Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday's Best

Sundays are the best, aren't they?

The last few weeks though, we've really stepped it up. In addition to our usual run on the beach, playtime at the park, walk through the neighborhood and quick Starbuck's stop downtown, John and I have been committed to a new Sunday ritual...meal planning for the week. 

And let's be honest, by John and I- I really mean me, while John enjoys nap time with Audrey. 

Regardless, it's saved us HUGE money and LOTS of time {goodbye nightly trips to the store for dinner}. I wouldn't have it any other way, either. I love making lists. It takes up a good chunk of our Sunday, but it's so worth it. We're also throwing away less unused/rotten foods, eating healthier overall, and did I say saving lots of money?

Here's how I do it.

I'm not exactly known for my work in the kitchen...So, I rely heavily on inspiration. Cookbooks come first. I don't necessarily use the recipes all the time, but I do get ideas for meals from the many books I've been given over the years, and it helps ensure that we've got a solid variety to keep us interested all week.

There's also some strategy behind choosing the right, fresh vegetables. How can I repurpose those remaining vegetables from meal one, into something new but equally yummy later in the week before they go bad?

You experienced "cooking moms" are mocking me right now, but this is big for me. 

After about an HOUR of brainstorming and list-building, I know, I've got a menu planned for the week...For example, on our menu this week is:

Day One: Veggie Paninis with Rosemary Red Potatoes
Day Two: Grilled Ahi & Salmon w/ Brown Rice & Brussel Sprouts
Day Three: Pizza Margherita with Eclipse Garden Salad
Day Four: Jean's Chicken & Sun Dried Tomatoes with Asparagus
Day Five: Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers with Grilled Veggies 

There's also some strategy behind what day you plan to actually EAT each meal...I know that I'm personally more enthusiastic about cooking on Monday and Tuesday nights, and that by the end of the week- I need something easier if I'm going to cook at all {or defer to John}. My schedule reflects my cooking moodiness accordingly.

My last step in the planning process is to take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the center of the page, and list out ingredients that we need to shop for either at the grocery store, or {hate to say it} Walmart. Hey, there's no cheaper place to shop, and the dry goods are the same everywhere, right?

John's the biggest help while we're shopping. He takes the lead with Audrey {which is becoming increasing difficult}, and list-in-hand, I get the goods as quickly as possible.

This is our 5th week meal planning, and it's been fun and challenging in a way. I can tell you that we've literally saved hundreds of dollars {crazy}, and we enjoy trying to eat more fun, unique meals and challenge ourselves to out-save over previous weeks.

Something to try, if you don't already have a similar system in place. 

Want to try one of our meals this week? 
How about Jean's Chicken & Sun Dried Tomatoes!

4 chicken breasts
wax paper
4 oz. goat cheese
1/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
fresh dill, chopped
olive oil
1/3 cup chicken broth or white wine (we opt for the wine)

Pound chicken between wax paper to 1/4 inch thick. Spread 1 oz. cheese on each piece of chicken. Top with 1 T. tomatoes and 1 t. dill- might have some left of each. Roll up like jelly roll and secure with toothpicks. Heat oil and cook over medium heat, turning frequently for 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside on warm plate; cover with foil. Add broth or wine and remaining tomatoes.

Special thanks to Grandma Jean for this recipe...

Have a great week!

love, kerry

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