Saturday, October 24, 2009

"USDA Certified Organic" - What it means...

A few words about what "USDA Certified Organic" really means and you can expect when you see this seal on products (from Delicious Living):

1.) Prohibits the use of GMOs, most conventional pesticides and herbicides, sewage sludge, antibiotics, growth hormones, and irradiation.

2.) Organic producers record procedures and maintain cropland free of prohibited substances for three years before earning the seal, which varies in price based on the certifier.

3.) The seal is permitted on commodities that are 100 percent organic or made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies synthetic substances that may be used and nonsynthetic substances that cannot be used in organic production and handling operations.

4.) For meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs to be USDA Certified Organic, animals must have been fed 100 percent organic feed; never given growth hormones or antibiotics; and not have been routinely confined. Cloned animals or their offspring also cannot qualify for the seal.

5.) You'll see the seal on : Produce, dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, body care products comprised of plant ingredients, wine, and processed or packaged foods.
For more information, click here.

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

DAY 2 - Update on our change to organic

Hi Friends!

Thanks so much for joining me on this new food adventure ~ eating whole, organic foods as much as possible. I added "as much as possible" because I discovered yesterday that finding products that fit that category can be a challenge! We live in a small town, in a rural area. I shop at HEB and Wal Mart. I hit Wally World yesterday and was surprised to find that the organic items were few and far between.

Here's how things are going so far:
1.) During my trip to Wal Mart, I was able to purchase organic milk, crackers, and yogurt.
2.) I ordered a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. We'll be grinding our own beef from here on out.
3.) I signed up with Mambo Sprouts for some great coupons. Also found a couple of blogs, that I've listed below. Also went to Delicious Living for some more coupons!
4.) The kids returned to carrying their own lunches to school starting today. They are grossed out by cafeteria food as much as I am.
5.) Thanks to a local reader, Misty, I checked out www.localharvest.org to investigate sources of locally grown, organic veggies and meats. I'll continue that investigation and share what I learn as time goes on.

I'll go to HEB this weekend looking for organic foods, where I anticipate having a much easier time finding what I'm looking for. The last trip I'll make is to Whole Foods. Whole Foods has fabulous foods and personal items, but they are a full hour's drive from my home.

I love the comments that you've made! Thanks for reading! Here's what Karin said, followed by my reply:

Karin:
"I really like your blog, and I am doing the same for my family. I am anxious to hear what you do. My only concern is that buying organic, etc. is so much more expensive, and I am an extensive coupon-user."

Menu Maker Mom:
While my first hurdle is to FIND the food items in the desired category, the next hurdle is to find COUPONS!!! After all, the organic Stonyfield Farms yogurt I bought yesterday was over $3.00 for a 4-pack at Wal Mart, compared to the ultra low price of Yoplait, when combined with a coupon.

I'll be visiting the following blogs to find the latest and greatest sales and coupon matches for Whole Foods and then decide if it's worth the drive.

MyDallasMommy.com
TheThriftyMama.com
MyBatonRougeMommy.com

We will definitely have some major adjustments to make!!!
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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No, Minnie Mouse Doesn't Live Here


But two tweenagers do! And they love to paint their nails just like Minnie Mouse!

I just love having girls. I'm sure if I had boys I'd say that I love having boys. But, I don't have boys. I have girls. It's cool.
Here's a few things I love about my girls:

My Girls are really silly. Almost always. I like that.
My Girls like to shop. Sometimes. I like that.
My Girls like to cook. Sometimes. I like that too.
My Girls like to talk. Sometimes. I like that.
My Girls like to have their nails done. Sometimes. I like that... sometimes.
My Girls share their emotional side. ALWAYS... I SOMETIMES like that!!!

Yes, having girls is a good thing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

What a busy weekend! Sleepovers, Junior High Dance, Saturday shopping trip, hubby and I went to a dinner/dance, then took the kids for a fun-filled day at Sea World. Glad I’m at work so I can get some rest!

I’ll be cooking a couple of meals from my new favorite cookbook, Southern Living’s “Busy Moms Weeknight Favorites”. I just love all the delicious recipes from this picture-filled cookbook. Everything is super-easy and very quick, while being extremely flavorful and kid-friendly. If you’d like a copy, I’ve got a link to the left.

Our week will start off super-busy, but then will ease up after Wednesday. The girls have volleyball games tonight, then I’m going to see the musical, Rain, on Tuesday (YIPEE!!!), and to wrap it up the girls have the usual showmanship practice followed by CCD on Wednesday. Looks like we have no scheduled activities for the rest of the week! WOW!!!!

I hope you’ve been sticking with me long enough to learn how important your menu planning is. On busy days, if I didn’t have a menu and ingredients, I just wouldn’t be able to get anything on the table and we'd be eating at Dairy Queen!

Here’s the lineup for the week:

Monday – Porky Stew and biscuits, baked apple dumplings

Tuesday – Crocked Polish sausage, white rice, steamed green beans, cookies

Wednesday – Chicken Burritos (from Southern Living’s Busy Moms Weeknight Favorites cookbook), Spanish Rice, Black beans and pinto beans (from cans), ice cream

Thursday – Chicken & Rice Bake, steamed carrots, sliced tomatoes

Friday – BBQ Muffins (from Southern Living), garden salad, corn on the cob, quick apple pie

Saturday – Chicken Paninis (from Southern Living), potato soup, Root Beer floats

Sunday – Pork Loin Chops with Cinnamon Apples, buttered & parsleyed noodles, steamed peas & carrots, warm brownies with ice cream.

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Apples, Apples, Apples! It's an Apple Party!!

Apples sometimes get a bad rap. Didn't the serpent give one to Eve, who gave one to Adam? While we don't know that it was actually an apple, as a child I remember that pictures always showed Eve standing at an apple tree. So unfair. Poor apple tree.
Let's take poor little Snow White, for instance. Wasn't she tricked by that mean 'ole witch, who used an apple as her weapon?
Even the English language has attacked the humble apple. When women have a figure that is somewhat round, aren't they said to have an "apple" shape?
Yes, apples have taken a bad rap. Apples... who have magical qualities. Yes, "magical"! I mean, what other food, when eaten once a day, can keep the doctor away??? What other food is said to represent the American lifestyle: "Baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie".

Fall around much of the country means it's apple-pickin' time! Even here in South Texas, the apples are ready to be picked. My favorite place to visit during the fall is Love Creek Orchards up in Medina, Texas. During the month of October they host a fun Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Celebration that includes a pumpkin patch for the kids, storytellers and other entertainment, pumpkin painting, a petting zoo, hayrides, a hay maze, scarecrow building, TONS of CUTE photo opps for you and your little ones, and of course lots of yummy apple goodies! My favorites are the apple pic (of course) and the apple ice cream. MMM-Good!

If you'd like to check out Love Creek Orchards, click here for more info.

Yes, it's Apple Season! But besides for the daily healthy munch, what else can we do with all those apples? Well here's a list of ideas:

Apple Chip Cake
Apple Dumplings
Applesauce
Fried apples served with Pork Loin
Apple Enchiladas
Apple Ice Cream
Crockpot Apple Butter
Apple Pie Filling (fill the freezer with this stuff for year-round apple pies!!)
Dried apples for snacking or for MYO (make your own) Instant Oatmeal Packets
Apple Vodka
Fresh apple salads
Apple Chutney

The list could go on and on! In fact, click here for even more recipes, ideas, kids coloring pages, and general information about the good 'ole apple!

Do you have any recipes or ideas to add? Please comment with your links!

Since apples are on sale this week at HEB, I'll be posting a few YUMMY recipes. Think I'll include the freezer Apple Pie Filling recipe (use for pie or Enchiladas), instructions for drying apples (and a recipe for the Instant Oatmeal Packets), Apple Vodka recipe, and Apple Ice Cream recipe.

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Menu Maker Mom~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SHROOMS!!!


Does anyone out there know what kind of mushrooms these are??? They just sort of popped up over the last couple of days. They are so weird!




These 'shrooms are huge! I wear a size 7 shoe, and look at how big those fungi are!!!

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The MAKE-A-MENU Summary

Hi Friends,

For those of you who have been using my Make-a-Menu system, and for those of you who are new to the Make-a-Menu way of life, I thought I'd offer up a quick summary. Sometimes having just a few abbreviated steps helps to keep it all in order. You can print this out and hang it on your fridge or put it in the front of your Make-a-Menu Notebook.

By the way, I'll be starting a quick series next week on cooking for the holidays. You can either add this to your Make-a-Menu Binder or you can create a separate binder just for holidays. Hang with me and we will make life in the kitchen easier step-by-step!

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How to Make-a-Menu:

1.) Print out a blank calendar.
2.) Make a list of what everyone in the family likes. Don't guess. Ask them.
3.) Using your calendar, assign a theme to each day of the week. (Mon is soup, Wed is Mexican, etc.)
4.) Using your list of favorites, start filling in your calendar, taking your busy schedule into consideration.
5.) On shopping day, check to see that you have all the ingredients necessary. If not, add them to your shopping list.

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If you'd like to learn more details about the Make-a-Menu Calendar or the Make-a-Menu Notebook, click here. I'll teach you to start saving time in the kitchen and how to save mucho dinero by shopping the loss leaders.

Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


Okay, Okay.... Please forgive me... I'm sorry... I never posted those blasted chicken recipes! My day job really gets in the way of my recipe posting! I just wish I'd win the lottery... Okay... I know... You have to actually play the lottery if you expect to win!!!

Well, I promise to get you some new recipes this week. Really!

In the meantime, here's what we'll be eating around here this week:

Monday - Volleyball Game Day - Venison Chili (Thanks, Deanna, for the venison!!)
Tuesday - Spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad, garlic bread
Wednesday - Enchilada Casserole, green beans, tortillas
Thursday - Chix 'N Dumplin's!
Friday - Stuffed Taters and Salad, lemonade!
Saturday - Mom & Dad are going out!

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Here's a recipe I think you'll enjoy:

Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients:
2 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 (10-3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (10-3/4 oz.) can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (15-oz.) can Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pkg. (12) corn tortillas

1. Brown ground beef and onion.
2. Stir in Enchilada sauce and soups.
3. In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, layer the tortillas, sauce, and cheese. Be sure to start with a thin layer of sauce. Ending with cheese.
4. Bake at 325, covered, for 45 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes longer. Makes 8-10 servings.

** You can make this in two 9 x 9 pans and freeze one for eating later. Just thaw and bake as directed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week we're going healthy at Menu Maker Mom's house. I've started the Flat Belly Diet, or as I'll call it, the FBD, and I'm looking forward to some tasty and healthy MUFAs. "What in the world is a MUFA," you ask? Well, it's monounsaturated fat, but it's more FUN to call it a MUFA! You say it like this: "moo-fah".

I just love saying it. It's so much fun!!...

"MUFA, MUFA, MUFA"

Mufas are yummy, delicious foods like avacados, olives, nuts and seeds. Oils like olive oil and canola oil are also included. These fats are good for you and make foods taste yummy. Two of the principles of the Flat Belly Diet are that you consume one MUFA with each meal and that you consume four 400-calorie meals per day. Cool. I can do that!

I started the FBD this morning, and I'll re-evaluate it in 32 days, which will be on November 5th. Hopefully by then I will have lost at least 15 pounds and be almost near my goal of 25 pounds of weight loss.

I hope you'll follow me over the next few weeks! Be sure to comment with ENCOURAGEMENT, as I will need it. If you want to join me, let me encourage you too! If you want more information about FBD, you can pick up the diet book or cookbook. (I have a link in the "MMM Favorites" section of my sidebar).

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Monday: Marinated and Grilled chicken breasts, steamed green beens, oven-roasted red potatoes (MUFA - olive oil)
Tuesday: Pan-seared tilapia, herbed brown rice, sauteed mushrooms, steamed English peas (MUFA - olive oil)
Wednesday: Leftover/freezer buffet! (Busy night)
Thursday: Grilled herbed salmon in foil packets, sauteed yellow squash and onions, herbed brown rice, yellow corn for kids (MUFA - olive oil)
Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (MUFA - avacado)
Saturday: Out to dinner with hubby and kids (I'll choose wisely!!)
Sunday: Chix n' Dumplin's, Walking Salad

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hard Life Lessons ~ To Everything There is a Purpose

“Mom, why do people take what isn’t theirs?!”, my daughter, who was hurt and feeling disbelief at being robbed, begged me to explain. She continued, “I worked hard to get that phone, and now someone has taken it away. I don’t understand why someone thinks they have to right to steal my stuff!”

Last Monday evening, during both my daughters’ volleyball game, one of their cell phones was stolen. For both my daughters, this was their first experience with the theft and the blatant dishonesty of others. How could I give a good answer to her questions that would make sense out of it all? How could I help her understand that we live in a world that doesn’t always respect the hard work of others? How could I explain that a segment of society believes, “If I want it, I’ll just take it”? And how could I settle my own gnawing disappointment in knowing that bit-by-bit, my daughters’ innocence is being chipped away?

My husband and I had our girls wait until the ripe old age of 12 before they were given the privilege of having the luxury of owning cell phones. They each saved their birthday money and hard-earned report card earnings until they had enough savings to purchase the phones they’d been planning and waiting patiently for. We agreed to purchase the monthly service as their reward for earning awesome grades (all A’s!) and having great behavior. The phones were definitely earned by both hard-working girls!

Work. As parents, we have modeled the value of work, and they have seen us work for what we have. They know that to have something means to work and earn it.

Yes, they earned the phones. Now someone else has robbed them of their earnings, and we feel violated. Yes, the phone is just a material thing, just a belonging. But, it’s OUR material thing, OUR belonging.

We’ve already replaced the phone with another. Unfortunately, the “new” phone isn’t really new. It’s one of our old phones and not the nice touch-screen that she worked so hard to buy. Our daughter has accepted the circumstance, and is moving on, but the sting is still there.

I feel saddened that my daughters experienced this crime. (Yes, it is a crime.) But, since I believe that God has a purpose in everything, I’m grateful for the unfortunate lesson they learned, but saddened to be reminded that we live in a world where these types of lessons are necessary.

My girls learned that in this world, there are those who work and those who take. They learned that material belongings are temporary. They learned that they will have to be wary as they go through life, for while there are many who are good; there are many who are not good.

Finally, they learned what it feels like to be victimized. Fortunately, this knowledge will lead them to have compassion for others who are also dealt with the negative circumstance of being victimized in some way.

It is true that character and virtue are developed through trials. It is true that to everything there is a purpose. And as hard as it is sometimes, we give thanks for everything.

Friday, September 25, 2009

FRUGAL FRIDAY :: Have a list, Check it twice!!

I am a household list maker. My list making is an uncontrollable compulsion, and I just can’t help myself! In fact, that is how Menu Maker Mom got started. After all, a menu, in and of itself, is nothing more than a list of food items, isn’t it? I love lists because they just seem to make decision-making go totally autopilot. Things just seem to “click”. For me, when it comes to managing a busy household, lists create household order, whereas flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants just creates chaos!

What good is a list if you can't find it???
If you’re a list maker like me, or you want to start using a list or two, one of the most important concepts in making your lists work FOR you and not AGAINST you is having a regular place to put each list so each one is easy to access and easy to use. There is nothing more frustrating than having several running copies of the same list or losing a list. That just ADDS stress, not reduces it! If a list is kept hidden in a drawer, it won’t be used and probably will get lost.

Here's how I keep track:
* Menu is on the fridge. I use this daily.
* Camper packing list is in my household notebook. (More about that later!) Only use this one a few times a year.
* Freezer Contents list is on the freezer door. I use this daily.
* Fridge Left-Overs list is on the fridge. I use this daily.
* Grocery & Shopping list is on the fridge door. I use this daily.
* To-Do list is in my planner. I use this daily.
* Cleaning list is in my household notebook. I use this monthly.
* Gift Giving list is in my planner. (I keep a copy in “notes” in my phone too.) I use this
periodically as needed.
* Bill Paying list is in my accordion bill file. I use this list every 2 weeks.
* Budget and Savings list is in my accordion bill file. I use this list every 2 weeks.
* Holiday/Event/Vacation planning lists are in my household notebook. I use this list a
few times a year.
* School list of dates/phone numbers/important information is in my planner. I use
this list periodically as needed.
* Coupon code list. I keep this by the computer and use periodically.

For some my list might seem a little excessive. One might wonder if I actually keep a list of all my lists!! Especially for anyone who is NOT a list maker, my list-making compulsion may seem a little… Well, one might say “over-the-top”. I have a list of those people! ( just kidding! )

Truth is, I can’t imagine life without my lists. Don’t know how I’d get anything done or remember where anything is! I absolutely love my lists. They keep me organized and sane. They keep my house clean, my bills paid, and my family fed; and because they keep my life running smoothly and efficiently, they give me extra time in my day for rest and relaxation!

My list-making compulsion gets even worse...
Know what else I can’t live without when it comes to staying organized? Notebooks! I love notebooks almost as much as I love lists. In fact, I put some of my lists in notebooks! I'm sure you'd loooove to hear more about my notebooks, and I would be thrilled to tell you more..., but that’s not on my list for today!

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Menu Maker Mom~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

HAM PLAN #2

It's time for another set of batch recipes to add to our Make-a-Menu Calendar. Are you starting to get the hang of this added dimension to your cooking? The Make-a-Menu recipes are not meant to fill in every single night of your food prep. Rather they are a way to save time and money by using what's on sale and fill in the calendar on those extra busy nights.

There's still room for pizza and hamburgers and your special recipes that your family loves. Don't forget ~ the foundation of the Make-a-Menu system is first discovering what your family's favorite meals are!

We're going to add some yummies to the list of family favorites with the following savory meals all based on ham. If these meals don't appeal to you, don't forget to check out my other Ham Plan, where you'll find another set of recipes.

Today's recipes include:
Cheesy Ham N' Mac Casserole
Ham Manicotti
Amazing Ham Pie

Of course, before you make any of these, you'll need to purchase a ham! After you serve your family the yummy ham, slice up the leftovers. You'll have plenty to dice for these recipes. If you have extras left over, freeze the ham in 2-cup portions in quart-size freezer bags.

Don't forget that ham is on sale this week at HEB. When you head out to the store, don't forget to include all the ingredients you'll need for the cooking session.

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Recipes:
16 oz. Macaroni or rotini
14 manicotti noodles
½ onion
2 cloves garlic
½ green bell pepper (finely diced
¼ red bell pepper (finely diced
¼ cup olive oil
5 cup ham, diced
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cup milk
3-1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cup shredded swiss cheese
½ cup Bisquick or baking mix
10-oz. Bag frozen chopped broccoli

Serving Day:
1 cup milk
3 eggs
½ cup dried bread crumbs mixed with 2 Tbsp. Melted butter

Extras:
13”x9” casserole OR two 8”x8” casseroles
Gallon, quart, pint freezer bags
Snack baggies
Saran
Foil

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STEP 1
Get out 2 pots and fill each with water, ½ tsp salt, and 1 tsp olive oil. Bring to boil. Boil macaroni in one and manicotti in the other. Boil until they are just tender, not finished, and not mushy. Don’t walk away or start watching your favorite tv show. DON’T OVERCOOK!!! When done, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Lay the manicotti noodles on wax paper or foil without having them touch each other so they don’t stick.

STEP 2
Get out a large saucepan and heat on medium. Open the cans of cheese soup and pour in the pan. Add 2 cups of milk. Bring to a simmer. Add 2 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese. Remove from heat.

STEP 3 – HAM N’ MAC CASSEROLE
In a large bowl, mix macaroni, 1-1/2 cups ham, and 1-1/2 cups cheese sauce. Pour into a gallon-size freezer bag. Label well, including the instructions, “thaw, pour into a greased casserole dish, bake at 350 for 20 minutes”. MMM!! Simple and yummy!

STEP 4 –MANICOTTI
Get out a saute pan. Heat the pan, then add ¼ cup olive oil. Saute ½ cup onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 green bell pepper (finely diced), and ¼ red bell pepper (finely diced) until soft. Remove from heat then add 2 cups diced ham and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Add ¼ cup cheese sauce from Step 2.

Get out a 13”x9” casserole pan or two 8”x8” casseroles. Put ½ cup sauce on the bottom. Spread it around. Get a spoon and a manicotti noodle, and start filling the noodles with the ham mix from Step 3. Fill them up completely! Lay them flat in the casserole dish, one at a time, as you fill each one. If you have extra meat mix, just tuck it in here and there. When you’re done, cover the manicotti with sauce and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Cover well with saran wrap and foil. Freeze. Add the dish to your Make-a-Menu Calendar.

STEP 5 – ASSEMBLE THE AMAZING HAM PIE KIT
Make the Impossible Ham Pie Kit by doing the following:
*Seal 1-1/2 cups diced ham in a 1-quart freezer bag.
*Seal 1-1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese in a 1-quart freezer bag.
*Seal ½ cup Bisquick or other baking mix and ½ tsp. Pepper in a snack-size bag.
*Make another Bisquick baggie, but include ¼ cup parmesan cheese and ½ tsp. Garlic powder. *Label bag as “topping”.
*Place one 10-oz. Package chopped broccoli and the bags of ham, cheese, and baking mix into a one-gallon freezer bag that you’ve labeled “Impossible Ham Pie Kit”.

Yep, that’s a lot of baggies, but it’s going to make cooking soooo easy! You might even consider setting up 2 of these bags. (Just be sure to add the ingredients to the Make-a-Menu ingredient list for this recipe.)

Print out the following recipe and place in the gallon freezer bag too!:
“Grease one pie plate. Preheat oven to 400. Dump ham, cheese, and baking mix into pie plate, mixing well. Add 3 eggs and 1 cup milk, mixing well. Mix topping ingredients with 2 tsp. Melted butter and crumble on top of pie. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.”

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Have fun cooking!!!

Menu Maker Mom~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the Way"....

You must think I’ve completely lost my mind! Why, it’s not even October yet, and Menu Maker Mom is singing Christmas Carols?!?!

Well, I’m just trying to get your attention because CHRISTMAS IS JUST 94 DAYS AWAY!!! Yep, Advent starts in only 68 days!!!

As a busy working wife and mother with busy kids, I know how important it is to stay organized, especially with approaching holidays. There’s so much to do: shopping, cleaning, cooking, attending plays and parties, wrapping, decorating... It’s just a flurry of activity and it seems like it’s just a blur from Halloween until New Years!!!

To help out, I’ve found some great online planners on the web that can help a busy mom like you and me stay calm, organized, and with our budgets. Grab a cup of joe and sit for a while and check these out:

OrganizedChristmas.com – This great site from the writers of OrganizedHome.com includes organizing articles, 2 organized plans called “Christmas Countdown” and “Holiday Grand Plan”, and you’ll also find a free printable Christmas Planner. The Holiday Grand Plan has already begun, and the Christmas Countdown is a 6-week program that hasn’t yet started. Go to OrganizedChristmas.com to register for either. It’s free!! By the way – this planner is cool because it includes a Bible study. “Jesus is the reason for the season!”

Celebrating-Christmas.com – What a fun site full of recipes, party planning tips, crafts, and free checklists. Visit Celebrating-Christmas.com to download their free “Celebrating Christmas Magazine 2008”. While you're there, don't forget to visit their other sites, including Celebrating-Halloween.com!

ChristmasOrganizing.com – This is the place to join a Yahoo discussion group where you'll learn from others and share with others. The authors also have a great organizing plan called the “Christmas Organizing Express.” Don’t forget to check out the easy tips for setting up an organizing center, the gift giving ideas and coloring pages too!

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies... Stuffin' Tummies.


Monday, September 21, 2009

WHAT'S ON YOUR FRIDGE?

This is my fridge - the freezer section, that is. Sorry the pic is so poor ~ I took it with my cell phone's camera.

There are three very important items on my fridge that help this family stay organized. The white papers in the upper left-hand corner are a pad of grocery lists. Using Word, I made a grocery list with four columns. It includes all the items that we normally need, and a few lines for adding items that aren't quite so regular. The list is broken out into the same sections as you would find in the grocery store, for example, "frozen foods", "produce", "meat", "canned goods", etc. It's so easy to check off any item as I run low or run out. I don't have to remember anything! Finally, this list keeps me sane when I get to the store, as I know I won't forget anything before leaving any particular department. No more running back and forth across the store, or showing up at home without this or that.

In the middle of the fridge I have a pen cup that's magnetized. It's meant for school lockers and it's so cool! I found it at Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, a dollar! Love it!

On the right side is the calendar. Mine is simple. Got it from the church and it hilights a different saint each month. It has all the holy days listed, which is nice for my family. The squares are uncluttered, so it's easy to see any notes that I have made.

Of course, I have a few photos of my favorite people. I love looking at them each time I check out the list or the calendar!

So what's your fridge like? What keeps you organized?

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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin’ Yummies. Stuffin’ Tummies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY

Sigh. Sniffle, sniffle. The weekend is over. It was waaayyy too fast. I loved every minute of it, and now I'm sad to see it end. Why do Saturday and Sunday seem to fling by at lightening speed while Monday and Tuesday just tick by so slowly???

Please stand by while I pout for just one more moment.... Sigh. Sniffle, sniffle, pout.

Now that I've gotten all that whining out of my system, it's time to get on to the business of planning for another awesome day and another week of opportunities to enjoy life! First item on my agenda is to make sure I have my family fed and happy. On that note, here is my menu.

Sunday - FFA Barbeque lunch/dinner
Monday - Chicken Quesadillas & Tortilla Soup
Tuesday - Arroz Con Pollo & Green Salad
Wednesday - Pork Carne Guisada, Salad, and Tortillas
Thursday - Wine and Herb Chicken, Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, St
Friday - Salmon Pattties, Betty Crocker boxed potatoes, Caesar Salad
Saturday - Chicken Nachos (movie & game night!)

If you'd like more ideas for your menu planning, please visit http://orgjunkie.com/
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Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin’ Yummies. Stuffin’ Tummies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Frugal Friday - My Top-Ten for the Weekend...

I love it when Frugal Friday is also PAYDAY! "Kaching!!!" Ahhhh – the joy that comes from working… the wonderful "paycheck". Of course, most of mine is gone the minute it hits the bank, but I make sure there’s enough left for frugal necessities and even some frugal frivolousness!

So, what kinds of frugal happenings will be going on around the Menu Maker Mom home this weekend, you ask? Well, here’s my weekend to-do list:

1. Take my girls to Dairy Queen for Blizzards! I’ll use $1.00 Off One Blizzard coupons that I got at http://www.blizzardfanclub.com/ Check it out and get your coupons!

2. Grocery shop at HEB, Super S, and Walgreen’s – I spent last evening planning and plotting. My coupons are clipped, my list is made, and I’m set to go!

3. Dig up weeds & plants in front shrubbery beds. Seems that with our rain blessing, the weeds have gone totally bonkers! After everything is cleaned up, I’ll start collecting bricks, mulch, and plants to create a new shrubbery/annual bed. I’m planning to plant annual mums, Mexican heather, a Mexican Bird of Paradise, and some other small shrub (haven’t decided which one just yet ~ probably Yaupon). I’ll post pics of the process!

4. Head out to find a steal or two at Beall’s. They are having a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale on shoes, among other things. Lucky for me, as I need new tennies in a bad way, plus I need new shoes for work. I’ll head out with my 25% off one-item coupons to bring the price way down! (You can get your coupon by scrolling through the coupons located on the left side of this page!)

5. Color my hair… Yes, I admit it. When it comes to my hair, I am NOT saving the earth by going green... No, I am not "au natural"... Yes, I admit it, and the scathing truth is out! The "silver" lining is, of course, that that I'll lose the salt and save the pepper with a coupon!

6. Clean my house. The most frugal decorating tip out there is to just keep it clean!

7. Decorate my house for fall. Once the cleaning is done, I’ll bring out the boxes and spiffy up the place. I just love Fall!!! I’ll post some pics when I’m done!

8. Post the menu. Enough said.

9. It’s time for our annual FFA BBQ Fundraiser. That means I’ll be helping out with potatoes and beans on Saturday, and serving after church on Sunday. We’ll work hard, but have lots of fun!

10. Do a little cookin’ ahead. I’ll be assembling the chicken meals and stuffin’ the freezer tonight. I’ll also whip up some freezer biscuits (recipe to follow) and taco seasoning for the pantry.

Looks to be a busy and enjoyable weekend at the MMM Household. What are your plans? Send me an email or post a comment so we can share!

Have a wonderful, blessed weekend…. And don’t forget to GIGGLE!!!


Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin’ Yummies. Stuffin’ Tummies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

STUFF THE FREEZER CHICKEN RECIPE

Chicken's on sale at HEB. Time to stuff the freezer! Here's what's on the Menu:

Wine and Herb Chicken
Cheesy Taco Chicken
Lemon-Lime Spicy Chicken
Louisiana Chicken

Let's get started! You'll need to have on hand:

3 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. Orange juice frozen concentrate
2 T. fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, sliced thinly
¼ c. chopped onion
½ cup slice green bell pepper
¼ c. chopped celery
3 clove garlic, minced
4 T fresh parsley, minced
1 (14 oz.) canned whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
1 (12 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes and chilies, chopped
1 (12 oz.) can Campbells Cheddar Cheese Soup
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Red wine vinegar
1½ tsp. Dried basil
3 T. Chili Powder
3 T. Paprika
1 tsp. Cayenne
¼ tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Thyme
1-1/4 tsp salt
½ tsp. Lemon pepper
1 tsp pepper
¼ tsp Tobasco sauce
1 c. white wine
6 lbs chicken pieces

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STEP 1:
Label 4 gallon-size freezer bags as follows:
Wine and Herb Chicken
Cheesy Taco Chicken
Lemon-Lime Spicy Chicken
Louisiana Chicken

STEP 2:
Set up the bags:
1. Set up the 4 gallon-size freezer bags so they are standing upright. It might help to set them in bowls.
2. Divide the chicken in to the 4 bags equally.

STEP 3:
Stuff the bags:
1. In the bag labeled, “Wine and Herb Chicken”, add the following, then seal:
1 cup white wine, 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ sliced lemon, 2 tbsp. Parsley, 1 tsp. Thyme, 1 tsp. Basil, ½ tsp. Salt, ¼ tsp. Pepper.

2. In the bag labeled, “Cheesy Taco Chicken”, add the following, then seal:
1 can Rotel, 1 can Cheese Soup, ¼ tsp. Cumin, 1 Tbsp. Chili powder, ½ Tbsp. Paprika.

3. In the bag labeled, “Lemon-Lime Spicy Chicken”, add the following, then seal:
2 tbsp. Olive oil, 2 tbsp. Fresh lime juice, 2 Tbsp. Frozen orange juice concentrate, 2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. Chili powder, 1 Tbsp. Paprika, ½ tsp. Cayenne, ½ tsp. Pepper, ½ tsp. Lemon pepper, ½ tsp. Salt

4. In the bag labeled, “Louisiana Chicken”, add the following, then seal:
1 Tbsp. Olive oil, ¼ cup chopped onion, ½ sliced green pepper, ¼ cup chopped celery, 1 clove mined garlic, 1 can whole tomatoes (chopped), 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp. Red wine vinegar, ½ tsp. Dried basil, 2 Tbsp. Fresh parsley, ¼ tsp. Pepper, ¼ tsp. Tobasco sauce.

STEP 4:
Lay them all flat on a cookie sheet and stick it in them in the freezer!

STEP 5:
Add the 4 meals to your Menu Calendar.


STEP 6: COOK & EAT!!!
On cooking day, take out your frozen meal, thaw it, then stick in a crockpot on low for 6 – 8 hours. You can also bake in a casserole dish that you’ve sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until juices from chicken run clear.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: (Be sure to add these extras to your shopping list so you have everything you need on hand for serving day!)

Wine and Herb Chicken – fresh steamed green beans, wild rice mix
Cheesy Taco Chicken – chopped lettuce and tomatoes, tortillas, guacamole, beans
Lemon-Lime Spicy Chicken – white rice, steamed broccoli
Louisiana Chicken – Cajun rice (look for Zatarain’s or Tony Chachere’s mixes), green salad.

Menu Maker Mom’s MAKE-A-MENU Meals~
MAKIN’ YUMMIES. STUFFIN’ TUMMIES.

Friday, September 4, 2009

FABULOUS FRUGAL FRIDAY

Being Frugal is Fabulous! I always give a High Five to the Good Lord for leading me down this path. This path has led me to meet so many wonderful people with so many awesome ideas for making life easier and saving our hard-earned dollars. If you're just tuning in to this blog, please introduce yourself so I can add you to my list of friends!

That being said, I hope we can put our heads together and start sharing some tried-and-true frugal tips and ideas. Oh, what the heck... Let's share the NOT tried-and-true too! Feel free to post your comments with ideas and links!

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Make-Your-Own Breadcrumbs

Why buy packaged breadcrumbs when you have the ingredients right there in your kitchen??? I always keep a stash of breadcrumbs in my freezer, and I NEVER buy breadcrumbs in the canister.

It's simple... When you have left over bread loaf heels, crackers, rolls, tortillas, hamburger or hotdog buns, biscuits, etc., just set them aside and let them dry a bit. Once they are dry, run them through the food processor or blender. Put the crumbs into a shallow baking pan (I use the bottom of the broiler pan) and lightly toast them by setting in a low oven (250) for about an hour.

Seasonings can be added as needed. I store the bread crumbs in a 1-gallon plastic ice cream container, but they could be kept in any freezer bag, a cleaned out coffee can, a jar, or some other plastic container.

So easy, so inexpensive, so waste-free.

Being Frugal is Fabulous!

Ground Beef's on Sale... MAKE-A-MENU HAMBURGER PLAN

Hi there, my Menu-Makin' Friends! If you've followed this blog long enough, you've learned that the best way to save money and plan your menu is to prepare and freeze a few recipes at a time, using common ingredients that are on sale. With that in mind, it’s time to fill the freezer with new Make-a-Menu Meals! As always, these are simple everyday-type meals that all your peeps will love. They will sing for joy when you serve MMM-Good Hamburgers, Italian meatballs, MMM’s Meatloaf, or Porcupine Eggs!

This week’s menu uses ground beef, which is on sale this week at HEB for $1.99/lb. Of course, if you’d like to fill your freezer with even more beef recipes for even more savings, be sure and click on the “Beef Plan” link on the left sidebar. This entire batch cooking session should cost you just about $20.00. That's only $5.00 per meal for a family of 4!!

Here’s a couple of quick reminders:
1. Don’t forget to add your recipes to your menu as soon as they go in the freezer!
2. Add any items that will complete your meal to your shopping list BEFORE your week starts. For example, on the week that you serve meatloaf, you might want to include green beans, mashed potatoes, and rolls. Be sure to add these items to BOTH your menu AND your shopping list. When you serve Italian Meatballs, you might need rolls if you are making meatball subs; or you might need spaghetti noodles if you are serving spaghetti and meatballs.
3. Check out my Make-a-Menu resources and instructions on the left sidebar if you need a refresher on how

Let’s get cookin’... Here's the lineup:
MMM-Good Hamburgers
Italian Meatballs
MMM's Meatloaf
Porcupine Eggs


**All recipes serve 4**
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INGREDIENTS

7 lb. Ground Beef
2 packets Onion Soup Mix
1 packet Beef Gravy Mix
4 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
½ c. Bread Crumbs (I keep a stash of make-your-own in my freezer)
½ c. White Rice
1 c. Onion, minced (about 1 medium onion)
2 tsp. Salt
1-3/4 tsp. Pepper
3 Eggs
32 oz. (2 cup) Spaghetti Sauce
15 oz. Can Beef Consommé
1 c. Water
½ tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ tsp. Garlic Salt
2 tsp. Basil, dried
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/3 c. ketchup
1/3 c. BBQ Sauce
2/3 c. Quick Oats

***************************************
Other Supplies:
2 Gallon Freezer Bags, 2 Quart Freezer Bags, Wax paper or Fold-over type sandwich bags, Aluminum Foil

***************************************
Step #1 - Make the MEATBALLS

Mix the following and form into 2” balls, then bake at 250 for 20-30 minutes. Cool and freeze in a gallon-size freezer bag.
2 pounds ground beef
½ cup onion
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Garlic salt
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Egg
**Reserve 24-ounce can Spaghetti sauce OR 1-1/2 to 2 cups homemade spaghetti sauce for serving day

To serve, thaw in the refrigerator then cover with one 24-ounce can spaghetti sauce (or 1-1/2 to 2 cups homemade) and simmer. See "Serving Ideas" at the end of this article.

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Step #2 - Make the MMM-GOOD HAMBURGER PATTIES

Mix 2 pounds ground beef with 1 packet onion soup mix, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup bread crumbs. Form into 8-10 patties. Place patties into fold-over type sandwich bags or separate by wax paper or foil. Freeze in a gallon-size freezer bag.

To serve, thaw first, then grill, broil, or pan fry. Serve on hamburger buns with all the fixin's and fries or corn on the cob, or with onions and gravy and mashed potatoes. MMM-Good!

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Step #3 - Make the PORCUPINE EGGS

In a large bowl, mix the following and form into 8 balls. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and fry the meatballs, or bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool, place into a quart-size freezer bag. Freeze.

1 pound ground beef
½ cup rice
½ cup minced onion
1 tsp. Salt; ½ tsp pepper
1 egg
½ cup spaghetti sauce (freeze the other ½ cup until the day you serve this)

To serve, thaw the meatballs. Place in a casserole dish or crockpot. Add ½ cup spaghetti sauce, 1 15-ounce can of beef consomm√©, 1 cup water, and 1 packet beef gravy mix. Bake 40 minutes at 350 or cook 4 hours on low in the crockpot.

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Step #4 - Make MMM’S MEATLOAF

In a large bowl, mix the following ingredients. Dump the whole mess into an aluminum foil lined loaf pan and press down into a loaf-shape. Freeze until almost hard. Remove from the pan, wrap with more foil, and freeze in a gallon-size freezer bag.

2 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 packet onion soup mix
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup bbq sauce
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup quick oats
1 tsp. Pepper

To serve, thaw in the fridge. Place back in the loaf pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

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Serving Ideas:

1. Italian Meatballs are great in soups and stews. They can be used on sub sandwiches and of course, served with spaghetti sauce and spaghetti noodles. They are also superb when sliced in half and placed on homemade pizza!
2. MMM's Meatloaf leftovers make great panini sandwiches!! Leftovers can be crumbled and served over egg noodles for a great dinner too!
3. MMM-Good Hamburgers can be served on buns with all the fixins' along with french fries or corn on the cob (ON SALE THIS WEEK AT HEB), or they can be pan fried and smothered with onions, mushrooms, and gravy then served with a side order of mashed potatoes with peas and carrots.
4. Serve the Porcupine Eggs over a small portion of rice, along with steamed green beans (I love the steamer packs. Check out this coupon and pick some up this week!)

********************************

MMM GOOD!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY


Hi Friends! I'm so sorry to have been away for so long, but my family has been enjoying Spring Break. We loaded up the kids in the RV and took off for the lake. We had a great time doing a whole lot of nothing! Getting back to work was hard. I just love Spring Break! But all good things have both a beginning and an ending, and now I'm back at work... Sigh....

Have many of you heard of BeCentsAble? Be CentsAble is a company I work with in terms of sharing the awesome savings that the humble little coupon can provide. Be CentsAble also is a great place to visit to find the latest deals at your local grocery stores. Over the last 4 weeks, I've been writing a series on the Menu Maker Mom Make-A-Menu System. Stop by here to read what I've been writing! (And don't forget to visit the Grocery Gathering, where you can find the latest deals and printable coupons!)

With all the hustle and bustle of work, blogging, sports, kids, and animals, I always thank God for my Menu!!!! Here's what we're eating at my house this week:

Monday:
Pork Tacos (country pork ribs baked with paprika, chili powder, onion, garlic, cumin, seasoned salt, pepper, tomatoes; then shredded and used to fill corn tortillas along with lettuce, tomato, and avacado.... YUMMM!!), Spanish Rice, Salad, Strawberry Shortcake for dessert

Tuesday:
Orange Sticky Chicken (CROCKPOT - recipe to follow), Steamed Green Beans, Buttery Rice

Wednesday:
Frijoles (beans - CROCKPOT) and Texas Cornbread, ice cream for dessert

Thursday:
Salisbury Steaks (from the freezer!), Cheesy Potatoes (recipe to follow), English Peas

Friday:
Go out to dinner - Fried catfish & all the fixin's

Saturday:
Little League Opening Day - Hot Dogs, Fries, Carrot Chips

Sunday:
Carnitas (recipe to follow!), Refried Beans, Fideo (recipe to follow), Salad
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING RECIPES:
Orange Sticky Chicken (crockpot)
Cheesy Potatoes (stuff the freezer with bargain priced potatoes!)
Pork Carnitas
Fideo

Thursday, March 12, 2009

CORN and SAUSAGE CHOWDER :: YUMMY ON A COLD DAY!!

This Corn and Sausage Chowder will warm you up on a cold day! It's savory, yet fresh and will fill up hungry tummies for just a few pennies! You can pick up the sausage and canned creamed corn on sale at Super S this week. See my Super S Deals listing for more info on how you can save! After you get your groceries, don't forget to add this dish to your Make-A-Menu Calendar.

1 16-oz. package smoked sausage
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, grated
2-3 celery ribs, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
salt and pepper to taste
1 15-oz. can cream-style corn
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. olive oil
shredded cheese for garnish

1. Slice sausage thinly and fry in a large saucepan. Remove sausage to a paper-towel lined plate or bowl.

2. Heat olive oil, then saute potatoes, grated onion, and diced celery. Add water or chicken broth, the cooked sausage, salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are soft.

3. Add can of cream corn and 1 cup milk. Cook until heated through.

4. Serve and garnish with shredded cheese.

5. Finish a bowl, then rub your belly. Mmm, mmm, mmm!!!!
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Stay tuned for tomorrow's Bargain Meal of the Week using HEB sale items. You'll love my newest dump-in-a-freezer bag recipes:
Parsely Parmesan Chix
Grilled Herbalicious Chix
Orange Sticky Chix
(By the way, I'm a lazy typist, so my new word for "chicken" is "chix". I love it!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

WATCH ME ON TV TOMORROW MORNING!

Hi friends,

Tomorrow's a big day for Menu Maker Mom... It's my official television debut!! Here's your invitation to see li'l ole me, yours truly, Menu Maker Mom, on TV! I'll be talking about coupons (our favorite subject, huh??) on the San Antonio Living news program. Here's the details:

Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Channel: WOAI, Channel 4

Please tune in!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

BARGAIN MEAL OF THE WEEK!

On Sale at HEB this week: Pork for Carnitas at $1.49/lb. I can't wait to make Carnitas and serve on Homemade Tortillas!

2 lb. Pork for Carnitas, cut in cubes - $3.00 (or use pork butt, shoulder roast, country pork ribs, etc.)
3 garlic cloaves, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup orange juice - .25
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp chili powder
~~~~~~~~~~~
1 avacado - $1.00
2 tomatoes - .50
Shredded lettuce for tacos - $1.00
Picante sauce to taste
Homemade tortillas (storebought will do too! If you use storebought, try using corn!)

STEP #1: Dump the pork, garlic, orange juice, water, salt, pepper, oregano, and chili powder in the crockpot. Cook on low at least 7 hours.

STEP #2: Drain the pork, put into a shallow pan, sprinkle with a little of the broth, and bake at 350 until browned and crispy on edges.

STEP #3: Spoon pork into tortillas, top with chopped avacado, lettuce, tomatoes, and picante sauce.

This is so good, it will make you cry. Yes, I said you will cry.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

BARGAIN MEAL OF THE WEEK!

Guess what's on sale this week? CATFISH! Just in time for lenten "fish on Friday" meals! Head out to Super S to pick up the following ingredients so that you can put fish on your menu for the next 2 weeks!

These recipes don't get prepped and put in the freezer this time. You'll have to actually cook them on the day you serve them. That's okay! You'll love the results and nothing is complicated!

Some ingredients have prices that I've actually researched, and some are best-that-I-can-do estimates. (It's hard to estimate the cost of a 1/2 tsp. of pepper!)

Here's our lineup of meals: Cajun Fried Catfish PoBoys and Southwestern Fish Tacos. (kids might not go for the last recipe, so have some fish sticks on hand for them!)

For 4 servings at each meal, make sure you have the following on hand:

2 lbs. Catfish ($1.27/lb. at Super S)
2 tsp. Cajun or Creole Seasoning (.99/ea for Zatarain's 8 oz. at Super S)
2 tsp. seasoned salt (.99 at Dollar General)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (.10)
2 tbsp. milk (.20)
Olive oil for pan frying + 1/3 cup (.50)
4 Kaiser rolls ($1.50)
Sliced pickles (.20)
Lettuce (.50)
4 tomato ($1.00)
4 tbsp. tartar sauce (.80)
1/4 c. cider vinegar (.20)
1/4 c. vegetable (canola) oil + 4 tbsp. (.20)
cooking spray
1/4 head green cabbage ($1.00) (save the rest for next set of recipes!)
5 tbsp. lime juice (.50)
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (.10)
1 avacado, peeled and pit removed ($1.00)
1 clove garlic (.10)
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro (.50)
1/4 red onion, finely chopped (.30)
8 tortillas (1.20)

SHOPPING DAY:
When you get home from the grocery store, separate the 2 lbs. of catfish into 2 freezer bags. Seal well. Freeze. Add both meals to your MENU.

COOKING DAY #1 - Southwestern Fish Tacos:
1) Shred 1/4 head of cabbage. Put into a large bowl and mix together the cabbage, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. seasoned salt. Refrigerate.
2) Chop jalapeno. Chop 1 pound of fish into 2 x 2 cubes. Place fish in a bowl. Top with mixture of 3 tbsp. lime juice and half the chopped jalepeno, seasoned salt, and 1/3 cup olive oil.
3) In a food processor or blender, combine the avacado, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 chopped jalepeno, 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt, 2 tbsp. lime juice, 2 tbsp. canola oil, and 1/4 cup water. Put in a serving bowl and chill.
4) Chop 1-1/2 tomatoes and put in a serving bowl.
5) Drain fish. Heat a skillet over medium-high. Cook fish, stirring often, until done. Transfer to a serving bowl.
6) Heat tortillas.
7) To eat, place spoonfuls of fish down center of a tortilla. Sprinkle with onion, tomatoes, cilantro, cabbage, and avacado sauce. YUMMM!!!!

COOKING DAY #2 - Cajun Fried Catfish PoBoys:
1) Slice 1 pound catfish into 2-1/2" strips. Place pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. milk and allow to set for 15 minutes.
2) In a flat casserole dish, mix together 1/4 cup cornmeal, 2 tsp. cajun seasoning, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper.
3) Dredge catfish pieces in the cornmeal mix.
4) Heat a skillet over med-high. Add some olive oil (enough to pan fry). Pan fry fish until done, about 3 minutes per side.
5) Toast 4 kaiser rolls. Slice 1 tomato, a few red onion slices, and some lettuce.
6) Coat toasted sides of Kaiser rolls with tartar sauce. Sandwich fried fish, pickle slices, tomato slices, red onion slices, and lettuce between the top and bottom buns. YUMMM!!!
(Great served with potato chips, onion rings, or fries!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY

Monday: Chili with cornbread.
Tuesday: Salisbury Steak with gravy and egg noodles, boiled English peas
Wednesday: Grilled sausage, pan-fried potatoes with green beans
Thursday: Chicken-stuffed shells, salad
Friday: Mama's Mac-n-Cheese, salad
Saturday: Pizza at the local pizza joint! (Youth Group Night)
Sunday: BBQ Ribs, baked potatoes with all the fixin's, garden salad




Monday, February 9, 2009

MENU PLAN MONDAY

It was a fun and busy weekend for our family. We headed out to the San Antonio Rodeo! We enjoyed festival food (gorditas, fajita tacos, funnel cake, foot-long corndogs, pizza, and general JUNK FOOD!), riding rides at the carnival, shopping in the marketplace, checking out the steers, horses and goats, and watching the buckin' broncos and bull riders! The evening ended with a concert by Alan Jackson! What an awesome evening!

When I have time, I'll put some pics on this blog!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's the menu for the week. I'm just posting dinners this time:

Monday: Almost Famous Chicken Patties (we didn't get around to making them last week), mashed potatoes, green peas, tea, and devils food cupcakes (thanks Grandma!)

Tuesday: Smorgasborg Night! (Eat up the leftovers!)

Wednesday: Tex Mex Chalupas, fruit salad, lemonade

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Kabobs, Salad, Baked potatoes, iced tea

Friday: Grilled Hamburgers with the works, potato chips, soda

Saturday: Valentine dinner at a restaraunt!

For more menu ideas, go to Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, February 2, 2009

PAY IT FORWARD, MAMA!

I have been tagged with a gift from my good friend Deanna. This is awesome! She sent me a text the other day saying that she had a surprise for me. Seems that she had received an awesome coupon for Dave Ramsey products and decided to PAY IT FORWARD. Look what showed up today:




Whoo Hoo!!!!


Also, a huge thanks goes out to 2 people. First off there's Lisa who sent me a message saying how much money she is saving now that she is being strategic with her coupons and POWER SHOPPING! (I am so proud of you, LISA!!) She also sent this nice little coupon for Scotch Brite Nail Saver Scrubbers by the 3M company. I didn't realize that 3M is located in Del Rio, Texas. Cool! Here's the link:

Scotch Brite Ultra Nail Saver


The next person I'm so grateful to have met is Barbara. Barbara emailed me requesting information about upcoming Power Shopping workshops. She also told me her story. You see, Barbara became suddenly single, with 3 wonderful children to raise, a couple of years ago. As money got tighter and tighter, she discovered coupons. Because of the help of others and the savings she found with couponing, she was able to SAVE HER HOME! She is now an AWESOME Power Shopper and is PAYING IT FORWARD by helping her coworkers and friends. Barbara is super busy, but still found it in her heart to offer to help ME, a total stranger, with my endeavors. She's got a huge heart.


These little scraps of paper... They mean so much more than $.45/1.


They really are Fishes and Loaves!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

MAKE-A-MENU END-OF-MONTH TASKS

"Like sands through the hourglass.... Those were the days of our lives..." As I think about how fast the month flew by, this phrase comes to mind!
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It's time to close out the month in the kitchen. Here's your end-of-month task list:

1. File your old menu away in your Make-a-Menu Binder, or at least make a couple of notes regarding what worked or didn't work before you throw it in the trash.

2. Place your new menu in the special place just for menus. Mine is on the fridge.

3. Take note of frozen meals, meats, cheeses, etc. that are in your freezer.

4. Inventory your pantry for supplies that you'll need this month. Are you running low on flour, sugar, coffee, etc? How about canned tomatoes, canned soup, etc? Do you have a surplus of any items that need to be used in recipes? Taking inventory now will save you money down the road.
5. Inventory your supply of foil, wax paper, ziplock bags, etc.

6. Don't forget to take a look at your paper products as well. How are you doing on paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper?
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Inventory notes:

I keep a check-off form type of grocery list on my fridge. As I inventory, I mark on the list the items that I will need.

If I find I have a good supply of any particular item in my freezer, fridge, or pantry, I make a note of it in my Make-a-Menu Binder. I'll use this list when planning my menu.
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Have a great week!!
~Menu Maker MOm

Thursday, January 29, 2009

MAKE-A-MENU :: Meatballs, Lasagna, Chili, Salisbury Steak, and Hamburgers

Hamburger is on sale for $1.99/lb this week at HEB. Stock up on enough to make these five recipes and you will fill your freezer on the cheap. You'll end up with 7 meals to add to your menu calendar! Three of them are even crock pot meals!

Here's the lineup:

Italian Meatballs, serve w/ spaghetti and marinara (you'll make 2 meals worth of meatballs)
No-Cook Lasagna (9 x 13 pan)
Salisbury Steak (8-10 patties make you 2 meals)
Chili - use the McCormick Chili Mix on sale this week at HEB
4-5 Hamburger patties for the grill

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Ingredients:

2-1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cup bread crumbs (+ ext if you put it in your burgers)
1/8 cup salt
2 pkgs brown gravy mix
12 ounce monzerella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
15-oz. ricotta cheese
1/8 cup worcestershire sauce
3 eggs
7 pounds ground beef
1 can pinto or red beans, or 2 cups cooked beans
1/2 pound italian sausage, fried (optional)
12 lasagna noodles
8 cups spaghetti sauce (or 3 jars)
32 ounces spaghetti
1 onion
1 packet Onion Soup Mix
1/8 cup each: Basil, garlic powder, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, pepper
1/4 cup parsley, dried
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pkg. Chili Mix
WINE - for the cook... hee, hee!!

********************************************
Other Supplies:

Gallon Freezer Bags - 2
Pint Freezer Bags - 2
Quart Freezer Bags - 3
Wax paper

********************************************
STEP #1:

1. Brown 2 pounds ground beef with 1 cup finely chopped onion. (You can grate onion finely. The little ones won't know it's there!)

2. Fry the Italian sausage.

3. Label pint-size freezer bag with "lasagna". Measure half the browned ground beef and put it in the bag, along with the Italian sausage. Freeze. Write "Lasagna" on your calendar.

4. Label pint-size freezer bag with "chili". Put the other half of browned ground beef in the bag. Freeze. Write "Chili" on your menu calendar.

5. Use 1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground beef to make 4 or 5 hamburger patties, using your favorite spices. (Adding breadcrumbs or ground crackers stretches the amount of beef!) Label a quart-size freezer bag "hamburger patties". Stack the hamburger patties, separating each with wax paper, then stick inside the bag. Freeze. Write "hamburgers" on your menu calendar.

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STEP #2

1. Label 2 quart-size freezer bags "Italian Meatballs".

2. Heat oven to 350f.

3. In a large bowl, mix 2 pounds ground beef, 1/2 cup chopped onion (grate for picky eaters!), 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/4 tsp. garlic salt, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. basil, 2 tsp. Italian seasoning, and 1 egg. Form the mix into 24 meatballs.

4. Put meatballs onto a broiler pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Cool

5. Put 12 meatballs into each freezer bag. Freeze. Write "Spaghetti" on two days of your menu calendar.

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STEP #3

1. Label 2 gallon-size freezer bags "Salisbury Steak"

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 pounds ground beef, 1 packet onion soup mix, 1-1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 2/3 cup water.

3. Form into 8-10 meatballs, then flatten into oval patties. Brown in a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook until juices run clear.

4. Cool. Put 4-5 patties in each freezer bag. Freeze. Add "Salisbury Steak" to two days on your menu calendar.

******************************************************

SERVING INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Chili: Thaw bag of meat. Put into the crockpot along with the chili mix, the packet's required amount of water, and a can of beans. Serve with Cornbread or crackers, and grated cheddar cheese.

2. Hamburgers: Have all the fixin's ready (buns, mustard, mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle, etc.) Thaw burgers. Cook on the grill, in the skillet, or under the broiler. Serve with chips, fries, or tater tots!

3. Lasagna: Thaw bag of meat. Gather all your ingredients (you should have put these into your Make-a-Menu Box at the beginning of the week!). In a saucepan, combine meat with 2 cups spaghetti sauce, and 1-1/2 cups water. Simmer 10 minutes.
......In a medium size bowl, make the cheese filling by combining 15 ounce ricotta, 3 eggs, 12 ounce mozzerella cheese, 1/2 cup grated parmesan romano cheese, 1/4 cup dried parsley, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
......Get out your package of lasagna noodles and a 9 x 13 pan. Heat the oven to 350f.
.....Layer as follows:
1 cup meat sauce
3-4 pieces uncooked noodles
1 cup meat sauce
1/2 cheese filling
3-4 uncooked noodles
1 cup meat sauce
remaining 1/2 cheese filling
3-4 uncooked noodles
remaining sauce.
.....Cover with foil and bake 55-60 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

4. Salisbury Patties: Thaw patties. Prepare 2 packets gravy mix. Add thawed patties and cook till hot. Great over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

5. Spaghetti: Thaw meatballs. Put 3 cups spaghetti sauce in crock pot. Add meatballs. Simmer all day. Boil 16 ounces spaghetti noodles until al dente. Serve topped with meatball sauce. MMMMM!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

COUPON LOVE - LET ME SHARE THE JOY!

Ever wonder how those "coupon queens" do it? Are you just starting out with coupons, but overwhelmed by the idea of countless hours spent clipping and organizing little scraps of paper? Then you're ready to attend my upcoming Power Shopping Workshops!

I've teamed up with the folks at Be Centsable to offer you these awesome workshops. When you attend a workshop, I'll show you how to organize your stash of coupons and how to develop a strategy for Power Shopping. You'll leave the workshop ready to attack those grocery prices and SAVE!

Stay tuned as this story develops and I post times and locations for workshops. If you would like a class in your area, then email me! I will travel to San Antonio and surrounding areas, Austin, and Corpus Christi. We can work together to get something set up.

P.S. Check out ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, for a quick peek into what Be Centsable is doing to help families!

See you soon at a workshop!

~Menu Maker Mom

POTATO CHOWDER WITH KIOLBASSA

This is the most awesome, filling potato chowder. My daughter absolutely loves this on a cool day, and she's been asking for it for a while now. I lucked into a really good deal on potatoes, so here comes potato soup!

You don't have to add the kiolbassa if you don't have it or don't care for it. My family loves the taste of the sausage with the potatoes. If you don't have sausage on hand, fry up a little bit of bacon and serve it as a garnish with a small bit of shredded cheese.

This is great in the crockpot. Mine is a large 6-quart one.

6 cups peeled, diced potatoes
2 links kiolbassa, boiled and sliced
5 cups water
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 teaspoons low-salt chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
12 oz can evaporated milk
8 oz. shredded cheese

1. Combine all the ingredients except the milk and cheese in slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on High until vegetables are tender. Just remember that new crockpots cook faster and hotter. I can burn things easily if I don't watch it! You will cook this on low around 4 or 5 hours.
3. Stir in milk and cheese, melting, before serving.

If you have bits of leftover carrots, broccoli, celery, corn, etc., you can add them the chowder.

MMMM, MMMMM-MMMMM-MMMMM GOOD!!

AUNT JAMIMA DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE...


Aunt Jamima has no place in my pantry. Yes, she is a lovely guest to have as an empty container filled with a stem or two of fresh sunflowers in the summer kitchen. But when it comes to drowning waffles or pancakes in sugar, my kids have politely asked her to leave the premises.

We call our breakfast confection Mom's Sticky Syrup. It's so easy to make and mmmm-mmmm good!

3 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups water
3 T. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. butter flavoring
2 tsp. maple flavoring

Bring water, sugar, and molasses to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Add flavorings. Cool and put in a container with a sealable lid suitable for pouring.

Yes, we're bad parents. We feed this to the children then send the happy, bouncing-off-the-walls kiddos off to school to let the teachers work out the kinks. (It's causing school officials to threaten to take away my MAMA award...)

MMM's FAMILY MENU :: MONDAY 1/26 - SUNDAY 2/1




Hello fellow busy moms! I'm late posting my menu because I've been, well... you know... BUSY!

Breakfasts
Monday - Bean & cheese tacos, orange juice
Tuesday - Oatmeal with apples
Wednesday - Pancakes & bacon
Thursday - Egg, bacon & toast
Friday - Egg, potato & bacon tacos
Saturday - Eggs, pancakes, sausage, Mom's Sticky Syrup
Sunday - Cinnamon rolls, sausage

Lunch - (Lean Cuisine & Progresso Soup, with salads for me)
Monday - kids buy school lunch
Tuesday - Turkey pastrami hogies, cucumber slices, chips, pudding, grapes
Wednesday - Ham & cheese wraps, chips, carrot sticks, fresh pineapple
Thursday - same as Tuesday, with apples
Friday - Same as Wednesday with grapes
Saturday - Pizza & salad
Sunday - Chicken salad sandwiches

Dinner
Monday - Grilled pork spareribs, homemade mac & cheese, sauteed green beans, corn
Tuesday - Soupy chicken & rice (chix in crock with cream-of-whatever soup), salad, peas
Wednesday - Rosemary porkchops, steamed broccoli & carrots
Thursday - Potato Soup with Kiolbassa, fresh veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber), french bread
Friday - Grilled german sausage, fried potatoes, sauteed green beans
Saturday - Almost Famous Chicken Patty burgers, chips, ranch style beans
Sunday - Sunday Roast with gravy, roasted potatoes and carrots, fresh rolls,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SUNDAY AT MENU MAKER MOM

Sundays at Menu Maker Mom are usually for batch cooking and looking up the best Walgreens deals of the week, but today Menu Maker Mom is some kind of tired! It seems that I've been running full steam ahead since September, and from December up until now we've had a crazy-busy schedule!

All this busy-ness came to a head today, and I have now become a limp lifeless lump of used up mothering. Of course, it doesn't help matters that my daughters had a sleepover last night... which leads me to the following question: Why is it called a "sleep" over when all the participants do is laugh and giggle and talk in "outside voices" all night long? Why is it called a "sleep" over when nobody sleeps, including Mom and Dad? Okay, I guess I'm rambling...

Anyway, back to Sundays at Menu Maker Mom... This mom didn't do any batch cooking today. I was waaayyy tired! That doesn't mean I didn't cook. I had 8 girls and 2 adults in the house most of the day, all of whom had grumbling tummies on a continuous basis. And let me tell you about those kids ~ they will eat anything that doesn't move!

As for the Walgreens deals, don't forget to go here to get the latest deals of the week. I can't wait to hit Walgreens this week so I can pick up my free Hershey's bar! Tired Moms need lots of chocolate (and wine).

See you tomorrow after I go and snooze..... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

MIRACLES HAPPEN EVERY DAY

We just had a birthday celebration in our home... My babies are now 12-year old tweenagers.

Yesterday they were only 1. I blinked and suddently my girls are on the verge of their teenage years. Suddenly they aren't toddlers and they are tweens who still want Mom and Dad to tuck them in bed each night and say night time prayers together, but don't want to be seen kissing Mom when being dropped off at school in the morning.

Looking back, I can remember when we thought we'd never have one child. Then I remember finding out we were having twins and thinking that we'd never have a successful pregnancy. Then they were born at 27 weeks. We were afraid for them. We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Then we prayed some more.

I remember seeing those teeny weeny little girl babies who weighed less than 2 pounds each. We thought they'd never fit into those gigantic premie clothes, much less those enormous premie diapers. Funny how it is that our perception is totally based on where we are standing at the time!

After 2 months, we brought our daughters home from the hospital, wearing the premie clothes that finally fit. We quit thinking they'd never do this or that. Our prayers transformed to prayers of joy and thanksgiving. We were so at peace and so happy to have them home. Nothing else mattered...

Blink.

Now they're 12. They're smart. They're socially engaging. They're physically able and good at sports. They're beautiful. We still pray to give thanks. We also pray for their happiness, well being, and their future.

They are awesome.

They are true miracles.

Thank you, Lord.

THE ORGANIZED MOM: IS YOUR WEEK ON AUTO-PILOT?

There are a few things you can do to get your week started on the right foot. If you get organized on Sunday, you can say goodbye to the junk foodie store for dinner, say goodbye to laundry basket diving, end your morning "what should I wear" hassle, get to the kids' practice sessions with equipment and snacks on hand, and basically eliminate some of the weekly stress that comes with being MOM! And, of course, you will be in the running for the much coveted MAMA award! (The Most Awesome Mother Award)

To save your sanity this week by going Auto Pilot, here's a small list of 5 things you can do:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Of course, MMM's #1 suggestion is to make sure you ENTIRE menu is made out. I'm talking breakfast, lunch, and dinner, girlfriend!

2. Get your Make-a-Menu Box set up for the week. (If you don't do this, at LEAST review the menu for ingredients and make sure you have all the items.)

3. Make sure the laundry is done and put away. Anyone over the age of 5 can do their share, and nothing has to be folded or hung up perfectly! Just getting it done is good enough!

4. If you will be running from activity to activity, make sure the equipment you will need is in your vehicle. For example, I have a basket that I've put library books in, a sports bag has a basketball and practice clothes, a plastic box has Gatorade and snacks, etc.

5. Choose your clothes for each day this week. I don't recommend having kids do this, as they change their minds too often and you'll end up with clothes all over the floor or flung in the closet. They can choose their each night before bed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MAKE-A-MENU TIP :: Create a weekly MAKE-A-MENU BOX

It's time to make your menu planning even easier! If you have already set up your Make-a-Menu Binder and are following my menu planning strategies, you might be thinking, "Can it possibly get any easier than this??" Well.... Get ready to do a happy dance, because I'm going to make your menu planning EVEN EASIER!!!!

This week we're going to set up a weekly Make-a-Menu Box. We'll take it step-by-step, the Menu Maker Mom way! (Do this either on your menu planning day or or on Sunday, or whenever it makes sense to get your full week organized.)

On your menu planning day, set up your weekly Make-a-Menu Boxes!

Step #1
Find the following boxes: 1 box for dry goods, two small boxes/baskets that will fit in your fridge and freezer. Make sure your boxes are clean!

Step #2
Get your shopping list and your menu.

Step #3
Start setting up the boxes. As you review your menu, find the items that are essential to your menu for the upcoming week. In the dry goods box, assemble all the pasta, rice, canned goods, and other dry goods necessary to make your recipes. Put the freezer items and fridge items in their boxes/baskets. As you fill your boxes/baskets you might find that you don’t have this or that. Add it to your shopping list.

Step #4
You can stop here or you can set up a lunch menu box and even a breakfast box. Get creative here! Just make sure that you aren't creating more work for yourself. The idea is to be efficient with your brain power, energy, and time.

Step #5
You're done! But before you pat yourself on the back, tell hubby, kids, the dog, and whoever else likes to raid the pantry, that they are not allowed to remove anything from the boxes or baskets... Or they risk the wrath of the Menu Nazi! Now go have a glass of wine and RELAX! Your cooking is on autopilot this week!

Monday, January 19, 2009

MMM'S FAMILY MENU





Breakfasts:
Sunday - Cereal. I'm tired... (again)
Monday - Girls are having breakfast at Grandma's
Tuesday - Oatmeal and bacon
Wednesday - Cereal, fruit smoothies
Thursday - Bean & Cheese tacos.
Friday - Cheese toast
Saturday - Scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits

Lunches:
Sunday - Big Birthday Breakfast of blueberry pancakes, sausage, fruit, juice, scrambled eggs
Monday - Left over pizza, fruit, salad, Lean Cuisine pizza and salad for me
Tuesday - PB & J Sandwich, fruit, carrot sticks, cookie (Lean Cuisine for me)
Wednesday - Ham salad sandwiches, chips, cheese cubes, fresh fruit... And you know what I'm having!
Thursday - Chicken salad, crackers, cucumber spears, fresh fruit... Progresso soup for me today
Friday - PB & J sandwich, fruit, carrot sticks, cookie (Lean Cuisine for me)
Saturday - Hot dogs, ranch style beans, pickles, chips

Suppers:
Sunday - Hamburgers, beans, pickles and olives, chips, deviled eggs, carrot sticks and sliced red pepper
Monday - Left over Taco Soup from the freezer, topped with shredded cheese and Julio's tortilla chips
Tuesday - Spaghetti & sauce with turkey meatballs, salad, green beans
Wednesday - Baked potatoes with all the fixin's, salad, broccoli with cheese sauce
Thursday - Make-Ahead Breaded Pork Chops (from the freezer), mashed potatoes, peas & carrots, gravy (an absolutely yummy carbohydrate nightmare!!)
Friday - Grilled hamburger patties (from the freezer - grilled on Sunday), black bean/corn/avacado salsa, salad
Saturday - The Postponed Birthday sleepover... Pizza, chips, veggie tray, fruit tray, sodas, cake, ice cream, JUNK FOOD... YUM!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

YOUR MAKE-A-MENU BINDER

Have you created your Make-a-Menu binder yet? If you're wondering whether or not you should make the time for this, just think:

Have you heard of those new internet menu planning services? These services are gaining in popularity because life is just easier in the kitchen if all those cooking and shopping decision are made FOR you. Personally, I've found that the biggest drawback is that the menu planning services don't know that my family dislikes things like baked fish, cooked cabbage, or some other types of food that might be on their list. This drawback is what led me to invent the Make-a-Menu binder system at Menu Maker Mom.

For example, the menu that I purchase last year from a menu planning service had "pecan crusted catfish" on it. I bought the pecans and the catfish, along with all the ingredients for the other meals, made the recipe, and my family sat there and announced that they'd rather starve!

So I had to delete that recipe from the menu, delete the ingredients from the handy shopping page that they provided, and replace them with something else. All in all, it really wasn't that helpful, it cost me extra money, I wasted my time, and my poor family ate peanut butter and jelly while our kitchen had the odor of pecans and catfish. (No, they didn't actually have to starve!)

Still, I liked the idea of having some sort of system that would make menu planning more streamlined and efficient. Here's the system I came up with: A binder full of your own recipes that are grouped by main ingredients and subgrouped by type of cooking method or food type (grill, crockpot, soup, sandwich, etc), a special place for the favorite recipes of each family member, and a simple calendar to write the menu down on. It's so simple that it's ridiculous!

If you are a busy cook who'se looking for a way to save money, save time, and save your SANITY, then stop by Menu Maker Mom and learn to create your own menu making system! I take you step-by-step through the process.

What you will create is something similar to what all the subscription-based menu planning services are offering. Basically you learn to shop for the meats or main ingredients that are on sale, find several recipes in your binder that use the main ingredient, purchase the main ingredients at rock-bottom prices, then stuff your freezer and fill out your menu. You'll prepare recipes that your family will likes every time!

Your family will love you and you will be crowned with THE MAMA (Most Awesome Mother Award)!