Monday, August 17, 2009

Menus: back in the saddle again

I was super good at meal planning the first four months this year. That's the longest streak I've ever had with planning out menus. It's the only thing that saved me when I was having pregnancy nausea. Well, I stopped when Matt was traveling for work and I never got back into the groove. I know I'm spending more on food now, and yet it seems like we never have anything decent to eat when meals roll around. So, I'm trying to pick myself up off the kitchen floor and start once again.

The problem is, nothing sounds good. My stand by meals sound too over done and I don't have the energy to search out new meals that are cheap enough, easy enough, and delicious enough to fit the bill. Waa, waa. I know. I need to get over it and get going.

Any favorite ideas, links, or dinner recipes people want to share?


marzy dotes said...

I hear you. I have a hard time with meals too. Especially because we Rarely eat with Scott so it is always just me and the kids. I used to get the Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine which I loved. Here is the website
The food is good and not too out there and pretty simple to prepare. You can also sign up to get the free Food and Family Magazine from Kraft Foods
The food is pretty family friendly and easy. Not super fancy usually but I have found some good recipes there. Wish I could be more helpful but this is something I struggle with too!

Him, Her & The Wee One said...

Last week we had one of the best meals I've had in a while and it was easy, relatively healthy and super cheap. I put beans in the crock pot (dry pinto) with some diced onions, a few cans of green chilis, lots of chili powder and covered it with water (I had to add water throughout the day, but didn't add too much, I didn't want soup). Anyway, we put them on (this is where it gets unhealthy) fried flour tortillas (it would've been good on regular tostada shells or wrapped in a tortilla). We put the usual on top (lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and sour cream) and had some raw vegetables for our side. That's a long comment for one recipe... sorry.

Jessica Baird said...

I also struggle with what to cook each night. I've had some new inspirations with a blog my mom likes: and a fun kids food taste of home magazine that my mom passed on to me. My favorite one there was how to make noodles and a hot dog into an octopus in seaweed. If you're interested I'll pass on the recipe. Good luck and please share any successes you find.

Lindsay said...

One of our favorite easy meals is taco salad. In between the tortilla chips and the fresh toppings (tomatoes, olives, lettuce, cheese, etc), we make a ground beef/bean mixture that's really yummy. Basically you just brown the hamburger, and then add: taco seasoning, a jar of taco sauce, a can of corn, a can of black beans, and a can of chili beans (or, if they don't sell chili beans where you live, like they don't here, just use something like pink beans and add chili seasoning to taste). (Also, I usually drain the juices out of the cans.) Simmer together and serve. Super easy and super tasty.

I know it's usually an appetizer, but on hot days when we don't want to turn on the oven or stove, sometimes we'll make 7 layer dip and call it dinner.

Oh, and another easy meal that we all love, especially Garrett, are English muffin pizzas. Just slice open English muffins and top with tomato sauce and pizza toppings, stick in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes and voila. Easy pizza.

Okay, one more. I'm serious about the crunchy tilapia recipe I posted on my blog a little while back. SO GOOD. And SO EASY. Seriously, it takes like 15 minutes to whip together.

Good luck with your meal planning!

Heather and Ryan said...

Do you not like any meat, or is it just beef that you don't like?

I always like beans and cornbread. Just put soaked beans in the crockpot with your choice of meat (mostly for flavor) and some chopped fresh onions. Cook on high all day. I usually buy smoked turkey drums to put in.

I also like crockpot stroganoff. You can find it on my cooking blog. Depending on how long you cook it, the beef shreds up really small, so it has the flavor of meat, but not all the texture. I'm sure you could replace the beef with another meat if you like.

7-up ham. Put a ham in the crockpot and pour a bottle of 7-up over it. Cook all day. Unhealthy, I know, but it tastes good.

Beef and broccoli. 1 lb thinly sliced beef roast, 11oz can tomato soup, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 3 cups broccoli. Put in crockpot and mix, cook on low for 6 hrs, until beef is tender. Serve over rice.

I guess you can tell I like crockpots. It's so much easier to prepare the meal in the morning when the kids are still happy. By late afternoon the kids get grumpy and hungry. They don't want to wait for me (or let me ignore them) to cook. I just prepare the simple stuff at dinner time, like the side dishes.

As side dishes, I like to get the frozen veggies that are in the steam bags. Just put them in the microwave for a few minutes. Easy.

If you don't have a problem with trans-fat, you can grab the pillsbury french loaf in the refrigerated section next to the biscuits. That tastes good and only takes about 30 minutes to bake. We used to add one of those to our meals for an easy filler. I just don't eat trans-fat anymore.

Let me know about the meat, and I might have some more ideas for you.

Sarah Pace said...

I hear ya! I was so good at meal planning till the last few months. I blame it on the pregnancy and being to tired to cook =)

But I love it and have alot of cookbooks. And actually I cook alot from the pillsbury cook books, the paperback books in the grocery store line.

They use minimal ingredients and are super easy. I usually add my own twist on it to make it. So those are the books I use when I don't feel like spending to much time on a meal.

I do alot of crockpot also and with the fall season around the corner I make alot of soup. If you are interested I can put together some of the good recipes for you! let me know!

Juls said...

one of my goals this month is to start planning meals, shopping trips, etc...

a meal I have liked recently is stromboli, my version

pizza dough (I still use your recipe)
roll it out on a cookie sheet
in the center put a row of pepperoni then cheese then salami (sliced thin)cheese do this a few times,

THen I make a braid by cutting strips and braiding it.

Cook at 350 for about 20 minutes. dip in pizza sauce.

I think I am going to try ham and cheese tonight.

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. Part of my problem right now is the whole shopping issue. I haven't really wanted to brave the supermarket with both kids by myself (I went to the library and that was fairly disastrous) and it's soooo hard for me to delegate grocery shopping to Matt since I can never make a comprehensive list. Hopefully I can get a new menu made by this Sat. so I can go with Matt with plans in mind.

Heather, I eat pretty much all meat except cuts with bones still attached and steak.

Tom and Audrie said...

I hear you on the shopping with kids problem....leave them home with Matt and go by yourself!!! Good Luck!

Heather and Ryan said...

One cookbook that I absolutely love is Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely. It has all the recipes and shopping lists broken down for each week. It makes it super easy and gives a good variety of foods to eat. It would make it very convenient to give Matt a shopping list when it is already prepared. As for the misc items that one would forget to put on a shopping list, I just have a paper stuck to the fridge and when we get close to running out of something, I just add it to the list and bring that with me when I go shopping. It makes it so much easier than trying to remember everything when I'm ready to go to the store. Have you tried going shopping after the kids are in bed, or even make it a family event after Matt gets off work, maybe even have your visiting teachers watch Dean for a little while? I'll try to get a few more recipes for you soon.

Here is a link to the cookbook: