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Old 11-29-2009, 03:18 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: New Jersey, but my heart belongs to FL
Posts: 3
Introduction with questions...

Hello!... Today is Sunday and here I am once again trying to plan a menu for the week and having the same trouble I have every week... it just doesn't come easy! So I thought that I would come to all of you and ask for advice and suggestions...

I am 51, a mother of 2 (an 18 year old son and 14 year old daughter), a wife with a husband that works night (and so is never home for dinner), and owner of 2 dogs and 1 cat. I work in an educational setting (interpreting from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm) and often have interpreting assignments at night.

So my menus must be easy, inexpensive and tasty... but how? Do I go by the sales first or what my taste buds are calling for??... Do I try to shop once a week... or every couple days (for the freshness factor)?... Do I try to get the kids involved (they don't want to do any cooking, but have a lot of opinions)... anyone have any suggestions?

Oh, and by the way -- I'm not a great cook... YET.



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Old 11-29-2009, 05:05 PM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Newport News, VA
Posts: 5,477
Hello Grace and welcome to DC. I understand your dilemma. I would say yes get the kids involved. They are certainly old enough to be cooking a meal for the family. You may have to do some teaching but they could certainly whip up some spaghetti or put the chicken in the oven to bake so when you get home you just have make up some side dishes. You may have to plan enough ahead to have things ready to go for them to start but you can do that. Start with family favorites. Crockpot meals are good also. Don't be afraid of making changes to a recipe to fit your family tastes. Lots of times I'll leave out something (mushrooms, peppers etc) because I know my guys won't eat that. This magazine Simple & Delicious Magazine | Easy Recipes, Easy Dessert Recipes, Easy Appetizers | Taste of Home helped me a lot also. Good luck!

BTW are you an ASL interpreter? I'm just finishing up an ITP here in VA and hope to get a job in the school system.

I could give up chocolate but I'm no quitter!
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:53 AM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,300
I go by sales, then have a variety on hand. My mom started working again when I was in high school, and on those days, I was was responsible for the evening meal. period. If I cooked, she did the dishes. The family ate what was served without complaining, that's what really got me cooking and loving to cook.

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Old 11-30-2009, 10:33 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 8
Welcome Grace,

I agree, it is hard to find recipes that are easy and good and don't hurt the pocket book. I bought this cookbook called The Four Ingredient Cookbooks". It has over 700 "4-ingredient" recipes. It has very good recipes and so easy!! I made 2 pies for Thanksgiving and got the recipes from this cookbook. The one pie was called Key Lime Pie which consisted of 6 egg yolks, 2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup Realime lime juice from concentrate, and green food coloring. Beat all ingredients and pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Cool and chill before serving. I topped with whipped topping also. The second pie was called Peanut Butter Pie and consisted of 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup crunchy/creamy peanut butter, and 1 (8 oz) Cool Whip. Cream the cream cheese then add sugar and peanut butter. Beat until smooth then fold in Cool Whip. Pour in graham cracker crust and refrigerate or freeze. I also bought Hot Fudge Ice Cream topping and spread on top after it had set for a while and then topped with more Cool Whip!! They were both so good and so easy to make.

The authors of the cookbook are Linda Coffee and Emily Cale. You should be able to buy it at any book store and was inexpensive. I bought mine at a book fair.

Happy cooking to you and good luck!
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:42 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: SE Pennsylvania
Posts: 4,655
Buy sale items if you like it or can think of a use. ie: ground beef 80/20 meat loaf, spaghetti sauce, chili, salisbury steak, hamburgers /// chicken: lots of chicken sautes, or with tomato sauce over pasta, or roasted/grilled with a marinade etc. etc.

make batches which you can get several meals out of: stew, soup, pasta and sauce

make items you can alter from meal to meal. A basic red sauce can be plain one night, with meat another and chicken a third. Each will taste different. vary the veg and the pasta shape, the cheese etc and you build easy variety over a week.

chili is very flexible use beef sometimes, chicken other times. There are good "chili kits" with the spices you need just add meat beans and tomato puree. Change the beans around from time to time. add some broth or beer to the mix. serve over rice/noodles/tortillas to vary the experience.

The Joy of Cooking is the book I recommend most often, but there are many others by Mark Bitman, James Petersen, Martha Stewart etc who take you through the basics and teach method and meal ideas.

I would certainly get the teens involved...cooking is a family event and a skill they will need.
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