Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Planning not a new concept

I've tried menu planning in the past and it never works out too well for me.  Seems like a great idea.  I think I've figured out that I've been too rigid in my planning.  I found a gal who does a list of meals mainly dinner and they eat from the list.  She has a blog called "Mommy's Kitchen."  The meals are not assigned a day.  That was our problem.  We may not be in the mood for or have the time for say Chicken and Dumplings the assigned meal of the day.  Something so simple and yet it made me smack my forehead "Of course" when I was reading her description on how she creates her menu plan.

This way I can pick a meal that suits the schedule and mood of the family.  She also made the suggestion to not to plan all 30 or 31 days of the month.  (yes I know one month has 28 or 29 days)  She plans for 25 of 30 days.  Things happen.  Sometimes we eat out.  Sometimes not everyone is home.  Life of having teenagers and a husband who refs soccer.  One can grab something simple maybe even eat some leftovers rather than cook a whole meal.  Since I was getting a late start on the month I planned 17 meals for the remaining 25 days.

I quizzed the family as to what they'd like to eat this month.  I also looked through my recipes and recipes I'd like to try.  Made a list and an accompanying grocery list.

Here's what we're having...

*Uncle Brad's Spaghetti Sauce, Green Salad and garlic bread
Baked Chicken, mashed potatoes
*Chicken and Dumplings
Pot Roast
Paninis and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
Cheeseburger Casserole (Paula Deen Recipe)
*Hamhocks and Chili Beans, cornbread
*Beef & Bean Enchiladas
*Hot & Sour Soup, *BBQ Pork Buns
Make your own pizza night
Marinated Tritip, Cheddar Potato Slices
Chicken Caesar Salad
Hot dogs and Hot Links, Coleslaw, Ranch Beans
*Western Meal In One
*Mexican Lasagna

Once I started making my grocery list I realized I may need to adjust the menu next month for more variety.  We are going to eat an awful lot of ground beef and cheddar cheese this month.  Not that anyone will complain, but just doesn't sound too healthy on a regular basis.  Since the family was excited to be a part of the process I decided to leave it as is this month.

As we were making suggestions we came up with a couple ideas one was the power of one veto.  I suggested one veto, because we'd never get enough recipes if we let everyone veto anything they didn't like.  I also said one can not veto the same meal 2 months in a row.  Some meals most of us love and would hate to never have them again.

This month DS vetoed Chinese Simmered Chicken (one of my personal favorites that hurt), DH vetoed One Dish Chicken and Rice, DD vetoed Curry (DH's favorite).  My son jokingly suggested BBQed poodle ribs and I vetoed it.  Not that I didn't think they wouldn't be delicious and tender, but my DPoodle looked up at me with adoring eyes and I vetoed for her. :)

Here is one of this month's recipes.  Been a family favorite for years.

Beef and Bean Enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 (1 lb.) can refried beans
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. taco sauce
1 c. ripe olives, quartered
2 (10 oz.) cans enchilada sauce
Salad oil for frying tortillas
12 corn tortillas
3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Crumble ground beef in a frying pan; add onions. Saute until meat is browned and onions are tender. Drain off excess fat. Stir in beans, salt, garlic powder, taco sauce and olives; heat until bubbly. Heat enchilada sauce; pour half the sauce into an ungreased shallow 3 quart baking dish.

In small frying pan, heat salad oil about 1/4" deep. Dip tortillas, individually, in hot oil to soften; drain quickly. Place 1/3 cup beef filling on each tortilla; roll to enclose filling. Place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the filled tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

To Serve: Top each serving with sour cream combined with green chili salsa. May garnish with sliced, pitted ripe olives. Serves 4 to 6.

Lynne's note:  I have microwaved and warmed tortillas up in the enchilada sauce in an effort to skip frying.  Both methods lead to fragile tortillas and frustration.  I stick with frying.  How often does one have enchiladas?  I have found frying them all up and draining them allows them to cool off.  Enough so as to not burn my fingers and they stay flexible enough to roll.

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