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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's for Dinner?

I've always been a menu planner, but it's not something I've posted often on my blog. Menu planning helps me stay within budget, keeps us on track nutritionally, and stops those last minute runs to the grocery store. I also try to plan around the schedule of our week. If it's a busy week, there are less fussy recipes. I plan for leftovers. I always have meals from the freezer.

I've been more mindful lately of planning around what's on sale and what I already have on hand. All Recipes is a great website that will allow you to search by ingredient. Check it out if you have a few things in your pantry that you think you will never use up. You just might be surprised.

When we were newly married, money was really tight. I planned right down to the specific day just what we would eat. I had this great calendar that eventually ended up being on the computer. That was right around the birth of the Internet which, from what I remember was used for saying hi to people in chat rooms and asking "What are you doing?" This calendar was really slick and looked so organized. It actually made me feel like I knew what I was doing and that I was much more organized than I really was. The problem with the calendar was that we never felt like eating chicken on the day chicken was planned. It became a mess of crossed out meals and arrows pointing to the new day things were planned. I just knew Martha Stewart didn't have this problem. She'd probably eat something just because it was on the calendar for that day, right?

My planning is just a list now and I keep it in a big drawer in my kitchen where I also store recipes I've printed off the Internet or ripped out of magazines. Never take a used magazine from me. There's a guarantee that the calorie free fudge brownie recipe will be missing. If you get really into an article, I'll have torn out the last page. I wouldn't want you to miss the last four rules of the Ten Rules for a Blissful Marriage because there's a fabulous recipe for buttermilk pancakes on the the reverse side of the page.

Lunches are sandwiches, soup, fresh and frozen leftovers, salad, etc. I don't really plan for lunch except to make sure we have deli lunch meat, cheese slices, bread, salad fixins, etc. I always plan for treats, desserts, baking, etc. It helps me get a good picture of how many calories I'll be using during that week. I always keep a freezer drawer full of frozen vegetables and then just pick and choose from them when it's time to make dinner. I sometimes will eat a bag for lunch. I also always purchase whatever fresh vegetables that catch my eye at the grocery store (and are affordable).


Chicken Vegetable Stew (from the freezer)

Sesame Garlic Steak with sauteed baby bella mushrooms (Steak marinated in Bragg's Sesame and Ginger Dressing--you must keep a dressing like this on hand for stir fry, marinades, and of course salads!)
Baked Potatoes with Butter Buds, fat free sour cream, and dried chives
Steamed Veggies

Taco Soup
Fresh Fruit

Oven Fried Chicken
Honey Ginger Cooked Carrots
Wild Rice

French Toast
Frizzled Ham (deli ham, quick heated on the griddle)

Split Pea Soup (using the ham bone from Christmas from the freezer)
Biscuits or garlic bread

Coffee Roast (Eye of Round roast rubbed with Velvet Hammer Merlot Beef Rub I got to try these rubs when I owned my food business. They're phenomenal! You can make your own coffee rubs too, just search the Internet.)
Roasted Root Vegetables (drizzled with just a touch of maple syrup in the last 30 minutes of roasting)

Honey Mustard Chicken* served over Jasmine Rice or on buns (depending on my mood!)
Steamed veggies
Tossed salad

Fettuccine with Feta and Shrimp*
Tossed Salad
Baby Green Beans

Roast Sticky Chicken (If you didn't catch this one when it first stormed the Internet, you'd better try it now. I use this method every time I roast a chicken--just change the seasoning. I always stuff my Roast Sticky Chicken with quartered oranges and onions. Squeeze the orange juice over the bird before stuffing
Mashed Potatoes


Crustless Pumpkin Pie--just use a can of pumpkin pie mix (not plain pumpkin), add egg substitute according to can directions and fat free evaporated milk, bake in a 9x13 inch pan until set and chill. Serve with Cool Whip Free.
Black Bean Brownies--Young One ate 3 of these before I told him what was in them. Then he refused to eat any more. He LOVED them before I told him the secret ingredient. I'm just going to make them again and tell him that they're "normal" (as he put it, "I just want NORMAL food.")

*Starred items were recipes that were developed by my partner and me and sold as intellectual property when we sold the business. These recipes cannot be shared, although I've altered the titles. I wish I could share the Feta Fettuccine recipe--that one took me so many trials to get right!!! I added shrimp to my original recipe just to mix it up a bit.

1 comment:

  1. I have a post that I've been working on (procastinating) with the chickens. I changed it up a little this week and OH my word was it good!! And I have the carcass to prove it :)


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