Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Menu Plan

I spend a lot of time planning my weekly menus, so I figured I'd share.  I try to plan at least one Freezer Meal each week - I triple the recipe, we eat one for dinner and the other two meals go in the freezer.  Doesn't usually take any extra time to prep the extra meals, and if I do it regularly, I can keep my freezer stocked.  It saves money too, b/c I plan my meals around the weekly sale ads and coupons, so I extend the savings with the freezer meals. I admit, I've really gotten away from this.  With my bad tech karma I've really been unable to function.  I rely heavily on the computer to plan my meals, pay the bills, grocery shop (all my couponing is done with the help of websites), run my business, and I'm seriously addicted to Google (because without it, how else would I be the fabulous know-it-all that I am!).  Lincoln also got sick in October, and we've been back and forth with specialists and testing and procedures for the past several months while they figured out a diagnosis (which we finally know is a Primary Immune Deficiency called Hypogammaglobulenemia, for now. I know, might as well be called Supercalafragalisticexpialodocious!).  So for the past few months, my time (& brain) has been consumed with keeping up with the basics, worrying, calling Doctors constantly, and finding any time I could to run to my mom's house to use her computer and keep my business going, while hoping the kids don't destroy her house as I let them roam on their own.  But Linc is doing well (he's being monitored by an Immunologist, and his last tests were so good they bumped his follow up from 3 months to 6 months!  Hallelujah. I'll have to post more on that later.) and my worry is now way down.  I'm starting to get back to normal again and have mental energy for all the other stuff.  So I'm working on re-stocking my freezer and getting our grocery budget back down as I get back to my couponing.
So back to the Menu Plan. Here's what we're eating this week:

Parsley Parmesan Chicken (freezer meal)
Bagged Ceasar Salad ($1.19 on sale with a coupon!)
I bought 9 pounds of chicken, planned to make this x4 because it's one of my favorite freezer meals.  Right before I started, a friend texted that she was in the hospital with her dad waiting for what ended up being a 12 hour surgery!!  It was great timing b/c I was able to send one of the meals home with her husband after he got off work, and she wasn't going to be home until late.  And I still had enough for us to eat last night, plus 3 meals for the freezer - like loaves & fishes, I tell you! Another reason I love the freezer meals is I have something on hand when an emergency comes up and I can easily take meals to people without stressing myself out if it's a busy time. Oh, and that link is to my Freezer Cooking Blog - which is also in desperate need of tons of updating.  I'll get there... eventually.  I also try to keep my sides simple on the nights when I'm making a meal for the freezer.  I do tend to make a bigger mess b/c of the larger quantities and have more dishes to wash, so I keep the other stuff simple.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf from Melissa's meal plan
Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks
Glazed Carrots (I steam them, and sprinkle them with a little bit of brown sugar)
I made the Meatloaf with ground turkey. I almost always use turkey in place of ground beef.  It's healthier, and I think I like the flavor better.  Especially with the sage in the meatloaf.  I love turkey with sage. mmm. I sort of fudged up on the sides and started prepping them too late, so I overcooked the meatloaf a bit and it was on the dry side.  But I loved doing it in the Slow Cooker - I prepped it yesterday and all I had to do today was pull it out of the fridge and turn it on.  That's how I like doing dinner - and Tuesdays are busy for us.  This is a recipe I'll cook again.  Would also work well for the freezer! Prep it, but don't cook it, just freeze the raw loaf.
We got Kale from our Organic produce Co-op this week and I've never made it before so I wanted to find a way to prepare it that I thought the kids would really like - who doesn't like mashed potato mix-ins?  Looks so yummy!  And I already had a bag of red potatoes on hand that I needed to use up.  Unfortunately, when I went to prepare them tonight, I discovered that those potatoes had already passed their time and had to throw them out.  So I whipped up some mashed sweet potatoes.  Then I looked at the stove and realized I was serving carrots and sweet potatoes.  Both orange and both sweetened with brown sugar. Not good meal planning.  So I threw in a bag of Green peas to try to mix it up.  Oops.  So I have to run to the store and get potatoes and throw these Kale Mashed Potatoes in on another day.  They look SO good, I can't wait to have them!

Valentine's King Crab Legs!!!
Orange Butter for dipping (got this from a Surf & Turf recipe card I got in a set years ago.  It's just melted butter with orange zest in it.  SOOO yummy with seafood.)
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus from Marci's Blog
(The kids will be eating leftovers early and going to our room with a movie and popcorn, so we can pretend we have the house to ourselves!)
I'm excited about this meal!  Ken works weekends, so he was at work on Valentine's.  We don't make a huge deal out of Valentine's, I'm not interested in wasting money on cards or flowers just for the holiday.  But we do love an excuse for a nice romantic dinner. Ken told me he wanted to make me a nice dinner for Valentine's which is super exiting ANY time I don't have to cook, but even better when it's crab legs!!  Before I dated Kenny I hated seafood.  I would occasionally eat shrimp, but often it made me gag!  His first choice in Restaurants is usually seafood, and somewhere along the way it grew on me.  I worked at Joes' Crab shack for over a year in High School, and I still had never tasted crab until Kenny and I went to Destin in 2007.  I had no idea what I was missing!  All that time of access to free crab legs, just wasted!  mmm.. I can taste it now.  Can not WAIT.

Penne with Butternut Squash, Sausage & Sage from Wellsphere
Tomato, Cucumber & Romaine Salad
Another reason I love the Produce Co-op!  I've never cooked butternut squash before.  I love that the co-op makes me try new fruits and veggies that I don't normally pick up on my own.  Ken's not a soup fan (he needs manly solid food), so I had to really look around for a good squash recipe to try, and I wanted something more savory than sweet. I also try to plan meals that use mostly what I have on hand, so I can keep my grocery list and budget down.  I have sausage in the freezer (that I got on sale with a coupon for $1.25 a pound!), and I have a green bell pepper I need to use, so I'm going to add that as well (based on a suggestion on facebook from Mrs. Johnson, our friend Mikey's mom - I might even mash up the squash a little more, and bake the whole mixture in the squash shell like she suggested.)

Parsley Cilantro Shrimp from Andrea Meyers
Quinoa Pilaf from allrecipes.com
Yep, I got Cilantro in the Co-op this week and have Parsley left over from the last Co-op two weeks ago, so this Marinade was a perfect way to use what I have, and I've got shrimp in the freezer (also on sale at $3.99/lb).  I'm really trying to make sure I use up all my herbs, seems like I never use up the whole bunch before it goes bad.
I'd never had quinoa until Cathy made Quinoa & Black Beans  for our Freezer Swap - delicious!  I learned that it's a Super Grain.  It's an excellent source of protein and nutrients.  And it's a complete protein.  So I'm trying to cook with it more.  Healthier alternative to rice or pasta sides. I'm going to add one or two diced carrots to the saute at the beginning for 3 minutes before I add the quinoa, based on another recipe I saw and b/c I have some extra carrots.  Also, and important tip I've learned.  You must RINSE the quinoa before you cook it.  If not, it has a bitter taste.  This is why my family loved it when we ate Cathy's recipe, and no one at it when I cooked it the first time.  This will be my second attempt at making it, so hopefully this one goes better!

Grub Rub Pork Chops from allrecipes
Mixed veggies (frozen)
*Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (from Tuesdays plan)
 I have Pork Chops in the freezer and was looking for something new to do with them. I love brown sugar on Pork Chops, which I first realized when we tried Morton's Grub Rub.  So good!  But I'm all out and was looking for a recipe to create it myself.  We'll see how similar this is to the Morton's version - but the flavor we love in the Grub Rub is the brown sugar, so I don't think we can go wrong here.  Reviews say it's spicy, and we like spicy.  I think it will go great with the mashed potatoes that I'm having to roll over from Tuesday. 

I don't plan specific days for Breakfasts.  Mornings are crazy in our house and I'm NOT a morning person.  Unfortunately my little boys got their Dad's genes and they are very very early morning people.  I stopped using an alarm clock when Kaden was born.  I'm not kidding.  There's not even a clock in my bedroom (which was actually a wonderful thing for my sleep).  Crack of dawn.  If they even make it that long.  So breakfast often entails me sleepily microwaving oats, tossing in raisins and throwing a piece of fruit at them as I grumble about making coffee.  Many days, I'm so pathetic that I convince Tayla to pour cereal for her and the boys while I try to convince myself to get out of bed. Then there's usually round 2 after Ken gets back from the gym.  Once I've finally woken up and can function, either Ken or I usually make scrambled eggs with some variation of onion, peppers, ham and cheese, sometimes I'll roll it in a tortilla. ooh... ahhh... It's boring and redundant.  So when I'm feeling ambitious I like to pick a couple new breakfast recipes I'd like to try and make sure I have all the ingredients on hand.  If it's a really great week, I'll actually make them all.  I'm for sure going to make the muffins this week.


Turkey Breakfast Sausage w/eggs & pears
Came across this recipe and I love that I can make a healthier version of sausage.  I love breakfast sausage, but very rarely make it b/c it's so high fat.  The recipe says not to use ground turkey breast b/c it's too lean, but that's what I buy, and have on hand now, so I'm going to try it anyway.  I think I'll drizzle in some olive oil, to help them stay moist. Think it will work fine.  This could also be doubled or tripled and the patties can be frozen before cooking.  I'm using turkey in my freezer, and if you're freezing meals with raw meat, you need to use fresh meat, since it can't be thawed and then re-frozen.  So I'll try them out and if it we like them, I'll do them again for the freezer.

Farmer's Casserole *for the Freezer* w/ Oranges slices 
One of my favorite recipes!  I love that I just have to throw it in the oven as soon as I wake up & it's soo yummy! This recipe makes 2 casseroles.
Moist Morning Glory Bran Muffins *for the Freezer*
Muffins for the freezer are one of my favorite breakfast foods.  I LOVE this recipe b/c of all the added fruits & veggies, and love anything I can add flax too. I don't have to feel guilty if I feed the kids just these muffins for breakfast.  And Linc's getting picky lately and he's my first kid who won't eat veggies.  So I'm looking for ways to hide them.  And I got a pineapple and lots of apples in the Co-op this week. Can't wait to try it.  I'll probably double it.

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