Friday, January 30, 2009

Menu Planning: First Course

As promised, I am going to briefly lay out the menu planning I am in the process of doing for the first two weeks of February. I will probably do my bi-monthly Wegmans shopping trip on Tuesday of next week.

One of the most important things I have learned about menu planning is to start with what you have, instead of just coming up with a menu out of thin air. I think most of us tend to have a lot of food in our pantries; you might be surprised at how little you have to buy!

So right now I have several packs of boneless chicken in the freezer (I buy the club packs when they're on sale and freeze in one pound servings). My generous friend also gave us some beef roasts from her in-law's cattle, so I need to figure out how to cook those.

I know I have some stir-fry vegetables in the freezer that I didn't get to this week, so chicken stir-fry will probably be one of our meals. Also, these chuck and rump roasts are pretty big, so I should plan 1-2 dinners of roast and side dishes, plus a different dish to use the rest of the meat, like fajitas or steak sandwiches.

I will need a lot of lunch food, but we're pretty good on breakfast items. I have a lot of instant oatmeal and cereal that I got really cheap, and we of course have English muffins.

From what I have in my pantry and freezer, I move onto what's on sale. I saw that ground beef is $1.99 at Wegmans this week, and their sales usually last more than one week. Even though we have the beef roasts, I may get some ground beef for chili. I plan to bring a meal to a mom with a new baby in the next couple of weeks, and a big pot of chili is so easy to make for that.

I also see that Wegmans has 8 oz. block cheese on sale for $1.99, which is a price that I can rarely get any more. I am thinking that means plenty of grilled cheese and cheese and crackers for lunches. Also, we normally have meatless Fridays, so it might be a good week to make homemade mac and cheese.

With these ideas in mind, my next step will be to look at the calendar and tentatively plug in meals for each day, taking into account any special activities we have on particular days. More on that in the next post!

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