Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Menu Planning

Sorry about this post; it's rather random, I'll admit up front... but I was sitting here getting my menu done and I thought it might be interesting to someone else. I know seeing other people's menus might be interesting to me....

I really enjoy menu planning, when I can stick to it, that is. I just sat down and made out my menu for the next seven days... and thought about what I might serve for my guests (family) who are coming on day 8 and 9. I thought I would type it out and share it here with you.

What I usually do is create a graph (with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a large column for snack/alternative). The graph is cut by rows which have the names of the days (this particular one would begin with today - Wednesday, and end with seven days from now). I have been doing them by hand since it is much easier just to use a pencil and sketch them quickly while I browse through the recipe books to fill the squares up. I leave enough room to add drinks, sides, and even deserts if I want. Then, as the week goes by, I highlight the meals we have eaten (almost like a game of tic-tac-toe) because we rarely eat them in the order I put them down. They are just there as a guideline and often I will ask my husband what he prefers for "tonight" off the list. Once the list is completely highlighted (all meals eaten), I make a new chart! This gives me flexibility and lets the kids and hubby feel as if they have some input... while not leaving me with that perplexed feeling of not knowing WHAT to cook for dinner.

When I don't have a chart made out, and I let time slip by... we end up at a fast food joint sometimes... which is NOT good. Menus keep you in the kitchen and much healthier than in the drive-thru!

Here's this week's menu plans (in no particular order):

  • Cheese Toast, Juice, Fruit, Turkey Sausage Links

  • Pancakes, Bacon, Eggs, Coffee & Juice

  • Cold Cereal with Milk, Water

  • Cream of Wheat, Toast, Juice

  • Toast, Bacon & Eggs

  • Banana Nut Muffins, Fruit, Water

  • Oatmeal, Juice & Toast

  • Donuts (rare treat for last day of school)

  • Biscuits, Chocolate Milk, Bacon and Eggs

  • Chicken Nachos with Sour Cream to Dip them in

  • Turkey Sandwiches, Chips, Kool-Aid (one of the kids might have PBJ)

  • Ramen Soup, Apple Sauce, Crackers, Milk

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup, Ice Water

  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Chips, Fruit and Water

  • Sour Kraut and Sausage, Vegetables, Kool-Aid

  • Popcorn Shrimp, Fried Potatoes, Green Beans

  • Fast Food (rare treat for last day of school)

  • Sandwiches of some sort.... not sure yet what kind (maybe Bacon, Egg & Cheese)

  • Mexican Cornbread Casserole, Taco Chips & Salsa with Ice Tea

  • Lasagna Roll Ups Florentine (white sauce), Olives, French Bread, Salad

  • Cheese Enchiladas with home-made red chili sauce, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans

  • BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn on the Cobb & Sour Cream Biscuits

  • Honey Rosemary Chicken, Hash Brown Casserole and Richard's Sauted Green Beans
  • Spaghetti, Buttered bread, Tea and Olives

  • Fried Rice, Sesame Chicken Fingers, Oriental Almond Cookies & Soy Green Bean Stir-Fry

  • Home made lasagna with Greek Salad

  • ...And my first try at French Onion Soup (from scratch), French Salad (with hearts of palm like this recipe suggests), and French Bread... and I'm considering some kind of French chocolate desert - any suggestions?

Many of these recipes are already on this blog if you look through the archives or research by topic (that's how I look them up before I cook them). I just discovered, though... there are quite a few that are not. I have my work cut out for me.

Do you have any favorite meals that you cook every week?

We cook Spaghetti usually once a week because it is cheap, quick, and my husband really likes it. It is usually his night to cook when we eat that. I really don't like spaghetti, but the Italian Bacon Spaghetti recipe on my blog here is really exceptional! The man who gave it to us is a native Italian. I suggest you try that if you like bacon and you like spaghetti.

We don't make a few of my favorites on this blog each week because they are expensive and require a lot of time. On that list would be Paella and Non-alcoholic Sangria. I make that about once a month. Another favorite is Mee Krob (my recipe), but it is so messy and right now I don't have a wok (in storage). I've got that one on here listed under "Twice a Year Thai".

Come to think of it... I haven't made Thai, Indian, or Mid-Eastern in a while. It's been two weeks since we had Falafels. Maybe I'll add those things in to the next Menu Graph! Happy cooking!

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