Monday, October 25, 2010

How We Meal Plan

Since I just posted my October menu and will be posting my November menu in a few days I figured giving some of my meal planning tips might be a good idea! 

First things first - start small (unless you are up for a challenge!).  When we first started meal planning we did it weekly and planned 2 or 3 nights; as we got the hang of planning ahead we added nights here and there until now we just sit down monthly.  Oh what a relief!

Meal Planning Tips:
  1. Start with recipes you like and know how to cook, use these to simplify the start up.
  2. Plan new or difficult recipes on nights you have time to experiment.
  3. Make a list during the month of meals you would like to have or are inspired to try by the time next month comes around you will have a great head start.
  4. Similarly you can try to make a list of 20 meals (or 10 for you and 10 for your spouse) then just place them on a calendar and voila meal plan!
  5. Make planning the remained of the meals fun pull out cookbooks and magazines (if you have kids include their ideas).
  6. Plan on an empty stomach - trust me you will be much more successful this way!
  7. Look at your calendar - if you have a long day crock pot meals may be best, if you are eating brunch out on Sunday you may want a smaller dinner, if you have plans you don't need a meal.
  8. Coordinate your meals - use a whole chicken on Monday then make chicken enchiladas on Tuesday and Chicken Alfredo on Friday.  Using larger cuts of meat is healthier, cheaper, and gives variety!
  9. Add sides weekly based on sale ads.  Pick vegetables that are on sale to help cut the grocery budget.  Other sides like rice and beans are best when stockpiled and chosen ahead of time (we have been known to spend more than 20 minutes choosing a side dish - eek).
  10. Have variety - don't make pasta five times a week for three weeks you will burn yourself out!  One new thing we are trying is having a category for each day of the week.  Monday - Mexican; Tuesday - Pasta; etc etc.
  11. Be flexible - sometimes things come up (your husband just really wants to barbecue not cook indoors or you really honestly don't feel like beef stew on a 110 degree day) that's okay! We do try to plan for the weather a bit - although lately this has proven more difficult than usual.
  12. Invest in some good cookbooks/magazines or get to know some great websites!
  13. Have fun - oops I think I already said that!
One of my upcoming posts will be on my favorite cookbooks, magazines, and websites!

Bon Appetit!

Ash of All Trades

PS Please feel free to leave any additional tips as a comment - we are always open to new ideas!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Meal Plan

Alright folks here is my October meal plan!  I know I know it is almost November but better late than never right? (and to be honest I made it way back in September I just have been fiddling with the layout of this new blog since then!)

So some tricks of the trade - once a month the hubby and I sit down and meal plan for the entire month.  We put together a list of what is in out stockpile, pull out all of our cookbooks (we have a ton) and decide what sounds good!  Usually by the end of any given month we have received recipes from friends, magazines or the internet and thus have somewhat of a headstart.  We are developing an art to our meal planning which will come in another post!

The point is we make it fun it is a date night of sorts.  If you are single do it with your roommate or your kids or your dog just make it fun! 

Second tip - it doesn't always go according to plan.  My type A personality is still learning this but its okay if meal friends call and invite you over or you invite someone over who doesn't like what is planned if it doesn't get used push it to next month or chalk it up to not being meant to be. 

Now some people say but I don't know what I am going to want in 21 days.  Well my husband salivates all day knowing we are going to have some good home cooked food he helped plan for and that was cooked with LOVE!  Now I say with love because before we instituted meal planning the night would run more like this: "aye aye aye hubby is almost home what are we going to have what are we going to have (insert panic attack), I can't make a decision oye vey ahhhhh  - spaghetti - again - for the third time this week".  And remorse would set in and I would feel like the wife of a rock.  So we don't do that anymore kapish!

Plus my kids are loving helping me prepare and cook and do all kinds of things that didn't happen before when mommy was in panic what should we make mode (and for some reason my pickiest three year old ever is even eating this food she cooks - hmmmmm)...  So voila our October meal plan with recipe links and all!

Meal Plan October 2010



Breakfast Omelettes

Moroccan Chicken
White Rice
Green Beans
Carne y Pollo Asada
Chips Salsa
Carne Asada Tacos & Rice with CornSoup & Grilled Cheese SandwichesOut to eat
Green Burritos
Chips & Salsa
Garlic Bread
Potatoes with Bell Peppers
Tri Tip
BBQ Herb Chicken
Tomato Salad
Sausage Hoagies
French Toast
Beef Flautas
Sezchuan Chicken
Fried Rice
Stir Fry Veggies
Garlic Bread
Beef Tacos
Mexican Pasta Bake with Peppers
Whole chicken soupSpaghetti & Meatballs
Parmesan Chicken & Asparagus Pasta Sausage Italian Stew and Garlic BreadLouisiana Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Albondigas & Quesadillas
Brown Rice
Stir Fry Veggies
Breakfast PaninisItalian Wedding Soup
Bats N Cobwebs
Rotisserie Chicken
Pasta Dish

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Welcome One, Welcome All!

Welcome to my new blog - Ash of All Trades.  This is a quick summary of what you can expect to read and experience in the upcoming days, weeks, months and hopefully years!  I love blogs, I love reading them, following them, writing them, designing them - you name it I love it! 

My goal in life is to always be striving to be the best person I can for any given period of life.  Right now I want to be the best wife, mother, daughter and sister to my husband, daughters, parents, siblings and friends for where they are in their life now.  What my toddlers need right now is not what they will need in five years (probably not even what they will need in the next year or two)!  I want to do as much as I feel called to do without feeling like my head is spinning around in la-la land. 

So one goal of this blog is to try and help others discover who they want to be and what they want to do for today but also for tomorrow.  We have to plan ahead my friends or the future will pounce!  (Is this a bit lofty of a goal - why yes that is why I will try).  This is my personal journey (although this blog will be very vague and not exposing my life to the whole wild world!) Here are some aspects I hope to include:

1. Meal Planning (lots of yummy recipes)
2. Frugal Budgeting - food and otherwise
3. Being a Part of A Family (including raising children and being a citizen of the world)
4. Trying Unconventional Things
5. Making The Most of Life

There will be many more facets and twists I am certain but I hope you will follow me on my journey to making sense and purpose out of this crazy ole world we live in.

Without Further Ado,
Ash of All Trades