Growing dinner; long term meal planning

20140611-001757-1077587.jpg

I’m growing lots of yummy edibles in the yard, as you’ve seen. I’m starting to think about cooking and preserving with them. In fact the salads above were picked from out yard! I’ve also frozen quite a few gallon bags of strawberries (cored) for smoothies.

I pulled out an unused calendar tonight and started writing dinner ideas on it. I didn’t look anything up special, I just used recipes (or vague ideas of things to make) that we always come back to. Here is what I have so far:

BBQ (Bj) 20
Pasta salad 15
Slow cooker 18
Pizza (we make) 18
Chicken & polenta 4
Aaron & Erin 8
Potato chowder 7
Tacos 13
Curry 10
Chili 12
Pot sticker soup 8
Tomato soup and cheese sandwiches 10
Pot pie 1
Veggie mulligatawny 2
Salmon chowder 2
Other Soup 16
Spaghetti 13
Enchiladas 7
Stir fry 9
Hawaiian 5
Salad 12
Chipotle pork 4
Gnocchi 7
Stuffed pumpkin 5

Eat out 12
Party (&holidays) 8
Left overs 44

This leaves 74 nights unaccounted for, more if we want less leftover nights (but I do find we use those, and will as long as the girls are too young to eat full servings). Of course this is an ideal world, we always eat out (or get take out home) way, way more than this. Ugh.

I would love more ideas specifically on summer time foods or foods I can make (or ingredients I can prep) to put up for later. I will hopefully have lots of lettuce, kale, cucumbers, peas, beans, carrots, radishes, Swiss chard, and fruit (strawberries, blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, plums, apples, Asian pears, and figs) to work with. Plus a few cabbages, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, peppers, onions and melons. I’m also thinking about what to plant next month to harvest through the fall into winter (and maybe even very early spring). Garlic is on my list! I just saw my friend pull up beautiful garlic from a bed she planted last fall, so cool. I should have artichokes in the spring too, those are growing well.

For lunches we do leftovers, muffin tin lunches, sandwiches and salads. I could probably use a few ideas in that department too!

Breakfast is usually one of these:
Parfait (yogurt, fruit and homemade granola)
Cereal (Tuesday; when she won’t eat anything else)
Oatmeal (pretty much every day in winter with canned peaches or pears mixed in)
Smoothies and toast
Bagels and cream cheese

And sometimes:
Eggs/veggie/hash brown scramble
Breakfast pie
Pancakes (Bj)
Muffins. Yes! I finally tried muffins, twice. Both times they were not so good. We ate them, but couldn’t finish either batch. Must figure out muffins.

So that’s how we eat in a year. Have you ever done long range meal planning? How do you decide what to put up in the summer? I’ve always just winged it, but 17 jars of corn relish and no more Italian sauce tell me it’s better to have a plan.

10 Replies to “Growing dinner; long term meal planning”

  1. We always just tend to wing it. When I grocery shop weekly, I have 4 or 5 meals planned out. I’m not a huge fan of day specific meal planning, because if something doesn’t sound good, or the day didn’t turn out as expected (extra busy at work etc), then we just switch to something easier.

    I feel like we’re pretty limited because Clara will only eat chicken or turkey, so if I want to cook pork chops or steak, then she has to have a suitable meal as well. Luckily she’s to the point now where she’s happy with a salad or whatever sides we’re having.

    Since we don’t really put much up by the way of canning (we mainly only freeze stuff…)I’ve never looked at long term before. But I do think I need to switch to shopping less often. I know the fewer times I enter a store, the less money overall I’ll spend!

    1. I hear you on the “not sounding good” thing. That’s why I’m hoping with this that we can have some flexibility. And I love having things like the carrot tomato soup in the freezer. It almost always sounds good. So far my kids haven’t caught on that they can ask for other stuff, let’s hope that continues!

      1. Avoid that as long as possible! LOL Darn picky kids….

  2. And good job on the muffins! the last ones I made were okay, but not spectacular. I think it’s because I forgot the salt until I had already mixed it all together, so I added some and then stirred more. I didn’t add enough, and I think the over stirring didn’t help :-/

    1. Ok, it’s time for us to find the ultimate muffin recipe. I must conquer muffins!

  3. Amber and Mary, this is my favorite blueberry muffin recipe by Ina Garten http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/blueberry-coffee-cake-muffins-recipe.html. They always turn out just perfect. And they are also great to freeze for later. I made a blueberry muffin recipe this morning that I recently found on Pinterest, and it doesn’t even come close to Ina’s recipe.

    1. okay I’ll add that recipe to my try list!

  4. I adore this idea! I should tracking what we eat for every meal for a couple months to plan my cooking and shopping better.

    I know you weren’t looking for more dinner ideas, but I love this casserole for helping me use up kale when I’m sick of it, and this spaghetti omelet for leftover pasta when we have no tomato sauce left. And maybe some carrot cake jam if you have extra pears and carrots?

  5. Having trouble with muffins? Hmm. Guess my only suggestion is to follow the recipe to a T. Just make sure they’re not gluten free and vegan *GAG*!!!!

  6. Wow, this is great. I’ve been planting a bigger garden each year, but kind of haphazardly just including more of what eat a lot of. I think for next year I’ll do a bit more in depth planning around what are menus will look like.
    Also, I’ll be posting my favorite muffin recipe in the next week or two, if you’d like to check it out.

Leave a Reply