How do you figure out how to meal plan? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-11-2006, 09:06 PM
 
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Here's what I did:

I took one afternoon and sat down with three cookbooks (two slow-cooker books and a Weight Watchers book), and a big stack of Cooking Light magazines.

I printed out three free blank calendar sheets from www.calendarsthatwork.com for July, August and September.

I decided that I wanted each week to have one soup night, one beans & rice night, one salad night, one chicken night and one red meat night. The other two nights are for going out or leftovers.

Then I assigned recipes to the days. First I put in the recipes I already know by heart and love: chicken and salsa in the crockpot, that kind of thing.

Then I found recipes I wanted to try that fit the categories. When I found on, I wrote down the name of the cookbook and the page number. I used codes to make it even faster: i.e., "SCRB p. 14" = Slow Cooker Recipe Book, Page 14.

I checked as I went to make sure I didn't have too much of anything in one week, like three Mexican dishes in a row, or three with lentils as the main ingredient.

Once I'd filled in all the days, I typed it up into the www.calendarsthatwork.com template, so that it looked nice, and saved it on my computer so I couldn't lose it! I put the current month on the door of the fridge so that we can see what is coming up.

Each week on Sunday (or whatever my marketing day is) I look up the recipes, photocopy them, and make a shopping list. If necessary, I can eliminate one of the meals or move it around if we have special plans. I keep the photocopied recipes on the fridge in a clear sleeve so that I can look at them while I am cooking. It's right at eye level which makes it easy to read. I can make notes on them afterward if there need to be changes the next time I make a dish. I put them in my family notebook when I'm done to be used again in the future.

All I plan is the dinner meal. I use whatever is seasonal, on sale, leftover, or something I need to clear out of my pantry for side dishes and lunch. This leaves me room to be creative but takes the hardest decision-making away.

This system wouldn't work for everyone, but I thought I would share it because it seems to be working for us. I did it this way because I liked the idea of the Saving Dinner meal plans, but didn't like the recipes themselves.

thalia loves Jesus and DH wordyeight and DD#1 : 8/2007 and DD#2 9/2010
and remembering: little turtle 5/23/2006 and poppyseed 7/15/2009
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Old 07-12-2006, 11:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anglyn
courtenay_e :
Can I have some of your recipes? Can I? HUH? Lets start with roasts, and assume I need "cooking for dummies" now, what type of meats can you use? I mean, when doing a pork roast, what PART of the pork? etc. do you add broth, water, what spices? What veggies?

I am getting bored with my same old, same old (spaggetti, meatloaf, blah)
DS is asleep in my lap, and so I'll have to answer those questions tomorrow...but the quickest answer would be this...

Get yourself a copy of "The New Best Recipes" by Cooks Illustrated. You could get it for $14.95 last time I checked, off of Amazon (though that may have gone up, it'll still be cheaper than the cover price), or it's currently at Costco on the book table for $19.95. It has all those tutorials, and tells you WHY one cut of meat is better for a certain way of preparation or another. It's really the absolute BEST cookbook I've ever read. I've given my copy away numerous times to friends just learning to cook or needing new ideas, etc. It literally has over a thousand recipes in it, so you'll be hard pressed NOT to find something you like in it...and everything EVERYTHING I've made out of it really IS the best I've ever made.

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Old 07-12-2006, 11:47 PM
 
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Okay, I read the post AFTER that one, and frankly, I have a zillion cookbooks, but I'll do an assessment tonight and see which ones I REALLY use the most, and let you know. Tomorrow.

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Old 07-13-2006, 01:33 AM
 
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Okay, so I have ten extra minutes before bed time. A lot of what I do is simply cooking by feel, using what I've learned over time...but here are other books that I've learned from, in no particular order. (Still maintaining that the Cook's Illustrated Series is the best resource I've found so far)

I've listed a book before by a lady with the last name of Cunningham...I think it's called the Kitchen Companion. Good stuff.

My mom's "Good Housekeeping" circa 1969. Basically, I take the basic recipes and change them up...for instance I combine the recipe for Italian Meatloaf from here and the one from Bittman's book.

Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

Pelegrino's "Rao's Recipe's from the Neighborhood" (great "real" italian)
and his "Rao's" (or something like...it was the first one)

Ummmm...Not your Mother's Slowcooker Cookbook

Moosewood Resturant Cooks at Home

Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Burley (has great resources list in the back for mail order sources such as Goldmine Foods)

there are some great baking ones, too...

King Arthur Flour's Baker's Companion and Cookie Companion

William Sonoma's Baking Cookbook. The best banana bread recipe I've ever had. And I love banana bread.


Many of the things I make, too, are just recipes that have been handed down, and then I've kind of made them my own with what I've learned in the last few years. I make KILLER turkey chili, originally my great grandmother's recipe, but changed by my mom, and now changed again in my kitchen...even my mom admits that mine's better than hers...and her version is pretty darned good.

What is it you'd like recipes for? I will see what I can do, if you're looking for something in particular.

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Old 07-20-2006, 09:36 PM
 
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What a great thread. Courtney thank you so much for the awesome ideas. I love it!!!!! Could I please have your turkey chili recipe.
Thanks,
Sebrina
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Old 07-20-2006, 09:36 PM
 
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subbing
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Old 07-22-2006, 10:14 PM
 
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I tried the crockpot idea and found a couple we really like! (online)

What I really need is HEALTHY and EASY recipes, is that asking too much?

~Me, mama to soapbox boy (1991), photo girl (1997), gadget girl (2003), jungle boy (2005), fan boy (2003) and twirly girl (2011). Twenty years of tree hugging, breastfeeding, cosleeping, unschooling, craziness
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Old 07-27-2006, 02:15 PM
 
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Courtenay, I read your post the other night after we got pizza because we are terrible at meal planning. We're instituting your plan. We went through some cookbooks and planned six weeks of meals and so far it's going great. You saved our family from constant carryout!

Shelley
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Old 07-27-2006, 10:29 PM
 
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Shelleyd, you're funny! Yup, that's actually what did it for us. I was so SICK of resturant food...and our budget JUST COULD NOT handle the tabs anymore! So, we went to work. In general, it works really well.

I really DID post the turkey chili recipe two days ago...where the heck did it go? Maaaaannnn, there's ten minutes down the drain! I'll see what I can do about reposting tomorrow. SOrry for the wait!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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Old 07-31-2006, 11:47 AM
 
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: becuse I want to see that turkey chili recipe! Which reminds me I haven't made my spicy turkey lasgane in a while. It was the first "grown up" food DS ever ate.
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Old 08-06-2006, 02:03 AM
 
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great ideas!

Jami (25) Roland (27) & Caleb (5), Jacob (3.5) , Kaitlyn (2)
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Old 08-06-2006, 01:10 PM
 
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Courtenay is awesome, eh? She can come to my house with a pot of turkey chili anytime.

I skimmed the thread, but did not notice the way I plan my meals. I look at all the sales flyers for the week I am shopping (twice a month, small feezer and limited budget) and only get loss leaders (the items on the front and back pages). Sometimes the stores have "in store specials" and I will pick up something different, but not often. This time, pork roast was on sale as well as boneless chicken breasts... so we will be having a lot of that :P If I do not know how to cook a loss leader, i look through my shelves of cookbooks until I find something I would like to try and have most of the ingredients for on hand ... or that are inexpensive/also on sale.

As for planning things everyone will eat, when I figure out what is on sale I fill in those days on my two week block. There are always empty spaces, so I ask everyone what they want for dinner those nights. It works out well, b/c if we have something one person does not like one night, they know that "thier" night is coming next. Like someone else said, I try to make one thing everyone will eat (like rice or salad) even if everything else is horrible

Someone asked about pork roast. This particular cut is sold as "roast" or "loin". If you buy the loin in a huge pack, it is less $ (as low as $1.50 around here, but it still costs around $20 for the whole thing), and you can just cut it down or have the butcher do it. One large loin usually makes 5 "first" meals plus left overs for us (4 people). It is as easy to cook as any roast. We mainly make it two ways; in the oven or crock pot. Oven; first you salt & pepper, then brown the roast on all sides in a little olive oil in a cast iron pan. Cover tightly with tin foil, and stick the whole thing in the oven at 350 until the internal temp is 16o (150 - 155 in the oven, then take it out to rest, covered, for 10 minutes). How long it will take to reach this point depends on how large the roast is, but it is about 20 minutes per pound. We serve it with pan gravy (plain or mushroom). The EASY way to make it is from the Betty Crocker Slow Cooker Cookbook, pg 84, Garlic Pork Roast. just brown the roast, stick it in the crockpot on a bed of onions, add some garlic, S & P, and pour a cup of chicken broth over it all. Easy peasy, and yummy too. I pull (shred with two forks) the rest and make BBQ pulled pork sandwiches for the "second" meal out of the leftovers

The Tabbie Family; DH , DS , DD , a few :, a couple : and me.
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Old 08-07-2006, 12:41 PM
 
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Hey, Serenetabbie! OT, but I am saving some hollyhock seeds for you!

Okay, Ladies, I'm gonna try to post the turkey chili recipe again. Really, it's worth the wait. In fact...maybe I'll change out my wednesday dinner and make chili instead...

Here goes:



Mimi's Chili (with turkey)

This makes a big pot, and freezes well. We will make it for large gatherings, and also just make it for us and freeze half for a "rainy day."

*Coupla tablespoons pure olive oil
*Large white onion, chopped into about one inch chunks
*6-8 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced (or more, if the cloves are small and/or you just really like garlic...I do!)
*salt and pepper to taste for onions, garlic, and meat
*1-3 pounds of ground turkey, depending on how meaty you like it and/or how many people you're feeding
*1 LARGE (40oz)can Brooks brand Chili HOT beans. DON'T drain the sauce out!
*1 Fifteen ounce can of dark red kidney beans, drained of liquid (I just buy store brand)
*1.5 small bottles (dunno, not single serving, but not the 64 oz...usually on the top shelf!) of SPICY V8 juice (yes, V8. trust me, it's good).
*1-2 yellow and/or orange bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch chunks (depending on how much you like peppers...I love em, but my dh won't eat em, so I just use one pepper, or I'd be eating a LOT of peppers!)
*more salt and pepper to taste, if needed
*1/8 tsp chili powder (more if you like it spicier, but this give it just enough kick for us, without burning off our taste buds...remember that you're using the spicy hot beans and the spicy v8, too)

Saute the onions and garlic in oil, with salt and pepper. When the onions are starting to look golden around the edges, add the turkey, and brown that.

When the turkey is browned, DO NOT drain the juices...it's where all the onion and garlic flavor is hiding! Dump in chili hot beans, sauce and all. Add kidney beans (without fluid from can). Add V8, bell pepper, chili powder. Stir. Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer. We never cook less than an hour, and usually strive for a minimum of four. Six to eight is the best, but we don't always have that time...the longer it cooks the better the flavors meld. I keep the lid on for the initial hour (if I only have an hour total cook time, then I cook with it on for a half hour), and then keep it part on, part off until it reaches the consistency I like best.

Usually we just serve it with corn-bread and sharp cheddar cheese, but dh also likes it with mashed potatoes...that's a new trend, started by somebody who doesn't like "soup" though...so take that with a grain of salt!

Hope you like it...we do!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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Old 08-27-2006, 07:16 PM
 
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I am amazed..so many great tips. Keep em coming. I went to the cindy's porch link .. very nice; thanks!
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Old 08-27-2006, 07:27 PM
 
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I must add this tidbit.

If you use canned soups for recipes you make your own and save a boat load of money.

http://extension.missouri.edu/harris..._sauce_mix.htm

One of favorite meals is brown rice with hamburger and canned soup though now days we use the above.
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Old 08-28-2006, 11:29 AM
 
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Great link momto l&a

I'm actually making a recipe for dinner tonight that is hamburger, rice, cream of mushroom soup, fresh mushrooms and a bit of cheese. I think I'll try this as a sub for the cream of mushroom soup.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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Old 08-29-2006, 04:01 PM
 
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: I desperately need help

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 09-01-2006, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As the OP I must request that when the mods address the above post (and I'm sure it will happen soon), that you not delete the entire thread. Thanks!

Bourri, welcome to MDC! Hope you find lots of info and support here! Please address business issues in the WAHM forum, rather than here. You can check out the UA (User Agreement) for details.

Back to topic, I'm a bit nervous as I'm preparing chili for 30 for next week Thursday. I think I've got my strategy down but this takes meal planning into a different realm for me and I wouldn't say I've got a great handle yet on meal planning for my small family! But fortunately I only have to do the feeding of the 30 once. Whew.
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Old 09-01-2006, 06:14 AM
 
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Wow, this is an awesome thread! Meal planning has got to be the single biggest problem in my domestic life (laundry is close runner-up).

This strategy isn't really meal planning, per se, but does anyone else try to have a repertoire of really good meals that use pantry staples and then keeping those ingredients stocked? I keep thinking I want to develop more of these types of recipes or learn to can my soups or do freezer cooking.... It would be great to have these emergency meals around when life does not go according to plan. (And with a toddler, that happens more often than not).

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:35 AM
 
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I just found meal planning help!!! I am so excited cuz its always been a problem for me.

There is a book called Saving Dinner and it lists 8 months of recipes. The neat thing is that it is divided into weeks and at the beginning of the week, it tells you what you need to buy for the whole week!

You can also go to the flylady site and it has a link to a week of recipes that give you first all the ingrediants you need. I am trying the low-carb one and its awesome!

I feel like an advertiser! LOL But honestly, I was hopeless and the book and the sample week online has really helped so that I am only a little bit hopeless. :-)

with smiles
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Old 11-01-2006, 02:23 PM
 
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this thread needs to be seen more!

Amy at Stone Fence Farm
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Old 11-03-2006, 08:21 PM
 
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: Mad props to Gillian for telling me about this thread. I didn't even realize there was a forum on meal planning! I'm so glad to be here, looking forward to reading the whole thread once the bambinos are in bed tonight.

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Old 11-06-2006, 06:55 PM
 
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I have now been doing the savingdinner.com menu planning for a while now and LOVE it!!

I used to not end up cooking cuz I couldn't figure out what to make, but the site gives you ingrediants and recipes for 6 nights and can be tailor-made depending on the size of the family.

I love it! I feel silly being so excited about a product, but its been wonderful! Worth the $3 a month or so and more!

with smiles from someone who isn't afraid of the kitchen after 36 years,
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Old 11-19-2006, 01:14 PM
 
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:40 PM
 
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I just want to say thanks for this thread. I used some of courtenay_e's suggestions to plan my week. monday will be crock pot day...lentil sloppy joes. Tuesday, leftovers. Wednesday International day.... I'm gonna make Irish Cheddar and Stout Fondue (gosh I love Guiness!) Obviously, Thursday will be with family this week, and Friday will be Pizza with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes, and Mozzarella. All new recipes, all seem fairly easy, and I am so excited to have a fresh take on supper time!! Thank you!!!

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Old 11-20-2006, 01:24 PM
 
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Want to share your recipe for Irish cheddar and stout fondue? I love fondue and dh loves guiness.

I've been doing the courtenay_e plan now since July and I love it. We eat good healthy new things all the time, spend less on groceries, and I'm less stressed. Now my sister may be starting too.


Shelley
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelleyd View Post
Want to share your recipe for Irish cheddar and stout fondue? I love fondue and dh loves guiness.
: : : Sounds yum!!!
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:02 PM
 
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Here's a link to the recipe....

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/re...s/views/234120

I have never had fondue before, but I thought this might be a good way for the kids to eat their veggies! I'm gonna make it tomorrow (if the Guiness will last that long, lol!). I love Guiness. I even "splurged" a little on good dijon mustard.

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Old 11-26-2006, 10:21 PM
 
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Quote:
I've been doing the courtenay_e plan
Wow Courtenay_e, a whole plan named for you!

Re the seeds; you are so sweet to think of me Although, I just noticed you posted that and now it is Nov!

The Tabbie Family; DH , DS , DD , a few :, a couple : and me.
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Old 11-27-2006, 02:33 AM
 
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Wow!! Thanks for this thread and all those wonderful ideas!

I did my first ever plan for next week and boy was I sweating my @$$ off!!!! Just planning seemed like a tough job we don't even have kids yet, just myself and husband!!:

But after reading this thread , now I think I know how I would plan my menu in the future-

Monday-International day

Tuesday-My native cuisine (Bangladeshi) day-main ingredient will be Meat

Wednesday- Left overs

Thursday- Fish day (Bangladeshi style)

Friday- Vegetarian day

Saturday- Shrimp -any style(yeap, we LOVE shrimp so much it deserves a day of it's own )

Sunday- Breakfast day (I LOVE that idea )

Thanks a bunch!!!!

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