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


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.


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.


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.



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


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


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.



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...)


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

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

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


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


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...


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.


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


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

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

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


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)!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Since spiral sliced hams are on sale for $10.00 off regular price this week, I'll be preparing the following for my menu.

Ham and Broccoli Casserole
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Ham Strata
(very fancy mac 'n cheese with ham)
Ham Salad (yummy sandwich spread that keeps in the freezer GREAT!)

You will need to add the following ingredients to your shopping list if you don't already have them:
HAM ($10.00 of any spiral sliced ham at HEB, Jan 14-20)
2 lb. cubed hashbrowns
16 oz. sour cream
Green onion
2 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups corn flakes
2 can cream of mushroom soup
24 oz. macaroni
dry mustard
2 c. frozen broccoli
1-1/2 cup bread crumbs
16 oz. fresh mushrooms (I omit this, as my family sadly despises fungus. I love mushies.)
16 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. mayonaisse
2 eggs
garlic powder
2 tsp. dill relish

Join me on Sunday as I put these together.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Sunday - Cereal. I'm tired...
Monday - Oatmeal.
Tuesday - Eggs, bacon, toast.
Wednesday - Muffins and fruit smoothies.
Thursday - Bean & Cheese tacos.
Friday - More bean & cheese tacos.
Saturday - Breakfast casserole. Yumm!! This is good! (recipe to follow)

Sunday - PB&J sandwiches, fruit smoothies.
Monday thru Wednesday - We are taking the easy way out. Girls are buying lunches at school. I will have my usual, which is Lean Cuisine or Progresso Soup. Hubbs is eating out.
Thursday - Take ice chest to the stockshow: Cold cut sandwiches, chips, cookies, cheese sticks, carrot sticks, apples and clementines.
Friday - DITTO
Saturday - Eat out at the Auction

Sunday - Tex Mex Style Pork Chops, Green Salad with avacado, iced tea.
Monday - Baked potatoes with all the fixin's, green salad with avacado, iced tea.
Tuesday - Grilled chicken kabobs (marinated in italian dressing all day), spanish style fideo, green salad with avacado, iced tea.
Wednesday - Crockpot full of Frijoles (beans), homemade tortillas, fruit.
Thursday - Crockpot Saucy Chops, Steamed broccoli, egg noodles.
Friday - Crockpot full of Chili Con Carne, cornbread, homemade ice cream.
Saturday - Little Caesar's Pizza (kids are having a sleepover!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

COOKING DAY :: Pork Chop Plan #1

Boneless pork sirloin chops were on sale this week for $1.77. To take advantage of this sale, I'll be preparing several recipes using the chops and putting them in the freezer. I have tried all these recipes, and they are totally family and kid friendly. Of course, I add the recipes to my menu immediately, but I make sure not to serve them too close together. Don't want my family to complain... Having an unhappy family or having the kids revolt against the cook does not make a happy shopper or cook! And if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

Here's what's cookin':

Tex-Mex Style Pork Chops
Make Ahead Breaded Chops
Crock Pot Saucy Chops
Rosemary Potatoes & Chops

Ingredient list:

2 Tbsp. bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. dried parsely
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 8-oz. can black beans (YOU CAN USE PINTO OR KIDNEY BEANS ALSO!)
1 8-oz. can corn
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 envelope of Onion Soup Mix
1 15 oz. can Stewed Tomatoes
14-oz. can diced green chiles
2 cups white rice
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
18 pork chops
1/4 cup diced onion
4 large potatoes
1/2 green pepper, sliced
For the day you'll eat: Rice or pasta for the Crock Pot Saucy Chops

Other supplies you'll need:
6 small sheets wax paper, 4 gallon-size freezer bags

Step #1:
Make-Ahead Breaded Pork Chops:

1. Pound the pork chops until they are 1/4" thick.
2. Get out 2 bowls. Put 1 egg and 1/4 milk in one bowl and mix well. In the other bowl, mix 2 tbsp. bread crumbs and 1/4 cup flour.
3. Dip pork chops into the mix, then dredge in the flour mix.
4. Place each pork chop on a piece of wax paper, and on a cookie sheet. Flash freeze all the pork chops until hard. Transfer to a gallon-size zip lock bag, with wax paper seperating the chops.
5. LABEL THE BAGS: To cook, thaw over night in fridge. Place 3 tbsp. oil in a non-stick pan. Fry chops until browned on both sides and cooked all the way through.

Step #2:
Crock Pot Saucy Chops

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 can Cream of Celery Soup, 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 envelope Onion Soup Mix.
2. Put 4 large uncooked pork chops (can add 1-2 more if your family is larger) in a large freezer bag. Pour soup mixture over the chops.
3. LABEL THE BAG: Thaw in the fridge overnight. Spray the crock pot with cooking spray. Pour the pork chops and sauce into the crock pot. Cook on low 4 hours. Serve over your favorite rice or pasta.

Step #3:
Rosemary Potatoes and Chops

1. Place 4-6 chops in a large ziplock freezer bag. Pour 1/4 cup Italian Salad Dressing over the chops.
2. LABEL THE BAG: Thaw chops overnight in the fridge. Cut 4 large potatoes into wedges. Place them in the crockpot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. Rosemary. Pour the chops on top. Cook 6-8 hours on low.

Step #4:
Tex-Mex Style Pork Chops

1. In a large saute pan, cook 1/2 cup sliced green pepper and 1/4 cup diced onion until tender, but not browned. Stir in 1 can undrained stewed tomatoes, 1 8-oz. can drained corn, 1 8-oz can drained and rinsed black beans (YOU CAN USE PINTO OR KIDNEY BEANS INSTEAD!), 1 cup uncooked rice, the 4-oz. can chopped green chiles, 2 cups water, and 3/4 tsp. salt into a large freezer bag.
2. LABEL THE BAG: Thaw over night in fridge. Thaw 4-6 pork chops. Brown the pork chops in a skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. In a casserole dish, pour bag contents into the dish and cover with the pork chops. Cover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more or until meat is tender and rice is cooked.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Since boneless pork chops are on sale, I'll be preparing the following for my menu. Two of these menus are for the crockpot, but the prep work is done ahead of time, so that on busy work mornings I can just grab a zip lock bag, dump the food in the crock, and go!

Saucy Pork Chops (crockpot)
Make-Ahead Breaded Pork Chops
Rosemary Potatoes and Chops (crockpot)
Tex-Mex Style Pork Chops

Join me on Sunday as I put these together. This will be a really quick cooking session. This one involves more prepping, labeling, and freezing than actual cooking.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Welcome to the Menu Maker Mom kitchen! The kitchen is tiny, warm, and cozy. Yummy smells tease the tummies of anyone passing through. Life happens in this kitchen!

Fortunately my freezer is already full of the meals we'll be eating this week, so I don't have much cooking to do! Because of that, I'm going to post a mini Chicken Cooking Session of recipes that my family loves. This session will fill your freezer with six to seven meals to include the following menu items:

Almost Famous Chicken Patties - 12 patties (2 - 3 meals)
Chicken Spaghetti - 2 pans (each serves 6-8)
Chicken Stuffed Mega Shells - 2 recipes (each serves 6-8)

Ingredients List:

1/2 tsp. dried Basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. dried, minced parsely
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 cup bread crumbs
1 boxes jumbo pasta shells (about 60 total)
6 cups spaghetti noodles broken into 3-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. jar pimentos
Olive oil
6 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
32 oz. cottage cheese
16 oz. package monzerella cheese, shredded
2-1/2 cups parmesan romano cheese, grated
7 eggs
1/2 cups onion, minced
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
8-oz. package fresh mushrooms, finely diced
16 cups chicken, cooked and chopped

You will also need to have the following supplies on hand:
Wax paper, 8 gallon-size freezer bags, 2 2-quart casseroles that can go from freezer to oven, 2 quart-size freezer bags, large skillet.


1. Cook and chop the chicken
2. Grate all cheeses
3. Chop all vegetables

Prepare the Chicken Spaghetti:

1. Cook spaghetti pieces until al dente.

2. When spaghetti is cooked, combine in a large bowl with the following:

4 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 cups chicken
4 cups of the cheddar (reserve the other 2 cups)
1/2 cup green pepper
1/2 cup onion
8 oz. pimentos, drained
2 tsp. seasoned salt
Salt & pepper to taste

3. Put the mixture into 2 greased 2-quart casserole dishes. Put 1-cup portions of shredded cheddar cheese into 2 quart-size freezer bags. Cover casseroles securely, attach freezer bags of cheese, and label.

4. To cook: Thaw in fridge overnight. Take cover off, sprinkle with cheese, bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cover if cheese is over-browning.

Step #3

Prepare the Chicken Patties:

1. Combine the following in a large bowl:

4 cups chicken, very finely shredded or mince in a food processor
4 eggs
1 cup parmesan romano cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

2. Heat up a large skillet. Add enough olive oil to cover. Shape chicken into 12 patties. Fry in the skillet until browned well. You may also broil these to save calories.

3. To freeze, sandwich patties between wax paper, put into a gallon-size freezer bag, and set in the freezer. To serve, thaw and reheat in a skillet or in the oven.

4. Serving suggestions: Chicken patty burgers, chicken patty parmesan, chicken patty alfredo, chicken patties served with mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken patties served with fries and ketchup. Use your imagination!!

Step #4

Prepare the Chicken Stuffed Mega Shells

1. Cook and drain pasta shells.

2. Make the filling: Saute the mushrooms and 1/4 cup onion in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add the minced garlic and saute briefly. In a large bowl, mix 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and nutmeg. Add the cottage cheese, 16 oz. monzerella cheese, 1-1/2 cup parmesan/romano cheese, 3 eggs, the sauteed vegetables, and 4 cups finely shredded chicken.

5. Carefully stuff the shells using a tablespoon.

6. Place the filled shells on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze until hard. Transfer to 2 gallon-size bags, labeling and sealing well.

7. To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight. In a casserole dish, layer spaghetti sauce or alfredo sauce in the bottom of the dish. Top with the pasta shells. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. YUMMMMM!!
Now here are some pics of the chicken patty process:

Everything's in the bowl!

Here is a ball made out of the mixed ingredients. It is about the size of a large tangerine.

The patties are fryin' in the pan. The aroma and smell of sizzling chicken and parmesan is will make your taste buds dance... My family can hardly contain themselves!! (Notice that I don't have much oil in the pan. I pour just enough olive oil into the pan to keep everything sizzling.)


Oh, before I close this post...
If you'd like to learn lots of really cool kitchen tips, please visit Tammy's Recipes!!


Here's what's cookin' in MMM's kitchen this week:


Sunday - Help yourself to cereal!
Monday - Muffins
Tuesday - Oatmeal
Wednesday - Pancakes
Thursday - Muffins
Friday - Oatmeal

Lunches (The following weekday lunches are for the kids. I will have canned Progresso soup at work all week - 2 Weight Watchers points each! Hubby eats out with coworkers or customers.)

Sunday - Homemade tortillas, pork taco meat, spanish rice, shredded lettuce & chopped tomato
Monday - PB&J, oranges slices, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Tuesday - Ham & cheese calzones, carrot sticks with ranch dip, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Wednesday - PB&J, orange slices, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Thursday - School lunch
Friday - School lunch


Sunday - Ham & Cheese Calzones
Monday - Chicken Enchilada Casserole (in the freezer), salad, spanish rice (cooked on Sunday)
Tuesday - Pancake Supper with fruit salad, sausage, bacon, and homemade syrup... YUMMM!!!
Wednesday - BBQ pork on a bun, oven fries, ranch style beans (from a can)
Thursday - Potato/Ham Chowder, Toasted sliced bolillos
Friday - GAME NIGHT!!! - Pizza, chips, soda... Your regular junk-food nightmare!
Saturday - DATE NIGHT!!! - We'll go out to eat while the kiddos hang out at a friend's house.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


To keep myself organized with this blog (since I obviously haven't done that up until now), I decided I needed to have a routine. After all, routines rule every other part of my life! For example, Flylady makes sure that I follow a morning routine, a before bed routine, and a cleaning routine. Yep, no fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitudes are allowed here, unless the goal is total menu chaos! YIKES!

I'm going to try publishing 4 regular posts per week. So here's the schedule, if you care to bookmark and show up on the days that are of most help to you:

Sundays - follow me as I cook up the menu items for the week; Walgreens deals of the week; MMM's menu for the week

Tuesdays - Super S deals of the week

Wednesdays - HEB deals of the week

Thursday - How to use the deals to Make-a-Menu!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


The past two months just BLEW by for our family. Just like your family, it seems that we've been in a whirlwind of activities and events, and as usual, my blog took a back seat for a while. Now that I've had a chance to catch my breath, it's time to make a resolution regarding this blog.

I know what you're thinking... Resolutions are usually only a little bit realistic and mostly ridiculous. I mean, we take the most difficult things about ourselves and resolve to make them better, and when we can't undo a lifetime of habits in only 3 weeks we give up and quit... Or we make 10 resolutions instead of agreeing to improve just ONE area. Seems to me like it's a set up for destruction on a yearly basis!!!

But, hard-headed that I am, I continue to make resolutions each year. I have HOPE. So, here is my list for changes I'll make on this blog:

1. Post to this blog regularly!
2. Add a new blog component for local readers: BEST DEALS OF THE WEEK AT HEB (Wednesdays), WALGREENS (Sundays), WAL MART, AND SUPER S (Tuesdays).
3. Awesome menus using all those deals!

So stay tuned! The year will see Menu Maker Mom fall into somewhat of a routine around here. I hope you'll be a part of it!

Lastly... HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours. I pray that you'll have a healthy and happy new year filled with awesome menus and fabulous family dinner times!