Sunday, September 8, 2013

Y'all I am LOVING cooking at home!!!

So how is it going?

Actually pretty well!  I'm as shocked as anyone else!  Let's recap the first week!

We've had....

Monday - Spaghetti Pie
Tuesday - Omlettes
Wednesday - Cheeseburger Pie, Green beans and carrots
Thursday - Poppyseed chicken and salad (minus the salad)
Friday - FOOTBALL!  We ate at Chic Fil A
Saturday - Steak and mashed potato (we switched next Sat and this Saturday because we didn't have kids that night)
Sunday - Pot Pie

As I'm typing this all out I realize I must have a thing for "pie" in all forms.  I have tried to plan my meals based on how crazy my afternoons will be.  Mondays normally we are all home so I can cook something that may take more prep etc.  Tuesday the kids both had soccer practice at 5 and 6.  Matt and I didn't get home with the kids to even start dinner on Tuesday until after 7.  Matt threw the kids in the tub for a quick scrub down while I quickly made omlettes.  I love the versatility here because they are super quick to make and can be customized super easy to kids who don't like meat or cheese or whatever.  (Tip - bake an entire package of bacon in the oven one day when you have some extra time and fry an entire tube (yuck that sounds gross to write) of sausage like ground beef on the stove top.  Put these in seperate freezer bags and throw them in the freezer.  I use this for pizza toppings and omlette stuff when needed or breakfast casserole when I need it quick.  Wednesday is a day I usually have more time too.
Croc pot sitting out and ready for tomorrow to throw in chicken to cook all day for chicken spaghetti

My quick trick for anything that involves chicken in a casserole (ex. poppyseed on Thursday) - in the morning I throw approx 4 frozen chicken breast into the croc pot before I leave in the morning with nothing else.  I turn it on low and when I come home at the end of the day I have chicken that shreds itself when I try and pull it out of the croc pot.  I dump it from the croc pot into a casserole dish and mix the other ingredients and top the chicken and my supper prep is 5-7 minutes depending on children interference.

Friday nights are usually football games!  Woo hoo glad we got the W this week!

Leftovers packed and ready for Matt's lunch

* I feel fantastic knowing that I've cooked 6 out of 7 nights for my family this week.
* I absolutely LOVE having stuff for basically an entire month in my fridge and freezer so it allows me to switch and make adjustments as needed and I already have all ingredients on hand.
* Matt is loving the leftovers for lunch - which is great because he has typically never taken leftovers, and never brought back his containers to re-use.  He has done both this week!  Bonus he even sent me sweet texts telling me how good his leftover lunches were!  Yay!
* Having the gigantic menu calendar in my kitchen helps keep me on track, remember what I planned and helps keep me focused when I could easily say EHHHHH let's eat out.  I look up there and remember the plan!

So far so good - we'll see how week 2 goes!
My personal dog swiffer ready to clean up any crumbs or enjoy any unused leftovers!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A month of meals

So I've been cooking at home 100 percent more than I did over the summer!  Yikes we ate more drive thru and chicken nuggets than I would like to admit!

Since school has started I've been making weekly menus and pretty well sticking to them - HOORAY! I feel like I should get a gold glittery star for this alone....apparently I'm the only one who thinks this because I have no gold glittery stars :(

The problemo- is money.  Matt and I were talking and felt like my weekly grocery runs weren't saving us money as compared to eating out as we felt they should.  So I started thinking and decided that instead of making a weekly menu I would make a monthly one.  I meticulously plotted out what to make each day (except for the few Friday night football games where we'll eat out or at the "construction" stand as my kids say).  I tried to think of what could be easily made or things I could make once and then reuse as a vegetable or a part of my meal later in the week.  Another thing is I didn't want to get bored and feel like we were having the same things.  My final portion is that since I've been cooking more (and I usually tend to get into a rut where I get bored and feel like I only know how to make 3 things yada yada yada and for the life of me don't know what to cook...) that lead to me deciding that once a week I was going to try a new recipe.  So I've been pinning on pinterest and only trying to pin things that have a few ingredients, look simple and things we would like.

So after making my menu (on a blank calendar I printed off) I had to make my grocery list.  To avoid just going recipe by recipe and writing down all the ingredients I started with meats and went through and counted how many recipes I used ground beef and wrote that number beside ground beef on the list, how many used chicken, etc.  So my list instead of how many items was how many meals I needed to get out of it because everything I make uses approximately 1.5 lb of ground beef or a couple chicken breasts etc.  This helped me keep from having a 17 page grocery list.  I tried to meticulously go through and make sure that I didn't forget anything because I am very likely to get in there with big dreams and get distracted, forget half of what I need and have stuff sitting in the fridge or pantry I don't end up using because I don't have the right stuff.

Final step ALDI!  If you haven't been there you should!  It's sooooo much cheaper than anything else.  It's different than a traditional grocery store: you pay a quarter for your buggy and get it back when you put it up, things aren't arranged just like a regular grocery, they don't have every single unique item, no deli, no extra stuff like clothes etc, they only take cash/debit - no credit, and you have to bag your own groceries.  The idea behind it is less overhead and the savings carry over to you.  I absolutely love it.  My mom on the other hand is horrified and almost broke out into hives in there - you be your own judge.

2 fully loaded carts, several questions of exactly how many children I had, and a receipt half my body length later I had spent $330 dollars on a month of meals.  Now let me clarify this is a lot for me to spend at once, however I had been spending around $150 for each week.  This time however I didn't stray from the list at all, buy random stuff, or buy any toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc. that type of stuff.

It took me FOREVER to put it all away.  I should also say if I didn't have an extra fridge in my garage and 2 deep freezers out there this would not work because there is no way I could store it all.  I reorganized and streamlined my disaster of a pantry yesterday too.

Matt thinks I've lost my mind, when heading out to the garage to grab a kid a juice (it's been our beverage fridge) he asked me if I would like anything like a sour cream, or a bag of shredded cheese etc. (because it's jam packed with supplies).  Funny man.

So I plan to keep record of how it's going, what I cook and don't and I've written down my shopping list again so that next month I can tweak it if I change things and no recreate it because our menu is filled with family favorites we want each month and hopefully it will not change a ton yet provide us with a lot of variety in our family suppers.  We'll see.  I am keeping my fingers crossed I didn't just waste a ton of money on a dream that's going down in flames!  We'll see!!!