Archive for December, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

The past month or so, I’ve gotten away from meal planning.  In an effort to conserve money and stick to my budget, I want to cook at home more.  In the past, I’ve tried making meals on the fly, planning by the week, and even by the month.  Planning by the month backfired, because I repeated the same meals every week or two.  We got sick of the same thing over and over and started eating out.

When looking up books in my Deseret Book Catalog, I came across Simply Living Smart:  Everyday Solutions for a More Organized You by Anita Kerr.  Wanting to find out more information about it, I went to www.cedarfort.com.  Click here for the exact link for Simply Living Smart.  I was able to peek inside the book.  I was impressed by the things I learned!

Simply Living Smart mentioned that most people have 10 meals that they cook over and over again.  That sounded so much like me that I kept reading!  The book said to make a list of 10-20 meals that we really enjoy.  This includes the side dishes that you serve with them.  You also list the ingredients that you would need to make the dishes.

I didn’t plan to do this until I read about how the author puts each meal on a 1 x 1 sticky note (color coded by type of food).  She puts the sticky notes on her calendar, trying not to repeat the same color two days in a row.  After preparing a meal, if the family enjoyed it, she moves the sticky note ahead two months on the calendar.  If they hated the meal, she throws away the sticky note.

This sounded fantastic to me.  I’ve tried writing main dishes in pencil on a calendar.  At the end of a day at work, I often change my mind about dinner and cook a different day’s meal.  I’ve also tried just making a list of meals to cook during the week, without any set day.

Following the book’s guidelines, I made a list of favorite meals.  At first, I had a hard time getting to 10 meals.  After that, they came to me a lot easier.  Here’s a picture.


In the picture above, I put a cloud around the main dish, wrote the side dishes underneath, and then drew a line for ingredients that I need to have on hand.  I didn’t include items that I almost always have in my pantry or fridge.  To help me make meals, I used Menus on a Dime by Jill Cooper.  It goes along  with recipes in Dining on a Dime, a cookbook also by Jill Cooper.

Next, I wrote each meal on a sticky note.  I color-coded as follows:

  • pink – beef
  • orange – chicken
  • green – pork
  • blue – seafood

For meals that I’ve already cooked this week (meatloaf, shrimp, tilapia), I put those sticky notes on March.  I put the other sticky notes on January and February.  I don’t expect to cook a different meal every day, because we often take 2 or more days to eat something, especially if it’s a beef roast, even if we take leftovers to work.  Here’s a picture of my calendar.


I purchased this calendar to record my exercise for the year (which I did with last year’s calendar).  I like putting the sticky notes on here (along with my exercise minutes).

I also showed my husband the calendar and asked if he had any menu suggestions.  He said pizza is a must.  He also says spaghetti with turkey sausage is always great.  I’ve got a spaghetti sticky note (orange, bottom right) already up there, but I’ll need to add a pizza one!

I look forward to creating more meal ideas.  The sticky notes on the calendar will definitely help me to make my weekly menus and grocery lists.  By moving tasty meal sticky notes two months on after making meals, I won’t have to keep re-creating meals.  Things should be much more organized and simple for me!

Please encourage me with my menu planning over the next several days, weeks, and months.  My goal is to eat at home more!

Dinner Menu as of January 1:

  • Fried ham steak
  • Sweet & red potatoes
  • Rolls
  • Salad
  • Apple Slices
  • Chicken Pot Pie with biscuits on top
  • Steamed cauliflower & broccoli
  • Salad
  • I also have leftover spicy shrimp, turkey-beef meatloaf, creamy mashed potatoes, sauteed onions & mushrooms, and homemade egg bread

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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Cansolidators stacked in a cabinet

Cansolidators in a cabinet

I’ve been working on building my food storage to a 3 month supply.  Today, I looked at various can shelving units and found Shelf Reliance Cansolidators.  I would buy them right away, but we’re renting our current residence and Cansolidators are expensive.  To purchase them to fit our current shelving and move at some later date would be a waste of money.  If I do buy any Cansolidators, I would buy sizes that could be used in any home.  I have shelving and cabinets, but I would prefer to use Cansolidators in closed cabinets.

Does anyone use Cansolidators?

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First Knitted Vest

After knitting for several days, I finished knitting my first vest.  The pattern was for a jacket, but it looked great without sleeves.  Thus, it’s a beautiful vest in a beautiful cranberry color.

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Excited About Handbells

My handbells group performed earlier in December.  I’m already thinking ahead to another performance at the end of January or sometime in February.  We’ll work on some handbell pieces, but I’m very excited about doing some hymns.  We have a handbell version of our hymnbook.  We played two hymns with orchestra and congregation at our performance in December.

For our next performance, I had the idea of having a soloist sing as we played a hymn.  I got the idea after hearing a young man from our youth choir singing a duet at church.  His voice sounded just like Josh Groban’s.  Thus, I found out who he was from our organist, got introduced after today’s service, pitched my idea about having him sing with our handbell group, and he agreed!  I’m so excited!  I talked to a member of our handbell group about if we should play a verse before he begins singing, and she suggested that we choose a hymn with a chorus.  The handbells would start on the chorus and then our soloist would begin singing the first verse after the chorus.  It will be so fantastically-beautiful.  Yeah!!!

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I’ve finally finished all of my sewing projects, some of which have been sitting around for months.  Hooray!  Today, I finished two blouses for my friend.  It’s so nice to be done with sewing, of course, now I”m thinking about my next projects!!

In the meantime, I’ve been doing lots and lots of knitting.  I’ve got blankets, hats, jackets, afghans, and who knows what else in progress!

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It’s in the 80’s right now.  We’ve been using our AC.  My brother is off at the swimming pool.

When we wake up tomorrow, it’s going to be 30 degrees… as the high temperature…  Why???

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Our Wedding, November 2002

We were married at the Renaissance Festival in November of 2002.  I came across this picture tonight and really wanted to share it.

Renaissance Wedding

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Almost Done with Work

I’m almost done with work until January.  We’re having a breakfast party and then we’ll read with flashlights tomorrow.

Today, we watched some films on Native Americans.  I made hot chocolate for everyone and it was a big hit.  When I walked into my classroom after talking to someone in the hallway, the smell of chocolate hit me so strongly!

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Cold Weather!!

Yesterday, it was 80 degrees outside.  We used the air conditioning.  People wore flip flops and shorts.

This morning, it was 39 degrees and windy outside.  Supposedly, the wind chill was in the 20’s.  I took one step outside and went immediately back in for a heavier jacket, hat with earflaps, scarf, gloves, and trouser socks (I’ve never worn socks with my Sketchers!).

What a change in temperature!

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Cakes from “Sometimes We Do” got tagged.  To tag someone, you go to your photos and choose the fifth photo in the fifth album.  Post it on your site and then tag 5 of your friends.

Here’s my modified tag of one friend instead of five.  I’m posting the fifth picture in the fifth folder in my iPhoto library.

I’m tagging my friend Jeanne at “We Are the Wallaces.”

This is from one of my favorite state parks.  I don't get to go often.

This is from one of my favorite state parks. I don't get to go often, because it's quite a drive away. Still, I enjoy sitting under a tree by the river in a comfy chair as I read a lovely book.

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