Sunday, July 26, 2009

“What’s foorr diiiiinner?!” (insert whine here)

grocerystoredazeIt’s the never ending question of the day!

Not, “Can I help you mop the floor?” or “Did you need me to do anymore laundry Mom?”  Little do I hear, “Mom, did you want me to bring you dinner in bed or fluff your pillows?”

No…”What’s for dinner? I’m hungry.”  “Why is there no food in the house?”  “Why do we live on ramen soup and cheese sticks?”

Part of it is being extremely lazy these hot summer days and the other part is, lately I’ve been having  trouble coming up with dinner ideas (but mostly it’s because I’ve been lazy).

I am tired of the old stand-by and the kids are pretty tired of fending for themselves.  Although I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving them the skills and knowledge to cook basic stuff for themselves so

  1. they won’t starve in college
  2. they won’t starve at home
  3. they eat what they like since I don’t always want to eat pizza rolls for breakfast.

( no they don’t really eat those for breakfast Mom or Leslie…they get up so late these days, they completely MISS breakfast and move straight on to lunch! tee-hee!)

I used to make a menu for the month thanks to the awesome idea from my friend Michelle. She has 4 kids also and it really seemed to streamline her meal planning and grocery lists. It’s basically a calendar in word that once you fill in the meals, i.e. main course, veggie, and starch  for each day of the month, you just print and go. If you use standards that you know what ingredients are needed, then it’s not too complicated of a grocery list to do. If there are recipes that you haven’t tried yet, then it gets a little more time consuming to look up what you already have and what you need to put on your list. It all gets a little fuzzy here my dear reader because I am pretty anal retentive when it comes to meal planning. I’ve been in search of the holy graile of menu planners for years, but haven’t found anything that truely meets my needs. I did find this once and used it, but you have to fill it out each time and then still do the calendar menu thing, so it doesn’t feel like it saved me much time.  Alas, it doesn’t  seem to matter what system I use to do my meal planning, it still takes me hours to brain storm, outline, create, and list all the components for a months worth of meals. I try to plan out groceries for one week only, so I don’t waste food or have to thaw meat or other items the day of or put meat in the fridge to thaw days before, only to find I’ve forgotten about it or waited too long to get it into the fridge and we end up ordering out pizza or picking up hamburgers.

Here is a sample of what I used to use-

marchmenupicture

From this calendar that I change monthy by cutting and pasting from previous menu’s, I create a grocery list based on what I already have in the pantry ( I go thru the freezer, fridge, and pantry) and then cross reference that list with that I need for that week and what I will already buy for staples. It sounds complicated if you aren’t in my brain, but basically I take what we already have, compare it to what I will always buy as staples, and then what is left is what I put on my grocery list. Well, along with the staples, but they don’t change so I just add what I don’t have. Clear as mud?

Here is an example of what I would put on my grocery list and which store I would need to get it from-

grocery list sample

One particular month, I was leaving to spend a couple of weeks with my Dad, so I had preplanned meals and recipes for Jon to use while I was gone. It turned out pretty neat because the website I used here not only let me pick from all their recipes, or add my own, but after I made a menu, it printed each ingredient I needed in a grocery list form. In fact, when I just went to get the link, I got caught up in making a menu plan and almost forgot that I was writing this post! LOL

Here is a sample of what the finished grocery list would look like-

aldi shopping list menu planner

Now be aware that the store that uses this meal planner online hasn’t made it to Texas yet. They are planning on putting their stores sometime next summer. They have already built their warehouse/ distribution center in Lewisville from what I’ve read, but you won’t be able to buy your grocery list items in those name brands because we don’t have them yet. But! If you live near an Aldi (check for the location nearest you here) you can use this tool and find every thing on your list! Cool huh? I can’t wait until we get ours in North Texas, they have great prices on staples and their name brands are super inexpensive, which is always nice for a family of 6.

I like websites  (like this one and this one) that I can browse for recipes because I am always looking for new yummy sounding ideas for dinner.  I used to have a list of standards that I turned to, but lately those have become so boring and my kids won’t eat my favorites anymore, like meatloaf and old stand-by casseroles.  Now I ask the kids and Jon what their favorite meals are and hope for the best!  Just kidding…they tell me what they like and it makes my job easier to plan out the meals.

Now if only they could cook it all themselves and do the dishes after that would be heaven!

I hope some of those sites are useful for you. I know they have been for me! Enjoy cooking for you and your family! They’ll love you for it!

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