See that up there? That is evidence that the sun was shining into my kitchen window yesterday. It felt so good to feel it on my skin as I walked to the mail box and out to collect the bird feeders. Spring, oh, Spring...come quick!
Menu planning...oh my, it has been my saving grace these last months. I can't believe that I haven't been doing it for years. It just makes things so much easier. I spend a couple of hours each month planning for the next month. I use a blank month sheet that my Mom gave me a large tablet of. I usually only plan for dinners as lunch is leftovers or things like Macaroni and Cheese or PB and J. I don't lock myself in either, depending on what's on sale or what we are in the mood for, I feel free to switch things up as the month goes along. Once I do my planning I attach all recipes needed and the month sheet to a clip board that I hang next to the refrigerator. It's a good place for me to reference what's up coming.
Then each week when I get the Highlander and Logli ads, I review what I have listed for the week, what's on sale and I then make any changes. I usually only do the major grocery shopping every two weeks, but if there is a killer deal on something I will stop by the store. Plus, we usually need a staple item, like milk or yogurt from time to time on the off shopping week. I have sworn off Walmart all together. The stores I now frequent do double coupons and tend to have great sales on meat and other items on a regular basis. I just have to watch and then stock my freezer to tide us over until the next sale. I have saved lots on things like chicken and bread this way and I have a nice pantry full of canned goods because of shopping sales. These methods have helped me plan our meal more effectively as well.
On a rolling cart that I have in my kitchen I stash all of my latest food magazines and any recipes that I have come across that I want to get into the meal rotation. It's a great place for them for easy reference and to keep clutter off of my table and counters. I file away the magazines or recycle as needed.
This weeks menu is:
Creamy Tomato Penne
Asian Beef Stew and Rice
Shredded Apricot Pork Sandwiches
Royal Round Steak
I always allow for a least one dinner of leftovers to clean out the fridge and to try not to waste any food. I am also using my crock pot a great deal more which makes things even easier. I may only list the main course, but we always have vegetables and/or fruit as well. I try to keep us balanced, but sometimes grilled cheese and chips is all I can manage and I try not to feel too bad about it.
I file away past months menus for reference, plus I try to make notes as to how the recipe was recieved and if it was something that I should make again or never dare to think of making again. This doesn't always happen, but I do try to make an effort.
What tricks or tips do you have that makes cooking easier? I would love to know.