Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meal Calendar

My carpool partner Alison is a very organized person. Each month, she plans out her meals for an entire month, and puts them on a calendar. She tries out new recipes from magazines all the time, too. She is able to do this because she schedules them. I am not making this up. In addition, she plans each day so she can get dinner on the table by 6 pm each night. This means she gets up early if she needs to prep something in the morning, and if we have a late meeting at work she will put the whole thing together so her hubby can pop it in the oven before we get home. For years, I have dreamed of being this organized, but my personality type ENFP does not lend itself to such things. I tend to live for the moment, especially when it comes to cooking.

However, my schedule really can't contain this kind of lack of planning. At our house, we have at least one thing going on every night of the week - here's our list of regularly scheduled meetings Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, trumpet lessons, religious education class, piano lessons, church youth groups, pastoral council and social ministries commission meetings. Just typing all of these regularly scheduled commitments is making me feel panicky!

I'm going to attempt the meal calendar, and it's my hope that by writing about it here will make it happen. Check it out by clicking here. It's my hope that if I indulge my creative side by blogging about it, it will make it more appealing to me. I'm going to try to follow certain themes by doing things on certain days, like my sister. Another organization queen, my sister actually lived by the "wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, etc." methodology. I can remember when she was a newlywed, I asked her to go out to dinner with me on a Friday night, and she turned me down because that was the night she does dusting. Really...she said that....I am wondering if she still does this, now that her kids are teenagers and her schedule is as busy as mine. I personally can't remember the last time I dusted.

So, here we go...
  • Sundays are reserved for big cooking projects because that's the only day I have enough time to do them.
  • Mondays are for crock pot meals - we have to be out the door by 6 pm on Mondays and usually have 2 things on Monday nights. Plus, work always sucks on Mondays and to quote that Bob Geldof song, I don't like Mondays and I want to shoot, shoo-oo-o-o-ot that whole day down. I just want to come home and have dinner be done on Mondays.
  • Tuesdays sometimes have something going on, sometimes it doesn't, so Tuesdays are on a case by case basis.
  • Wednesdays are take out pizza night. The kids have religious education (or as we used to call it in the Kum Ba Ya era 1970s in the Catholic church, CCD) and we carpool. I have pickup duty, and I have to drive right past Classic Pizza to get there. I bought a Varsity Gold Card off of a Dexter HS football player and with it I can get buy one, get one free pizza at Classic, so that means dinner for the family is only $9 total on Wednesday nights. What a deal - and they make their own dough, too.
  • Thursday requires something quick or something that can be made ahead, since that's piano lesson night and we have to drive all the way to Canton for them. Mr. Donato is worth the drive, but he does make dinner hectic.
  • Friday dinner usually accompanies happy hour, so it calls for small plates. On the Fridays where happy hour needs to be delayed a few hours because of other commitments, small plates would still be a good idea. Appetizers can be made quickly.
  • Saturdays can be just about anything - some Saturdays can be big cooking projects, others might require something fast, it all depends. Maybe I'll even want to go out to dinner. It's generally farmer's market shopping day, too, which lends itself to all types of inspiration in the kitchen. I am going to leave Saturdays unplanned, to honor my personality type. I don't want to chafe under too much organization.

Help me fill out the calendar! Please share with me your recipes. Upon review of my blog, I could probably use some more quickies and crock pot recipes. I've added categories to my recipes already posted to help me schedule, and to see where the holes are.


Sarah said...

I do a meal schedule as well but only in two-week increments. It's a little easier with only three people in the family.

Some time-tested quick favorites I have are: chicken paprikash, spicy shrimp fried rice, peanut sauce pasta, "no-recipe" sausage-onion-tomato penne, and crock-pot chili. I won't blow up your comments page with all the recipes but if you want any of them just let me know. :)

Kate said...

I know it is boring, but we have turkey burgers and salad once a week. They are fast, the kids eat them without a fuss and they can be cooked individually in case someone has to eat earlier (or later) than the rest of the family.

I kind of look forward to the day because I know it'll be low stress.

Laura McReynolds said...

This is an excellent slow cooker pork recipe, and the coffee is the best part of the flavor. I did not use the bourbon, but it would probably be really good. I finished this with bottled Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce--you could do homemade, or your favorite store brand. . . .

Sandy said...

Dusting? I am glad you leave your white gloves home when you visit. I decided after the kids were born that it is better to be the fun mom that plays games and not the clean-house obsessed mom - but I still wash every stitch of dirty laundry in the house on Tuesdays.

We are equally busy around here. The only thing that helps is that high school sports and band take up about 2.5 hours after school each day. That gives me time after work to prep dinner before the kids get home. It also helps to be "walkers" to/from high school. We didn't plan it that way when the kids were one and two and we moved in to our house, but it is a great convenience. I don't need to drop off or pick up unless the weather is bad.

We need quick dinners for game and meet nights. One of my favorites to make is dry rub spiced chicken breast prepared on the "Herman Foreman" grill (so-named by my daughter when she was young - she could never remember George's name). I shred the chicken breast and serve it warm on big salads. It cooks up in six minutes (while I make the salads).

Like most of America we eat pizza at least once a week too.