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?

Back to school means back to menu planning

Tomorrow the girls start school. With that milestone, many things will be changing in our household. Most notably, we’ll be getting back on a regular schedule. No more dinners at 8PM and bedtimes creeping closer and closer to 11PM (!). We’ll be back to eating dinner at 5:30-6:00 each evening and bedtimes closer to 9PM.

AND – I’ll be back to menu planning. I’ve sort of kept it up all summer. But I have been pretty loosey-goosey with the plans.  Thankfully, I had a lot of meals in my freezer and we were stocked up on meats there, too. I have been trying to “cook down” the freezer as much as I could. Especially since it was so hot and our poor, ancient freezer was not doing the best job keeping everything frozen. (soft serve ice cream, anyone?)

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So, I thought I’d share with you the list I brainstormed to help me when I’m stuck on my menu plan. I went through a lot of my old menu plans, picked out the favorites and the tried-and-true hits.  These are the ones that will be my go-to items this fall when life is crazy and I need inspiration as I’m planning out my week’s meals.

Menu Ideas:
Chicken Enchiladas(crockpot/oven) Potato Soup
*recipe coming soon*
Tacos Beef Stew
Chicken Stir Fry
(served with
Fried Rice)
BBQ Chicken
Fajitas Asian Chicken
Bourbon Street Chicken (crock pot) Roast Beef (crock pot)
Shredded Beef Burritos (crock pot/oven) Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Meatloaf Beef Tips with Gravy
*recipe coming soon*
Ham & Rice & Black-eyed peas Creamy Chicken & Rice (crock pot)
Chicken Chili Chili
Baked Potato with Salad Shepherd’s Pie
Sub Sandwiches Breakfast for Dinner
Homemade pizza Pizza Bread
*recipe coming soon*
Salmon Croquettes Cuban Pork with Black Beans & Rice
Beef Stroganoff Pasta Fagioli
Chicken Noodle Soup Chicken &Wild Rice Soup
 Chicken & Dumplings “ Rotisserie” Chicken (crock pot)
 Bourbon Chicken
How about you?

Do you menu plan? What are your family’s favorite meals?

Click on the links to access the recipes.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

My friend, Cindy, who makes the most wonderful meals, made this soup for our family one night not too long ago.  After that dinner the girls and I kept thinking about, and talking about that soup.  We just had to have more.  It was so good!

My first attempt at re-creating the soup was not quite as good as Cindy’s was.  She had used a specific wild rice blend and my homemade spice blend did not quite match.  The soup was good, but a little spicy (I think too much ginger) and the girls weren’t crazy about it.  It most definitely wasn’t Cindy’s soup and that was what they wanted.

So, I waited a week or two and went back to the drawing board… or cutting board, that is.

My second attempt was much better and was quickly gobbled up by the entire family.  As a matter of fact, ALL of the soup was gone, which almost never happens at my house.  The girls even asked for it in their thermoses for lunch.

Success!

This is a great, hearty and comforting soup. Perfect for a rainy or cool fall day.  Leftovers are great – the rice absorbs as lot of the broth but it is still very good and you can always add more broth or water if you want it thinner.  We liked it just fine with less broth and it was so tasty even two days later.

I have no picture because there was nothing left to take pictures of!  Try it anyway. Smile

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

1 pound chicken (I used a combination of thighs and breasts)
water for stock pot
chicken bouillon cube
1-2 stalks celery
1-2 carrots
1 small onion
~ 1 Tbsp garlic (minced)
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice (including spice packets inside)
salt/pepper
Houston House Seasoning
~1/2 – 3/4 cup half and half (or milk)

Instructions
  1. Dice celery, carrots, garlic & onion.  Add to stock pot with water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, adding chicken and seasoning generously with salt/pepper and Houston House Seasoning.
  2. Remove chicken and shred, reserving broth.
  3. Stir the rice and seasoning packets into the broth.
  4. Add chicken back to soup and bring to a boil.
  5. About 10 min before serving, add the half and half.  Bring back to a simmer.

It’s super easy and super, super good. I hope you give it a try.

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 Plan Monday

Happy Monday!

It’s a busy week in our house this week – two birthdays and lots of other things going on.  I’m hoping to keep our dinners simple, or at least as crock-pot-based as I can. That way, I know we’re eating well even if I don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen every single afternoon.

I’ve also decided that I want to try some of the bajillion recipes I have on Pinterest. So, this week is experiment week. I’m breaking out of the “tried and true” and trying new versions of favorites and some new recipes to boot.  This will either be a rousing success or an utter failure.  My family has taught me that they really love my old standby recipes and don’t like me messing with them very much.  But I like to spice things up (so to speak) and try to cook restaurant favorites that we love at home. It’s cheaper and healthier!

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Today is SuperMan’s birthday. We’re going to enjoy some crock pot Mongolian Beef and rice tonight.  I’ll steam some broccoli to go along with the rice and beef and I’m baking an apple cake and plan to pick up an ice cream cake (his special request) for our dessert.

Crock Pot Mongolian Beef from Once a Month Meals

Tomorrow, I’m thinking I’m going to try this Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken recipe. It looks really good to me – it’s not 100% crock pot – there are parts you have to do outside the crock pot (like cooking the pasta), but it looks really good. I am thinking I may serve it with the salad and garlic bread exactly as she shows it on the website.

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken from The Country Cook

We love, love, love, fajitas.  We usually have them on Friday nights at our local favorite Mexican place. I’m thinking that maybe this Friday I’ll try this recipe for oven-baked chicken fajitas.  Of course, my girls are meatasauruses, so I may have to edit things and add some steak into that.  Just chicken would be healthier, but I think there would be squawking from the peeps if I don’t.

Oven-baked chicken fajitas from Real Mom Kitchen

One more new recipe to try – not sure if it will make it into this week or next, but it sure looks good. The girls and I love Panda Express. It’s one of our Saturday lunch treats. The only thing about it is that sometimes it’s a little bit too spicy for our delicate palates. So, when I found this recipe, I decided it was a must-try. I can adjust the heat to our preferences and still get that yummy Orange Chicken that we enjoy so much.

I can also finish up the green onions I bought for Monday’s dinner and make some fried rice to go along with it with the leftover rice from Monday. I love dinners like that!

Better-than-Panda Orange Chicken from Brown Thumb Momma

So, that’s what’s on our menu for the week! What’re you planning for your family?

Check out other Menu Plan Monday ideas at OrgJunkie.com.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!

MPM-Fall

This week I’m combining some tried and true favorites along with a few new recipes for our menu plan this week.

Monday: I’ve been craving Pasta Fagioli so I whipped up a batch – in spite of the fact that it is supposed to be 90 degrees today.  I’m also making some homemade French bread – trying a new recipe out and will have salad to go along with the soup and bread.

Tuesday: I’ll be heading out for a ladies’ Bible study Tuesday night so I wanted to do something easy for SuperMan and the girls. I’ll be using up my last frozen Chicken Spaghetti from my freezer cooking day.

Wednesday: Trying out this new recipe – a one pot Santa Fe Chicken & Rice dinner. I’m thinking I may use chicken tenders cut into bite sized pieces to make this even faster and easier.

Thursday: dance night – which means run around like crazy night. We’ll either do leftovers or sandwiches.

Friday: Mexican – thinking I may make my Colorado Beef Burritos or Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

Saturday: homemade pizza night

Sunday: kitchen is closed – Mama gets a break.

We’re also talking about doing another freezer cooking day sometime soon. I need to come up with a menu – and figure out what we will do this month for our freezer meals.  They sure have been nice to fall back on one or two nights a week.

What’re you planning for your family’s meals this week?

Check out some more ideas at 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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