Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dinner Plans

_MG_3126.jpgWe broke down, at the beginning of this year, to an envelope system, in an effort to better track our spending, and hopefully get debt paid down a little faster. We'll see how this works. I am sure that there will be a lot shifting here and there before we perfect this. I am pleased to say that, so far I am doing quite well in the grocery department. I am pretty much done shopping for the month of February and have used just a little over half of my budget, which included 4 boxes of Girls Scout cookies that weren't on my list!
_MG_3173.jpgThe plan, I've made up, includes planning meals for two weeks at a time. My grocery ads come every Tuesday and I plan my meals based on what is on sale for the week. I pull out all the ads, coupons, and my recipe books and magazines, and start combing through it all. Along with my recipe books and magazines, I have a little blue notebook that, when I find a recipe I really like out of a magazine, that isn't mine, I photocopy it and stick it in my notebook, in a clear cover sheet. It works great. (Thanks for the idea, Kellee. This actually works great for all sorts of things, like crafts and decorting too.) I try to find meals where I can double up on ingredients. For example, if something calls for spinach, I'll find another meal and add a spinach salad or something. Or, like this week, chicken was on sale, so I made a rotisserie crock pot chicken. I bought a 7 lb chicken and whatever we didn't eat got shredded up, for chicken pot pie later this week or next week. Every week the grocery stores showcase certain fruits and vegetables for sale. That's what we usually end up eating. There is usually a decent variety, especially in the summer, of fruits. Currently, apples and oranges have been big sale items. Around Valentine's day strawberries and blueberries were on sale. I know that apples and oranges can make it a little longer than strawberries and blueberries, so I tend to save those for the second week of meals. Same thing with vegetables. Whatever seems to stay fresh a little longer gets bumped to the second week or I mostly use frozen or things that we've canned. I have found that planning this way makes for less trips to the grocery store, less impulse buys, and it saves gas!
Around here breakfast is pretty simple. It usually consists of cereal, oatmeal, or eggs and toast. Nothing fancy. Lunch is the same way. Jared doesn't usualy come home, so we keep it simple, with sandwiches, hotdogs, macaroni, and things like that. I will normally add some sort of fruit and veggie with it. On the inside of a cabinet in my kitchen I have lists. I keep two weeks worth of menu ideas, along with a cover sheet where I pull out recipes and stick in there. Next to that is a list for staple items that we use regularly around here.
_MG_3170.jpgHere is my list of meals for two weeks. I put the main ingredients under each meal in case I need to pull something out of the freezer the night before or if I want to just pull things out and have them ready.I don't usually have certain day for each meal. I just pick and choose, from this list, depending on my mood for the day. Sometimes, schedules change, or something comes up and I don't even end up cooking all of these meals. Then I  just add it to the next menu, since I know I already have all the ingredients.
If I have loose recipes, I pull them out and stick them in this plastic cover sheet. Otherwise I know to look for them in a certain cookbook or magazine that I already have._MG_3172.jpgThis is my list of staples. Do you have things that you always seem to use over and over again? Jared has been on my case for making a list like this for years because, sometimes I would go to the store and forget to buy things that we need. I know that I've already forgotten to put things on this list, so I am sure I will be adding to it, but at least it's a start! That's how we roll around here! I hope that this is useful to some of you, if not, thanks for reading anyway. :)


Adriane said...

How do you manage to plan meals for an entire family, and I can hardly handle finding my own cereal for just one of me? Send help!! Better yet: you stay put. I'll just move in and make myself at home.

JAN said...

Yay! We'll be waiting. ;)

Kristen @ said...

I've been thinking of making a staples list, too, to really track what we use consistently! Oh, and I recognize those Quick Cooking Cookbooks! I think I have the same set, free from Thrivent? :-)

JAN said...

Kristen, it seems I keep adding to my staples list. :) Yes, those cookbooks are from Thrivent, or actually AAL. My father-in-law is a Thrivent rep. Lutherans rock don't they? :)

Lauren said...

I love that heavy cream is a staple in your house. DeAnn buys hers at Costco because they go through so much of it in their family too. Heavy cream = good food.

DeAnn said...

I noticed the heavy cream on your list too Jan. That means you're awesome and your famliy is eating well. (I also saw Vodka Pasta too :) )Thanks for some great meal planning ideas -I'm now inspired.

JAN said...

Lauren shared your vodka pasta recipe with me and since I always have heavy cream around here I decided that I'll have to make it. :) I use heavy cream in everything. When something calls for milk I usually use the heavy cream. Naughty, huh?