Thursday, October 07, 2010

October's Menus

Rob thinks that I need to post this for posterity.
I started planning menus after discovering Leanne Ely with her Saving Dinner method. It has made shopping with kids easier in the store, I've saved money, I have to do less thinking during the day, and dinner is on the table by the time my ravenous swimmers come home. It has also allowed me to keep a really poorly-stocked pantry!

(I have used the Saving Dinner sample menus, shopping lists and recipes in the past. They're easy to follow, I love the fact that I can print out her shopping list, and my kids always eat them with gusto. I also used her make-ahead meals for the crockpot when I was pregnant with, um, someone (Joss?). Aside from the fact that I couldn't keep down green peppers, these were great too; take one out and throw it in the crockpot, then shut the door and run to the other end of the house until dinnertime.)

I've done better and I've done worse through the years, but last month we had some big expenses stacking up and so I planned meals mostly from the pantry through the rest of the month. It worked so well that I went ahead and chose dinners for all of October at once. Mostly it helped me not repeat, use the sauces I just bothered to preserve, and buy a few meats in bulk for the month. I stuck the things we have in the freezer/things I canned up on top because we know how many jars and bags we should use up per month.
Here are my menu-planning rules:
  • I only worry about dinners. I stock staples for breakfast and usually have leftovers for lunch.
  • I only worry about entrees. I stock regular items for side dishes like vegetables, or pair typical things with specific entrees (coleslaw with pulled pork, spaetzle and red cabbage with goulash)
  • I don't assign days, just cross things off the list.
  • I aim for 4 days/week of eating vegetarian. The list below is 17 out of 31. We could probably do better here, but the kids begin to protest loudly if they see too many vegetables and not enough carbs and proteins on their plates.

Here's the list of October's dinner menus:
1. pesto pasta
2. sweet & sour over rice
3. lasagne
4. lobster bisque with bread
5. fried rice
6. tomato basil pasta soup
8. chicken chili
9. soft tacos
10. chicken curry
11. breakfast for dinner
12. mexican lasagne
13. pulled pork sandwiches
14. hawaiian beans
15. pizza
16. sweet potato quesadillas
18. cauliflower curry
19. red sauce pasta
20. pineapple peanut stew
22. latkes
24. goulash
25. salmon patties
27. salmon wraps
28. chicken soup
29. punt restaurant dinner
30. vegetable frittata
31. pesto pasta


Ann said...

I'm totally going to try this. It's just so hard to get Mark to take any meal seriously without meat in it. Any tricks?

Pmom said...

That's amazing. If I did that for an entire month I would feel like the best homemaker ever.

So, is this a method for making an entire's month's worth of meals ahead and freezing them? If so, when do you do all the cooking. What do you do with your children?

Emma said...

we plan for a month in our house & we totally save money. But your menu looks far better then ours!
We only eat meat twice a week and so I feel like we have the same things all the time, I think I'll take a couple of these to our next months menu!

McFamily said...

@Ann: you're already doing it. Make favorites, use meat as a seasoning (like your pizza), use dessert as a bribe (kids), even make more than one vegetarian dish to round out a meal. Then eventually those get weaned away.
@Pmom: I haven't made meals ahead except when I was pregnant. I do have a binder of Saving Dinner make ahead meals you're welcome to borrow if you want to try it. You can make about five a night in an hour or two after kids are abed.
@Emma: good for you! I forgot that the biggest thing meal planning does for us is keep us from going out to eat!

jenlinmin said...

If you're looking for more vegetarian recipes, my favorite book is "A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen" by Jack Bishop of Cook's Illustrated fame. It's divided by season, so you're making tomato dishes in the summer and butternut squash dishes about now. It's not so overwhelming when you only have to sort through a small section every three months :) Bon Appetit!