Low Tech Menu Planning

I meet myself coming and going in this busy house with two homeschooled teens and two toddlers bent on world-domination. However, even a family in fast-forward needs to eat.

Just because mama is on a diet doesn’t mean the rest of the gang has to suffer. I know my kids were lost that first week in January when I was trying to figure out how I would cook all those carbs for them and not be able to eat any. It has gotten easier to work my dietary changes around their foods in the past month. I alter meals to lessen starch and carbs and increase my veggies – and I avoid sugar except for a small amount with protein along side it. I try and stick to 1280 calories or less per day and make sure to exercise, too.

My family still eats just like we always have. I just make a little note on the meals that are carb-rich for me to have some other veggie or alter it for my diet.

Low Tech Menu Planning @ Sprittibee.com

Here below is my low tech menu planning methods and a two-week schedule for what we hope to cook this month:

First off, I take a short inventory of what’s in my pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and outside (garage) refrigerator and freezer. Instead of extreme detail, I put things like “spice packs” to remind me that I have McCormick seasonings for meat, without going in to detail about all the different flavors. I also might put something like “canned veggies for lunches” instead of writing “green beans, canned corn, canned pinto beans, and canned mixed veggies”. Saves time. Instead of listing how many of each item I have, I usually put a plus sign after the things I have more than 2 of. This helps me focus on the surplus. This week it was potatoes… so I’ll be researching good potato recipes, and I already have a huge stack of the oldest potatoes on the counter for me to cook in to baked potato soup tonight for dinner.

After I have my quick inventory, I sit down and write out B L D (breakfast, lunch, & dinner) on a sheet of notebook paper all the way down the page, skipping a line between each. You can see my chicken scratch in the photo above. I take out a highlighter and go through my inventory and highlight all the perishables that MUST be eaten, the foods that I know we will eat over the next few days, and the surplus items I need to create recipes for and add to the menu… then I just start working my way down the list, filling in as I go… highlighting items as I add them to the menu to make sure I know they will be depleted, and circling items I’ll need to thaw out or purchase groceries to accompany for the meal.

The circles tell me that prep-work or thawing is required so I will know to do it before hand. The arrows end up happening when I realize that a meal must be swapped. Such as: rotisserie chicken must go before chicken broth, which will come before soup, stew, or another dish that requires broth.

I often have to move the menu entries around to work out better with expiration dates and our schedule, also. We have days of the week that we are out of the house more than others, and I know that a packed lunch and snacks will be necessary to prevent fast food fall-out.

Having a menu – even a low-tech one – can also help you plan ahead to save certain foods for recipes instead of using them up and needing to go to the store mid-week. It gives me a rough game plan that helps me utilize my groceries better and prevent my produce from molding, too. I have also found that it challenges me to be frugal and benefits our health (eating out is rich in extra fats, chemicals, and sugars).

After I get my scratch draft done, and if I have time, I like to type out or re-write my list on a clean sheet of paper. Sometimes I leave one side of the page blank to add in appointments or to-do items that MUST be done on the same day as the menu. Other weeks when things are crazy, I just leave it in all its messy glory and scratch off items with a highlighter as we cook them.

I have found that menu plans, even if they do take a little thought, are a key ingredient to preventing the week from going off track. The payout in time, money, health, and peace of mind are worth the little bit of effort they require.

So here’s our final draft for the next two weeks. Don’t judge me on the white bread and processed stuff – we sometimes get a few items from our local food pantry that my children work at for their service project that I wouldn’t normally buy… but we are so blessed to have been helped by them and I refuse to complain!

Feb 7, Wednesday –

B: Eggs and Cheese, Turkey Bacon, Milk, Granola Bar, Hot Tea (babies had Angry Bird graham crackers, eggs and milk)

L: Out to Taco Deli ♥ (payday – lunch with Daddy)

D: Baked Potato Soup, Bread with Butter, Sparkling Water

Snacks: Cookies for big kids, Fruit for babies

Feb 8, Thursday –

B: Waffles (need Maple Syrup), Strawberries, OJ (Mom eggs & Goji Berry Hot Tea)

L: Mom – Canned Tortilla Soup and Avocado, Kids & Grandma – Tuna Hoagies, Yogurt, Chips, Snickers (packed lunch)

D: Honey-Rosemary Chicken with Grape Tomatoes (need to add a side-dish and/or salad)

S: Popcorn (movie nite)

Feb 9, Friday –

B: Mixed Fruit, Eggs, Cereal, Milk, Orange Juice

L: Fettuccine Alfredo (frozen meal to bake), dinner roll garlic bread, side salad

D: Deer Meat Tacos, Spanish Rice, Black Beans

S: Cookies, Fruit, Yogurt, Angry Bird Graham Crackers

Feb 10, Saturday –

B: Yogurt, Hot Tea, Granola

L: Hot Dogs, White Hamburger Buns (thaw out from freezer night before), Sliced Pear

D: Deer Meat & Brown Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers w/ Cheddar, Salad

Feb 11, Sunday –

B: Pancakes, Sausage, Hot Tea, Milk

L: OUT TO LUNCH or Church Potluck

D: Out to Dinner for Sweet 16 ♥

S: Birthday Cake for the big kid

Feb 12, Monday –

B: Yogurt & Granola, Hot Tea

L: Chicken Nuggets (frozen), Home Fries, Lima Beans, Bread, Juice

D: Pablano Corn Chowder or Pablano Chicken Casserole, Red Cabbage & Cilantro Salad w/ Jalapeno Dressing (in my Healthy Eats on Pinterest), Guac & Chips, Iced Tea

S: Popcorn

Low Tech Menu Planning @ Sprittibee.com, 17 Day Diet Breakfast

Feb 13, Tuesday –

B: Cereal for Kids/ Fried Egg, Turkey Bacon, Hot Green Tea (your typical 17 Day Diet Breakfast)

L: Sandwiches (need sandwich meat or PBJ), Chips, Pickles, Canned Fruit

D: Fried Catfish (need a good recipe), Cornbread, Chow-chow, Tartar Sauce, Black Eyed Peas

S: Kind Bar (mama), Cookies (kids)

Feb 14, Wednesday –

B: Eggs, Heart Shaped Toast, Jelly, Hot Tea, Juice

L: Pasta with Pepperoni, Canned Fruit, Olives

D: Mashed Potatoes, Fried Chicken, Green Beans

S: Rachel Ray’s chocolate cups with whipped cream

Feb 15, Thursday –

B: Hot Cereal (cream of wheat or rice), Hot Tea (mom), Chocolate Milk

L: Packed lunch – sandwiches, chips, snacks, candy, cokes or water

D: Eggplant Parmesan, Rice-a-Roni (don’t ask), Salad, Sauteed Red Cabbage with Brown Sugar, Sauteed Mushrooms

S: Veggies or Fruit

Feb 16, Friday –

B: Fried Potatoes (leftover), Bacon (need to buy), Eggs, Hot Tea

L: Quesadilla, Carrots & Ranch Dressing, Avocado Slices, Orange Slices

D: Rotisserie Chicken, Basmati Rice, Broccoli and Cheese Sauce (make Chicken Broth with leftover chicken bones)

Feb 17, Saturday –

B: Blueberry Smoothie (need blueberries), Hot Tea

L: Nachos w/ Sour Cream (kids), SW Chicken Salad (mom), Water

D: Falafel, Pita, Hummus, Pita Chips, Lebanese Salad and Lebanese Salad Dressing

S: Popcorn

Feb 18, Sunday –

B: Fruit Loops (need to eat this once a year treat up!), Atkins Shake (mama)

L: Matzo Soup, Crackers, Sparkling Water

D: Mee Krob (Thai Noodles with Chicken), Tom Ka Gai Soup (coconut broth with chicken), Thai Tea

S: Dark Chocolate & Milk, Cookies for kids

 

Of course that’s just a rough plan… and I might switch the days around to whatever fits our mood better; or we might eat out and push a meal to the following week’s plan. It’s all good. Better to plan and not make a meal than have nothing planned and spend a ton of money eating out.

I have a notes section on my page, also. This week it says:

Find recipes for milled flax, carrots, chia seeds, potatoes, hoagies, Mexican red cabbage salad ideas, pie crust, puff pastry, vermicelli, and a copy-cat Pablano Chicken Corn Chowder like the one they serve at the Oasis in Austin. Take photos of the Lebanese meal for my blog. Oh, and look up the Southwest Chicken Salad recipe from that magazine I dog-eared.

So there you have it. My 1/2 month meal-plan in pen and ink…. turned typed-up-list.

{ Low tech never tasted so good. }

In His Grip,

Sprittibee's Signature

Subscribe to Sprittibee by Email

Comments

  1. says

    I love that Baked Potato Soup and it is still one of my favorite food pictures I’ve taken. Now I’m wishing it was on my menu, but it will have to wait till the next two weeks!