LTH Home

Menu planning

Menu planning
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Menu planning

    Post #1 - April 19th, 2010, 1:17 pm
    Post #1 - April 19th, 2010, 1:17 pm Post #1 - April 19th, 2010, 1:17 pm
    A search on this topic in this forum didn't turn up anything, so ... here goes. I've never been a person who plans a week of menus. I usually decide sometime in the afternoon what I'm going to make for dinner that night. But occasionally I think a little more structure to the week wouldn't hurt. I'm thinking of something roughly like this:

    Sun -- roast chicken
    Mon -- casserole
    Tue -- pork
    Wed -- Prince Spaghetti night (any pasta dish)
    Thur -- stew/slow cooker
    Fri -- fish or pizza
    Sat -- beef

    Of course, when weather permits, the other option on every night would be "or grill something."

    I am not much of a fan of pork, due to youthful experiences of chewing diligently through pork chop shoe soles, but Sweet Baboo has a persistent fondness for pork chops. I find, even when they're as thick and juicy as possible, they're pretty much still solid fibrous protein with little if any tasty fat except the tough stuff you have to trim off the edges. I think I can keep pork in the rotation only if I make a point to pick up pork shoulder, ribs, and tenderloins, and thereby distract him from the absence of pork chops.

    Also feeling iffy about the "casserole" and "stew/slow cooker" options, as hot weather approaches.

    Just wondering if any of you other LTHers have systems or tips for planning on some consistent basis what you'll be making for dinner each night of the week - on those nights that your plans aren't overtaken by other events, of course.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #2 - April 19th, 2010, 1:45 pm
    Post #2 - April 19th, 2010, 1:45 pm Post #2 - April 19th, 2010, 1:45 pm
    I plan the weekely dinner menus at home with input from my wife each weekend. I try to have fun doing it, and try to stay out of a rut, I also love grocery shopping for my menus.

    Saturdays and or Sundays are spent smoking something (pork butt, ribs, seafood, meatloaf, chuckie, chicken wings, jalapenos, etc.) these items can be turned into something good for a weeknight dinner.

    Sample weekly dinner menu (we try to shop on Friday on the way home from the burbs for Saturday's specialty items(meat, seafood, etc.), or do our weeks grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday):

    Saturday: BBQ
    Sunday: BBQ, or a Sunday Roast, cajun item(gumbo, etc), soups, etc
    Monday: BLT's or some other sandwich
    Tuesday: Leftover BBQ turned into fried rice, tacos, or pasta
    Wednesday: grilled cheese, frozen pizza, etc.
    Thursday: Breakfast for dinner
    Friday: Carryout

    I dont have much time or desire to cook anything from scratch on a work night. I dislike crockpot food so leaving something simmering all day isnt an option, so we go the leftover, or quick and easy route. Sometimes if I am motivated I will fire up the Weber kettle for some chicken, etc, but that is rare Mon-Thurs. Weekends is where I cook from scratch, and typically all day.

    a tip for your pork, especially the chops, try brining them before high heat cooking.
  • Post #3 - April 20th, 2010, 12:33 pm
    Post #3 - April 20th, 2010, 12:33 pm Post #3 - April 20th, 2010, 12:33 pm
    Thanks for the ideas, Jim. Re the pork chops, recently we bought some at Costco that were the best pork chops I think I've ever had, thick and juicy and ... still ... there's basically no marbling in a pork chop. I will try the brining suggestion. The only other thing I've ever been able to do with pork chops to make them enjoyable for me is to get some sweet glaze or sauce on them.

    Am I crazy to ask if your BBQ schedule is basically the same year round?
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #4 - April 20th, 2010, 12:55 pm
    Post #4 - April 20th, 2010, 12:55 pm Post #4 - April 20th, 2010, 12:55 pm
    I plan the week out, too. This is/was this week, and on a post it in the kitchen so my wife knows not to double up ( ie burgers and burgers again) for lunches and dinners with the boys.

    Sat - Butterflied grilled chx, cuc/tomato salad
    Sun - BBQ ribs, (Gary) wings, slaw, smoked potato
    Mon - Grilled mahi, asian slaw, teryaki rice
    Tues - Bone in ribeye, twice baked potato, sauteed green beans
    Wed - Fettucine w/ meat sauce, garlic bread, salad
    Thurs - Asian chops with noodles and snow peas
    Fri - Ground beef quesadillas, refried beans, chips

    I almost always save Fridays for dinners out or carryout - just happen to have some beef that needs to be used this week.

    I usually lay this out Friday night after a) consulting the 7 day forecast (I tend to not grill in the rain, but snow and cold are fine) and b) consulting with Mrs DBO. I shop for the week Sat am. The sides are almost always a day-to-day call, but it's good to know the mains a few days in advance - I made tomorrow's meat sauce & quesadilla filling this morning before work so it's ready to go for the next two days. Plus, knowing the menu before shopping allows me to get everything in one trip per week and prep or freeze whatever is called for.

    Like Jim, my biggest cook days are Sat & Sun. Anything fairly complicated during the week is made or prepped on the weekends, just from a time-during-the-week-after-work standpoint. Seems to be working OK for the past couple years.

    I know, it's not too spontaneous. I haven't really figured out spontaneous w/ two 3 year olds yet. :D As you can see above, I'm a little handcuffed by their limited palette, but it's not so bad.

    Good luck with the brined pork, Katie!
  • Post #5 - April 20th, 2010, 1:01 pm
    Post #5 - April 20th, 2010, 1:01 pm Post #5 - April 20th, 2010, 1:01 pm
    Katie wrote:Thanks for the ideas, Jim. Re the pork chops, recently we bought some at Costco that were the best pork chops I think I've ever had, thick and juicy and ... still ... there's basically no marbling in a pork chop. I will try the brining suggestion. The only other thing I've ever been able to do with pork chops to make them enjoyable for me is to get some sweet glaze or sauce on them.

    Am I crazy to ask if your BBQ schedule is basically the same year round?



    yes, at least since I really caught the bbq bug early in 2009. :D

    the brine I used is called a slaughterhouse poultry brine(basically water, kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, Tony Chachere) it can be gound doing a google search. I brined my 1" chops from last weekend for about 2 hours, and grilled with no additional seasoning.
    Last edited by jimswside on April 20th, 2010, 3:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #6 - April 20th, 2010, 1:11 pm
    Post #6 - April 20th, 2010, 1:11 pm Post #6 - April 20th, 2010, 1:11 pm
    jimswside wrote:the brine I used is called a slaughterhouse poultry brine(basically water, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Tony Chachere) it can be found doing a google search.


    If I remember right, there's some brown sugar in there too. A usual suspect in most pork brines.
  • Post #7 - April 20th, 2010, 1:21 pm
    Post #7 - April 20th, 2010, 1:21 pm Post #7 - April 20th, 2010, 1:21 pm
    DeathByOrca wrote:
    jimswside wrote:the brine I used is called a slaughterhouse poultry brine(basically water, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Tony Chachere) it can be found doing a google search.


    If I remember right, there's some brown sugar in there too. A usual suspect in most pork brines.



    your right brown sugar is in that mix., serves me right for trying to go by memory from work.
  • Post #8 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:16 pm
    Post #8 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:16 pm Post #8 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:16 pm
    Thread bump!

    Last month I was at a friend's house and noticed she had a board up with the menu for the upcoming week. Her household is just adults, like mine, so I was surprised. Although she & her DH love cooking & fine food way more than I do.

    I'm trying to get the hang of it, but shopping on the weekends is a huge no-no based on yesterday's visit to Mariano's versus this morning's visit to a Jewel. We don't like spending time during the week shopping (yesterday was the 1st trip to a store in over 10 days) and sometimes getting to the store during the week is just downright difficult.

    Nevertheless, I'm trying. I've planned a menu for this week, taking into account that DH is gone & I have dinner out tonight. It's not a bad week for me so a good time to try some of those recipes I've been eyeing forever. I also made brioche over the weekend, so I figured an easy meal would be grilled cheese w/ tomato soup (pulled from freezer to defrost already) this week. I also ordered some items for delivery tomorrow and I know I can get to Fresh Farms on Thursday afternoon.

    Any insights as to how to make this easy, but not monotonous. I will admit, I've eaten out so much over the last several years, that I'm exhausted by eating food outside of home.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #9 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:32 pm
    Post #9 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:32 pm Post #9 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:32 pm
    I'm not much on "menu" planning per se--too confining--but I do "plan" around 2 things--type of cuisine (I haven't had any "Thai/French/stew" in a while) AND what I need to use up or I want to do something with (ramps are available this week--yay!).

    I try VERY hard not to eat out/order in more than 2 dinners and 2 lunches during the week (week = Sunday dinner thru Friday lunch) so I have at least 3 dinners and 3 lunches a week to cook in a good week. I try to shop once a week as a destination--tho I do pick up things here and there if the mood strikes. But the fun part is opening up the fridge/pantry and coming up with the final "plan" that day.

    When I shop, I consider what I've been wanting to try and grab ingredients accordingly but if I end up without something come cooking time, the improv is part of the fun. Slaving over recipes is not my thing though I know others feel naked without them. But I'm never bored or irritated or stressed when it comes time to cook so maybe there's something to be said for letting the creative juices flow--at least I find it to be a great outlet after a long day of my "not so creative" job :)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #10 - April 23rd, 2013, 11:54 am
    Post #10 - April 23rd, 2013, 11:54 am Post #10 - April 23rd, 2013, 11:54 am
    My problem is forgetting what I have and then finding it in a puddle - hate to waste good food. So sometimes I'll just list the produce I purchased so that it doesn't go unused. Other weeks I try to plan a week of menus so I don't end the week in a food desert.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #11 - April 24th, 2013, 8:49 am
    Post #11 - April 24th, 2013, 8:49 am Post #11 - April 24th, 2013, 8:49 am
    I have an insane amount of magazines and loose recipes. And I have a spreadsheet of all the recipes I used from magazines and cookbooks so I know what worked and what didn't; I found out that there were 20+ magazines that I never used any recipes from. So I organized those by month and am planning menus only around those, and if I don't like the recipes or there aren't any that interest me, I toss the magazine. If I'm short on recipes, I go through the loose file. The spreadsheet lists all the ingredients that I don't normally have on hand, so if I'm trying to get rid of something, I can search on a term and use that recipe.

    I am such a nerd.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #12 - April 24th, 2013, 10:00 am
    Post #12 - April 24th, 2013, 10:00 am Post #12 - April 24th, 2013, 10:00 am
    "Am I crazy to ask if your BBQ schedule is basically the same year round?"

    When we moved back to the Chicago suburbs from Santa Barbara in a September (after 10 years on the West Coast) I set up my grill in the back yard and cooked all winter, often shoveling a path through the snow to the grill.

    I found out later, as we got acquainted with the neighbors, that the word went around the neighborhood that the new, crazy neighbors from Southern California were barbecuing in the snow! I still cook outside all winter when the BBQ bug bites, and I don't think this is as unusual now as it was back then.
    Suburban gourmand
  • Post #13 - April 24th, 2013, 4:05 pm
    Post #13 - April 24th, 2013, 4:05 pm Post #13 - April 24th, 2013, 4:05 pm
    I've also been known to BBQ in the snow (with no loss of pride!).
    A spreadsheet also works well for me. My wife and I will usually go through the fridge on Sun. afternoon and figure out what needs to be used relatively quickly. Then we do a freezer inventory. The menu will allow for a dinner out or a delivery order. Fridays are, for some strange reason (New England upbringing?) dedicated pasta nights. Pizza will also usually be rotated in every other week, although, more and more frequently, that's a delivery order, rather than frozen (egad!) or home made ("whimper" from the chef). Lunches are always leftovers or a quickly made grilled cheese... The spreadsheet lets me ensure that I'm not repeating things too often too frequently and also tracks the delivery orders so we know the particular dishes we like from any particular restaurant (for a while we were working through the Spoon Thai menu. Now it seems to be Lao Sze Chuan uptown). Recipes are saved in Word format on a massive removable drive. Magazines tend to get tossed after a few months as I'm trying to unclutter (approx. 3000 LPs transfered to disc and sold. To say nothing of a few hundred CDs burnt. Cassettes are the next project.).
  • Post #14 - April 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm
    Post #14 - April 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm Post #14 - April 24th, 2013, 10:33 pm
    Glad to see the thread bumped, I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

    I do make a list of meals for the week, and shop from that list on Sunday. Even when I plan well, though, I don't necessarily follow the plan, and food rots in the fridge. Over the winter, I got in the habit of cooking a big pot of hearty soup on Sunday. Sometimes, that would be Sunday dinner, and other times, I would also cook something else a little complex -- a stew or braise or something -- for Sunday dinner. The soup and/or braise leftovers make great lunches. So a typical week might look like this:

    Sun: Moroccan squash and lentil stew
    Mon: Soup, made on Sunday (say, beef with lots of veggies)
    Tues: Quick veggie stirfry with tofu
    Weds: get home too late, order out
    Thurs: Spaghetti with mushroom and sweet red pepper sauce
    Fri: Go out
    Sat: A rotisserie chicken from Morelia

    Too much eating out; result, veggies and lettuce rotting in the bottom of the fridge.

    I need more very quick options, or more items prepared ahead. One recent discovery has been a variety of frozen breaded fish at Mariano's which is really quite good, along with frozen sweet potato tater tots from Whole Foods, and a salad. The tater tots are Alexia, I believe, and are really pretty good, and not high fat. Since everything is frozen, nothing spoils if not eaten, but they are there on nights I get home too late to cook.

    But I'm actually pretty sick of stir fries (I guess I need to update my recipes) and spaghetti, and I keep getting home at 7pm, and I need more fast alternatives, cook-aheads, crockpot recipes, etc.

    I admire those of you who go through your fridge at the end of the week and cook what is there. I should challenge myself to do that. Instead I tend to collapse in a heap on Saturday.
  • Post #15 - April 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm
    Post #15 - April 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm Post #15 - April 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm
    I'm glad to see this thread bumped too; I'd forgotten I'd started it. Since then, I've learned a few things:

    Sweet Baboo is receptive to fish.
    Sweet Baboo is receptive to--indeed, insistent upon--more meat per week than I would otherwise eat.
    Sweet Baboo is not receptive to casseroles, crockpot dishes, beans (except in chili), or what he considers too much chicken per month.

    So here's where my menu planning system is right now:

    Sunday: a long slow roast (beef-but it's expensive, lamb-but it's expensive, pork, chicken, or ham)
    Monday: ?
    Tuesday: ?
    Wednesday: pasta (I call this Prince spaghetti day because it helps me to remember)
    Thursday: pork (but unlike SB, I'm not that fond of pork chops, so I have to mix the pork day options up)
    Friday: fish (didn't think this would ever fly... I mean, fish don't fly... most fish don't fly... I mean, didn't expect SB to turn pro-fish, but he has, and we've got a lot of good options for fish night)
    Saturday: something to grill or carryout or :shock: go out to eat

    So, I'm a few ideas short of a full week. I can fill those days in with items from a list of dinner ideas that I know SB will go for, e.g., tacos, Thai shrimp, meatloaf, BLTs, pizza, Chinese, fried chicken, Manwich, Swedish meatballs, etc. but most of those things (exception: pizza) don't seem suitable for a weekly rotation.

    Judy H wrote:I need more very quick options, or more items prepared ahead. One recent discovery has been a variety of frozen breaded fish at Mariano's which is really quite good...

    Same for me, I need more items prepared ahead. Thanks for the tip about the frozen breaded fish at Mariano's.

    I imagine this discussion might seem sadly unsophisticated to some among us, but I have a feeling a lot of others of us can identify with not being able to eat and serve to others (spouses, children, parents) whatever we want whenever we want.

    Not that I don't indulge my own tastes. I have a long list of favorites to which SB is not receptive (too numerous to list here but being recorded for posterity in the ongoing construction of my Venn diagram, "Things My Dog Will Eat With Me That My Husband Won't") that provide me (and the dog) with a very rich lunch life.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #16 - April 25th, 2013, 3:09 pm
    Post #16 - April 25th, 2013, 3:09 pm Post #16 - April 25th, 2013, 3:09 pm
    A couple of people mentioned planning the week's meals on Sunday, but pairs4life, I think, mentioned how crowded grocery stores can be on weekends. Is there also a best day of the week to shop for a week at a time? I think I read once that one day like Wednesday or Thursday is when grocery stores shelves are freshly stocked, but I imagine it varies by chain. I'm less interested in when the shelves get restocked than when the fresh meat, fish, and produce get restocked... though at some places, they might get deliveries every day (or so they say). I am fortunate in being able to set my own schedule, so I could do my weekly grocery shopping during a weekday before most people get off work. The weekly store ads (which I get in the mail on Wednesdays) tend to drive my shopping and menu planning.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #17 - April 26th, 2013, 8:52 am
    Post #17 - April 26th, 2013, 8:52 am Post #17 - April 26th, 2013, 8:52 am
    I usually go on Mondays at lunch, followed by Tuesday at lunch if there wasn't enough time. Unfortunately, that may be changing and I'll have to either shop at night or on weekends...I hate to see what Jerry's is like on a Sunday.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #18 - April 26th, 2013, 1:58 pm
    Post #18 - April 26th, 2013, 1:58 pm Post #18 - April 26th, 2013, 1:58 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:I usually go on Mondays at lunch, followed by Tuesday at lunch if there wasn't enough time. Unfortunately, that may be changing and I'll have to either shop at night or on weekends...I hate to see what Jerry's is like on a Sunday.

    I've shopped at Jerry's on Saturdays. I learned to not take a cart because it's so hard to maneuver. I accept that I will likely get bumped by someone's cart. I definitely go in with the mindset that it will be a quick shop, versus an in-depth, thoughtful one. My trips to Jerry's coincide with a regular appointment in the Oak Mill mall so I leave my car in that lot and walk over to Jerry's. The advantage is that I get a stop at Minelli's in the Oak Mill mall.
    -Mary
  • Post #19 - March 15th, 2017, 11:59 am
    Post #19 - March 15th, 2017, 11:59 am Post #19 - March 15th, 2017, 11:59 am
    Hi,

    In response to when to shop, I rarely shop on weekends for our family. Unless I am in the city, then I hopscotch through different stores of various specialties.

    Normal shopping is done on weekday mornings due to a gap of time I need to fill.

    In the past before a major holiday like Thanksgiving, I would shop in the evening after 9:00 pm. All major items were purchased by Sunday evening at the latest.

    As much as I like the bustle at Jerry's, I don't like panic shopping at Jewel before a major holiday. People are edgy, pushing really heavy carts and generally not fun to be around.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - December 30th, 2020, 3:59 pm
    Post #20 - December 30th, 2020, 3:59 pm Post #20 - December 30th, 2020, 3:59 pm
    My Dad observed I have been making something different just about every day for months. He thought some meals could be repeated rather than always coming up with something new.

    This reminds me when I was a kid. My parents took us to historical places and museums every weekend. My sister Laura and I protested that we would like to stay home to play with our friends like normal people!

    Another play on: the grass is always greener on the other side.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - December 30th, 2020, 4:04 pm
    Post #21 - December 30th, 2020, 4:04 pm Post #21 - December 30th, 2020, 4:04 pm
    I would find making something different every day completely exhausting. I enjoy sometimes making a new dish, but it so much easier to make something familiar to me, regardless of how long it actually takes to make.
  • Post #22 - December 30th, 2020, 6:06 pm
    Post #22 - December 30th, 2020, 6:06 pm Post #22 - December 30th, 2020, 6:06 pm
    lougord99 wrote:I would find making something different every day completely exhausting. I enjoy sometimes making a new dish, but it so much easier to make something familiar to me, regardless of how long it actually takes to make.

    I get it.

    For me, it keeps me interested in life. It's my creative outlet.

    Regards,
    CAthy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - December 30th, 2020, 11:46 pm
    Post #23 - December 30th, 2020, 11:46 pm Post #23 - December 30th, 2020, 11:46 pm
    Throughout the pandemic, I've been mixing it up with our meal/menu planning. I cook new dishes as I'm inspired to do so (and the inspirations come from numerous sources). Sometimes that requires dedicated planning and other times, I'm able to just use what I have on hand though, admittedly, my pantry has certainly evolved and grown over the past several months.

    I also cook old favorites and household staples on a regular basis. And very rarely, we get carry-out or delivery to round things out. Pre-pandemic, we were probably 75/25 restaurant to home-cooked. These days, we're probably 90/10 home-cooked to restaurant. I generally know, going into certain weeks, when I'll have time to cook and when I won't. That makes planning a bit easier.

    I love cooking but a big part of maintaining that love is not forcing myself to cook anything too elaborate (or anything at all) when I'm not in the mood to do it, or if I'm pressed for time. I don't know if I'll come out of this a better cook but I'll certainly come out of it more practiced. And that pertains to provisioning, too. It's certainly more of a challenge than ever before keeping ingredients stocked. But it's an enjoyable exercise doing my best to use everything up week after week, not run out of essentials and have all the necessary components on hand to make the dishes I have planned. And going through that week after week has made me better at it. It's like a perpetual game of culinary tetris fitting all the pieces together as efficiently as possible.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more