Monday, July 5, 2010

Menu Planning - The Stand and Stare Method

Don't you just hate it when someone stands and stares into the open refrigerator as if something delicious will magically appear? All the while your cool refrigerated air is escaping!

Well, this is how I am planning my menus for the month of July, which is helping me use what I have on hand in the pantry, cabinets and of course, fridge. I posted about Simple Abundance in July and am diligently working on using what is already on hand in the pantry, cabinets or refrigerator/freezer.

All you do is open the pantry door and stand and stare! What do you see in there that is approaching its expiration date? What do you see that there are multiples of? What do you see that would make the ingredients of a meal you haven't made lately or that would be a quick meal for that extra busy night this week?

Then you open the refrigerator door and stand and stare. Do you see any leftovers that could be morphed into a new dish? I cleaned mine out this morning and am ashamed to tell you how much food was thrown away!

But I will tell you anyway: 2 containers of rich chicken broth, a container of leftover corn, a small amount of roast chicken, moldy chunk cheese, and 2 biscuits. I could have made the following from these ingredients: chicken salad, grilled cheese sandwiches (from the old bread I also threw away), jelly biscuits for a quick breakfast, corn casserole or as an ingredient in vegetable soup, and all kinds of things could have been made using the chicken broth.

So starting with a leftover-free refrigerator this morning, I then proceeded to stand and stare into the freezer and pantry to see what could be used in there.

These are some menu ideas I came up with for this week using the stand and stare menu planning method:

Main Dishes:

Chicken Fajitas
Homemade Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup
Hamburger Stroganoff
Country Ham and Eggs
Fresh Tomato Sandwiches
Crunchy Onion Baked Chicken
Banana Sandwiches

Side Dishes:

Sweet Potato Souffle
Broccoli and Cheese
Italian Green Beans and Onions
Brown Rice
Boiled New Potatoes
Cucumbers Marinated in Vinegar
Fruit with Cottage Cheese
Veg-all Casserole
Black Eyed Peas
Baked Beans
Fried Okra

See, I can "knock up a meal from what's in my cabinets" just like Mama!

This is more than enough food for the week and since I am also trying to cut down on so many leftovers, I will try to make smaller portions. Not to mention the fact that our portion sizes need to be reduced for health reasons anyway!


Pen Pen said...

love this post... knock up that meal, girl! What about when we keep going back to the fridge over and over and over again... thinking there might be something new in there. LOL

Granny J said...

You have such great ideas. I have finally started freezing leftovers to keep them from being thrown away. We also need to start eating smaller portions.

Anonymous said...

Ha, loved this post too! Everyone in my family has the "stand and stare" too!


Mom2fur said...

I think when we do that, we're hoping our subconscious mind will do one of those 'bolt out of the blue' things and come up with something we didn't think of 5 minutes ago. Your menu sounds really good!
BTW, I just love the way you have things in shallow drawers rather than in a closet. I bet it makes it much easier to find things!

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie,
I am with you. I made out a menu plan and cleaned out the refridge and pantry too. I have cut our portions too.:)

Lyn said...

Too funny, the "stand and stare method". I think we are all guilty of that one.

You are not alone in wasting food. I always have good intentions but am guilty of having to toss things too. I am finding that things spoil more quickly in the summer also.

Joyful said...

It sounds like you have a lot to make new or old recipes with. I only have a small cupboard (and not very deep shelves, as well as rather old refrigerator with a not too bad size freezer compartment. I would like a mini freezer but really it would be quite cramped in my condo should I ever get one so am not quite there yet.

I use a lot of what I have on hand when I (we) am planning the day's menu. We purchase whatever is on sale for the week and make do with whatever ingredients we have on hand or that we buy that week. It works fairly well to help keep the budget down. We do try to mix it up a bit here and there with meats and fowl and fish even if the fish is canned from time to time. We also use a lot of grains, rice (brown but sometimes white), noodles, potatoes and sweet potatoes. We also use pasta sometimes but not so often as it seems to make sleepy.

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