What's for Dinner?

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If you'd like to share your thoughts on our "What's for Dinner?" meal planning article, please do so here. We'd love to hear what you think!

By: Judy Fisher | Jan 29, 2012 11:55 AM | Permalink
Thanks for suggesting this as I too shop almost everyday...after work...for lack of planning. I am going to start this immediately especially since I am moving my business into my home from my business location & I may not even leave the house some days. I am thinking of using a dry erase board & drawing a reusable "calender" on it with out the numbers in the squares & write the monthly menu ...erase at the end of the month & start over next month...use permanent markers or paint pens for the boxes :)

By: Vic Cherikoff | Jan 27, 2012 08:24 PM | Permalink
Great concept. I also use a product developed in Australia and which is a natural antimicrobial to ensure that the food I buy is not only food safe microbiologically, but also lasts longer and maintains its nutritional value better.

It's called Herbal-Active so just Google it and you'll find it for yourself.

I bring home my shopping, pour around 5oz of prepared solution into a bowl (it comes as a powder so the carbon footprint is smaller and you just add warm water to the spouted bag and leave it to stand over night). I then start with dipping berries and soft fruits, move on to melons and fruits that are eaten with their skins.

Did you know that it's estimated that 25 hands touch your 'fresh' produce before you eat it?

Then the vegetables get dipped. All that's needed is a brief wetting with the solution and its powerful blend of extracts from ordinary herbs and spices kills all bacteria, yeasts and molds. These include food spoilage organisms as well as food pathogens (these can make us ill or worse).

Once the veges, fresh herbs and greens get the treatment, I move on to any meats, poultry and seafood.

The money I save with produce that lasts up to 5 or 10 times longer and stays nutritious is dramatic. And to know that the risk of food poisoning is reduced is comforting too as I have seen people pick up produce from the floor and put it back on the shelves in stores let alone what happens in the supply chain.

By: Linda Daigle | Jan 27, 2012 05:08 PM | Permalink
Meal planning is a must in my family. When I was home with my kids I had more time during the day while they were in school to go to the market daily. Times have changed, the kids have grown and I work full time now. During the week we toss around meal ideas that go on a list--old favorites, something we haven't had in a long time, meals based on what I know is on sale someplace etc. I also keep a fairly well stocked pantry, so we can usually be pretty creative when a meal of pork chops or roasted chicken gets a thumbs down on the day we are supposed to eat it. I advise people to just get a couple extra things each grocery day, jar of pasta sauce, a couple packets of marinade mix, rice a roni, pasta, really, what ever catches your eye or that you know wont blow your budget. That way, if the menu changes, you don't have to run out and get something else, you have it on hand. The few times I have gotten lazy, or life happens and I haven't gotten my groceries on the weekend, and I go back to the every day grocery store lifestyle I am appalled at how much it costs at the end of the week. Also, we really don't do take out that much. When we do it on special occasions only. I keep frozen dough and the fixings for pizza on hand all the time, and we always have a taco kit in the pantry for a day when we want a treat. I also have learned to make some pretty mean chinese and thai food and it certainly is alot more healthier then the stuff you get take out. Thai and Chinese would usually be a weekend type meal though, as they take a little longer to make. A little well planned time during the week and shopping on the weekend really makes the week day meal time a lot less stressful. My friends are amazed that we can eat the way we do for about 100 -110 dollars a week, for a family of four, but it is because we plan. I can buy alot more food for 25 dollars then they get out of a 25 dollar pizza night.

By: Lori Bonicelli | Jan 27, 2012 04:07 PM | Permalink
In our house it takes forever to boil pasta or cook brown rice throughly. i always pre make that. Also I quadruple a turkey meatball recipe every other week. My kids get them in a thermos for their lunch. Much faster and cheaper than a lame sandwich. Besides, carbs should be saved for the evening or your kids will be tired at school. Turkey Meatballs note: Your food processor will probably only hold a double batch. I grind up all of the veggies at once so kids can't see them. :)..... 1 pound ground turkey meat, 1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread,pulsed into crumbs, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup finely grated carrot, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 2 large cloves garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, chickweed or spinach leaves, 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves or sprinkle dry, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 1/2 teaspoon salt, Freshly ground black pepper,

Use a 2Tablespoon cookie scoop and drop them on a parchment lined baking sheet. They don't expand, so fill up that sheet just so they are not touching. Cook until lightly brown on top. Take out, let cool, put in freezer for about an hour, pull out throw in ziploc freezer bags. DONE!

You can add to regular spaghetti, but they make amazing meatball subs or just meatballs next to veggies on a plate like mini meat loaves. Kids just love them!

Pre-make brown rice twice a week. I make up a double or triple batch

1 C Brown Rice (organic, not instant) 1 C Water 1 Can Coconut milk salt

Let it cook, cool then I store in plastic zip bag or glad ware. The white rice you make usually is pretty dry the next day, but the brown coconut rice stays so soft and creamy and cheesy flavor. You can heat it up in a pan or just microwave it.

I just put a large dolup of chickweed pesto on top of heated leftover brown rice for breakfast. (don't cook pesto, it ruins the nutrients of the greens and garlic) I feel fantastic! You can also add chicken and veggies too.

Lastly, if you are cooking chicken you need to fill that oven with chicken. Make up like 10 quarters at once, then pick the meat and store in freezer bags. Just don't over cook the chicken or it will be dry.

By: Sue Triggs-Rhuda | Jan 27, 2012 11:56 AM | Permalink
I have done menu planning off and on and the weeks I do it, and involve the kids in their favorites, are the weeks where there is no arguing or dinner-time panic ! We have activities 4 nights a week so knowing what night is going to be spaghetti and what night I can roast a chicken is great!

I have fallen off the idea, but want to pick it up for 2012...I am impressed at a whole month!! Maybe will try that for February because it's short ! I usually do it weekly, planning on the weekend for the next week.

Great article!

By: Lori Bonicelli | Jan 26, 2012 10:08 PM | Permalink
Eating seasonally is key! You save money and it gives you variety. Right now Feb. 26th in Marietta, GA I just came inside from harvesting 2 full colanders of Chickweed from the back yard amongst all the rotting fall leaves on the ground. Loaded with vitamins A, B, & C, Chickweed for our family is "Free Spinach" I use the chickweed exactly like I would basil to make a pesto. Garlic, Olive Oil, Chickweed, salt, pepper, Romano or parmesean cheese and pine nuts/walnuts, whichever I have. OR leave out the nuts, it doesn't really matter. Any kind of pesto (Basil, tomato, artichoke, chickweed, spinach, parsley) or a combination of them is a MUST in our house. You make a bunch up at once and freeze it in 1Cup sizes. I Cup is perfect for 1lb of pasta. If you want it creamy, add some sourcream/plain greek yogurt or even some cream cheese. Add a Tablespoon to mayo for an amazing sandwich spread. Add 1Tablespoon to any vinaigrette that you have OR made. Pesto, dijon, vinegar, oil.... done! Steam/saute & add to an omelet. Add to jared spaghetti or Alfredo sauce. Spread it right on toasted french bread.

Also, the raw garlic in Pesto is an amazing immune system builder and an effective antibiotic for staphylococcus, streptococcus and salmonella bacteria and is effective against bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotic drugs. It is a good antifungal for the treatment of yeast infections.

By: | Jan 26, 2012 08:30 PM | Permalink
Great calendar idea, and one that would work most of the time for my family, except for the weeks I'm out of state, or off to class, or my husband has to pick up a grandchild and feed him and Mom (which we know the night before). So, all in all, a great idea - especially if I can mix up days during the week.

LOVED the CSA video - and how interesting that CSA's are focused around larger/more affluent areas and very few are located in the states where the BIG farm fields are. Just an observation.

By: Cassandra Viers | Jan 26, 2012 08:15 PM | Permalink
With 6 children, homeschooling, working, and farming I love menu plans! They make my life much easier.

To make planning my week's menu less work I wrote out a master list of all meals my family likes by category: chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian, vegan, and seafood. Then I just pull one of each for the week. This saves me trying to remember what we have eaten too often and what has been missed.

I also made a master list for lunches. Breakfasts are toast, cold cereal, hot cereal, or what ever you make yourselves. It usually is rushed so no great cooking accomplishments for breakfast.

By: Tracy Szelest | Jan 26, 2012 07:33 PM | Permalink
Yes! Please share a sample week! Thanks! Tracy

By: | Jan 26, 2012 07:35 PM | Permalink
I like to cook a breakfast for our supper,grits,eggs,toast & sausage meat patties. Also like to fix pancakes with syrup,eggs, & sausage meat patties,can't be beat! We like to have a liquid supper sometimes, a V 8 drink or slimfast drink,helps with wt problems. We have popcorn for a snack before bedtime.

By: Kim Philpot | Jan 26, 2012 07:29 PM | Permalink
I practice some form of this and it was so fun & interesting to read your article and see how you manage the meal planning.

I usually do my planning just prior to grocery shopping and we try to shop for 2 weeks at a time. This helps me to know exactly what to buy, what special ingredients may be needed, and I know that I will have a use for the food, not just extra things sitting on the shelf. Most of the time, we just need to buy an extra gallon of milk or something the second week.

I don't do a fancy calendar or anything - usually it's a post-it note on my calendar with the meal ideas (what we have and what can be made with it), so that way, I can be flexible if we feel like tacos on Tuesday, instead of planning a specific meal for a specific day (of course you have to make sure you plan ahead with defrosting things too).

Thanks so much - I loved your last article/newsletter too (about homesteading), Kim Philpot (www.kimphilpot.blogspot.com)

By: Ann Stockton | Jan 26, 2012 07:07 PM | Permalink
Your calendar idea is excellent! Could you please, please, please share a sample week? Or month?

By: | Jan 26, 2012 05:33 PM | Permalink
I love the idea of being this well planned regarding our largest meal. My method is (sadly) to finish my work for the day about 4 -5 pm and then rush to figure out what I want and need to get for our dinner--what a pain! This leaves me dashing out to shop close to or during rush hour (we live in a Chicago suburb), so it's doubly painful! Because I don't want to prolong being out, I push myself to get thru the store quickly and generally find it not a very rewarding experience--I would so much rather browse through all that lovely produce. So, all in all, planning out meals like this would be the best thing in the world for me. Thanks for the idea.

By: | Jan 26, 2012 05:18 PM | Permalink
Completely agree! I discovered this for myself years ago although I only planned 2 weeks at a time and then did my grocery list w/coupons at hand. Our family home couldn't accommodate more than 2 weeks of groceries. I also organized my grocery list according to the aisles n the store so my husband could shop efficiently and avoid skipping something on the list.

Recently our family subscribed to a CSA farm from which we have fresh produce delivered to our home every two weeks. This eliminates even more meal decisions and guarantees we eat seasonally. I love it!


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