Monday, March 10, 2008

Meal planning?

I'm not much of a meal planner... mostly it's about a handful of recipes that work really well with both children and are 20-minute easy meals. Add a couple of frozen dinners, leftovers once a week, and some canned soup other meals, and I pretty much got things wrapped up. HOWEVER, this is getting old. I like trying new recipes... but don't really like to push the envelope too much with picky eater "A".

Usually I can do a pretty good job of grabbing enough for several meals when I hit the grocery store, even if they're not 'planned'.

But, with "A" shopping for me, things are getting to slim pickings. And since "A" is also doing the majority of the cooking, well, I don't want ANY MORE pizza. I'm pizza'd out.

So, if I come up with a meal plan for the week; with recipes and grocery list, I think that I can sell it with the "A"-man.

So, here's my start:

Monday 3/10 - Frozen Lasagna (thank you work-friends who picked them up!!).

Tuesday 3/11 - Menus 4 Moms recipe Swiss Chicken & Green Beans

1. For quicker prep time in the afternoon, Swiss Chicken can be prepared in the morning and refrigerated until time to bake.

* 6 boneless chicken breasts (raw)
* 6 slices Swiss cheese
* 1 can cream of chicken soup (substitutions)
* 1/4 cup white cooking wine (substitutes)
* 1 cup stuffing mix
* 1/4 cup melted butter

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish. Cover each with cheese. Mix soup and wine; pour over chicken. Cover with stuffing. Drizzle 1/4 cup butter over stuffing. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350°.

Wednesday 3/12 -
Menus 4 Moms recipe Tex-Mex Pasta Skillet

* 8 oz. spiral pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)
* 1 lb. ground beef , cooked (from freezer)
* 1 can corn, drained
* 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
* 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
* 2 Tbsp. parsley
* 1 tsp. salt

Cook pasta according to directions. Do not overcook, leave slightly firm. While pasta is cooking, combine remaining ingredients except cheese in a large saucepan. Stir gently over medium heat until heated through. Drain pasta. Add cheese and pasta to skillet, mix thoroughly, and serve warm.

Thursday - 3/13 - Cheeseburger Soup

* 1 lb. ground beef
* 3/4 C. chopped onion
* 3/4 C. shredded carrots
* 3/4 C. diced celery
* 3 T. butter or oil
* 3 C. chicken broth
* 4 C. diced potatoes
* 1/4 C. flour
* 8 oz. Velveeta cheese
* 1 1/2 C. milk
* 1 t. basil
* 1/4 C. sour cream
* salt and pepper

In a stock pot, brown beef, drain, rinse with hot water, and set aside. Saute onion, carrots, celery and basil in same pan about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and add broth, potatoes and beef. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and blend in sour cream. Serve.

Friday 3/14 - Guess, I can survive frozen pizza - boys love it...

Saturday 3/15 - Crockpot White Chicken Chili & cornbread

* 4 chicken breasts, cubed (from freezer)
* 1 cup chopped onion, cooked (from freezer)
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp dried leaf oregano
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
* 2 cans (about 15 ounces each) great northern beans, drained, rinsed
* 1 can (12 to 15 oz.) corn, drained
* 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Mix onion, garlic, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, salt and Tabasco in 3 1/2 to 6-quart crockpot. Add cubed chicken breasts. Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours, or until chicken is tender (this may vary depending on how hot your crockpot cooks). Stir in beans, corn, and cilantro, if using. Cover and cook on low 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Sunday - 3/16 -- Baked Penne Pasta

* 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
* 1 lb. ground beef, browned (from Monday or from freezer)
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce
3/4 cup brown gravy
* 1/2 cup half and half
* 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
* 1 tsp. oregano
* 1/2 tsp. rosemary
* salt and pepper to taste
* 12 oz. penne pasta, cooked
* 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Reheat beef. In a large fry pan, saute garlic over low heat 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except Mozzarella cheese and pasta. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.

Now, most of these meals have more ingedients than most of my regulars (anything over 5 is a lot for me)... but I'm thinking we can handle it. Secondly, I'm going to try to figure out which ones I anticipate will go over better, and double-up the recipe when I get the grocery list together for it, as I want to try to make one and prepare one to freeze, for next week... for at least two of these meals. Then, next week, If I continue to do the same, I have fewer meals to 'come up with', plus maybe by next week, one of my old standby's will sound good again. The site I found some of these on recommends that you make actually 3 meals when preparing the first one. Freeze the other two - one for the following week, and the third for the week after... but since these are untried menus, I'm going to take it a little slower than that.

Oh, and another time saver (?) is to take the week's menus, and the first time you serve something with browned ground beef - you cook up all the ground beef for the week, and freeze some of it. If you're making chicken for more than two meals, and the second meal is better if the chicken is pre-cooked, cook it while you're prepping the first meal with chicken. If you're chopping onions, chop enough for the whole week & freeze the remaining ingredients in the sizes needed. This may be a bit too much for "A", but if I think through it, it would probably help me out a LOT. Back when I was cooking for five/six people... I used to prepare tacos once a week either on Tuesday/Wednesday night. Then I'd use one of those tupperware party dishes to capture various toppings - chopped onions, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, etc... and then I'd use those throughout the week for salad toppings. Things would be needing to be used up by the end of the week - and omelets could pretty much finish off whatever was left. Now that it's just the three of us - and "A" won't touch most of that stuff, and I can't have salad, well, this just doesn't work for us any more. Need to think up maybe other things those toppings could be used for throughout the week and maybe I can find a way to adapt to our current situation.


britchik96 said...

I can give you some easy recipes. Here's a really easy one - get a crockpot, put a chicken in it. Leave 5 hours on low. Ta-da roast chicken. Pair it with anything in the fridge.

I always buy meat in bulk at the store, then saran wrap each piece and freeze. It takes about an hour to defrost a single portion - and then you can griddle it in less than 10 minutes.

Always make sure you have bacon or ham. That way it's easy to cook with pasta and sauce.

And that's just off the top of my head:)

britchik96 said...

One more thing. Chilli freezes so well. Make sure you buy the cheap containers that are single portion size then freeze that way. I make soups, chilli and bolognaise that way. Added bonus too is that it's portion controlled for us that like to watch our weight:)