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Topic: How do YOU make a menu?  (Read 2608 times)
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« on: May 19, 2008 09:58:45 AM »

I thought it would be helpful to start a thread showing how everyone makes menus.  I'm totally clueless so I'm interested in how other people plan their meals.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are  --John Wooden
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2008 10:58:43 AM »

I start with the nearby grocery store flyers (I have 3 on one road).  I make a list for each store and list all the good deals. 

Then off that list, I go through my cookbinder to find recipes that use the sale items, freeze well, or use basically the same ingredients so I can buy in bulk.

On a seperate sheet I list each day of the week and write the recipe name for each night.  If I can cook the meat or a veg. and save some for the following night, I add a note to set some aside.

Then I go shopping.  Upon coming home, I seperate all the meats and freeze what will be used at the end of the week or for the following week.  I chop all the veggies and store in freezer bags.. either in fridge or freezer.

So that is my menu.. no one actually ever gets to see it.. but it does help me keep my sanity by saving a few bucks and never having to wonder "whats for dinner"
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008 09:59:43 PM »

Snowhite, you are far more organized than I!   I just go by whatever I'm in the mood to eat.  I love to grocery shop, but I rarely make lists or plan what to buy, unless there's a really good sale on something I like.

The only time I plan a menu is when I have company coming.  Then I like to go all out and plan most of the meals in advance and make what I can beforehand.  For myself, I just grab whatever.  Sometimes I have an actual plan, such as, "Tomorrow night I want tacos!" but since I live alone I can get away with not really planning.

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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008 05:14:55 AM »

I start by checking what's in the freezer, larder and bank account.
if we're out of reasonable food AND cash, then I go shopping for bargains. if we have no reasonable food but some available cash then we get some luxuries like cookies and canned drinks. if we're full up with good food and we have cash, but nothing is inspiring me then I'll get takeout if we've not had one in the last fortnight.

My most imaginitive meals are born out of money difficulties, mild agorophobia and what we've got in stock. last night for instance we had risotto with half a capsicum, some frozen mixed veggies and some sausages added to it. I stretched 2 sausages to feed the 3 of us. it was soo good and I made extra so husband could have some for lunch today at work. it reheats like a dream.

this has got me thinking now, what the heck do i make for dinner tonight?! needs to be something re-heatable 'cos I have an evening hospital appointment..... *checks bank balance* nope, take out is deffinately OUT. mac and cheese it is then.
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008 05:47:52 AM »

LOL, my best recipes are also born when we are broke and I have to put together a dinner from what we have around the kitchen.  I love menus, recipes, and cooking but with 1 income.. sometimes you need to throw the menu out the window and do with what you got!
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008 06:22:16 AM »

Snowhite- I shop and plan meals out just like you do!  I thought I was the only one who did that.  My friends think I'm weird to plan everything out like that. 

As for planning menus:  When I was first married I was not a good cook at all.  We ate out a LOT at sit down restaurants.  I got a lot of meal ideas from the places we ate at.  Esp what tasted good and looked good on a plate together.

Then I started watching Food network.  That helped out a lot too.  I started printing out recipes from there. If we liked the recipe I'd stick it in a 3 ring binder as something to make again.  (now with a toddler I don't have time to watch all the cooking shows I like, so i just look on the foodnetwork website and browse recipes from the cooks/shows I like)  Then Blogging got popular and I started doing the same thing with websites I found.

For me it was a lot of trial and error.  We still dont eat as many veggies as we should, so the meals aren't as balanced as they are probably supposed to be.  I would say that since I've started cooking vs going out to eat we have improved on how healthy we are eating.

« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2008 08:52:37 AM »

money is definitely a factor when it comes to my food.  i generally splurge and make one big meal a week.  since most recipes prepare for 2-4 and i'm only cooking for myself, i know i'll get multiple meals out of it.  for the one big meal, i generally get one main ingredient in my head and then hit the internet to find a recipe that looks good.  once i know the ingredients i need for that meal, i try to look at what ingredients i need to buy that i will have leftover and plan some simpler meals based off those ingredients. 

i always make sure to keep some cheap/quick meals around the house just in case - lately it's been frozen veggie dumplings and white rice.

i also love to bake and try to make something new each week.  so that's also a compromise - some weeks i go all out and buy a bunch of ingredients and make something absurd and other weeks i stick to something basic that i have most of the ingredients on hand for.

i've also found that i waste much less food if i buy for one meal at a time instead of doing one giant shopping trip every week or so.  after a little while of doing this supplies build up and there comes the day to figure out a recipe to use the odd and ends which always makes for some interesting meals.  not to mention, everytime i try to plan a week's worth of meals, something comes up and my plans will change and half the meals will not get made.  if i spend my whole day at work thinking about and planning out dinner, nothing is going to stop me from making it as soon as i get home.

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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2008 07:38:05 AM »

If you get yourself a recipe program (Betty Crocker, Mastercook, etc. - cheapest one will do) you can do a search for the ingredient you want ("chicken") and boom, there are a bunch of recipes for you to look at. Transfer the one you want to your "menu" and boom - there it is. Add a couple more recipes and transfer the lot to a shopping list - that's right...boom! Print your recipes and your shopping list and you're ready to shop.

I admire folks who have a real "system", but it's too time consuming for me and I never find any good coupons so I just don't look anymore.

When I was young I lived on eggs, potatoes, and soup. Those were the days!

« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2008 10:51:20 AM »

About half the time I am cooking just for me. The other half I cook & share with Mom & Dad, or Grandparents or My best feind & her bottemless pit of a daughter.

So usually I look through ads & coupns  then decise on two or three  pot type meals . ( I have 3 crock pots, one is divided so I can cook 2 differnt things at once.)  I usually shop on mondayws in the mid afternoon & ON tuesdays when I work from home I do the crock pot thing.  THen when everything is cooked  & cooled I portion out in to gladware & or zip lock freezer bags. I freeze some, fridge others. I like to  rotate my recipies & cook double batchs most of the time. SO if I make Chilli I am eatting a servimg or two, sharing 8-10 servings & freezing a few servings as well.

This week I tihnk I will be making Chicken Chilli (boneless skinless breast & thighs, white beans, chic peas, stewed tomaotes, choipped fresh tomaotes, spices, etc.) I'll brown meat on stove top with a tiny bit of oil & some spices, draint hat on paper towels & lightly brown onions & chopped bell pepper then add everything to crock pot.

Veggie Tzsmitus, prob spelled wring, it's a dish I had at passover meal at a frends house.It;s a veggi stew.

What I call Basic beef stew. Just water, onion, stew meat & carrots. I brown beef then add to crock pot with the other ingredients with some roasted garlic & sea salt & pepper.  Let it cook then cook on high with lid off to thickn sauce a bit. this is a great starter to add more veggies, eitehr fresh of frozen  or to make into a shepperd pie type dish with mashed potatoes & corn on top.

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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2008 11:10:14 AM »

I search around in  allrecipes.com and sometimes foodnetwork.com. I see what looks good to me with affordable ingredients, within my WW and also that (reasonably- i'm not going to make them eat something outrageous that my kids will eat (reasonably- I'm not going to make them eat something outrageous that seems on edge to me!) and go from there. I usually only chose 3 "new" recipes a week, 1 of everyone's favorite, 1 of the kid's favorite and then a couple mainstay recipes. If I choose too many of the new or mainstays my kids end up going on a food strike at dinner time. Roll Eyes

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