Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday? And May? Already?

Happy Monday! Another week is beginning, and it's hard to believe it's already MAY!! My goodness! April showers have continued on into May here. We have really needed the rain, but we have had some pretty heavy storms for the past few days. Thankfully, it held off just long enough for us to have Saturday's soccer games. Here is my cute hubby coaching our Eagles. It's blurry because I snapped it with my phone (Minte was already on the sideline having his water break.)

Luke's fun aunt and uncle were in town for a visit and came to watch the kids' games. It's fun this year because the cousins are all playing. Trapper and Minte are on Luke's team together, and Gracie plays on another team, so it's fun to all see each other at the soccer fields on Saturdays! Luke's aunt told me she reads the blog (which I didn't know!) so I wanted to be sure and post this fun picture of them with all the kids. :::waving::: Hi Aunt Annie! It was so good to see y'all this weekend!

Well I don't know about you but for me it is HARD to "get it together" right now! I think "spring has sprung" for me. I am r-e-a-d-y for s-u-m-m-e-r. Big time. Thankfully my laundry and menu planning schedules have kept me on track. You see, I don't have schedules because I am together, but because I'm NOT! It's really helping this week, too, as I'm going to be gone Friday and Saturday. So, this week I simply bumped the laundry schedule up a day so all the laundry will be done before Friday, and switched my usual Thursday leftover night with my usual Friday soup night. This is very, very helpful for me.

Speaking of helpful... I was SO happy last night when I was looking over this week's menu because of something I try to do each week that's a real time-saver for me: When buying the week's worth of groceries, I buy what I'll need for the following Monday as well. That's where menu planning comes in handy... the fact that I even know what we're having the following Monday! We had such a busy weekend I didn't get to the store (which is often the case). So it feels great on this slow-going, cloudy, sleepy Monday morning to know that I already have today's ingredient's ready for tonight's dinner. I've got time later today day to snag the rest of our groceries for the week, but tonight's taken care of.

This week for Menu Plan Monday, Laura asked us to share how we choose recipes. I like to try lots of new ones that I find on the internet as well as using my "Dinner Spinner" app on my phone. There are SO many great recipes out there, though... how to choose? Some of my reasons are similar to hers, but here are my "top 5" criteria:
  • 45 minutes or less of prep/ cooking time, or a slow-cooker recipe. I either want to put it in the Crock Pot by mid/late morning and be done with it, or only need 45 minutes late in the afternoon/evening.
  • Ingredients that are healthy or can be made lower fat by simply choosing lower fat/ reduced sodium soups, etc.
  • The main ingredients are something I know everyone in our family likes. There may be a few new spices or a new way of preparing it, but the majority is made up of something most everyone is familiar with.
  • The fewer ingredients the better. I don't look for "5 ingredient only" recipes exclusively, but when I see a mile-long list of what's needed, I keep on clickin'.
  • Something economical, or that can be substituted with things I can buy more cheaply. Some recipes I choose call for expensive cuts of meat or really expensive fish. I will substitute something that fits our budget better. Usually that works out great. In fact, I'm not sure that's ever been a problem.
That's about it for my criteria. I don't usually do a whole week of "new"... I may try a couple of new things, but I make sure that at least 2 or 3 nights we have something familiar. Often by the time I make it to the kitchen to make dinner I need to be able to function on "auto pilot" (or "auto chef") so I don't want to have to think very much, LOL.

So, here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Monday: Chicken Tamale Casserole, black beans, salad
Tuesday: Hawaiian Meatballs (my kids LOVE this), rice, stir-fry veggies
Wednesday: Ye tekekle Encoulat be Misr (Ethiopian "Breakfast for Dinner"- Boiled Egg with Lentil Sauce), from "The Recipe of Love" now available here, injera from a nearby ET market
Thursday: Tomato Basil Soup (recipe here, scroll down to page 4), salad, garlic bread
Friday: YO-YO (You're on you're own)- Mom's at a homeschool convention. :)

To read -or share- more recipes, planning strategies, and ways to choose recipes, visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie! Have a wonderful first-week-of-May!

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