Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A New Adventure: Menu Planning

You may have caught the post last Monday about our family meal dilemma, and my resolve to plan out a week's worth of meals and an accompanying shopping list. Well, I sat down last Tuesday and created this list of meals that you see before you. I only intended to start with seven, but I got going so I thought, "why stop?!" (especially as this is an activity that I haven't excelled at in the past).  To avoid being overwhelmed, I chose some family favorites and some new recipes that looked good.

I then created a grocery list for the items that we didn't already have, and made a note of the things we did have (to avoid in store second guessing).  I shopped for all eleven meals, and so far we have had six meals from the list. Our fridge has tons of yummy leftovers (for us and the husband's packed lunches) and the family is pretty satisfied.

Shepherd's Pie

I can't really make a judgement on the long term budget aspect as of yet (though I hit my grocery dollar mark for the week/seven meals), because I specifically picked menu items to use some of the things we had on hand, like pasta or potatoes or meat in the freezer.  Also a note on using mixes. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I'm a realist, and I'm trying to be as honest here as possible. So there it is.

White Chili // Corn Bread (from a mix) // Fresh Veggies Raw (red peppers, cucumbers)

Crock Pot Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos // Red Cabbage with Lime and Cilantro (I used the linked recipe, but added much more cilantro, and it is AMAZING, even the kids loved it!)

3 Minute Garlic Shrimp (I used the linked recipe, but cooked three minutes instead of four because I had medium, not jumbo, shrimp) // Pasta // Steamed Broccoli // Baguette

Dirty Rice (Zatarain's Reduced Sodium Mix with 93% lean ground beef) // Raw Veggies

Grilled Sirloin Steak // Mashed Potatoes // Roasted Carrots // Toasted Pita Bread

Caldo Verde* (Portuguese Kale Chorizo Soup) // Dinner Rolls

Salad with Leftover Steak and Toasted Pita Bread

Tacos (made with lean ground turkey and a seasoning packet, MSG free) with Lettuce and Tomato // Spanish Rice

Beef Stuffed Grape Leaves // Lebanese Potato Salad (similar, except I add lots of chopped parsley and less green onion, that's just our family recipe)

Acorn Squash, Onion, and Goat Cheese Pizza // Plain Cheese Pizza (both with frozen pizza dough from the farmers market)

*These recipes are from the Cook's Illustrated magazine. You can get a free 14 day trial to the website for the recipes, or honestly, people have reposted many Cook's Illustrated recipes throughout the w.w.w.


  1. What time is dinner? I'll bring the dessert...
    Also, do you just love your All-Clad? The smartest thing we ever did was cash in a ton of wedding gift cards and return a few gifts to get the basic stainless set. LOVE them!

    1. Anytime, Sarah! I do love it. We just have the skillet, we chose a nonstick set, but now I'm wishing we went with the stainless!

  2. Going to have to try that shepherds pie!

    1. The whole family loved it! I didn't have mushrooms, so I omitted them. I also used sweet vermouth instead of what they called for, sherry maybe?

  3. This all looks soooo good.

    1. Thanks, Laura! They're actually all really fast recipes, too, except the shepherds pie, and the steak (if you fire up the grill).


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