Monday : Meal Planning

So, we have been following our meal planning pretty well.  When you factor in feeling sick, change in plans, and life – we are doing great!  Still have not eaten out!  Success there!

So here is our plan for the next 3 weeks or so :

8 ~ Tuesday : Beans and Rice

9 ~ Wednesday : Chicken Spaghetti {casserole}

10 ~ Thursday : loaded burritos

11~ Friday: Make your own Pizza

12~ Saturday: (trip to DFW) sandwiches in the car

13 ~ Sunday : Chicken & Rice Soup {Crock pot}

14 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

15 ~ Tuesday {veggie}: Southwest Egg Rolls

16 ~ Wednesday : Veggie w/ Baked Potatoes

17 ~ Thursday : Beef Stir-Fry w/fried rice

18~ Friday: (*WHM for me) Pizza for them

19~ Saturday: (*WHM for me) steaks for them

20 ~ Sunday : spaghetti

21 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

22 ~ Tuesday : Homemade Chicken Soup

23 ~ Wednesday : “Gourmet” Quesadillas

Trying to sprinkle in the Beef & Chicken nights each week – but not too many.  We are still enjoying many “Meat-less” meals – us and the kids, so that is great!  Stretches that meat a little more too!

Keeping my plan up to date has really saved us a lot of money too – I keep it on the fridge – when I lose that I print it out again, and each  morning I try to put it on my Daily Docket as a reminder and to get me thinking about sides, prep time, etc.  So this is all working for us.

It is all about saving money, eating healthy, and well, saving money!  So far so good!!

(*WHM – Whole Heart Mother Conference – I get to go up to DFW and spend the weekend.  My goal?  Well, relax, be encouraged, and save money!  yup!! The goal is to take food to eat in the hotel – my friend and I will do this together.  More fun, and ….you guessed it :cheaper.  We may have to run out to the grocery store to pick up a few things, but that is still better than eating out!!  Can’t wait Jennifer!!)

Sunday Summary

Today we were blessed to have sweet friends over to play, eat and talk with!

We enjoyed our slow-cooked pork loin as pork tacos, Spanish rice, and even some homemade tamales!  I may have to post some pics from those and my recipe.  They were not as superb as the ones I made in November with my mom and Louie, but they were okay.  Our friends thought they were great, that inspires me to make some better to show them I really can make some decent tamales.

Thought I would organize my week tonight and look back over my meal plan, get my oatmeal in the crockpot tonight for breakfast in the morning and get some beans soaking too!

Here is my meal plan for this week {nothing fancy – but cheap}

24 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

25 ~ Tuesday: Meat Loaf

26 ~ Wednesday: Veggies

27 ~ Thursday: Chicken & Dumplings

28 ~ Friday: Pizza

29 ~ Saturday: Spaghetti & Sausage

30 ~ Sunday: Beef Stew


AHEbutton2

Not sure I shared this before, but still following along with Ann’s system to memorize Colossians this year!  We are on week 4 – this week we are committing the following to our minds and hearts:

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told you of your love in the spirit (v7-8)

Not too bad this week, last week was a killer, still working on the last part:

the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.  In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly believed. (v5-6)

(see what I mean about killer?)

so this week I hope to polish last weeks and get this weeks done! 

Anxiously waiting for this book to arrive –

comp_1000gifts_revised-1

I honestly cannot wait to start reading it!!  So excited to have a few ladies to share all that we are learning in this book with each other!


Lastly, I wanted to share what has worked for me the past few weeks.  I have enjoyed using this daily docket to organize my days.  I love that it has dinner on there, a place to put a verse I am working to memorize – or just need to be reminded of,  A Most Important Item list and then a to-do list.  I tried it for a while, and I really like it!

Trying to make the most of my Sunday night – getting ready for a great week!!  So many things to be grateful for!!

Getting there

 

jan 13 sunrise

Project 365 – morning sunrise

 

So, I was failing in the meal planning zone of my life.

I have been really good at this in the past.  But lately, well, lately I cook what I feel like about an hour before we eat it.  This is not a good way to live.  Do you want to know why?

1. It stresses most people out

2. It costs more than when we plan

3. It stresses me out

Okay.  So in the past did well, lately not so well.

But then, we decided to be serious about money.  In the past we have always been a bit serious about money, but now we are “Dave Ramsey” serious.  What does this mean?  It means we are honestly counting each dollar – watching where it goes and not spending it if we do not have it – or until we have it.

So today I went grocery shopping.  I did come up with my meal plan for the next 3 weeks or so.  I knew I needed to plan before I went.  Why?  because I knew Robert was counting the dollars.  Each of them.  Bummer!  Let me tell you, the food costs are so different when you are actually watching where it is all going!

So I walked around with my phone in my hand calculating how much I was spending as it went into the cart.  It is remarkable how much that changes EVERYTHING!! 

I can tell you I made 3 impulse purchases.  No, it was not a magazine at the checkout.  Not even chocolate chips (which we happen to be out of, but do not NEED).  No, my impulse purchases were a big bag of Masa, 2 cans of green chilis, and some frozen corn so I can make some tamales.  And you know what?  I felt bad about those because they are not on the menu for a few weeks, but they are just so good!!  I knew that we could work them in for lunch a couple times and then freeze the rest. 

Wow.  I feel so much better now that I confessed my transgression.

Really though – try it.  Make a plan.  Have a set amount you can spend – and be serious.  Then walk with the calculator and shop.

NOTE : Do not take kids.  If you do require that they are older than about 8.  I did have JB – but he does not beg, whine or throw fits    pay a lot of attention while shopping and it not so bad to manage when it is just him.

I really think we have turned over a new leaf.  Well, I have.  We will see if this is going to last.   I know that with all our dollars being accounted for, there will not be as much extras in the pantry – so I will not be changing up the plan because I do not feel like making what is scheduled.  We are going to be a lot more consistent I suspect!

So here is my meal plan for the next few weeks :

{keep in mind, we like beans and rice, and have decided to eat them often to lower our food costs – we do vary it up, even though it may not be noted}

14 ~ Friday: Beans & Rice

15 ~ Saturday: Sandwiches; Baked Pasta

16 ~ Sunday: Fried Chicken {w/green beans & salad}

17 ~ Monday: Mexican Mountains

18 ~ Tuesday {veggie} : Grilled Steak {with sautéed Shitake Mushrooms}

19 ~ Wednesday: Sweet Potatoes, Sautéed spinach, salad

20 ~ Thursday: Loaded Burritos

21 ~ Friday: Pizza (make your own)

22 ~ Saturday: Spaghetti & Sausage

23 ~ Sunday: Soup

24 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

25 ~ Tuesday: Meat Loaf

26 ~ Wednesday: Veggies

27 ~ Thursday: Chicken & Dumplings

28 ~ Friday: Pizza

29 ~ Saturday: Slow Cooker Pork Roast (with Root Beer)

30 ~ Sunday: Pork Tacos

31 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

1 ~ Tuesday {veggie}: Chicken Fried Steak

2 ~ Wednesday :

3 ~ Thursday : Chicken Alfredo pasta bake

What’s for dinner?

Does that question send shivers down your spine?  My goodness it does me these days.  Seems like I have even talked about this before Here, guess that plan did not work for me.

I cannot seem to bring myself to buy any substantial amount of meat (watch Food INC if you do not understand) and therefore, building a dinner around, well, nothing is tough.  We used to have a veggie co-op that provided the bulk of our fruit and vegetables and that was great, I build our meals around those veggies.  Now I seem to be stuck.

But I am going to get myself out eventually.  I know that in a few short weeks we will have a cow in our freezer!  WooHoo!  That means we can have meat, and I do not have to go buy it feeling like I am submitting my children to a slow death by toxins.  This cow will be grass fed and local.  I cannot wait.  The freezer it will be in arrives tomorrow.  The cow, well I hope it arrives by Nov 1st. 

The chickens are on the near horizon too.  Because buying chicken meat is a bit easier, is not without some guilt too.  So we hope to get some cooking chickens started soon so we can get them in the freezer about 16 weeks after they arrive.  Crazy – huh?  In about 4 months from birth they are ready to eat, well be eaten.

So anyway, back to dinner tonight.  I finally sat down and came up with a plan for a couple weeks anyway.  Tonight we are enjoying Home-Style Chicken and Sausage (I had everything is calls for, and yes, I am doubling it) and next week we are going to try BBQed Steelhead Trout, this week I  am also going to get a few things out of the freezer 1)Mexican Bowtie Pasta (a family favorite see recipe below) and 2) Lentil soup – so that will make some space and offer some easy meals that I only have to defrost & heat!  We try to have beans & rice weekly (cheap & we do like it) and that allows for a meal of left-over creations – burritos, Mexican mountains, tostadas, whatever we feel like.  So I feel so much better now, thanks for facebook inspiring friends, and a few moments to plan some meals.  I need to get something cooking now!

Here is that recipe – we love it.  You can use brisket, left over shredded beef, left over shredded pork, or even ground beef.  Enjoy!

MEXICAN-STYLE PENNE

8oz Penne (or whatever pasta you have on hand. Bowties are nice, too.)

8oz lean Ground Beef (venison or shredded beef work well, too.)

½ tsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1 15.5oz can Pinto Beans

1 15.5oz can Whole Kernel Corn

1 15.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes

1 small Diced Green Bell Pepper (optional)

½ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

½ Cup Sliced Green Onions (optional)

1 Cup Sour Cream (low fat works great)

½ Cup Salsa

½ Cup Broken Tortilla Chips (optional)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. If you will be freezing this meal, cook pasta only ½ done.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Add beans, cumin and chili powder; heat through. In a large bowl, combine pasta, meat mixture, tomatoes and corn. Pour into a gallon sized zip-lock freezer bag. Measure and package in individual, snack-sized zip-locks, the green pepper, cheese, onions and salsa. Place these inside the gallon-sized bag with your meal; press the filled, gallon-sized bag flat, squeezing out as much air as possible. FREEZE YOUR MEAL (WITH THE EXTRAS) AT THIS POINT. You will need to provide only the chips and sour cream on serving day.

Preparing this meal from the freezer

Cooking Instructions: You will need the following on cooking day (not included): 1 Cup Sour Cream, ½ Cup Broken Tortilla Chips (Optional), ½ Cup Sliced Green Onions (Optional.)

Thaw package overnight in the refrigerator. Remove Salsa and Cheese packets; rinse off and set aside. Place remaining mixture in a large skillet; heat, stirring often, until heated through. (Check pasta for doneness part way through; if needed, add a bit of water.) Remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, salsa and green pepper; fold into the skillet mixture. Serve topped with cheese, broken tortilla chips and green onions.

I like to serve this with a side spinach salad, tossed with 1 clove pressed garlic, ½ cup rice wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Per serving: 353 calories, 11g fat, 17g protein, 48g carbohydrates, 7g dietary fiber, 31mg cholesterol, 503mg sodium.

The Dreaded : What is for dinner?

I normally do not mind this question, these days, but there were days with 3 little kids, or 2 and then sometime 4 – when those little people wanted my attention and I had none. Those were the days that I thought I was losing my mind. For the last 5 or so years I have put more effort into meal planning ahead of time, but there are still days that I am struggling to figure out dinner about 90 minutes before we plan to eat. Those days are never the good ones!

So, when Kristen told me of a recent speaker she heard, who plans her meals based on a list of about 84 meals that she rotates, it made me stop and ponder. Would it work? Would it be worth it to spend all that time planning and then just get tired of the rotation? Well, this particular person who presented this plan has been using it for about 9 years. That says a lot! She is a homeschool mom of 7, I think – so she is busy, she has lots of mouths to feed, and well has more on her plate than me – so why not give it a shot?

So, Kristen and I have been planning our meals together – her ideas and mine – we pick through each others and then make our own list. So here is my list:

sweet potato bean burritos
Lentils & Beef
Marinated Tilapia
Salmon
Egg Plant Parm
Chicken Parm
Fish Tacos
Asian spring rolls
spaghetti & Meatballs
sausage and peppers
hamburgers
beans & rice
chili
potatoe and sausage soup
ministrone soup
enchiladas
shepherds pie
cheesy potato soup
bean soup
fritatta
Pork with rootbeer sauce
mexican bowtie pasta
baked ziti
tacos
fiesta burritos
baked tilapia
taco salad
southwestern egg rolls
Baked Potato
stir fry
Mediterranean chopped salad
chicken pot pie
chicken maribella
Potato corn Chowder
Sesame Noodles
Drunken Beans
chili relleno casserole
Meatloaf
Mexican Mountains/nachos
cowboy casserole
Bourbon & Br Sugar Flank Steak
Red Beans & Rice

For Recipes go HERE to find most of my favorites. I have not organized them into weekly groupings, and honestly we have a veggie night at least every other Tuesday when I pick up veggies from my organic co-op. Normally we have more than one meatless night – about 3 on average I think. So I am going to take my list above and plan 3-4 meals a week from this list. We may plan something different for the weekend – like if we want to smoke something on Saturday or something. And I like to plan a crock pot meal for Sunday when we get home from church so we may get some soup out of the freezer for that. But overall I think we are going to use this master list to come up with about a 4 month rotation. Of course in the summer we will have more sandwiched and salads and in the winter more soups. But I hope this system works for our family, and if not, well then I have a list of all my favorites still in one place.

And the bottom line is, if I have a plan, then the evenings are a much easier time, and I am a much happier mama! So if this plan does not fit our family to a T – we will modify it and keep trying until we find the best solution!