Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 11/23

Last week's plan went a little awry due to some stomach distress in the troops. The pancakes and French Toast went over well, but the enchiladas were postponed til later in the week. Luckily, everyone seems to be better this week. Miss Em is out at the grandparents this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so I'm just cooking for the two of us.

Monday - Parmesan and Beef Pasta - I usually make this recipe with turkey and zucchini, but I've also subbed green beans and other veggies depending on what's in the fridge.

Tuesday - Green Salad with Chicken Fajita strips - I think it's a good idea to eat light this week before the big Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday - Tilapia fillets and steamed veggies - I found these great frozen tilapia fillets breaded with a parmesan coating.

Thursday - TURKEY!!

Friday - I'm going to the after Thanksgiving sales so meals will probably be catch as catch can but I might throw some veggie soup in the crockpot.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving is great! Have fun with your families or whomever you choose to celebrate with. Be sure to check out more menu plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clutter Be Gone!

Photo by kevindooley

With the holidays looming on the horizon, I'm starting to feel like my house is drab and dirty. Not so much that it is dirty (it has it's moments) but the clutter is driving me nuts.

It's time to start weeding out the junk and getting rid of it. We've toyed with the idea of having a garage sale but getting it all sorted and tagged, then spending the day hauling it out to the driveway doesn't appeal to us. Better to sort through it in our spare time and either try to sell it online or simply donate it.

Once we've cleared out some of the clutter, it will be easier to start decorating for the holidays. I'd like to get the decorations out a bit at a time so it's not such a big project.

This year I'm going to get an artificial tree. We prefer real, but usually don't get to the tree farm until right before Christmas. I don't really feel the Christmas spirit without the tree so waiting makes my holiday season feel very short. I'm rushed at the last minute to get it all together.

I'd like to have my tree up in the dining room early and we can put the real tree up in the living room later.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: 11/16

I really did not feel like cooking this weekend, so we coped with some frozen dinners and tuna sandwiches. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things this week because I don't think I can pull that one off again without the troops complaining.

Tomorrow I'll head to the store for milk and some produce, but other than that I'm really going to try to eat from the freezer. I'll try to mix freezer things in with some of the guys' favorite meals. They really love breakfast for dinner!

Monday: Pancakes

Tuesday: Enchiladas w/ salad

Wednesday: Chicken breasts w/ veggies and rice

Thursday: Eggs & French Toast

Friday: Chicken pot pie

Saturday: Sandwiches & Soup

Check out OrgJunkie for more menu ideas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Oct 5

Wow - Busy week! I'm running a bit behind on my menu this week but here's the tentative plan:

T - Ravioli
W - Salad with fajita chicken
Th - Mac and cheese with tuna
F - Beans and cornbread
S - Chicken pasta salad

Last week we stayed pretty well on plan. We didn't manage the beans and cornbread because I didn't get out the crockpot in time to soak the beans - so they're back this week. We'll see how it goes.

One thing I did this week was cook ahead for the weeks coming. I've seen info on once-a-month cooking (OAMC) on other sites, but I particularly like the plan set out by Menu Maker Mom in integrating cooking ahead into the weekly meal plan. I picked up a ham on my last trip to the store and cooked up her ham plan #2. Everything looks so yummy I can't wait to try them out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Sept 28

This is the first week in a while I've taken the time to plan my week's meals -- Hopefully we'll be able to stay on track and this will help us be less frazzled at meal times!

Sunday - Roast chicken and cornbread (I picked up a precooked chicken while I was shopping -- so easy!!)

Monday - Ham, biscuits, green beans

Tuesday - Mushroom chicken, rice

Wednesday - Tuna salad and crackers

Thursday - Beans and cornbread

Friday - Enchiladas

Saturday - Ravioli, artichokes

Be sure to check the roundup at I'm an Organizing Junkie for lots more ideas to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Summer's Over - Are you ready for Winter??

After a summer of play, cooler temperatures and evenings filled with homework rather than family activities turns my thoughts to preperation for the cold winter months. Most years I toss a few things into the freezer and buy a few more canned goods at the store, without much thought to their use.

This year, not only have I been reading a few preparedness websites and blogs, but I've also noticed some of the things I tossed in the freezer last year are still in there. Things are looking a little freezer burned and unappetizing. I realize that stocking up without a plan only results in loss - lost food and lost money.

My goal for this year is to create my food storage and stockpile plan to get the maximum use out of it - not wasted efforts. I'm starting by cleaning out and inventorying my freezer. That way I can work the items that have been hiding in the back into my weekly meal plans before they go to waste as well. This will keep me from duplicate buying at the store as well.

After I inventory the fridge freezer and the chest freezer, I'll clear out and organize the pantry, keeping a close eye on expiration dates and using things when they are still fresh and tasty. Then adding items to round out our storage should help us keep our grocery budget steady and our family prepared.

Some blogs I've relied on for stockpile info have been:

Food Storage Made Easy: great info on getting your storage started - they also are a part of a blog network with more great information on cooking with food storage and buying food storage.

Safely Gathered In: great recipes from food storage as well as basic cooking skills

iPrepared: great posts on storage details

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cooking from Scratch While Working 40 Hours a Week

The Passage of Time
Originally uploaded by ToniVC
Read any article or blog post about cutting expenses and saving money, and "cooking from scratch" instead of eating out or ordering in is likely to be on the list of tips. Truthfully, a cart of groceries can go farther and cost less than a couple of nights of restaurant fare. But how do you cook from scratch every night when you are working 40 (or more) hours a week without tearing out your hair and calling the pizza guy??

In a word - planning.

Everyone should have at least one or two dead-simple meals they can throw together, but on a busy night when you only have minutes isn't the time to try to think of them or figure out if you have all the necessary ingredients.

You'll need to find a few minutes of quiet time to make a plan, even if it's the last half of a lunch hour spent at your desk. I try to take some time on Sunday afternoons after lunch when we all go our separate ways to work on our own projects.

What I do is write down 5 dinners. Two should be so easy I could cook them in 20 minutes while supervising homework. Another might be a simple grilled meat that can be used in a different way on a second night. I like chicken breasts and thighs for this.

Another few minutes deciding which day to have each menu (easy meals on busy days) or I can play it by ear, deciding as I see how my schedule pans out. A quick check of my plan the night before or the morning of and I can pull things out of the freezer as needed.

Once I have my main dishes planned, a side dish or two rounds out the meal and I create my shopping list. A quick peek in my pantry to see what I have already or what substitutions could be made in a pinch and I'm off to the store.

If any of this process seems confusing or too much work, I'll be posting a few more tips this week for those times in your life when even 15 minutes of planning is asking too much (I've been there too).

Also, look for a post in the near future on cooking from scratch when you don't really cook.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Freezer Clearout - Day One

Our first meal from the freezer was ravioli. I had 2 kinds in there - seafood and chicken. G decided the chicken sounded better to him, so they were unearthed from 'the beast'. I also noticed a package of garlic toast in there that must have been on special since I don't usually buy it. A can of sauce from my pantry and we had a nice dinner.

Another thing I noticed while digging out the ravioli was a package of Gardenburgers. No one really likes them but me, so I decided to take them in my lunch this week. On an english muffin bun, it's a tasty and healthy meal (and low points -- I do Weight Watchers)

I need to paln another excavation to figure out the next few days. Don't worry -- I'll tie a rope around my waist so I don't get lost! lol

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Allergy Meds + Coffee = Indigestion + Insomnia

Yesterday I spent time in my old building, working on some things for my boss. I left my old job in that building because I hated it and felt crummy all the time. Now I realize it might have just been the building. Every time I spend a day over there working, I have an allergy attack. Mold, possibly?

Tonight my allergy pill and decongestant are wreaking havoc with my tummy. Normally I only feel this bad when I eat red onions. That's part of the reason I can't sleep.

And before anyone says it's because I drank half a pot of coffee over the last 2 hours, coffee usually doesn't keep me up. In fact, it usually puts me rather solidly out. Much like how giving amphetamines to ADD folks makes them flow down and concentrate. Does that mean I have ADD? Dunno. Never checked. I am quite easily dis...(Ooh look! Something shiny!!)

Where was I? Oh yeah. I'm up and I feel crummy.

Might as well go watch informercials... Has anyone tried bumpits?

Time for Freezer Clearouts

I came home from my weekly shopping trip earlier this week pleased with the great deals I'd found. Eggs were $1 per dozen and chicken thighs and legs were $1 per pound. I stocked up and even thought I might go back and get some more for future meals.

My spirits dropped somewhat when I realized my freezer was full! Stuffed to the brim. If I'd even tried to stick in one more thing -- BOOM! So this week I decided my main goals needs to be clearing it out. I want my freezer to work for me, not against me. And if I can't even stick in one small package of chicken, something's not working.

Plus, since I'd been filling the freezer willy-nilly without a plan, I had no clue what was in there or how to find anything I was looking for in there. So my meal plan this week (after Easter at the in-laws) needs to revolve around the contents of my freezer.

Once we've cleared out a bit of space in there, I can tackle organizing what's in there so things are easy to find and reach when I need them. I might even work on a freezer inventory for easier planning. But that's always seem a bit more organized than I've been able to handle... we'll see if I can keep up with it.