need and put them in a certain place (on top of the microwave).

Well of course, that is the correct place! (that's where mine go too.) I also have my grocery list arranged in store order which does save time and also keeps me from missing something (theoretically!).

Someone else mentioned an 8 week cycle. Sounds like a good plan, do you allow for variation according to the season or what you might harvest/buy at the farmer's market?

AM
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Old 02-04-2005, 08:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann Marie
Someone else mentioned an 8 week cycle. Sounds like a good plan, do you allow for variation according to the season or what you might harvest/buy at the farmer's market?
Yes, absolutely. My meal plan basically relies on a Mexican dish, a pasta dish, and a grain or bean dish, each dish eaten two times a week, as well as a soup for the wild-card day. I have specific meals on the menu plan, but to me it's actually more of a guide than a set-in-stone plan. I don't necessarily plan my menu around what's on sale, but as I do tend to buy the veggies that are on sale or in season (during farmer's market season), I have a store of back-up recipes for each type of meal I make so that I can build a meal incorporating whatever I've bought on sale or at the FM (or harvested from the garden during gardening season). So if I look at my meal plan and see that I have artichoke fettucine alfredo on the menu but someone has just given me a bunch of fresh tomatoes from their garden, we have pasta with tomato sauce instead. Making soup each week is great because I can use up veggies that will go bad soon and also use veggies that I've harvested or been given or have bought large amounts of due to sale or season. I've been able to incorporate just about every veggie except lettuce into a soup of some sort!!

Namaste!
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:49 PM
 
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Wow, many very organized mamas out there. I'm pretty new at this, but I have my favorite recipies and I look through them each week (well, the ones both I and my dh(? what exactly does this stand for?). Then I buy enough for two or three meals and cook them when I feel like it. I like the ideas I'm hearing because they'll help me save money. I'll never be able to keep staying at home if I keep spending so much on groceries.

I keep on hand:
- canned spicy refried beans
- tortillas (these 2 plus cheese make our version of quesadillas, easy adn quick, once every 2 weeks or so)
- spaghetti sauce from a jar
- one frozen entree just in case I don't want to cook
- chicken broth that I make, add to my son's food, veggies, whatever
- greens like kale or whatever is cheapest and freshest to use as a side dish
- lettuce if there is any that looks worth buying and is organic
- frozen bread for toast for me and my baby
- frozen organic ground turkey, stew beef if available, chicken thighs or whatever org chicken is on sale
- brown rice for arroz con pollo, which we also have about every 2 weeks

Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
Making soup each week is great because I can use up veggies that will go bad soon and also use veggies that I've harvested or been given or have bought large amounts of due to sale or season. I've been able to incorporate just about every veggie except lettuce into a soup of some sort!!
I love this idea. My question is: How do you make soup that your husband likes? My dh is picky, and if I do something experimental he rarely eats it.
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lelabetts
I love this idea. My question is: How do you make soup that your husband likes? My dh is picky, and if I do something experimental he rarely eats it.
My husband is mega-picky. He claims not to be, but we've been married going on four years and he still surprises me with announcements of things he doesn't like. His idea of good organization for meal planning is to stop at the store on the way home from work and buy what sounds good for dinner that night. This is what he did before we got married!

My husband does not like soup, but he eats it because that's what's for dinner. I try to make meals that my husband likes, but he freely admits that his tastes change daily, so I just make what I make and he eats it. If I make something he truly does not like, I don't make it again, but he's stuck with soup because it's cheap and easy and a good way to use up leftovers!

Namaste!
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Old 02-05-2005, 12:07 AM
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I am actually about to alter my food spending and cooking ways soon..just a bit. I found this site with a great meal planning idea that only goes week to week..so I plan to follow it in my own way and go from there. The site is:
Cooking For The Rushed

What I keep on hand and usually have to buy often it seems (usually non name brand):
Peanut Butter
Nutella/Hazlenut spread
Eggs
Bread/Tortillas (I don't like to eat bread)
Margarine
Cheeses
Pasta sauce and pastas
All vegetables especially peppers to grill, carrots, romaine lettuce.
All fruits especially bananas, apples, oranges
Baking supplies for homemade treats
Potatoes and oinons
spices

With these I can usually dig up meats or whatnot from freezer I have to make a dinner that will go for next day lunches for Dh or another form of dinner. I am hoping the new way works better if I can manage it.
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Old 02-23-2005, 01:05 AM
 
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I love all these ideas- great organization too ladies!

We have been doing a freezer feed and we eat out of the freezer at least once a week. This week twice - three times since its a bit busy. Also since the pantry challenge, we try to use what we have before running out to the store.

When at the store, I get what I need, but if one of our staples is on sale, I stock up. Also if certain veggies are on sale, I plan meals around them- example- a pound of mushrooms was on sale last week. We had chicken strogenoff or we will chop them into different recipes that call for them.
or make mushroom soup

Also, our meals are sometimes seasonal. During the winter months we only use the grill once or twice a week even in snow. During the summer its almost every night. We even grill pizza since the oven heats up the house in the summer. We also eat more veggies then since we grow them.

For staples:
freezer:ground beef, chicken breast, frzen yogurt pops for dd, shredded zella, frozen veggies from our garden, basil and other spices
Fridge
carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, stocks, soap base from penskys,
pantry
you name it!
All baking incl wheat flour, two sugars, cormeal, corn starch, choco chips, unseasoned choco etc

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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