Monday, April 6, 2009

Flexibility is Good for your Menu Plan & Your Bottom Line

I'm here to report that things did not go as planned last week with the menu.

Here is my lovely plan from last Sunday..... MONDAY-Meatloaf, Potato Salad(leftover), Green & Wax Bean Melange TUESDAY-Quiche & Garden Greens Salad WEDNESDAY-Roasted Chicken w/Veggies, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce THURSDAY-Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce, Spinach Soufle FRIDAY-Crab Cakes, Fries, Harvard Beets SATURDAY-Quesadillas(using leftover roasted chicken), Rice, Corn SUNDAY-Birthday Dinner

Here's what we have actually had for meals this week.

MONDAY-Meatloaf, Potato Salad(leftover), Carrots/Broccoli/Cauliflower Melange I saw that Guy Fieri on the Food Network Diners,Drive-Ins & Dives spotlight a meatloaf wrapped in bacon dish on his show. So I made a latticework with bacon(!!)and changed up my meatloaf recipe a bit, formed a log with it and wrapped it in the bacon & aluminum foil. Cooked it for 40 mins. and then removed the foil & continued to cook the meatloaf for 15 mins or so, to get the bacon to crisp up. The kids have said they FORBID me to make meatloaf any other way from now on. I said in that case, I need to invest in a defibrillator machine for the house.lolol We polished off the Potato Salad leftover Monday also.

TUESDAY-Quesadillas(using leftover chicken from something I made last week) #1 son worked Tuesday evening and daughter had an away Track Meet, leaving hubby, #2 son and I to dine w/out them. #2 son is NOT a big eater(comparatively), so we had the Quesadillas. I had forgotten about some cooked chicken breasts leftover in the fridge from something I made last week. Since there was no Roasted Chicken yet this week(to provide leftover chicken for Quesadillas), this chicken served the purpose just fine. Unfortunately, nobody wanted chicken in their Quesadilla!lol Basically we had "Mexican Grilled Cheese" instead. At least we didn't make any new Leftovers that night.

WEDNESDAY-Quiche & Garden Greens Salad So I still had that leftover chicken to use up. So we bumped Quiche to the front of the menu line. Instead of Quiche Lorraine, we had Quiche Lorraine avec Poulet & a Salad. Bacon AND Chicken....what's not to love? I was able to use up some old carrot shreds in the Salad too.

THURSDAY-Hamburgers, Corn, Baked Beans
I forgot to defrost the Roasting Chicken(and who wants chicken 2 nights in a row?). The weather was so warm and nice, hubby wanted me to cook something on the grill outside. So I needed something fast that I could throw on the grill. I had a small hunk of ground beef that didn't go into the meatloaf(slated for the meat sauce w/the rigatoni) and about 4 nice thick slices of bacon wrapped meatloaf leftover from Monday's meal. This was just enough portions to make hamburgers/meatloaf burgers.(The adventurous got meatloaf, the purists got classic burger patties.) Added some side dishes and's dinner! Used up some leftovers and made NO new leftovers.

FRIDAY-Only 2 people ate here. I had a can of soup, one of the kids had fast food.
Hubby got sick on Friday so the Crab Cakes got postponed until the following week again!

SATURDAY-Chicken & Dumplings
On Saturday I deboned some chicken breasts I bought on thursday on clearance(an impulse buy-9lbs. of chicken for $10) and put them into the freezer for use at a later date. I boiled up the bones, picking off some remaining meat on them, disgarded the bones and had me a big pot of stock. I made dumplings from scratch. I added leftover carrots from the Corned Beef dinner side dish of the week before and some cornstarch and had 'Milkless' Chicken & Dumplings for Sat. dinner.(No milk because I didn't want to upset Hubby's still sick tummy.)
SUNDAY-Rigatoni, Lasagna, Grilled Summer Squash
Hubby wanted to postpone his Birthday meal out so Sunday we had the Rigatoni in Spaghetti Sauce, leftover Lasagna & I grilled some summer squash brushed with olive oil and sea salt.At this point, we put Roasted Chicken back into the pot of potential dinners for next week.

I was able to use up leftover Coconut Rice and the Bacon drippings(from the famous meatloaf) by adding these into the dogs' food over 2 nights of feedings. I wonder why these dogs love me so....ok, I KNOW why they love me.
The only food waste I couldn't avoid was about 1 cup of fresh spinach. It went to slime before I noticed it was still in the produce drawer.....bleh.
The thing I have discovered is having a meal plan/menu is a great tool to save you money when grocery shopping have to be flexible enough to change things up when life throws you a curveball. And believe me, life is all about the curveballs!

If you are rigid and can't change when faced with your families eating patterns, you will end up with more leftovers in your fridge/freezer and potentially more food waste.

I so detest food waste! It's like taking your money and throwing it directly into the garbage. That's what you're doing every time you have to throw food out that doesn't get eaten.

And figuring out what to buy and how much to prepare will NEVER stay the same in your career as your family's domestic manager! When my kids were little, their likes and dislikes changed almost hourly sometimes. One day green food was cool and was all they would eat. The next day a piece of broccoli on their plate would send them into hysterics. One day they ate like miniature Professional Eaters-In-Training.....the next, they subsisted on Cheerios and watered down juice.

As my kids have aged, I have had to adjust the size of portions upwards. When #1 son got into wrestling & was 'in season', I had to bulk up how much I cooked even more & adjust the types of food I prepared.
Now that #1 son will be heading off to a summer job across the state & then to college AND daughter has decided to stop eating red meat, I'll be adjusting the amount and what foods I cook for the family again.

All I can tell you is that getting the food shopping & menu plan accurate for your family is consistently variable.
You will always struggle with the leftovers/food waste issue if you cook for your family. And if you don't, I'm sure I can find you some mighty fine slime,, leftovers in my fridge.



  1. I hardly ever manage to keep to my weekly plan!

  2. Well I am soooo glad to hear that it's just NOT ME!lol
    Thanks for commenting!! ;-)


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