It's a new year and that means starting out fresh. That doesn't mean having to start out with complicated goals, however. If there is anything I don't want, it's complicated. The days ahead in this new year are going to be complicated and full enough as it is. If there is anything I do need more of, it would be organization! I think we can all agree that being more organized is an attainable goal.
With our crazy schedule, it's helpful to have a menu planned out ahead of time. Planning ahead helps to save time, keep things flowing smoothly, saves on budgeting for food, and gives everyone a heads-up. I've always tried to menu plan, but towards the end of the 2015 year, in October and November, I started to slack on it a bit because of therapies and unexpected appointments coming into play with the kids. I found myself caving and buying junk food that I would otherwise not purchase. It hit the budget hard, and ultimately wasn't helping my waste-line.
That said, there are some things that I like to keep on hand for when I forget to plan or don't have time. The following items are things that I always try to keep in my pantry and fridge in case something comes up. With these items I can usually throw something together fairly easily, and they are easy enough to restock.
- Sugar/Brown Sugar
- Baking Powder/Soda
- Chicken/Beef broth or Bullion cubes
- A variety or herbs and spices
- Flash Frozen Chicken breasts or tenders
- Beans or Lentils
- Apples or bananas
- Peanut Butter
- Vinegar and Olive Oil
- Soy sauce
- Tomato Sauce of some sort
- Frozen mixed veggies, or broccoli
With the above list there are a plethora of ideas that can be made on the cheap and fairly quickly as well. I'll do a post specific to those items, but for now, those are things that I try to always have.
When doing my menu it always is planned for 7 days, but I usually end up not cooking at least one day. If we happen to be out of the house or home late, we will do leftovers or "whatever you can find".
That said, the week ahead has some recurring theme of Chinese food. My kids get on an ethnic kick sometimes, and will request several similar meals all in a row. I try to break it up with something different in between. They don't really mind too much having similar menu items for several days in a row, though. The meals tend to be generally a meat/protein, vegetable and starch. Here is what we have planned for the week ahead:
- Sloppy Joes from scratch
- Fried Rice and Pot Stickers
- Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Salad
- Slow-cooker Beef & Broccoli over Rice
- Crepes with Sausage Patties
- Cashew Chicken over Rice
- Radiatore Pasta with Olives, Tomatoes, Sausages, Artichoke Hearts, and Mozzarella
Here's to a fresh start!