Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Menu, Revamped


Since starting our new fall schedule I've been consistent about writing a weekly menu. Somewhere along the line last year we fell of the wagon in that department. Being that my personality is definitely closer to the type A side of things, I just feel better when I have a plan.

One problem, though. Each Monday morning I've been clipping a sheet of paper to a clip board and carrying around with me while I float around doing school, laundry and cooking, waiting for inspiration. I continue to ask everyone, "What do you want for breakfast?" or "Quick, what are three dinners that you love?" After a blank stare and silence they usually shrug their shoulders and get back to their math.

So, I've finally come up with a plan that is working! What a relief. Each day of the week has it's own plan, every week, for the whole season. For example, every Sunday (baking day) we have pancakes for breakfast. On my menu it says pancakes there with a space to make notes, to be sure to add variety and more importantly, use up what I have. This Sunday we had ginger pancakes with peach sauce. They were really good! (See recipes below.) And, I added pancakes to the menu for Tuesdays as well, I make enough on Sundays to have leftovers that we can pop in the toaster to reheat. That's an easy way to start a school day.

It is the same with lunch and dinner. Once a week we will have soup and bread. I have the menu form printed out ahead of time and can just pencil in what type of soup we will be having. This is wonderful because, really, whatever we have on hand can go in to the pot. This week we had an amazing vegetable soup with vegetables that were cluttering up my fridge (again, the recipe is to follow.)
So, each day of the week will be predictable and easy to plan. I know that Thursdays we will be having tuna for lunch, I just have to decide how to serve it, as a sandwich, on crackers or with noodles? That is much easier than reinventing the wheel every single week!

To give you the inspiration I was lacking as I walked around with my clipboard, here are some ideas from my fall/winter 2009 menu:

Breakfasts: eggs, fruit crisp, muffins, oatmeal, cereal & rice milk, pancakes
Lunches: tuna, pb&j, leftovers, egg salad, english muffin pizzas
Dinners: soup & bread, mexican, chicken, pasta, ground beef
snacks: (I make two snacks a day, the morning snack is always fruit) cookies, snack mix

RECIPES:

Ginger Pancakes with Peach Sauce:
Pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

Combine the flour, ginger, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until the dry ingredients are well mixed. Add the melted butter, sugar, buttermilk and egg all at once and stir only until the batter is completely moistened but still lumpy.

Heat a greased griddle or skillet over medium heat. Using a serving spoon, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons batter onto the griddle. (The batter is thick, so you may have to spread it a little with the back of the spoon after dropping onto griddle). Cook over medium heat, and turn the pancakes as soon as they hold together when you slide a spatula under them.

Peach Sauce:

I cooked peaches in my crockpot all night long and add a touch of brown sugar in the morning. They compliment the pancakes perfectly.

Veggie Soup:
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
1.5 cups sliced carrots
1.5 cups peas
.5 cup broccoli florets
.5 cup corn kernels
1 cup squash (I used zucchini)
3.5 T butter
1 large onion, sliced
1.5 cups mushrooms
3 T flour
2.5 vegetable (or chicken) bouillon cubes dissolved in 1.25 cups hot water
1 cup milk
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t salt
1 t thyme
1/2 t celery seed

Place potato, carrots, peas, broccoli, corn and squash in pt and fill with enough water to cover veggies plus one inch. Salt the water and bring to a boil and boil for four minutes.

Melt butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add the the onion and mushrooms and saute them, stirring often, until they are soft, about four minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring nonstop for another 30 seconds. Add the broth you made with the bullion cubes, milk and spices. Continue to stir until mixture thickens, about another four minutes.

Add the vegetable (with the water they are in) to sauce and stir well. Add more salt and pepper if you want to. Let it simmer while you do other things for about an hour and then, dinner is served!

Need further encouragement for meal planning? Check these ideas for fall menus: here and here.

Blessings to you as you plan and make meals for your family! "She looks well to the ways of her household." Provers 31:27


2 comments:

Lillian the Ponderer said...

Having certain themes for each day really helps, we typically have very simple (easy to prepare ahead) food on Friday evening, for example jacket potatoes, on Saturday evening especially during autumn and winter when the Sabbath ends early, it is very simple food like "hot-dogs" or baked beans on tortilla chips with grated vegan "cheese" - all put under the grill, these are perfect for "movie evenings". One thing that I did a couple of years ago is I typed up (on a spreadsheet) the names of all my staple menu items under the various headings: Entrees, side dishes, vegetables, extras (breadsticks, cheeses, mayonaise etc), soups, deserts, breakfast/tea/supper - including baked goods, snacks (simple, quick mini-meals. When I need inspiration for menu planning I consult the spreadsheet (I have it printed off) or I open in on the pc and highlight the various foods in a different colour for each day - then I just look at each highlighted item to write up the menu, it works for me although I suspect for some it might sound rigid, it certainly means that I don't forget about our favourites or have the same thing every week because I can't think of anything else.

Karen K said...

I do a similar thing eg. Monday Rice and something
Tuesday potatoes, Wednesday pasta, Thursday bread, Friday leftovers and each week decide what to have with each thing.