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Teacher, Photographer, Otaku, Amateur Seamstress, Wifey to B-chan, & Mommy to Monkey Z and Elven M.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Planning Food

This is not our house, by the way.
So after a hiatus for the holiday season (and a hand made wreath for my neighbor), I will try to be back regularly.

However, know that we will be sleep training the elf as soon as we figure out how to do it without the monkey losing sleep. He. Is. An. Absolute. Bear. if he doesn't get enough sleep.

Lately, B-chan has not been working, so our roles have been reversed a bit. It frees me up to get my quota of days to continue as a substitute teacher. It also means that I am not necessarily the one cooking. I decided that I wanted to involve him more in general, eat out less, and meal plan so that I have a weekly menu arsenal to reuse.

Enter Jessica Seinfeld and her awesome cookbooks.

Well, no... She did not actually come out here or anything. I just found her first cookbook and loved it, so I bought another one. They are Deceptively Delicious and Double Delicious. The premise of both is hiding vegetables in every recipe by using puree, even dessert. (btw, I have tasted the brownies, and you really can't taste the spinach in them!) They get the B-chan stamp of approval- yumminess, even.

Since I wanted to reuse the menus, I wanted to get some way of keeping them organized. (My Type A-Ness is coming out again.) I tried printing out a weekly planner page from my super-awesome printer (Go Canon!) But B-chan didn't turn on his mind reading skills and re-use it while he was planning the menu for this week. Oh, well... The solution?

I stopped by the Korean version of Sanrio called Morning Glory. They sell similar stuff including stationery. So, I picked out a cute little weekly planner and a matching pencil. Yes, I had to have the pencil.

I have always preferred the vertical arrangement of days in a planner over any other. It just seems easier to see what's happening.

This one happens to have space within the day to note things like meat to defrost or puree to use. It also has a lined page for each week where I can make a grocery list, and my new little planner is portable enough to take with me to the grocery store, too.

I use 3 cookbooks and a binder of recipes I've collected from the internet.

These include staples like yogurt, crackers, breakfast muffins, protein snacks, pita bread, etc..., as well as Evernote. If I like it, I clip it to Evernote; but if I use it enough, it gets printed and put in the recipe binder. I also have a dry erase menu board (read: thrifted picture frame) posted in the kitchen for quick reference, and when planning, I include the cookbook and page information.

Since we are a small family (read: no teenagers, yet) right now, I plan in a "leftovers" night, too, so that we have a planned day to use up our leftovers. I also use at least one crockpot meal per week because I don't like having to think about dinner on days both of us work.

Planning is, ideally, the day before grocery day (Tuesday), then Wednesday is going to the farmers' market first, and then going to Sprouts. When I get home, it's usually lunch time, so only refrigerated/frozen items get put away right away. Of course, being the eco-friendly mom I am, I use my own bags at the store. So, naturally I have cold bags to keep things separated and easy to find first. Sometimes I have to go to Mother's for stuff that Sprouts doesn't have, but for the most part, that's how the day goes.

I try to stick to a budget at the farmers' market and plan to try for a store budget. To help with this, I have a printed list of fruits and vegetables and their corresponding seasons that is kept in the flowered recipe reference binder. I generally find that they are cheaper in season. Posted near the whiteboard menu is a small whiteboard for items not necessarily on the menu planning list.

Items get listed when we run out and I can snap a quick picture as I'm heading out the door.

So there you have it, folks... My menu planning, farmers's market hopping, grocery shopping, reusable bag bringing, leftover eating madness. At the very least, I do hope this helps someone like-minded get a little more organized.

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