Valentine’s Day is fast approaching—only ten days to go! Last year we solicited ideas from all of you and received some super-creative suggestions for blessing your husband, family and friends on this special day. Check them out today (one, two, three, four, five, and six) so you can prepare in advance.
Speaking of suggestions, we received some helpful tips from several of our readers on meal preparation last week. So before we move on to discuss what happens over meal-time we wanted to pass these ideas on to you. Please note that we have not personally researched the websites that are recommended. Enjoy!
Please check out the following link for those who feel stumped as to how to do planning and/or are too busy to do it: http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/. As a single woman with a room-mate; we are both so busy we often “eat out” when we could with a little planning make meals we could take for lunches to work instead of eating out and perhaps even eat with each other instead of on the run or in front of the tube to unwind. After the first week this is a pay site, but it is nominal and at least I like it and can modify the ideas for two single gals on the go, it at least gives me a starting place and a grocery list!
A friend of mine was inspired by the posts you’ve done on food recently and she posted some wonderful links on her blog: http://web.mac.com/chilibowl. As a new bride I eagerly explored these sites and they all seem to have some helpful bits and pieces on meal planning, cooking on a budget and lots more.
I have been reading your blog on meal planning and thought I would share some ideas that work for our family. First, I bought a year calendar that has both individual daily scheduling and a month at a glance page. Presently, I have meals planned through July without any duplications. As I am reading my cookbooks I note recipes I would like to try. I use the month at a glance page to write down the name of the recipe, which cookbook, and the page number. A money saving tip that I read some time ago is to plan for leftovers. I do not cook on Monday’s or Wednesday’s as there are always leftovers from cooking the other five days. As I am writing down the recipe I take note not to have similar meals within the same week, or four nights of chicken, etc. Another money saving tip is to shop biweekly. When I am planning my grocery list I add to the month at a glance page what I will serve with the main dish. I always try to make an extra special Sunday dinner with dessert (desserts are presently planned through July as well). I also like to be prepared to bring guests home on the spur of the moment on Sunday, so I always make plenty. I attend a women’s Bible Study every other week and we always take something to share. Again, I have inserted on the calendar what I will make for these dates. While the initial planning takes a little time; I love that I don’t have to think about it every week. I have tried many systems over the years, but I have found this plan to work best for me. My family can also look at the calendar and see what’s for dinner. Around May, I will work on meals for the remainder of the year.
I have found enjoyment for myself and the rest of the family in planning themes for certain nights. Friday nights I make pizza or calzone, Thursday nights I make Mexican food and so on. Sometimes I wonder if I am boring to do that, but I find that having a plan and some structure actually helps me to be more creative. I also have lists of different foods in each category-a list of pasta dishes, a list of different Mexican foods, a list of soups along with lists of desserts and sides to put with each. It is really helpful as I sit down to meal plan and have distractions. My lists help me to plan quickly and efficiently. When I try a new recipe and my family likes it, I often add it to list it goes on so I don’t forget it.
In my college years, my roommate and I had a tradition. We would eat stir-fry with our personal set of chopsticks that she had brought from South Korea (she had spent three months there). We would eat together in our room and pray for some Asian country or for our church missionaries we had in South Korea.
My point? Something that I thought would be a God treasuring tradition for my family as well as keeping us aware prayerfully for other peoples, cultures, nations, and missionaries was to set a weekly or monthly international meal, and pray for a country or missionary that is in one of those countries. You can have your Operation World handy to select a country and know how to pray for them more specifically.
Here are some websites with international foods, and some suggestions of my own. It doesn’t have to be difficult or take extra strange ingredients. It depends on how creative and how authentic you want the foods to represent the country you are praying for.
International Food’s Websites:
Operation World Website:
My Own Suggestions ...they are simple:
Black beans and rice any Central American Country
Steak Argentina (you know your family would LOVE that meal!)
Stir-fry (Asian Country)
Chicken Curry and Rice (India)
Hot dogs, Hamburgers, fried chicken (USA)
Tacos - Mexico
Spaghetti or Lasagna - Italy
One of the most important things (at least for me) when grocery shopping is to make sure you have all your coupons! I’ve found that by using coupons and matching them up to the stores sales, I can save quite a bit or money (sometimes as much as 50% off my bill).
After reading your recent post about menu planning, I thought I’d send you this little grocery shopping tip I’ve learned! I’m attaching my grocery list that’s on my computer and follows my traffic pattern through our local WalMart . . . I just post it on my fridge each week, circle what I need as I run out of it and then on Mondays (when I build my menu and shop) I just have to walk through the list in my mind to make sure I have everything needed for the menu!
All it takes to create a list like this for your favorite grocery store is a trip through the store with a piece of paper and a clipboard. You just write down what is in the aisles that you would normally buy. Then you come home and type it up. All you have to do is print it out each week and everything is in the right order as you walk through the store!
No matter how you change it, having this type of list helps me to cut costs at the store because I am in and out faster and more efficiently and I’m not tempted to buy things that aren’t on the list.
When I left home (ten years ago) my mum presented me with a hand written folder of all the recipes we had cooked together, that were fool-proof. Although the years took their toll on the paper I have typed them out and added to them. One of my brothers was most distressed that he didn’t get one, and so when James got married recently he got his own version including all his favourite recipes.
I wanted to share with you a super website that I use a lot—http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/. It is linked to a magazine that I subscribe to: The BBC Good Food Magazine. One of the things I like about it is that there are pictures of every recipe so that you can see what you are aiming for! The recipes are updated daily, and there is a facility to add recipes to your own “binder” so that you can keep track of the ones that you fancy making. You can also search by ingredient, or define searches by “ready in under 10 minutes” or “one pot meals” for those times when you just need something quick and easy.
A couple of years ago when Joanna’s vision became impaired, I began typing into the computer and saving each recipe that I wanted Joanna to make. This way, I could enlarge the font, and bullet each step to make it easier for her to read and follow. My hope is that this little project will eventually evolve into a LARGE PRINT collection of tried and true favorite recipes that she can take with her. Typing it one at a time is definitely no hardship, but the accumulated effects will be great. Thanks for sharing your idea.
I want to share with you one of the most precious gifts I have been given. As a wedding present my grandmother compiled a recipe book for me to take into married life. She asked my family members as well as my husband’s family members to pass around this book (it went all over the Southeast!) and write in favorite recipes. This little book contains handwritten recipes and commentary in the handwriting of our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. There is also room in the back for new family recipes. I use these recipes all the time.
My grandmother went home to the Lord two years ago, and this recipe collection is even more special to me now. I treasure the thoughtfulness of her gift that I will be able to pass down to my own children. I just wanted to share this idea with others and encourage them to create their own “heirlooms” for their families.
Family recipes are golden and too often they become lost between generations. I did a similar idea, albeit backwards, with my grandma when I was single. She was in her late seventies and I was in college at the time. I had no idea as to whether or when marriage might happen (no “beau” was on the horizon) so I gave her a binder with tabs and paper and wrote all the titles of my favorite recipes of hers on the tops of pages. I gave no definite timeline… just whenever she had time. I think it took about 3 years. Our family gatherings always centered around she and my grandpa’s home (they were farmers) and her kitchen. She died within the first year of my marriage.
I miss her greatly, but adore that cookbook… written in her handwriting on pages spattered by her making the very recipe she was notating. (She cooked in her head too!) They’re precious pages.
For those ladies who want a quick fix…..
Life’s on Fire: Cooking for the Rushed by Sandi Richards
12 weeks worth of recipes for 4-8 adults (can be halved if needed)
20 minutes prep time (or less) and you eat in 25 - 60 minutes.
Weekly grocery lists at the back or print them of the web.
You can plan your day around how long each meal takes
The best book our family ever invested in.
Can also check out Healthy Cooking for the Rushed.
I believe Sandi Richards has 7 kids. She’s been there and done the research. It’s fabulous!
Have you seen this site? http://www.abondanteliving.com/ It’s a bit over the top for me but I love reading the ideas and recipes. And it makes me want to do more in the area of hospitality. Another site full of encouragement on meal prep and keeping the home organized and together is http://www.flylady.net/.