Sunday, May 06, 2007

Meal Planning

When I first met my husband, I knew nothing about running a house. I barely knew how to clean a bathroom; the art of grocery shopping and planning meals were completely foreign to me. For one thing, I'd never had my own kitchen. Life as a young student meant a hot plate and a toaster oven. It's amazing what you can cook in a toaster oven when you really try.

Anyhow, Hubs took it upon himself to teach me the fine art of shopping once a week and planning ahead for meals. Yes, you got it. The man that runs through the store like it's the Indy 500 and eats the same thing every single day knew what he was talking about, though. I still shop only once a week, and every now and then I actually plan for the month.

A month, you ask? Isn't that just a bit TOO organized?

Maybe you live in a place that has lots of easy access to stores. Maybe you can buy in bulk at Costco and your pantry is overflowing. I happen to live where there are TWO grocery stores, and we depend on a boat to bring the goods over so the items are often very expensive. The sales start on Saturday and if you don't get there before noon the supplies are depleated, meaning you have to wait a good month or so to find the product again. Going to the city to stock up means a $65 ferry ride being added to your bill. Keeping the grocery bill low and us well fed and stocked up has been a colossal challenge since we moved here two years ago.

Lizzy over at Lizzy's Home inspired me to try my hand at planning our menu for the entire month. She has an eight week plan which interests me, although 8 weeks is a bit long. Planning ahead is not a new idea for me, but tracking the groceries and how much I spend is. So I consider it a bit of a challenge, of sorts.

Generally I plan to cook four meals a week. The items listed have a mix of new and tried and true favorites. Jake cooks something on the weekend, and what he makes is dependant upon what is in the house and what is on sale at the store. The rest of the days we come up with something from whatever is in the pantry. Leftovers often are eaten in lunches the next day or frozen in individual sized servings for the weekend. You'll notice that we eat a lot of vegetables, many vegetarian dishes, and all whole grains. We don't do fast food (actually we almost never eat out), very little beef or pork, nor do we like anything greasy or deep fried. It's not a health fad, or some new diet, it's just how we like it.

Here, take a look:

May 7-14

(new) Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken with Brown Rice Pilaf and Roasted Asparagus
(new) Chicken Enchilada Casserole and green salad (with the leftovers of the previous dinner)
French Onion Burgers and a raw veggie plate (freeze the extras for weekend meals)
Vegetarian Lasagne with garlic toast (from the freezer-was made a few weeks ago)
Jake's choice: herb marinated sirloin steak with rice and peas
May 14-21

Tuna/broccoli/cheese topped baked potatoes with a raw veggie plate
Eggs benedict and fruit salad
(new) Club Chicken Salad wraps and tossed green salad
Turkey meatballs with creamy mushroom sauce and egg noodles with peas
Jake's choice: clam chowder and herbed biscuits (freeze the extras for the week ahead)

May 21-28

Homemade chicken fingers with Ceasar salad and whole wheat herbed biscuits
Rosemary Garlic Salmon
Shrimp Fried Rice and steamed baby Bok Choy
Quesidilla pie with tomato chunks
Jake's Choice: pork chops with carmalized onions

May 28-June 3rd

Southwest Mango Lime Chicken wraps with fruit salad
Baked Tortellini casserole and raw veggies
Spicy Roasted Salmon with new potatoes
Jake's choice: Spicy Asian burgers

Interested? Watch each week for the recipes over at Recipes from the Cookie Jar because I plan to share the ones we like and let you know how it goes.

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