Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: March 28

Our schedule has been different the last month or so, and that, combined with spring break two weeks ago, has totally messed up my regular menu planning routine. With the higher cost of gasoline, and my interest in a knitting group at church, our new errand day is now Wednesday. That means grocery shopping on Wednesday instead of Friday. That means I need to plan my menu differently. That also means that I need to reset my mental organizer so I can actually plan a menu and grocery shop more efficiently than I have been doing the last few weeks. :oP

I did make two new things last week: a frittata with sausage, onions, and peppers on Wednesday and homemade pasta sauce on Friday. Both were big hits! And both are from a wonderful library book I'm reading: How to Cook Without a Book. The basic idea is to learn a few techniques and vary them to cook a wide range of gourmet (or basic) foods - without having to rely on cookbooks, recipe cards, etc. It's a great reference book, so I'm considering ordering it for my own personal library.

The frittata will be a new fall/winter dish since it's baked in the oven. What I love about this is the wide variety of fillings to choose from. I can use whatever is on hand, or I can plan for something a little more extravagant - like the bacon, spinach, and feta I'm dying to try.

The homemade pasta sauce will be a year-round staple. Billy loved it (said it was the best he's ever had) and nearly begged to have it again really soon. (Love that he loves it!!) It's something else that I can vary with ingredients on hand. My favorite part is that a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes only costs 25 cents (from ALDI), as opposed to a jar of Prego for $2 or so. I always doctor what's in the jar anyway, so making my own sauce took the same amount of effort and time - but saved me soooo much money in the long run. (Well, about $1.75, but it adds up!) I can make the sauce with meat or mushrooms, add whatever veggies I want, season it differently for different uses (spaghetti, lasagna, or pizza), etc. (We like our sauce a little on the sweet side, but since I add sweet Italian sausage to my lasagna, it doesn't need to be as sweet. Pizza sauce can be plainer since most of the flavor comes from the toppings.)

Here is the plan for this week: (New recipes are in italics.)

BBQ chicken tenders
Smoky Potato Pancakes (modified, from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light magazine)
green beans

baked potatoes with the works
green salad

scrambled eggs

grilled pork chops
Butternut Squash Risotto (from a box...)
green salad

Camp food! Billy will be taking the boys to a Dads & Dudes camp out at a local Christian camp/ranch, and I'll be joining the seminary wives for part of a weekend retreat in the opposite direction.

??? I know I'll be too tired to cook and clean up. We'll either have sandwiches or order pizza or Chinese take-out.

AWANA Pizza Party

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