Note to self: remember to leave the buns further away from the edge of the table if I want to enjoy any.
Over a month ago, I wrote a post telling of my dislike for deciding what to make for supper. After that, I decided that I would try my hand at meal planning, and filled the entire March page of a calendar with ideas for every day. Except Sundays. I left Sundays blank as a flex day, just in case we went out one day during the week, or ended up with extra leftovers. If nothing else, eggs or sandwiches did the trick.
I enjoyed not having to think of what to make every day, so I have now done the same thing for April. These are the short steps I used:
1) inventoried the freezer so I know what I had on hand and what needed to be used
2) plugged those items and other ideas onto every day
3) wrote a shopping list
There are so many ways to go about meal planning, and this is my easy peasy version.
Like many other moms I am sure, I really dislike deciding what to make for supper. I think for me, it is the most frustrating part of being a mom and wife. This is how meals work around here:
I usually do one big shop at the beginning of the month for staples and things for the freezer. Then after that, I go about once a week for fresh fruits and veggies and milk.
I don’t like to shop for specific meals because that gets way too expensive. I like to get what I am used to working with.
$325 per month. That includes any restaurants and coffee.
What I keep on Hand
Dairy – milk, cheese, sour cream (usually), eggs, butter
Fruits and Veggies – apples, bananas, other fruit that is on sale, ice burg lettuce, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes (usually), peppers (usually, unless they are way too expensive), potatoes, yams, freeze dried onions (because I don’t like or use them enough to buy whole ones)
Meat – pork loin, ground beef; when it’s on sale I get whole chickens to quarter and stewing beef
Dry Goods – cereal, peanut butter, honey, pasta, different forms of canned tomatoes (diced, paste, etc.), black beans, salsa, rice, oats, white and brown flour, white and brown sugar, chocolate chips
Spices and Seasonings – seasoning salt, chilli powder, paprika, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, ketchup, BBQ sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, various salad dressings
I really only go outside these items when there is something special to cook for or I remember something I can make that I haven’t made in a while (like remembering about pea soup would make me buy ham and split peas). Terribly exciting, no?
Since I always get what I am used to working with, I always only have certain ingredients on hand which means I make the same meals over and over again. My go to meals are:
meat loaf, meat balls, pasta
sweet and sour pork, pulled pork
borscht, chicken noodle soup
nachos, taco salad
Again, I can feel your excitement.
For a while during the summer I was doing a meal plan of sorts, where I would plan my meals for the week, but that didn’t give me new ideas, simply just putting all the decision making on one day. I am lacking something inside of me, like creativity or motivation or something, to get myself to make new meals. Yes, I see delicious looking recipes online and think “That’s a great idea!” and watch Rachael Ray and say “That is super simple!” But it stops there.
So I guess the point of this post is to ask you a few questions:
1) What other staples do you think I should add to my list that could broaden the scope of my culinary skills (I’m not looking for specific recipes…I know how to find those)?
2) Meal planning? Yay? Nay?
3) If you want to share, what is your grocery budget and how do you stay on target?
A couple weeks ago, my Oma called me to let me know she was going to send me a package of some special baking ingredients to make some delicious cookies. I made these cookies with her quite a few years back, but have not since then because they require some odd ingredients that are difficult to find. I was very excited she thought of me to send me the items.
Earlier this week, I got a call from a lady at a company called Flaman just south of Edmonton saying she had a package for me there, because apparently the address was wrong. We figured out the J in my postal code was replaced by a G (easily misunderstood for each other while giving my address over the phone). This lady was so great, she looked up my Oma’s phone number and called her to get my number so she could get my real address. If you need any kind of farming equipment, they seem like a good company to deal with…at least their administrative staff are.
I eventually got the package delivered to my door. Because my Oma cannot send a box that isn’t completely full, I also received a mug and some of my favourite sweets…Cow Candy! The ingredients that were the purpose of the package are Baking Ammonia and Peppermint Oil (not extract).
The recipe that called for these things is Peppermint Cookies (linked to my Oma’s recipe on Mennonite Girls Can Cook, where my aunt is a contributer; the page explains the use of the ammonia and oil). They were a favourite Christmas cookie of mine growing up, and I am excited to make them for myself now! I’ll probably make them next week sometime.
Do you have any favourite family recipes or recipes that require different ingredients?
I am not a huge gadget person. I like things streamlined and to have as little amount of stuff as possible so if it’s a tool that’s used for only one specific thing, I tend not to have it (unless it’s a waffle iron, because nothing else can do that!). However, I was gifted a few little items at my baby showers, two in particular had to do with feeding.
The first one was the Boon Spoon. I tried it once, and probably won’t again. It is a really neat idea, but you have to keep the spoon vertical the whole time, otherwise the food wouldn’t be close enough to the end to squirt out, and also, if Calvin decided to spit out a bunch of food, but I already had more on the spoon waiting, it was hard to scrape it all off his chin. I would not recommend this product.
The other I was reminded that I had when my Oma mentioned that when her children were little, she would wrap food in cheese cloth then tie it in a knot and they could suck on it. If I had cheese cloth on hand, I would probably do that, but I already had the modern day tool…the net feeder thing! I don’t know the brand or whatnot, but I’m sure there are many companies who make this sort of thing. It keeps Calvin busy for a good while, and he can feed himself that way! It does get a little messy when he decides to hit everything around him with it, but he is a baby eating; he is supposed to get messy! The net does get a little hard to clean if he has pulpy food in it, like oranges and even bananas, but I just throw it in the dishwasher, and if there is still food stuck in the seams, at least I know it’s clean!
Are you a gadgets person? What do you like? If you aren’t, what few ones do you have that you enjoy?
If we hadn’t have been moving, I probably would have started to feed Calvin solids a while ago. So far I have let him suck on fruits and veggies though. His favourites are apples and snap peas!
But last night I decided to cook up a yam for him. I puréed it with a little milk, and away we went!
And now there are lots of leftovers in the freezer for him to enjoy! Next up…perhaps some broccoli? What did your baby enjoy eating?