The kids made it back to school today! I had a lot of days off over their Christmas break, which isn't always the norm. We enjoyed our time. .but as usual. .the time wears out its welcome. .and routine was a positive thing today! As I worked on my menu project this morning, I thought it might be kind of a fun thing to share.
Our bank offers these weekly calenders for free. I discovered a few years ago that they are JUST the thing to keep track of some weekly menu sketches. I had tried making menus years ago. .but could never really keep up with the task. Three years ago I decided one night as I was thawing out hamburger at 6:30, that enough was ENOUGH!! I had brought one of these calenders home intending to keep some notes on, when the notion struck me that they would be just perfect for menus. .and that they have been! This is the 3rd year for our weekly menus. .and I hope never to return to clueless-meal land again!!
Today, I grabbed this stack of cookbooks to work from. The big pink notebook on the bottom is our cherished volume of family recipes. This fall, I have cooked mainly from that. I also use the Gooseberry patch casserole and slow cooker books frequently. But today, I grabbed a couple books I hadn't been through in quite a while, in an attempt to vary our diet a little. It took about an hour (a little longer with distractions) and I have the majority of 6 weeks of menus planned. I call them sketches, because I don't always follow them. If I underestimate the amount of leftovers we will have. .or if we have company. .or we decide to go out (which is REALLY rare). .or what is on the menu flat doesn't sound good. .we make something else, and that recipe gets moved to an open slot in the future. I always line up our school calender first, so I know which days I work, if we have meetings to go to, or if we will be gone to ballgames (those are usually fast cooking recipes). It doesn't really take long, once I get in the groove. I find an interesting recipe and decide which day I will have time to fix it and put it on the calender. Sometimes, I move the recipes around after writing them down, simply to avoid two chicken dishes or Mexican flavored recipes in a row. Often, I find new things to try. .or old recipes that I had forgotten about. .This morning, I found several new recipes to try on Sunday mornings that have 2 hour cooking times. .that will beat the "every man for himself" approach that we usually use Sunday noon as everyone flies through the door starving!
The other benefit of the planning is that we can enjoy different meats (AKA. .not ALWAYS hamburger), with different cultural flares during the same week! And we aren't always eating hamburger helper or tacos. .I have to say that I haven't had to open a box of hamburger helper for a LONG time. .and it used to be frequent!!
The other trick I learned last year was to add on Saturday if I needed to thaw meat for Sunday. .since sometimes I don't pick up the menu until that day. .and then discover that we were having some cut of meat that should have been thawing for a day or two!
The best thing is, that Jeremy can pick it up. .and has. .when I don't make it home on time. .and he can start fixing whatever is on the list for the day!! I've even caught the crew checking to see what was for dinner before they left in the morning!
The habit certainly takes a little extra effort during the beginning. .but I can tell you. .once you have used it for a few months. .it is hard to go without!! It has certainly simplified our lives. .and helped us to eat a better variety of foods. .also a healthy thing!! And healthy is a good thing. .especially during the season of changes brought on by the arrival of a new year!
I also came up with another resolution to work on in 2012. .
. .Teaching the children how to do L-A-U-N-D-R-Y!! The bigger they grow. .the bigger their clothes. .the bigger the piles!!
Calgon. .Calgon anyone???