Thursday, August 18, 2011

Variety, the Spice of Life

          Today I began planning menus as the current plan is about to be finished. I didn't get far, and so I thought I'd turn to the internet for ideas. Cheap, budget, frugal, money-saving... Google kindly spat out lots of sites with the right key words. But what a disappointment! The recipes require cans, boxes, envelopes, expensive/unavailable cheeses, frozen veggies and other processed ingredients. So, I'm destined to recycle some old menus and try to think of ways to mix it up to avoid boredom and to keep up the nutritional variety.

           I thought I would share a few samples of what I've planned in the past, with the hope you might be inspired, and better yet, that I might glean from my readers' vast repertoire. I use these as starting points and add sides or switch up the vegetables according to fancy (usually either Chuy-the-shopper's fancy or the grocer's fancy of what to stock/put on sale). Some days our schedule gets out of whack and I don't use the menu planned, but for those days when we're so engrossed in history I can't stop to think, pre-planning saves the day!

Monday to Friday, week #1
  1. Leftovers
  2. Potato-cakes, steamed zucchinni with onion, tomato and a bit of cheese
  3. Thin-cut beef (cooked on a griddle with MSG-free tenderizer or fajita seasoning), grilled tomatoes, onions    and a side of rice (recipe here)
  4. Chicken soup with rice, see link above
  5. Picadillo--a soupy dish of ground beef with potatoes and tomatoes, rice and/or beans
Monday to Friday, week #2
  1. Boneless chicken thighs (1 lb.)  in 8oz pasta with cream (100g, about 8T), vegetables
  2. Meatloaf and salad
  3. Tuna salad served with crackers
  4. Chicken soup served with rice
  5. Leftover soup--I try to do something to make it different. Maybe add cornstarch to thicken it, or pureed boiled tomatoes or boiled elbow macaroni.
 Monday to Friday, week #3
  1. Hot dogs and Macn-N-Cheese (a very rare treat), simple salad: lettuce, carrot and cucumber
  2. Tuna salad with crackers
  3. Navy beans (crock-pot) with tomato sauce (I use puree and add a bit of sugar, salt, pepper and herbs/spices to taste) served with pork chops pan cooked with sprinkled basil (mmmmm, the best!)
  4. Chicken with rice (soupy) and beans
Monday to Friday, week #4
  1. Chicken salad
  2. Cauliflower with Ground Beef Soup
  3. Baked potatoes and leftover soup
  4. Fish and rice cooked with carrots and brocoli
  5. Chicken in mole sauce, beans and rice
    I usually figure a pound of meat per day, but we often have leftovers that either serve for a supper, "Mommy, I'm huuungryyy!", or for when craziness hits and either I didn't cook or Chuy couldn't get me what I needed. (He's the main shopper, fetching things by bike, but sometimes he has to visit people, go pay bills or bathe his senile dad. [update: my father in law passed away August 20th, 2011])

Well, folks, that's simple cooking at my house! I'd be happy to share recipes, just ask for them in the comment box below. More than anything, I'd love some fresh ideas to fill in the next few month's menus! Can you help spice up our life with some culinary variety?

1 comment:

  1. get a few slices of bacon, cook all of them and freeze....then you can add a slice or even only one half slice to some of your dishes to give some zing.....and different flavor.

    Another idea is to chop leftover meat and brown it lightly in the skillet (esp good with a little butter and onion). This can also be frozen to add a small amount to a variety of dishes to give a different taste. Any meat will do.