Thursday, April 23, 2009


This week has been totally crazy with school starting up again for me and just life in general. The kids are playing baseball again this year and we're in full swing now - and Cameron's the asst. coach of the team (Abby and Isaac are on the same team this year). It's been fun, but it takes up 3 afternoons a week and Sat mornings. School should be fun, but challenging. I just need to remember that it only last for 6 weeks! Then I'll get a little vacation - and by little, I mean little!

Got to run. I'll post soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter and Menu Planning

Before I get started on my simplifying for today, I thought I would share a few pics of the kids in their Easter duds. We had a good Easter - the big bunny brought the older kids some treats and things, and thoughtfully left them at the foot of their beds so as to keep them occupied for a little longer before waking up mom and dad. Seriously - that is one thoughtful bunny. Church was good and dinner was yummy. Nothing too exciting, just hanging out with the family.

Here's Juliana in her dress

Danielle being too cute

Love this one of Abby and Isaac in front of the ocean

And we're doing a ward picture directory for the ward here (seems this job keeps following us a round) so we had someone take our picture. I think it turned out really great. I'm not sure why Isaac is so somber, but the rest of us are looking pretty happy.
OK -on to the menu planning...

Well, I have to say that I've run into a few snags working on my shopping lists this week. I did come up with enough meals (and repeats) to make 10 weeks of meals. But I've found as I've been planning them that I prefer cooking based on my mood. I thought it would be easier to just cook my assigned meal, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way. I don't know. It almost seems like I'm making it harder than it should be with so many choices/weeks, so I've decided that I need to simplify but yet allow for some flexibility.
As I've been thinking about it this week, I remembered that I took a class years ago, through UVSC's (UVU now) continuing education program. It was called House of Order. Amazingly I still have all the info from it. It was a fabulous class, and I think it is now taught at BYU's Education Week, too. Anyway, I pulled out the binder to look over how the teacher had suggested menu planning. From that and my experiences over the last week or so, this is what I've come up with as a plan:
  • I'm going to poll the family for their very favorite meals
  • I'll use those results to come up with a 4 week program - so a total of about 20-22 meals (you'll see why below)
  • The key is that I will leave one or two blank nights each week for any cravings, whims, etc. that I might have that week, or just to stick in those meals that we like every once in a while, but not so regularly.
    Then I'll go back to my shopping lists.
So, I've got to do a little revamping here. For all of you that means you get a little more time to keep working on those shopping lists. But really, once you get that done - you're set! That wasn't too painful, was it?
Oh, and I just looked up the teacher of that class I took and it turns out that she has her own website now. Feel free to check it out. There is a little section about menu planning under 'Food'. I'm sure there's a lot more there, but I haven't looked around it all yet.
Let me know how you guys are all doing on your menus.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OK, all you menu planners - how are we doing? I heard from a couple of you and it looks like we're making good progress. I hope the rest of you are working along with us, too. If you want to look at a few dinner ideas you can go here to Tonia's blog to see her list and here to Stephanie's blog to see her list. Thanks girls for posting them!

So, I'm off to a good start this week. I ended up adding a few more meals to my list (thanks to some suggestions from my Sis-in-laws comment a while back) and I actually came up with 7 weeks of meals! Oh and I don't think I'm done. There are some meals that I know we will want to eat more often than every other month, so I need to go back and revamp it a little - put the favorites in more frequently. So I'm hoping to end up with about 10 weeks of meals, but for now - this is what I've come up with {Notice that I haven't assigned days to the meals, that's so that I can rearrange them as needed for that week.}:

Week 1
Chicken Noodle Soup
BBQ Pork sandwiches
Chicken Bombs
Chicken and Asparagus Casserole
Breakfast Casserole

Week 2
Chile Verde Soup (Chicken)
Sub Sandwiches
Crispy Onion Chicken
Blackened Chicken Alfredo

Week 3
Santa Fe Chicken
Taco Soup
Tuna Melts
Spring Rolls
Pot Roast

Week 4 - this week's menu, since the Ham will be eaten on Easter
Hawaiian Haystacks
Potato Cheese Soup
Crispy Onion Chicken
Blackened Chicken Alfredo

Week 5
Chicken Salad Sandwiched
Stir Fry
Chicken Pot Pie
Pork Chops

Week 6
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Tater-Tot Casserole
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Blackened Chicken Alfredo
Crispy Onion Chicken

Week 7 - I just notice that this week as A LOT of rice, I think I need to fix that
Hawaiian Haystacks
Chili and Rice
Kalua Pork
Chinese Noodles

So there you have it. Just getting this part done made my shopping so much easier. I got a whole weeks worth of food in less time and money than I usually need to go shopping. I was at the store for about 40 minutes (I had Abby and Juliana with me) and I believe I spent just under $150. I think that rocks for a week's food for 6 - especially in Hawaii.

So, on to your assignment for this week:

  1. Finish making your week meal plans
  2. If you feel the urge - share them with us
  3. Collect all the recipes for your meals (or at least write out ALL the ingredients so the next step is easier)
  4. Make COMPLETE shopping lists for your weekly menus. Even the little things that you know you always have on hand. If you make a complete shopping list you can just do a quick glance over your pantry and cupboards and cross off the things you already have on hand and then just buy the rest. Trust me - it's better this way, and it really cuts down on those last minute runs to get the one thing I forgot....
I'm not sure where we are page number-wise in the pamphlet, but that sounds like enough work for this week. I know that there are some great shopping list templates in there - I print a bunch off yesterday (and actually used one while shopping). I loved the way it helped me put foods in the same categories, so I didn't miss anything and have to walk back across the store for one thing (though my store is pretty small, so it's not that much of an inconvenience). However, while I was at the store, I wrote down what aisles had what items and the order of the aisles - well, the way that I shop them. That way I can streamline the process even more and hopefully be able to continue to cut down my shopping time, because frankly hanging out at Foodland is not my idea of fun - well, unless its the middle of August and incredible hot outside, then yes, hanging out at Foodland is great! And trust me, half the community will be there, too - it's the only big air conditioned place around for miles (and the next closest one is a grocery store, too).

OK I'm totally getting off track here. Menus, recipes, shopping lists. Get to work!

PS - Juliana says, "Baaaaah -bah!" Actually, that's the only thing she says. Everything is Bah-bah - mama, dada, baby, bottle, sissy, brother, monkey, button (as in belly). That's about everything that she actually can identify, but it's all Baaaaaah-bah! With a finger pointing at whatever it is she's talking about.

Friday, April 3, 2009

And the winner is......

I took all your comments and numbered them in the order received (2 of you got 2 numbers for sharing my blog info) and used a random number generator to give me:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2009-04-03 20:35:05 UTC

And entry #9 belongs to Tonia! Congratulations! I will make your binder as soon as school is out next week (and I can enjoy my "vacation"). If you have any color/design preference you'd better email me.

As for the rest of you - keep working! And you can make you're own cute binder, too, maybe that will help motivate you.

I'm still waiting to see some meal list from you guys. SHARE! I happen to know that some of you came up with big lists, so at least list some favorites for us to see. Thanks, Jess for your ideas, I've added a couple more meals to my lists from your suggestions.

OK, so at least check in and let me know that you're keeping up with the plan. And since I haven't had a chance to make my week menus I will let you guys have until this Monday to get that step done. But then we're moving on, so you'd better keep up.

So your assignment for this week is to leave me a comment tell me how many meals you came up with (and SHARE some of your favorites if you want to) and to finish (because you did already start, right?) organizing those meals into weekly menus. Hop to it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I haven't forgotten!

I haven't forgotten about you all - I promise. Just have been really busy with some projects due last week and finishing up other work. The end of the semester is next week, so it's crunch time! But the good news is that I have 10 days off before school starts up again - and I didn't even know this until yesterday. And by then my kids will be back to school.....ah, heaven! I can't wait, I need a little break.

Back to my original thought - I will try to get my post up tonight with the winner of the recipe binder and the next step in menu planning! Speaking of which, I haven't seen a whole lot of dinner lists..... HOP TO IT LADIES! I wanna see 'em!