Monday, February 28, 2011

Feeding The Fam

Not a typical breakfast at our house.

This post is in response to a question from my pal Gina who asked:

Let's revisit how you plan, cook and feed your family. I get so tired of it all. I am not creative enough. I am too behind. Do you meal plan in advance and buy for the upcoming meals? What are some of your favorite dinners? You can give recipes, or just general ideas of what you do.

Meal planning, shopping and cooking is certainly not my favorite of my jobs as a homemaker. However, I have found a way to make it easier - and that is by planning. Every two weeks I come up with a list of 14 dinners. I always ask the kids for their ideas, too. In fact, since my gimpy leg keeps me in bed quite a bit, I just recently started putting my oldest 3 kids in charge of a few meals each - they decide what they want to make and we add it to the list. Then I make a grocery list based on my menu and add the usual needed items for breakfasts and lunches (bread, peanut butter, fruit, lunch meat, syrup, cereal, pancake mix. etc.). I go to the store and buy the things on my list with little variation - I will allow myself to buy something that's a great price on sale or even a treat or two for the family.

Before I start planning my meals I like to look at the store ads that come in the mail so that I can plan most of the meals around what kind of meat and vegetables I can find on sale.

The thing I love about this method is that I have everything I need to make meals for two weeks so I am able to avoid doing little shopping trips at the store in the middle of the week. When I stick to this plan I am able to feed my family on $300 every two weeks (this also includes things like diapers, laundry & dish soap, trash bags, etc.).

Here is a sample of a typical two week dinner menu:

stroganoff w/green beans
pizza w/salad
enchiladas w/corn
baked mac & cheese w/bananas & applesauce
mexican chicken and rice w/broccoli
tortellini soup w/rolls
sloppy joes w/salad
italian chicken and rice w/green beans
tuna casserole w/fruit salad
grilled cheese and tomato soup
taco soup
shepherd's pie w/corn
potato soup w/rolls
chicken pasta salad w/carrots

(If you want any of the recipes, let me know in the comments.)

Our typical lunches include things like PB&J, sandwiches with lunchmeat or tuna, bagel sandwiches, quesadillas and leftovers from dinner. Add some fruit or veggies and a glass of milk or water and there you have it.

Breakfasts can include cooked cereal (oatmeal, germade, breakfast rice, corn mush), cold cereal, granola, pancakes, waffles, dutch babies, eggs & toast, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, oatmeal cake, breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, french toast, muffins or pop tarts.

p.s. I was just kidding about the pop tarts. That is NOT a breakfast food.

p.s.2 This breakfast list makes me sound like Martha Stewart but the truth is that we usually have hot or cold cereal. The other stuff happens occasionally (maybe twice a week) but not as much.

p.s.3 I hate it when I make an awesome breakfast and the oldest two girls only eat a fraction of it because they would rather try on 17 outfits and spend 25 minutes on their hair before school. To retaliate I make oatmeal at least 3 days each week because I know that they prefer cold cereal.

I think that about covers it.


Rachel said...

Poptarts aren't a meal?? Boy am I in trouble. :D

It is amazing how much money you can save on groceries if you plan ahead and stick to a menu.... leaves money left over for pedicures and chocolate. :D

Giovanni said...

I was one of those teenagers which is why I always try to have available the fixings for hot and cold cereal, hot chocolate mix, bread and things to go on it for toast or sandwiches, fruit, ramen, or leftover dinner if they want it and I tell them to make their own food. No one can complain they don't want it, because there's something they like, , and if they don't get dressed and make it, (they're all things you can prepare in less than 5 minutes), well, have fun eating it in the car or going hungry. I'm so mean. Every once in a while I make a real hot breakfast like pancakes or waffles or eggs and bacon or what have you and then it's a real treat. And they eat it instead of dawdling in the bathroom. Oh, I'm on my son's account, I'm really Shellie. Thanks for validating my feelings on camp. I'm really excited about it anyways, even if it is complicated...

Richard & Natalie said...

Ha! I had Pop Tarts for 2 breakfasts so far this week!
I guess there was more to work on to 'be like Gerb' than I thought.

Gerb said...

RACHEL! NATALIE! Pop Tarts are NOT even real food! They are like berry flavored cardboard! If you're going to eat crap for breakfast then at least make it a donut or apple pie or chocolate cake or something.

Shellie- If my kids miss breakfast with the family then they miss the bus or their ride while they eat and then they get to walk to school. Breakfast is mandatory. I'm in the mean club, too. It's awesome.

Shannon said...

I know question week is over, but what's a Dutch Baby?

Gina said...

THANK YOU! I don't know what to comment here other than that. My mind is still trying to committ turkey stroganoff and corn, or was it beef stroganoff and carrots, to memory. I am making a new checklist of breakfasts (YES, you are Martha Stewart), longer than the cereal and pancakes that I have on my list now. Whew! You are superwoman yet again.

Mom not Mum (Sandy) said...

Do you ever have leftovers? I count on at least one night a week where we eat the junk left in the fridge.

Gerb said...

Shannon- Dutch babies are what other people call German pancakes. In case you don't know what those are, it's a mixture of egg, milk and flour cooked in butter in the oven. It gets all puffy and is wonderful with powdered sugar, blueberries and whipped cream. They are Hubba's favorite.

Gina- You keep thinking that superwoman thing for me, okay? ;)

Sandy- Between the 3 teenagers, 2 pre-teens and my husband our leftovers do not usually last longer than 24 hours - if we ever have any. Leftovers are seen as a free-for-all when they're hungry between meals and I'm fine with that!

Amy said...

Gerb, I did the 2 week meal planning for at least the first 10 years of our marriage. I ran into a few problems, though, that have recently made me rethink the meal planning bit. Maybe you have the answers to my issues:

1) when you plan for 10 meals at a time (I only planned 10 meals for two weeks because we always have left over night), there is not enough freezer space to put all the food! (We only have a side by side fridge and freezer)

2) there are always food items that are best purchased the day of so we still find ourselves going to the grocery store often. Examples of food best purchased the day of: white bread for grilled cheese sandwiches (normally we eat wheat bread. White bread is like candy to our children and would be gone before we got to our sandwiches. And everyone knows grilled cheese HAS to be made with white bread... with jam on top [nod to Chip]), meat, fresh veggies that wilt within 2 weeks, etc.

3) no matter how many times I spend looking in cookbooks when I compile my list I always, always forget an ingredient.

With all three of those issues I found myself constantly at the store despite my planning techniques. Do you have the same problems? And if so what do you do to not have them anymore?

p.s. I totally agree about the PopTart thing!

Gerb said...

1)we own a separate freezer.
2) we don't eat white bread... and meat freezes. As for fresh veggies & fruit, I do make a run once a week to replenish those.
3) I don't forget ingredients because I'm just that way. (Okay, sometimes I forget. That's when I call my awesome neighbors. (Hi Marci, GaeLynn & Jenny!))

Richard & Natalie said...

Oh, how I love my berry flavored cardboard! But then again I love Peeps, remember? I guess that maybe my tastebuds can't be trusted. ;)

Annette said...

I would love the receipes! I Love your organizational style! A time saver for me is to pre-cook hamburger and chicken and freeze in meal size bags.