Labels: Cooking Tips, Recipes
I cooked Monday-Friday, we had leftovers on Saturday and we ate out on Sundays. Every week, without exception. I also used to do weekly menu planning. On Sunday's I'd sit down and figure out what I was going to make every night for the entire week. It made grocery shopping a lot easier and dinner go a lot faster - none of that standing around at 7:00, wondering what the hell to make for dinner. Especially since I was a single mom with a full time job and two active kids. Have you ever tried figuring out a dinner plan when you work until 5, have baseball and ballet until 7 and homework to do? It ain't easy, I'll tell you that.
When I met MM, all of that kind of fell by the wayside. I moved to a more rural area, so I couldn't get my groceries delivered anymore. Plus, we spent quite a bit of time at MM's house and didn't really have a consistent schedule anymore.
Since MM and I moved in together, my grocery budget has greatly increased. But so has my impulse buying. Instead of making a grocery budget and strictly keeping to it, I've been running to the store for "one or two things" and coming home with $60-$100 worth of stuff. About every other day. I've also been scrambling, looking for something quick to fix at 7 p.m. because I have no clear plan in mind. 90% of the time the meat I want to use is frozen, or I'm missing one key ingredient - which starts the vicious cycle of running to the grocery store for 1 item and coming home with a shopping cart full.
Last week I decided it's time to get back on track. I need to stop the impulse buying and get more organized. Not only will it save me a ton of money in the end, but I won't be scrambling around for dinner ideas when bedtime rolls around.
I'm starting with a weekly menu. Sunday is family night, and we alternate who gets to pick dinner and an activity, so that'll be my free day. Otherwise, I plan to cook Mon-Sat. I have Jazzercise on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday until 6:45, so I need to make sure I have fast, easy meals planned for those days or make something in the crock-pot. I like planning big meals on the weekend, so I'll probably do more complicated/longer recipes on Saturdays. Here's my menu for this week:
Monday - Chicken and Dumplings
Tuesday - Linguine Carbonara
Wednesday - Chicken with Orange Pineapple Juice and white rice
Thursday - Chili
Friday - Steak w/ Maitre D'Hotel butter and twice baked potatoes
Saturday - Lasagna
Sunday - The Girl's choice
While I'm excited to get more organized in the kitchen, I hope to eventually start doing more Once A Month (Week) Cooking. The idea behind OAM(W)C is to set aside one - or two - days a month and spend them making as many make-ahead meals as possible. For example, on Saturday I might make 10 main courses instead of one. Then you freeze them, and have every meal already made for the entire week and/or month.
I used to do this years and years ago, when I was married to the RB. Not only is it a major times aver if you and your family have busy schedules during the week, but it's a major budget saver, too. I figure I'll start with the menu planning for now and work my way up to OAMC, though I'll probably start making an extra meal here and there now, just so I have them in case.
What about you? Do you do any planning in the kitchen? Or are you a seat-of-the-pants cook?
I remember going to friend's house during grade/high school. His mom had a set meal for every night of the week that never changed. I can't remember what it was every night, but Wednesdays were Taco Night and Fridays were Spaghetti Night. Every week, all the way through high school, my friend made sure to be home on Wed and Fri nights, because those were his favorite.
I think I'd get bored making (and eating) the same 7 meals week in and week out, but I kind of like the basic premise.
PS. If you want to start planning your meals ahead or doing OAMC, but don't know where to start, there are some great resources online. Sites like Recipezaar, Betty Crocker, Kraft, and Cooks offer Menus, OAMC suggestions and a ton of make-ahead recipes. And Once A Month Cooking World has all everything you need to get started all in one place.
*image credit SugarMama Baking Co
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