I try to do a menu every week at our house. If I don't, I find that most evenings when 5:00 rolls around, I have no idea what to cook-nor do I feel like cooking-so more often than not, we have something super healthy like grilled cheese sandwiches or better yet we pick up a pizza from Papa Murphy's. This is not my husbands idea of what dinner should look like!
While I'm not a pro at the whole menu thing, I try-but it's rarely easy. It's not creating the menu that is hard for me, it's partly shopping for ONLY the ingredients needed for the menu. There are some things that I like to keep on hand and I buy them even if they are not needed for my 2 week menu. I'm sure a few of these are OK, but I have an alternate two week menu floating around in the back of my mind that I am also wanting to buying for. This is not so good for my budget.
The other problem I have is sticking to the menu. Maybe Fish Friday is just not calling my name, maybe I want Tacos! (See problem # 1) I don't believe that the menu has to be strictly followed. I am a chef that allows substitutions.
I have found that my two problems go hand in hand. It's a catch 22. So this last time I committed to buying only the things I needed for my menu and that while I could switch days around, I would only cook food that was already on the menu. I found that for the most part, this was a pretty good way to go. I cooked dinner almost every night for the last 2 weeks and rarely found myself not wanting what was on the menu-how could I, there was no other food in the pantry to choose from-if I used the cream of celery for a different dish on Monday, I wouldn't have it for Thursday's casserole! A couple of times that I got behind, we did decide to have leftovers, but it seemed to work OK because I had cooked earlier in the week and there actually were leftovers in the fridge that were edible.
So here is our menu for this week. I will provide recipes for two of the dishes at the end of the menu.
Monday - BBQ Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and French Fries (it's Memorial Day!)
Tuesday - Taco Soup
Wednesday - Chicken Noodle and Carrot Casserole, Salad and Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
Thursday - Pasta Alfredo, Green Beans and Garlic Bread
Friday - Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Corn
Saturday - Grilled Steak & Chicken, Rice-a-Roni and Salad
Hey, I never said we were health nuts!
Friday and Saturday are meals that either my husband or my oldest daughter can prepare as I will be off having a crafting weekend with my friend. Whoo-Hoo!!
(I adapted this recipe from Paula Deen Celebrates!)
This is one of my favorite recipes. It goes together in just a few minutes and if you want, you can toss it in the crock pot in the morning on low and it's ready in a few hours. It's one of the recipes that I keep all the ingredients for in my pantry at all times! If you use a gluten free taco seasoning, this recipe can be gluten free.
(3) cloves of garlic, pressed (or minced)
(1) 32 oz. box of chicken broth
(2) cans of black beans, drained
(2) cans of diced tomatoes with chilies (sometimes called Mexican Tomatoes)-my family doesn't like chunks, so I puree these in my blender
1 cup water
(2) cans of canned chicken (costco size), drained
1 packet plus 1 1/2 tsp of taco seasoning
1 cup corn
Combine everything, except the corn, in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Add the corn and simmer for 10 minutes more.
Top with your favorite toppings; grated cheese, sour cream, diced avocados, tortilla chips, and/or salsa.
Feeds my family of 7 with about one bowl left over for me to have for lunch the next day.
(This recipe will not turn out as thick as a jarred alfredo sauce, but tastes a lot better! My kids prefer it over a store bought sauce. It is also a gluten free recipe.)
1 cup butter
2 pints heavy cream
6 cloves of garlic, pressed (or minced)
2 cups of Romano Cheese, grated (get it at Costco) plus more for topping
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a saucepan, melt butter and sautee garlic briefly. Pour in the cream and stirring almost constantly, heat at medium high until the sauce begins to simmer. Add the 2 cups of cheese and continue to simmer, stirring frequently for about 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. It seems to take a while, but don't hurry it by turning up the heat or you will scortch the sauce--be patient, it's worth it! Pour sauce over cooked pasta noodles-gluten free if needed (we love penne because it holds the sauce in all it's nooks and crannies) -and top with more freshly grated romano cheese.
This feeds my family of 7 (and we eat a lot of it) and we generally have a bit of sauce left over. The sauce will get very thick in the fridge, but will smooth out after you heat it on the stove. If you microwave it, the butter will most likely seperate but it doesn't really affect the taste.
Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think.