Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two-week Menu Plan

Steve and I have been making menu plans for over a year now. There are many reasons we do this:
  1. to save money
  2. we always have ingredients on hand
  3. we don't have to think about what we're having for supper
Before we started making our menus, we realized that we were eating out a lot at the beginning of our marriage. This may not sound bad to some people but we had a very limited budget. I was working full-time. Steve was working part-time while looking for full-time work. We realized we couldn't continue to eat out. We were eating out for a variety of reasons:
  1. We were too tired to think of what to cook for supper.
  2. If we did think of something, we didn't have the ingredients on hand to make the dish and didn't want to go to the grocery store.
I had read online about making a menu plan and decided to give it a shot. We made a menu plan for one week. I didn't pay attention to the Fareway ad and just wrote down what we wanted to eat and made our grocery list from that. After spending $80 a week on groceries for awhile, I decided that was ridiculous. I think that's when I started the two-week menu plan. I would glance at the Fareway ad but not base my meals around it. It was still cheaper than our weekly grocery list and I started incorporating left-overs and using all (ok, most) of the produce I was buying. Sometime during my menu-planning adventures, I decided to make a menu plan for a month. We would write down 36 meals and then write our grocery list. We would buy all non-perishables and the first two weeks' perishables. The third week we would buy the last two weeks' perishables. This sounds great in theory and as I'm writing this, I'm thinking We should do that again. But I remember why we stopped doing it. It is very hard to sit down and decide what we're going to eat for the next month. It takes a good hour to make the menu plan and then it takes about an hour (more or less) to make the grocery list. It did save time in the long run but we decided to switch back to our two-week menu plan. I've finished writing our menu plan for the next two weeks. I'm pretty excited because it re-uses a lot of ingredients and I'm using my crock-pot at least 5 times. Without further ado, here is my menu plan:

Sunday Dec. 26th

Monday Dec. 27th
grilled cheese, tomato soup

Tuesday Dec 28th Crockpot Day
Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti, fruit and veggies

Wednesday Dec. 29th
boneless beef ribs, fruit and veggies

Thursday Dec. 30th Crockpot Day
Ham, Knorr rice side, veggies and fruit

Friday Dec. 31st
Shredded meat sandwiches, veggies and fruit

Saturday Jan. 1st Crockpot Day
Ham and Lentil Soup, veggies and fruit

Sunday Jan. 2nd
Orange Chicken, rice
Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, veggies, fruit

Monday Jan. 3rd Crockpot Day
Three Bean Vegetarian Chili, Texas toast

Tuesday Jan. 4th

Wednesday Jan. 5th
ground beef with rice and Rotel tomatoes

Thursday Jan. 6th Crockpot Day
Hodgepodge Sloppy Joes, veggies, fruit

Friday Jan. 7th
Chicken Noodle Soup

Saturday Jan. 8th
left-overs/catch-up meal

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I have a plan!

Yesterday we were in the midst of a snow storm. We didn't get a lot of snow but it was very windy and snow was blowing everywhere. I decided to not go anywhere except the grocery store. I really wouldn't have even gone there but our fridge was empty. Literally empty. I sat down with Steve to make our menu for the next two weeks and make our grocery list. Yesterday was also a good day to decide what I wanted to bake next weekend. (I'm all about planning ahead... anybody know what they're giving their mom and grandma next year for Christmas? I do!) I brought out my personal cookbook and flipped through it. I considered some family favorites and some new recipes. Here's the list:

Cranberry bread
Chocolate chip-Butterscotch chip cookies
Oreo balls
Peanut butter cookies
Peanut brittle
Mt. Dew cake
Marble cake

Most of this will be going to my grandma's for Christmas. I already have some cookies in the freezer from my cookie swap in October. I also plan to make a goodie tray and the Mt. Dew cake for the bake sale at work. I've never made cranberry bread. I bought two bags of cranberries for Thanksgiving. I only used one bag and saw the recipe on the back. The recipe sounds good so I decided to try it. The chocolate chip-butterscotch chip cookies are my classic recipe. I figured I should throw something easy into the mix! Peanut butter cookies are my brother's favorite and I just couldn't resist making them for him. I've never made the oreo balls but the recipe only has 3 ingredients... how easy is that?! I plan to make the marble cake because, well, I need the practice! May is not that far away and I need to get it just right for Darcy's graduation. And last but not least is the peanut brittle. I found this recipe online. I don't really care for peanut brittle but my dad loves it. I plan to make it as part of his Christmas gift. He is still getting his traditional box of chocolate covered cherries. For the goodie tray for work, I plan to take a few cookies from each batch and some peanut brittle. I think that will make a nice arrangement.

If anybody wants to help, come over!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In search of marble cake

My little sister is one of the coolest people I know. And no, that's not sarcasm. I adore Darcy. I would do anything for her. In fact, I am. I told our mom that I would make her graduation cakes. I was thinking something simple like chocolate, white or yellow or even cupcakes. I asked Darcy what kind of cake she wanted the last time I was home. She thought about it for awhile and said "You know, I've always liked marble cake." Oh, boy. You see, I had never made a marble cake before. I didn't even have a recipe for marble cake. I told her that I would find a recipe for marble cake and give it a shot. My mom had two recipes which I made copies of. My grandma threw a curve ball into the mix by saying that my Great Grandma used to make a marble cake that was a mix of yellow, chocolate and spice cake. She couldn't find the recipe but I took Great Grandma's spice cake recipe. We'll see what happens. I also subscribe to Penzey's spice catalog (I've never ordered from them but I do like looking at the recipes... I told you that I have a problem!). The latest catalog had a recipe for marble cake. I made a marble cake from one of Mom's recipes for a pot luck at work. It was a tad dry. Tonight I made the marble cake from Penzey's. It wasn't dry but I still think it needs some work. Practice makes perfect and I really hope that my coworkers and Steve's like marble cake because they're going to be eating a lot of it in the next 5 months!