Menu Plan Monday

Gracious. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Menu Plan Monday post.

It’s not that I haven’t been menu planning – I just haven’t been posting. Smile with tongue out

But I thought I’d share with you what I have planned on this last week of school before the holiday break.  It’s going to be crazy here – lots going on, Big Girl has midterms, etc.  so I wanted to be prepared with good meals and a plan for when to prepare them.

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Here’s what I have so far – I generally try to plan 5 meals a week. I know we will eat out at least once during the week for takeout (it seems that way no matter how hard I try not to) and we usually go out for dinner once on the weekend (at least Disappointed smile)

I do not plan which meal to have on which day, although I have a general idea based on what is happening this week – like on Wednesday I have my Ladies’ Group at the house so I will do the Chicken Spaghetti that I can make ahead and pop in the oven while I’m in carpool.  It will be ready around 5:30 and we can eat and get the kitchen cleaned up long before everyone starts to arrive at 7:00.

Sticking with some old stand by recipes this week – and one SuperMan Special.

What are you planning this week?

Menu Plan Monday

It’s a rainy, gloomy Monday here. The weather people said it was going to be in the 70’s here today but I really think they didn’t know what they were talking about. It might get to 70 downtown with the concrete heat island, but I doubt it will get out of the low 60’s here at home.

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Rainy weather makes me want to hibernate.  And to eat warm, comfort foods. And drink tea. And sleep. Smile

I’ve been back on my meal planning routine lately. Although I have changed things up a bit to accommodate our schedule this fall.  Thursdays are always leftover days.  The girls have dance and we’re close to 3 hours at the studio on Thursday nights.  It’s also my busiest meeting day for work.  So, no cooking for me.  We eat up whatever is left in the refrigerator or we eat sandwiches.  Which is actually working out really well – less leftovers are going to the pups and more are being eaten!

I’ve also been making great use of my freezer.  We had our big cooking day back in August to kick off the new school year and I have been doing a mini version of that from time to time since.  Having those meals in the freezer ready to is such a great timesaver and STRESS saver that it is totally worth it.

What I’ve been doing is that whenever I make a casserole-type of dish, I double the recipe and put one in the freezer.  Every.single.time.  My freezer gets stocked and my family gets fed.  Twice.  Beautiful.

And, like today, when I’m fighting a head cold and feeling under the weather those faithful, frozen friends are waiting to come to my aid… so nice.

Another thing I’ve been doing is not locking myself into a specific meal on a specific day – I have been listing five or six dishes on my index cards and posting in the kitchen.  Then I can look at the list and pick whichever one suits my mood and our schedule that day.

So, here is what’s on the docket for this week –

Chicken Spaghetti (from the freezer) Bourbon Chicken & Rice
Homemade pizzas Baked Pork Chops w/ saffron rice
White Bean Chicken Chili (this will be our Halloween night dinner) Fajitas

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this week?

Check out more yummy menu ideas over on orgjunkie.com.

menu planning at the next level

Many of my close friends are teachers.  As we neared the beginning of school I started to think about how crazy our lives were about to become with schedules, homework and after-school activities.  And then I thought about my friends… the teachers who spend their days devoted to other people’s kids and often find themselves at the end of the day with tired bodies, hungry families and no plans for dinner.

And so I decided to start a new tradition this year.

We did a cooking day.  A monster, stock  the freezer, cook until you drop kind of day.

Planning & Preparation

After I suggested the idea, one of my sweet friends helped me to put together our menu of dinners and to complete all the shopping for our cooking day.  We picked five dinners we thought would be winners and made a spreadsheet (I’m that kind of gal) with the menu, the recipes, and the grocery list of all the items on the recipes we’d need to buy.

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We planned for one meal per recipe per family, included things like disposable casserole pans and freezer bags to make the storing even easier.  We sorted further into which stores we were going to purchase items from, planning to go to our local warehouse store, Aldi (for the bargains) and then finishing up whatever we couldn’t get at those two places at the grocery store.

And then we planned a massive shopping trip. It was a rainy day when my friend Cindy and I headed out with the girls in tow and our shopping list and grocery bags at the ready.  We started at Aldi and got as much there as we could, finishing up at our local grocery store.  (in a side note, I was amazed at the bargains we found at Aldi. They’ve got my business in the future, for sure)

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That afternoon, Cindy took the chickens (8 of them!) and roasted them at her house. I took the sausage and hamburger meat and got it prepped at my house.  That left us down to assembly and minimal cooking for the next day when the rest of the crew joined us to work.IMG_3545[1]

I also decided to go ahead and make the batch of spaghetti sauce that we were planning to freeze for each family.  That’s the most sauce I’ve ever made in my life, but it turned out soooo good.

I couldn’t help but think of my grandma (who taught me to make this sauce) and wondered if she was looking down on me and smiling at my massive cooking project.

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Cooking & Assembly

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and I was wondering what in the heck I’d been thinking with this cockamamie scheme to do a massive cooking day.  I sure hoped the promises I’d made to my friends worked out and that everyone was happy with the results of our work.

I sorted all of our groceries on the counter with each recipe, writing the basic measurements for the recipe and assembly instructions on a piece of paper with each pile of ingredients.  I was hopeful we could just move from one recipe to the next and follow those cheat sheets to do the assembly.

Once Cindy and Kim arrived, we tackled the most time-intensive recipe first (chicken spaghetti) and moved on from there.  The kids got in the game, too, helping with assembly and packaging also.

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I was surprised at how smoothly it went – and how much fun we had.  We worked hard, for sure, but there were a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and we loved spending time together.

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Here’s our finished spread of food.  The kids were pretty proud of themselves for helping us (and we were so appreciative)  We ended up with EIGHT meals per family (after our original estimate of five) because some of the recipes cooked up larger portions (11×13 pans) and we split them into two smaller casserole dishes.

The exciting part was that we ended up with a per-meal cost of about $8.  So, around $60 per family for everyone to eat healthy and happy for the first month of school.

In addition, we’ve all been thoroughly enjoying our dinners.  My friends have been reporting in when they’ve used a dinner and we’ve all agreed it was well worth the time and effort to do this.  It’s been so nice to pull one of the dinners out of the freezer at the end of a busy day and know that your family is going to eat some good food and you don’t have to kill yourself to provide it.

So, I am pretty sure we’ll be doing it again.  I’ll keep you posted on what we decide to do in September.  Here’s our menu for August’s dinners:

Oh, and one other thing – we had enough food left over that we were able to sit down together and have BBQ chicken sandwiches for lunch! A well-deserved lunch to celebrate our hard work.

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Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, ya’ll.

It’s been a whirlwind weekend.  One that I need a day off to recover from. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, so I’m going to fortify myself with some strong tea and a bite of the coffee cake I baked this weekend.  It’s really, really good. SuperMan says it’s a lot like the cream cheese danish you find at the grocery store, only better.  I have to say, if you combine cream  cheese, sour cream and cake, I don’t think you can go wrong.

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I was sick last week – the girls finally contaminated me with the virus they have been sharing the past few weeks. I ended up on the sofa for two days, pretty much feeling too rotten to do more than sip ginger ale, eat saltines and take Tylenol and cold tablets. I wonder if it was a mild case of the flu – but I never had any serious fever, so I don’t know.  By Saturday, though, I was feeling much better and I’m hoping we’ve seen the last of that bug for a while.  I’ll be dosing everyone with Vitamin C and probiotics this week just to be safe.

It’s cold this morning.  26 outside when I woke up.  We had a beautiful sunrise.  All reds and blues and violets.  I told Little Bit as we admired it on the way to school that it was God just showing off for us this morning and telling us hello.  Which we both needed – neither of us wanted to get up and out of our warm beds today.

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I spent a little while yesterday rummaging through my recipe lists to come up with a few ideas for dinnertime for the next week or two. Rather than doing a weekly menu plan, I thought I’d just list a few things and then I can pick and choose between what sounds good for the day and what I have on hand.

  • Meatball Subs (using up leftover spaghetti sauce)
  • BBQ Chicken Pizzas
  • Red Beans w/ Rice & Polksa
  • Tacos

I also wanted to share this new recipe find with you – Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti.  I made it for dinner on Friday night and we loved it.  DEVOURED it.  As a matter of fact, I ate it again on Saturday for dinner when I was scrapbooking with friends.  And I’ve been thinking about making it again ever since. SO GOOD.  It’s very similar to the Rotel Chicken Pasta dish I make (without the Rotel) and we’ve all agreed it will be going into regular rotation for our family.

And now I’m off to fix another cup of tea and try to get my body going for the day – I’ve been up for three hours but it’s still balking at being awake!

Menu Plan Monday (on Tuesday)

So, I took the day off of work on Friday and Monday was a holiday. And, apparently, I took a blogging holiday, too. I hadn’t really planned it, but I did plan to disconnect digitally and that sort of included blogging as well. It was a much-needed break and I really enjoyed having the time with the girls. I also got some major cleaning projects taken care 0f – my closet, my office and a good, thorough dusting/cleaning of most of the house.  After the hectic work schedule of the past few months the house had really been neglected so it felt really good to make some progress there.  My office is gleaming this  morning and it’s reconfigured in a way that I hope will help with my back pain. Too many hours hunched over a computer and I’m paying the price.

On to other things…

It’s cold here! Like REALLY cold. Of course, I’m a wimpy southern girl. If it’s below 40 degrees I think I’m going to freeze to death.  My friends in the northeast and northern midwest get a kick out of my whining about temperatures.

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What’s your high temperature today?  It’s supposed to be 42 here.  It was 29 when I took the girls to school – and it’s STILL 29 outside! Brrrr. And poor SuperMan is working out in this cold.  Of course, I think he layers up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man when it is this cold. He comes home from work with his 47 layers of clothes and starts fussing about how hot the house is. We just tell him to take some clothes off 🙂

Since it is so chilly, I’m planning some good comfort food dinners this week.  Last night I made a pot of spaghetti sauce. We had pasta with some homemade bread.  (which I’ll be telling you more about later this week) The girls and SuperMan all had leftovers in their thermoses for lunch today. I’ve been on a tuna kick for lunch lately. It fills me up and the kitties are quite content to eat my leftovers.

So for the remainder of the week I will be cooking some other things that will go well in the thermoses so that everyone has a hot, hearty lunch the next day. Sandwiches are no fun when it’s cold.  I’m going to try this new recipe I found on Pinterest – Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken. It has rave reviews on the website and looks SO EASY. Probably serve with some pasta and some more of the homemade bread.

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Are you planning anything special for your family this week? Any new recipes you’re trying?

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After the Feast

Well, Happy Monday to you!

I’m still trying to convince myself I’m happy it’s Monday.  I wasn’t too happy at 5AM when the alarm went off, but I’m trying valiantly to embrace the day.  The weekend was so nice and relaxing I hate to get back into the grind of the work week.

We had a really, really nice Thanksgving.  SuperMan was home for four days with us –  no side jobs, no work – and it was heaven. The girls and I really enjoyed having him around.

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Thursday, we enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner. We couldn’t decide between a smoked turkey and a deep-fried turkey, so SuperMan decided to make both.  (Now, I’m overrun with turkey!)  Little Bit enjoyed helping in the kitchen.

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She helped her daddy with the turkeys and helped me on Wednesday with most of the prep work as well.

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Watching the pecan pie bars baking (recipe soon)

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And while I did most of my “work” in the kitchen on Wednesday, SuperMan did his on Thursday… it worked out well. We didn’t step on each other’s toes that way.

Here they are checking out the smoked turkey – is it done yet?

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And frying the other turkey.  This always makes me so nervous, but the turkey tastes so good!

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After what seemed like forever frying, it was done!

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And then it was time to feast!

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Wonderful day.

And, now we’re faced with MONDAY staring us down, daring us to take on the challenges it brings… and all I want to do is crawl back into my warm flannel sheets!

And menu planning? Well, I’m thinking about it. Not absolutely sure yet what I’ll do. Here’s what I’m thinking of:

I do have lots of fun things planned for the blog this week, though – a few recipes for you and hopefully some more scrapbooking as well as a book review (or two?). So, I hope you will stop back by.

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linking up with OrgJunkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Just hangin’ on

Hey, y’all.

First of all, I have to tell you, I haven’t forgotten about you – I’ve just been overwhelmed with life lately.  My big work project is going strong and we’re in the final push to get to the end – which is right around the end of the year. Which means things are not going to slow down at all until January. Sigh.

Adding to that, Big Girl is going to have surgery next week. We’ve finally found out what is going on with her foot.  She’s been suffering with steady pain for over a year and after an MRI a month or so ago we found out she has fused bones in her foot. We’ve already exhausted the conservative treatment options in the last year, so the next step is surgery.

She will be in recovery mode for the next few months – no school, limited mobility and hopefully on the mend to pain-free state.  I’m sharing this with you so that you will know why things might be a little “light” around here for the next few months.  I’ll be focused on her and fitting in blogging may or may not happen.  Don’t worry. I’ll be back. I’m not leaving for good.

As far as my menu plan for the week this week, I’m focused on some family favorites as well as a new recipe or two:

  • Monday: Crock Pot Beef & Broccoli with steamed rice
  • Tuesday: White Bean Chicken Chili (it’s supposed to be rainy – recipe coming later this week)
  • Wednesday: Rotel Chicken Pasta bake
  • Thursday: Baked Potato with salad & rotisserie chicken
  • Friday: Friday Night Mexican

I hope you have a great week – later in the week I’ll be sharing some of my recent crafty projects (they’re what’s keeping me sane right now) and the White Bean Chicken Chili recipe, so come back soon!