..."popsicles on the porch"...what a great afternoon treat and our favorite way to spend time together! These are simple and precious moments! Princess #1 and Princess #2 along with Little Man #1 and #2 are my inspiration for most of these writings.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Getting organized feels great! Now that I finally have down my weekly home cleaning schedule and have seen the benefits of keeping to that schedule, I have become more convinced of another area that I need to get more organized in...meal planning! Taking time to plan and prepare our family meals a week in advance is another helpful way to organize and reduce stress.

For someone who passionately hated cooking, I can't believe I'm going to even give this a try! I mean, up until a year ago, Tim did all of our grocery shopping and cooking. He's a great cook and can whip an awesome meal together with just about anything! Needless to say, since he loves cooking and I don't, from early on in our marriage it was just natural for him to do the cooking while I did the clean up.

However, when I decided to make the transition to a full-time stay at home mom, it made sense for me to take the lead in this area; especially because it is important to me to keep the girls on a schedule. When dinner is late, it pushes back bath time and our bedtime rountine, which inevitably causes unnecessary stress and interrupts mommy and daddy time! :)
So cooking our dinners is one thing, but meal planning? Something I never thought I'd consider. While I've always had an pretty good idea of what's on the menu for the week, there are the occasional times that I'm standing in the kitchen pressed for time, wondering, "Hmmmm....what should we eat tonight? What have we already eaten? What does Tim want? What will the kids actually eat?"

With that in mind, I have become more and more convinced that it may be better and easier for me to have a more strategic rountine, especially with the baby coming. Another thing that helped pushed me to at least give meal planning a try was this convincing post I read at the OrgJunkie!

As I too began to ponder ways that meal planning would benefit my family and I, here is what I came up with.

10 ways meal planning would benefit me and my family:

1. Will Reduce Stress-I hate standing in the kitchen pressed for time trying to figure out what to get on the table.

2. Staying on Schedule--Will help me get dinner on the table at the same time each night.

3. Staying on Schedule, Reducing Stress--If dinner is late, then it inevitably pushes back bath time, reading time, and all the other goodies that are associated with the bed time routine!

4. Save Money--eliminate last minute trips to the grocery store, thereby cutting down on the grocery bill.

5.Save Money--Will enable me to be more strategic when grocery shopping, thereby purchasing only the items needed for that coming week.

6. Save Money--I may be able to incorporate the use of coupons if I already know in advance what meals to prepare for and items I will need.

7. Healthier Cooking--intentional planning will help me prepare healthier meals and allow me to cater to specific diet needs.

8. Creative Meals--I would love to use my crock pot more! Planning meals in advance may help me take the time to venture out i.e...try new recipes, use my crock pot, and etc..

9. Staying Organized-Will help me keep the pantry and freezer stocked with ingredients needed for that week's meal. I will be able to prepare a meal with all of the necessary ingredients, instead of having to come up with a dinner to fit the ingredients that I have...this is obviously much harder and leads to repeated dinners!

10. Family Time--Tim and I like to eat dinner, just the two of us at least one night a week. This will help me to make sure that I am protecting this time each week by making sure the kids are fed in advance and on time.

If meal planning can help me reduce stress, cut down unnecessary expenses, stay organized, eat healtier, increase family time and help me to be a little more creative, why not give it a try!

So here goes!

Here are my meals for the coming week!

Monday: Taco Salad

Tuesday: Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce
http://www.bhg.com/recipes/recipedetail.jsp?recipeId=R049478

Ingredients
· 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds)
· 1/4 cup butter
· 1 0.7-ounce package Italian salad dressing mix
· 1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed golden mushroom soup
· 1/2 cup dry white wine (if desired)
· 1/2 of an 8-ounce tub cream cheese with chives and onion
· Hot cooked whole wheat pasta (optional)
· Snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions
1. Place chicken in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the dry Italian salad dressing mix. Stir in mushroom soup, wine, and cream cheese until combined. Pour over the chicken.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Serve chicken with sauce. If desired, serve with hot cooked pasta and sprinkle with chives. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday: Spinach, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients
· 3 cups water
· 1 14--ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
· 1 10-3/4-ounce can reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
· 2/3 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
· 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
· 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
· 3 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey (about 1 pound)
· 2 cups shredded fresh spinach


Directions
1. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine the water, broth, cream of chicken soup, uncooked wild rice, thyme, and pepper.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.
3. To serve, stir in chicken and spinach. Makes 6 (1-1/2-cup) servings.

Thursday: Valentine's Day--My day off!

Friday: Tai Chicken Wraps (from ordinary mom)

Ingredients

1 lb chicken, thawed and cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 carrots, grated
Chopped cilantro
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cucumber, quartered
2-3 cups cooked rice (I prefer brown.)
Wraps or tortillas (We like the Garden Spinach kind.)


Peanut sauce (You can buy it at the store or make your own, see below.)
Marinate small chicken pieces in soy sauce and ginger for 10 minutes - 1 hour.

Cook chicken in a skillet. In a wrap, layer the rice, cooked chicken, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and green onions. Pour the peanut sauce over the filling. Wrap like a burrito. Enjoy!

Peanut Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
Blend in blender until smooth.



So there you have it! For more great menu ideas visit org junkie!

7 comments:

kelly said...

looks good! have a great week..

Ashley M said...

Mel,

Meal planning is the way to go! SO glad to see your excitement in this. I love planning meals, in fact, I plan meals a month in advance (with a lot of flexibility). It's helped me make use of all of my cookbooks and I've tried some great recipes.

Have fun meal making this week!

Ashley

nick beam said...

Monica,

Hey all of this talk about food and sewing has really got me thinking about proverbs 31. go on with your bad self boo!

Holla at ya Bro! Nick Beam

Melanie said...

Nick Beam--I know! Can you believe it...I'm becoming domesticated?! Look what God can do when he gets a hold of your heart...never thougth in a million years I'd desire to stay home, sew, cook, etc...! Thanks for the encouragement!

Ashley--Thanks for the tip about planning a month out! I can definitely see where that would be helful!

Amanda said...

Welcome to Menu Planning! Thanks for adding the recipes like you did - I just might have to adopt a few of them for my family!

Grace & Peace!
Amanda

Desiree' said...

I love all that you are doing on your blog. I copied your book display idea :) I looked at your books and there are a lot of them I haven't read. I love Lisa Whelchel's books. She's a pretty cool gal.

Also, your menu looks really yummy. It is a great thing to plan your menu. I used to plan my menu like when Caleb was first born and 8 years later I get back to it! :)

Terri said...

Great Job Mel! You are doing an awsome job staying home. Really - you inspire me all the time girly!

And...I have a couple of cookbooks I should loan you. One is a crock pot recipe book that I think you would enjoy!

-Terri