My Menu Planning System

 

schedule

By Liz

I often get asked how I come up with a variety of nutritious, delicious, cost efficient meals for me and my family of 7. Unlike most meal and money saving plans, we really, really like to have variety. So one thing that you might notice here, is we don’t have pizza or rice and beans on our menu once a week, each of those is more like once a month.

My system maybe old school, but it is what works best for us.  On our fridge, there are two empty, monthly, block style calendars.  One is for the kids to post their work schedules and school hours and any kind of extra activity that may arise that is out of the norm.  The other is used for dinner planning, as it is the main meal in our house. Also on our fridge is a note pad to be used when I do our weekly grocery shopping.  This is a running list of items that we are either out of, or we are low on.  I have tried to challenge myself to go grocery shopping once a month, but our family goes through a lot of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.

For our family of 7 we have the fridge in our kitchen, however, its design lacks optimal storage space on the inside, but it came with the house, so it is ours until it dies. We also have an extra fridge that is in our garage that holds mostly beverages, overflow of milk, eggs, juice and coffee creamer as well as meat that needs to be thawed or cut to portion size pieces; the top freezer portion contains bread, rolls, bagels muffins and buns.  In addition we have a 12 cubic foot chest freezer that holds primarily meat, batch cooked meals, ice cream, frozen vegetables and any kind of convenience food that we found worth our hard earned dollars and passes our personal, nutritional guidelines. Also worth mentioning is that we have a good size walk in pantry for all of our dry goods and staples.




Once a week, I will sit down with the kids’ and menu planning calendars and start filling in my dinner menu. I will browse my chest freezer for meat, chicken or fish, check my vegetables and dry goods to pair it with and start building my week of menus. Since the kids’ schedule is ever changing, I do this on a weekly and not a monthly basis, but it is nice to see what we had to eat in a month’s time. It also helps me fill out my running grocery list. If I am in need of an ingredient or will be using the last of a staple, then up on the list it goes.

I don’t plan out our breakfasts. Our house contains mostly adults and not all of us are morning people. I myself, rarely eat breakfast, I know it is the most important meal of the day, but I have always struggled with eating in the mornings.  I am good with just a cup of coffee or two. Some of the family however does like eating early in the morning and because of that there is always a supply of eggs, fruit, bread, jam, peanut butter, oatmeal, yogurt, premade muffins, breakfast sandwiches or burritos (that I make up in batches every two weeks).  We do share a weekly breakfast together, after Sunday service; I will cook brunch for the family that usually consists of a meat, toast, potatoes and eggs made to order, fresh hot coffee, juice and or milk. Once a month I will make either French toast or pancakes served with fresh fruit in place of the toast and potatoes.

Lunches are not planned out either, due to different schedules.  Our house has a revolving door between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to midnight, between work, school and socialization. So our lunches tend to be mostly leftovers, either as is or reworked a little. For instance, if the previous night we had chicken or steak, lunch then becomes either fajitas or quesadillas or if we have leftover baked potatoes from the night before, this easily becomes a broccoli and cheese stuffed potato for lunch.  We also, always have tuna, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on hand in case someone wants a sandwich.

market

My system makes it easy for me make the most of the money we spend on groceries. Since we have a freezer full of bread products, I only shop for this once a month. Since we have a freezer full of meat, I only pick more up if I come across a great deal (and I usually do) during my shopping trip. Since we have extra fridge space in the garage, I can stock up on milk, juice and eggs for the week and since we have pantry space, I can stock up on dry goods when they have reached rock bottom prices.

I love to cook and even though I have a formal education in culinary arts, it is not always very practical when operating a large household.  My menu planning contains mainly easy, healthy dishes that require minimum ingredients, time and most important….minimal clean up. Again, it might not work for all, but this is what works for us.




Open Faced Portabella Salmon Burgers

 

salmon

by Liz
This is one of my new favorites and is a quick and healthy lunch. As usual, the idea of this recipe came to me while looking around my fridge, thinking I really had to use up some of the stuff in there.

I use salmon burger patties for this recipe, but you could easily swap this out for a veggie, black bean or a regular beef burger….whatever your preference.

salmon

Ingredients:

2 frozen salmon burger patties

2 large portabella mushroom caps

2 slices of cheese (I used Muenster and Pepper Jack)

Fresh Spinach leaves (optional)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven (I used my toaster oven) to 325 degrees.

2. Wipe mushrooms clean of debris or dirt (never rinse a mushroom, it will make it soggy).  With a spoon gently scrape off as much of the mushroom gills without digging into the meat of the mushroom, on the underside of the cap and level out any protruding stem pieces.

salmon

3. Place cap topside down on your lined baking sheet and lightly spray the gill side up with an oil, non stick spray.  Lightly season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Bake portabellas until slightly soft about 7 to 10 minutes.  Set baking sheet aside and let cool momentarily.

salmon

4. Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, over medium to high heat, cook the salmon patties thoroughly on each side, and season each side lightly with salt and pepper. Salmon patties should cook at least 6 to 7 minutes on each side to ensure proper doneness.

salmon

5. Place 3 to 4 spinach leaves on each, cooled mushroom cap. Then slide a burger patty on to each portabella.  Top with cheese slices (any kind will do). Place back into the oven for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

6. Serve immediately and enjoy by itself, or with a side salad.

salmon

This lunch is oddly satisfying, because of the protein of the burger patty and the “meatiness” taste and texture of the portabella.  This recipe is not only good for lunch, but makes for a really good dinner option as well.

Enjoy the printable recipe card below.



Open Faced Portabella Salmon Burgers
Serves 2
A healthy twist for a burger.
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359 calories
24 g
52 g
20 g
25 g
7 g
370 g
541 g
3 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
370g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 359
Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g
31%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 52mg
17%
Sodium 541mg
23%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 5g
21%
Sugars 3g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
325%
Vitamin C
80%
Calcium
39%
Iron
35%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 frozen salmon burger patties
  2. 2 large portabella mushroom caps
  3. 2 slices of cheese (I used Muenster and Pepper Jack)
  4. Fresh Spinach leaves (optional)
  5. Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven (I used my toaster oven) to 325 degrees.
  2. Wipe mushrooms clean of debris or dirt (never rinse a mushroom, it will make it soggy). With a spoon gently scrape off as much of the mushroom gills without digging into the meat of the mushroom, on the underside of the cap and level out any protruding stem pieces.
  3. Place cap topside down on your lined baking sheet and lightly spray the gill side up with an oil, non stick spray. Lightly season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake portabellas until slightly soft about 7 to 10 minutes. Set baking sheet aside and let cool momentarily.
  4. Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, over medium to high heat, cook the salmon patties thoroughly on each side, and season each side lightly with salt and pepper. Salmon patties should cook at least 6 to 7 minutes on each side to ensure proper doneness.
  5. Place 3 to 4 spinach leaves on each, cooled mushroom cap. Then slide a burger patty on to each portabella. Top with cheese slices (any kind will do). Place back into the oven for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy by itself, or with a side salad.
Notes
  1. Can also be made with a beef, tofu, veggie or black bean burgers.
beta
calories
359
fat
20g
protein
25g
carbs
24g
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The Fort Worth Homemaker http://thefortworthhomemaker.com/

 

Brunch is for the Dogs

Roxie_Sasha

by Liz

Do you like eggs? Me too!  They are absolutely delicious, not to mention affordable and versatile and packed with a ton of protein.

Do you know who else loves eggs? Dogs do. Well at least my dogs do.

At our house we treat our dogs to Sunday brunch, along with the rest of our brood, after all, they are part of our family as well, so why shouldn’t they enjoy in this protein packed, tasty treat.

I usually make my doggie quiche in advance because I had those last containers and baggies of leftovers, that, tried as I might, just could not unload on anyone in the house and it was fridge cleaning day.

I store their quiche, well wrapped, in ½ pie size wedges and stored in the freezer.  On Saturday mornings, I will take a wedge out and put it in the fridge to thaw.

After Sunday service, while firing up my kitchen to start making brunch for my crew, I take the dog’s quiche out of the fridge and leave it on the counter to take some of the chill out of it.

When the family is done enjoying Sunday brunch and the kids are helping clean the dishes, I will briefly reheat my doggie quiche wedge in the microwave, mash up and distribute to my four legged, furry gang.

To tell you that my dogs love this treat would be an understatement.  My dogs will start whining the minute we come through the door from church because they know what day it is.  As the family starts winding down from eating, the whining gets even louder,  and as I put their quiche wedge on a plate to be reheated, their excitement is hardly containable, as they start their pathetic, albeit, adorable begging poses and tail chasing.

Needless to say, they are some very happy animals, when they are done with their treat and I feel good knowing that they got to enjoy an inexpensive, healthy, homemade treat.




Recipe:

Doggie Quiche

(Makes 2; 9 inch quiches)

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes or rice

1 dozen eggs

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

¾ cups milk

1 – 1 ½ cups of chopped or diced cooked meat (optional)

  • Just a quick note, dogs do not need seasonings to enjoy food. They do not need salt, pepper garlic, hot sauce or anything of the like, in fact, I am pretty sure it is unhealthy for them, so please refrain from seasoning as you would for a human.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl mix potatoes or rice with 1 egg and ½ cup shredded cheese. Mix until well blended.
  3. Spoon and smooth out into the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie dish.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  5. Take out of oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, break in remaining eggs and milk, whisk until all yolks are broken.
  7. Divide and sprinkle diced meat and cheese onto the cooling pie crusts, then add half of the egg mixture to each pie dish.
  8. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until eggs are set.
  9. Cool completely and then cut into desired sized wedges.