Little Ben is still awake. I hear a little kiss when I walk by his room, so I return the audible kiss. Poor thing. So, I am still awake -- waiting to turn the hall light off.
So, I thought I would take a moment to explain my new meal plan. I am hoping this will help make the days go more smoothly.
I have a 4x6 index file box with dividers and index cards. On each divider is written a category; my categories are:
soups and stews
On a card, I write a dinner idea. Many are pretty simple -- like beef/veggie soup with grilled cheese and salad. I don't have anything listed that I've never tried. I am personally tired of feeling guilty because I don't come up with new things. Instead, I am going to have a container full of ideas, and I can try something when I feel like it.
For items with recipes (like the blueberry pancakes I love or the Mexican rice recipe), I print these in 3x5 format, cut around them, and adhere them to the back of the index card with the dinner idea on the front.
I figure I can either look through the box based on what I have on hand or just select several cards and make my grocery list. I will then have several meals planned, and I can shop on one day for those days. My meal card is very general; for example, it may say "baked chicken, rice, vegetable, fruit." This allows for whatever I have on hand, whatever is on sale/in season, etc.
I put this into practice today. I have planned dinners through Friday. My menu is:
baked chicken thighs
chicken and spinach enchiladas
potato crust quiche (filling: leftover diced ham, spinach, carrots, onion, tomatoes, parsley)
blueberry muffins (made ahead and thawed from the freezer)
crab corn chowder (I omit bacon and use cooking sherry)
cheese garlic biscuits
romaine, carrot and red cabbage salad
sliced fresh pears
Finally, on my refrigerator, I have these index cards clipped with a magnetic clip so that I may see very quickly what the next dinner will be.
This plan will allow me to better make use of leftovers. For example, it will be easy to just plan for beef BBQ sandwiches with the leftovers from a pot roast. When we have carrot lentil casserole, I always make soup with the leftovers the following night. I just put the leftovers in a pot, add chicken broth and a little diced chicken (either canned or cooked, chopped which I have frozen). I serve with salad and crusty bread. This way, I will know I need to have bread and salad that week.
I love having pantry staples stocked, but I have a bad habit of just randomly grabbing produce and then much of it ending up in the compost bucket because I fail to plan how I'll use it. If I see I have three meal cards where side veggies are required, I can buy accordingly -- a head of broccoli, carrots and squash, for example and be sure to use it that week.