You may remember back in July, I shared that I had started to use the site Plan To Eat for my menu planning.
Well, I still am and I still love it. Since October though something even cooler has been happening, and I’ve been meaning to post about it and obviously I still haven’t.
See, I have this awesome friend – Erin. In september my awesome friend, and her awesome family moved into a new house after being in a state of unrest and unsettled for nearly a year as they sold their home, started building a new house, ended up backing out of the home they were building because of complications, and then found this house and moved in. Their awesome new house has an amazing kitchen. Anyone see where this is going?
Well, since October we’ve been getting together every two weeks after pay day (both our husbands work for the same company, so they have the same pay schedule which is handy) and cook enough meals to feed our family for the following two weeks. It’s been AWESOME.
Our family at least has cut back on spending, and going out to eat over all, and when we are finished each time Erin and I both feel accomplished! This friday is cooking day, so with any luck I’ll remember to take some pictures and I can show you how we’ve been doing the cooking. For now though I’m going to tell you how I’ve been planning meals for two weeks at a time.
It all starts on Plan To Eat. I go through all my recipes and pick out approximately 14 that will become our dinners for the following weeks. If Erin has anything she or her family are wanting either she sends me a recipe and I import it, or we do some googling to find a recipe that will work (or that we think will work) and import that.
One of my favorite things about Plan To Eat, is that from the recipes you plan, it automatically creates a shopping list from the recipes!
So, I take that list and review what I have on hand in my pantry, and what I need to get – anything that needs to be purchased gets added to my master grocery list (I have a downloaded version of this list that I have edited over the years to reflect how and where I shop).
So, we do our own shopping, buy what we need, and then spend an entire day cooking while our four girls run around, play, and generally create the chaos kids are known for all over the house.
After we are done cooking, both our families hang out, spend the evening together, and then we all crash at their house. When our food comes home with us the next day, I put it in our deep freezer. Here’s my favorite part and it’s taken me a while to figure out. Once I put everything in the freezer I have to keep track of what’s in there, and have the recipes handy for anything that needs liquid (broth, water) added before cooking since we don’t add those before freezing them. This is what I’ve come up with:
I added a place on my freezer where I write down whats in there (the black lines are in sharpie so they don’t come off, everything else is dry erase and comes off easily). I hang the recipes with a magnetic clip right there next to the list for easy finding (I move and file them once the meals are cooked, so only meals that are in the freezer are hanging in that recipe group). When I take a meal out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge (it takes about two days in our fridge to thaw them, so there are always two out at a time, one for the day of, and one for the next day) I put a little mark next to the list so I know what’s out to cook.
So, now you can see our menu plan for the week – tonight we are having Martini Beef-less Tips over Lemon Pepper Pearl Couscous, and tomorrow we are having Baked Ziti.
The best part of cooking together is that we both get to try things we may not have otherwise tired. We are learning to adapt recipes for their omnivore family and our more leaning toward herbivore family so that everyone still gets their dietary preference, as well as we are figuring out how to adjust recipe sizes since I’m only feeding 2 adults and 1 child and Erin is feeding 2 adults and 3 kids.
My favorite part though is the camaraderie of another mom in the kitchen, our families spending time together, and the memories we are making.