Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by Disneyrsh, Jun 20, 2006.
Sorry, nothing to offer except I would love to be added to the list. I could use help in that department too. I hate it when you're standing there with no clue what to do or have every ingredient you need but ONE!!!!
I use the same method.
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Here's what I do...I use some pretty primitive methods:
1. Order all my meats from the kids' Market Day fundraisers at school. They're not cheap, but they're perfectly portioned so planning and thawing is a breeze. If your kids' school doesn't do Market Day fundraisers, there might be a school near you that does. Check: http://www.marketday.com/
2. Once I know what meats I have on hand, I plan a week's worth of dinner menus using this handy-dandy paper. http://www.knockknock.biz/commerce/product_info.php?cPath=69&products_id=433 If you don't feel like buying a planner, just write it down on anything.
3. Base your shopping list on what your weekly menu plan is. Don't go grocery shopping until you know what you're cooking for dinner every night. I find I waste time and money trying shop without a plan.
4. Crock pot, crock pot, crock pot. And don't forget to use the liner bags.
I dont know if this is what you are looking for but I use campbellskitchen.com or kraftfoods.com
and its free!
Cable TV's Food Network has a website www.foodtv.com and all the receipes from their shows are listed online. Just type in one or two ingrediants and about 100 receipes come up. You can also search by chef, if you watch the network and have a favorite chef. For you, you might want to search Rachael Ray's "Thirty Minute Meals", she's got lots of unique ideas for fast and relatively easy family meals.
If you need a fast idea for chicken, try making chicken fajitas. Messy, but good. If I'm organized I can usually whip this up in about 30 minutes.
3 or 4 chicken breasts, skinless
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 glove garlic, minced (optional)
1 packet flour tortilla's
1 packet Lawry's Chicken fajita seasoning
1 packet flour tortilla's
1 cup shreaded cheddar or monteray-jack cheese (or more if you like a lot of cheese!)
On medium heat saute the pepper and onion slices and minced garlic in the 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, set aside. Cut chicken breasts into strips and fry up in same pan. Once cooked through, add the vegetables back in and add the Lawry's seasoning, per directions. Serve with warm flour tortila's and shreaded cheese, garnish with salsa and sour cream if you want.
If you want to make this really low fat, look for fat free tortillas and low fat cheese and sour cream (don't go non-fat on the dairy, doesn't taste good enough to justify the calorie/fat savings! ).
For your crock pot, try a small pork roast and just add a jar of BBQ sauce. Cook all day, then shred with 2 forks and Voila! - BBQ sandwiches.
Check out Simple&Delicious magazine for ideas. I have subscribed to the magazine for years and the recipes are really good. They have a feature that shows you meals for a week and already has the shopping list made out. It's actually stuff a family will eat too, Not a lot of hard to find ingredients, etc. They usually feature things that can go on the grill, in the crock pot, freezer friendly, etc. They have some nice things on their website to try too. This month featured burgers for the grill and has a turkey/spinach burger and a chicken burger I think I'm going to try. My family is getting sick of the standard grill items.
My family loves this meal and it is quick and easy. plus the kids love that they can eat with their hands. Plus it takes about a 1/2 hour. And what every mother wants to hear you only use 2 pots!!
1lb. ground beef
1/2 cup of green onions
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
1 11oz can green giant mexicorn(drained)
1 4oz can old el paso chopped green chilies(undrained)
1 pouch of Betty Crocker chedder & bacon mash potatoes
1 1/2 cups of hot water
1/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup shredded chedder cheese
Cook meat, 1/4 cup of onions in skillet until meat is browned. Stir in b-que sauce, 3/4 cup of corn and chilies mixed. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
Cook mash potatoes as directed. Stir in remaining corn & onions. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Spoon mash potatoes over beef mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Serve w/ tortilla chips
I don't have an on-line planner but here are a couple of suggestions that have helped me get out of a slump:
Sit the family down and ask each one for 2 or 3 favorite meal ideas. Then every week you can use one idea from each member and everyone always knows a favorite is coming.
Buy as much ground beef/turkey as your biggest pan can hold to brown. Brown it all at once (with onions if desired), drain and freeze in meal size portions in freezer bags. Label and date. Use these for tacos (add taco seasoning as the meat warms in a pan), pasta sauce, lasagna, baked ziti, shepherd's pie, etc.
On the weekend make your favorite meatloaf recipe for 4-5 meals. Freeze for future use.
Marinate several meal portions of chicken or pork. Freeze in freezer bags in meal size portions. Pull out of the freezer the night before you want to cook them and put them in the refrigerator. Grill or bake that night.
The key is to plan out your menus ahead of time (but you knew that!) I print out blank monthly calendar pages - one month per page. I then sit down at the beginning of each month and plan out an entire month's worth of dinners (leaving a few blanks for the unexpected). To make it less daunting, assign each night a "theme". For example:
Monday = seafood night or pasta
Tuesday = chicken
Wednesday = casserole (we have church Wed. evenings, so we always have something very simple)
Thursday = soup/salad or new recipe
Friday = beef/hamburg
Saturday = Dinner out or Pizza (my treat )
Sunday = Roast
Now get out a sheet of paper for each day and list all the recipes you can think of for each "theme" night - all those pasta & seafood recipes on a page marked Monday, all those recipes that use chicken on a page marked Tuesday, etc. (or you could organize your recipe cards according to these categories and just pull 4-5 cards from each to fill your month)
Next sit down with your blank calendar month and fill in all the Mondays with recipes from your seafood/pasta list, then do the Tuesdays with the chicken recipes, etc.
Once you've done the legwork, each month's planning is a piece of cake! Hope this helps you somewhat to get on track!
Wow!! What great ideas...I can't wait to try some of these out!
OMG, I can't imagine even planning a week's menu in advance, let alone a month!
Sorry, but I can't help. I thaw meat in the late afternoon/early evening and then decide what to make with it on the spot. Luckily, I never run out of ideas.
I try to plan our dinners out for 2 weeks. I do this for a few reasons, 1) so I am not standing in the kitchen at 5:30 looking in my fridge saying, "what should I make, what should I make, what should I make". 2) the other reason is when I have 2 weeks of dinners planned, I can go to the grocery store and buy everything needed for all the meals, then I only have to make quick trips for items such as milk, bread and fresh fruit/veggies, (cuts down on buying items not on the list when I don't go very often).
This is what I do, lets say on Monday I decide to make spaghetti, the following Monday I'll make a different pasta, like garlic with chicken. Then Tuesday is taco night, so the following Tuesday is Mexican again but enchiladas, then Wed. night is pork night, Thurs is chicken....make sense? Kind of silly, but it works for us, good variety of foods and pretty easy to plan. I also subscribe to campbells kitchen, and keep the recipes that sound good to me in their little online recipe box. I also try to pay attention to what is on menus at restaurants and make my own version. Of course occasionally we try something new and we don't like it. You could also offer your family a breakfast night, mine likes this. I buy breakfast steaks for us, cook those and some eggs, bacon and sausage. Makes for something different.
We had breakfast night last night! Wheat pancakes, eggs & sausage!! I love easy recipes! I think if shouldnt have to be so hard to plan a meal. When I first started cooking I would plan the menu each week. It helps on groceries and time. I think with kids make something similar to their favorite restaurant meal. If they are picky eaters there are ways to hide what they dont like. Mexican or italian hides the veggies really well. I like the idea of having them pick out a couple of meals or themes so they look foward to it. I know that my family loved to make sandwiches and then grill them, like panninis (sp).
When I'm with it, I try to plan a weeks meals based upon the sales flyer & what we have. I make a list: Mon, Tues, Wed.....
If I make something on Mon that has left over meat, I try to use that leftover in something else within 2 days. OR, just cutting up all the chicken I'll need for the next 2-3 days helps too....even if not cooking it all on Mon for example.
I also do the browing up lots of hamburg at once & freeze it trick.
I've always cooked in batches & freeze the extra. (meatballs, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, ziti bake, ....)
Recently, made a list of the freezer's contents (item, amt in pkg, date) & stuck it on frig door. THIS has really helped me. I can see on the list what is in the freezer & what is oldest & should be used up. It's helped in meal planning & in grocery shopping. No more standing in front of freezer with door open trying to figure out what's in there. As I use something, I just cross it off; or change the quantity; or add new stuff to bottom of list. It separated into 3 categories: MEATS (ribs, cooked hamburg, chops....); MADE FOOD (meatballs, meatloaf, chicken pot pie); & OTHER (cheese....)
There is an awesome thread from the Cooking Board (here on the DIS) about crockpot recipes: http://disboards.com/showthread.php?t=275509&page=1&pp=15
Heck, even with all this, it doesn't mean that some nights I still don't stand there & say "what will I make". ORDER PIZZA!!!
I'm another one who makes a 2-week menu each time...I have found it saves money and I don't go to the store as often. Certainly it takes time to sit down and think up 2 weeks worth of meals, but what I found helps is that I keep a master list of dishes/meal ideas (pastas, salads, chicken, beef, etc) and I look at that and fill in my "menu calendar" (a simple Excel spreadsheet)...that way,I don't plan too many of one type of meal/meat during the two weeks and it gives us good variety. I add new recipes to my master list if they're a hit with the family and have quite an extensive list of meal ideas now. Once I fill in my menu calendar, I make my grocery list and pull any recipes needed and put them in a folder...I reference the folder each morning before work to see if I need to defrost anything or I get stuff together the night before if I need to get the crockpot going before I leave for work. I've been doing this system for a few years and have really found dinner to be fairly stress-free.
I am going to try the menus for moms site too! I can do that! While DH is out of town it is easy...just make sure that I have the freezer stocked with lean cuisines. The kids are simple. This has really made me lose my creativity with cooking. Hopefully this site will help inspire me again.
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