Managing Meals

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vilasman

Senior Cook
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Messages
323
It seems that I am being, shoe horned into managing daily meals at my house. And I married a woman who could cook, just to escape this, but, Life never turns out how you thought it would.

Now for those of you who cook dinner and breakfast every day, lets say you wanted to go through a month and never cook the same dinner twice. Is there a software that will organize it or is it best to just use a month at a glance calender. I am trying to sort this so that I am doing a chicken, a lamb, a fish and a beef dinner every week, but a different one every week of the month. I also want to do a different culture's meal, I dont know if it will be by week or interspersing them. A all asian week, italian week, ... or asian chicken one day, lasgna, the next...

How do you handle not being predictable?
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,633
Location
Massachusetts
I am responsible for the dinners at home. You can get into a rut if you're not careful.

I don't think you need specific software to manage. As you said, a simple calendar will do the trick.

Make a list of your tried and true recipes and identify how many days of the month they will cover. Then make a list of how many recipes of each type you need (3 lamb, 2 chicken, etc). Then go after those recipes.

Search ethnic sites. There are Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese sites. There are Italian and French sites. There are Southwestern, Mexican, Louisiana sites. They will all have recipes for you to choose from. Then there are the general sites such as Epicurious, and Food Network. There are cookbooks in your own library and in the local public library.

Finally, there are folks here who will happily share their recipes in all categories, if you ask nicely.

Good luck. I find it fun as well as a challenge to come up with new recipes all the time. The real difficulty is the limits imposed by your spouse's tastes and limitations.
 

KAYLINDA

Head Chef
Joined
Aug 1, 2005
Messages
1,310
Location
CHERRYVALE, KANSAS
You must be a very organized person! I would love to help...but our meal planning is:

1. open the refrigerator door
2. Ok...we have....so that's what we'll have

or

1. I'm hungry for...
2. Go to the store and get what I need

Best of luck on your adventure!
 

licia

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 11, 2004
Messages
3,835
Location
USA,Florida
I have a friend who plans every item of every meal. She laughs at me because when she asks what we are having for dinner I tell her whatever falls out of the freezer when I open the door. Sometimes that is almost right. Since we are retired, dh gets his own breakfast almost every morning. About once a week I make a cooked breakfast and after church on Sunday he will sometimes make omelets. I love the way we eat now - no pressure. I realize others still have to make menus, but I enjoy cooking by the seat of the pants.
 

Half Baked

Executive Chef
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
2,927
Way back when I had to be organized, I would make a month of menus. I tried many new recipes with this method.

Each week I had:
Soup
Beef
Chicken
Pork
Vegetarian
Fish
Leftover night

...and found lots of new recipes that the fam loved. We occasionally got into a rut with sides.
 

Barb L.

Master Chef
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
Messages
5,912
Location
Monroe, Michigan
I have cooked the same way for 38 yrs, no plan really- maybe a weekly one- but not always. I try to fix a favorite dish we all like or whatever Iam hungry for -" since Iam the only cook " ! Menu's may change a couple times a day -depending what I watch on Food Network - lol If someone mentions he is hungry for a certain dinner - I try to fix it. :chef:
 

mudbug

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Messages
11,166
Location
NoVA, beyond the Beltway
KAYLINDA said:
You must be a very organized person! I would love to help...but our meal planning is:

1. open the refrigerator door
2. Ok...we have....so that's what we'll have

or

1. I'm hungry for...
2. Go to the store and get what I need

Best of luck on your adventure!

Kay, I have been following your plan for quite some time now. Boring, but it does the job, alas.
 

skilletlicker

Head Chef
Joined
Aug 28, 2005
Messages
2,258
Location
Memphis, TN
vilasman said:
It seems that I am being, shoe horned into managing daily meals at my house. And I married a woman who could cook, just to escape this, but, Life never turns out how you thought it would.

Now for those of you who cook dinner and breakfast every day, lets say you wanted to go through a month and never cook the same dinner twice. Is there a software that will organize it or is it best to just use a month at a glance calender. I am trying to sort this so that I am doing a chicken, a lamb, a fish and a beef dinner every week, but a different one every week of the month. I also want to do a different culture's meal, I dont know if it will be by week or interspersing them. A all asian week, italian week, ... or asian chicken one day, lasgna, the next...

How do you handle not being predictable?
Who is requesting that level of menu management? If it's you, and you expected that from her, that might be a clue as to why you're doing the cooking.
:)
 

vilasman

Senior Cook
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Messages
323
It's not so much a thing of organization. First, DW wont eat the same thing more than 2-3 times and that habit has pretty much rubbed off on me. DW is a carb addict, but that can be curbed if she can get a well cooked meal. Well cooked meals take time and she usually dosent have a lot of time. If there are no well cooked fresh meals at home then fast food or hunger becomes the alternative and fast food is like free crack for a carb addict and, well she is my wife, she looks quite pathetic hungery and whining cause I wont cook, or I cook my kind of food which is essentially the atkins diet. So for the past week I have been trying the if you can't beat them join them experiment and I cooked 3 solid meals sunday, dinner monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday was left overs and I am debating on dinner now for friday, and breakfest everyday. I want to see if it changes anything. So far she has said that the food was good and the camp has been pretty peaceful.
But if I am going to continue this, cause truth be told, I don't to much mind cooking, she's just better at it than me, the I want something different rule will kick, I dont like chicken, and she dosen't like lamb as much as I do and if I manage to get a crab right, I might get lucky :)
The other thing is, I like to experiment and try different reciepes. But you sorta have to track what worked, what didn't and even if you hit on something that did work, you dont want to repeat it to soon.
I buy cookbooks off the discount shelves of bookstores, almost compulsively and DW would complain you have all those cookbooks and you live to watch Alton, Paula and Ina, cook something!
I also compulsively cruise marhsalls and such places, for vinegars, oils and spices.
I also was the one who bought our whole kitchen aid collection, so it's sorta like there is a amatuer chef within me raging to get out or something.

The other thing is my wife is in the print advertising industry, and if you know anything about that bunch, whatever they put out has to be perfect. So they are anal and organized. My wife is the ring leader who makes sure everything gets done, which is one reason she has no time. So in a group of anal, organized people, she is the one who makes sure everyone else stays organized by being the most anal. And I guess that is rubbing off on me.
So it's a matter of tracking recipes so we dont eat the same thing twice in a given time period, making sure you have the ingredients for the next reciepe, making sure that stuff that has to be done ahead of time is done ahead of time and that you have a list of what you are low on for each store that you go to.

I am trying to make this flow cause I have things to do besides be harry homemaker. :)
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,633
Location
Massachusetts
vilasman said:
...So it's a matter of tracking recipes so we don't eat the same thing twice in a given time period,

I think you're making it more complicated than it has to be. Start a list and add each day's meal to it.

making sure you have the ingredients for the next recipe,

When preparing to go grocery shopping, gather the recipes you are going to cook and make sure you buy the ingredients in adequate quantities for those recipes.

making sure that stuff that has to be done ahead of time is done ahead of time

Some planning is required. Read a recipe and calculate the times backwards. Dinner at 7:00, cooking time 1 hour - must go into the oven by 5:45 (resting time 15 minutes), prep time 30 minutes, mise en place, 15 minutes = start dinner at 5:00 PM.

and that you have a list of what you are low on for each store that you go to.

See above

I am trying to make this flow cause I have things to do besides be harry homemaker. :)

Once you get your thought processes wrapped around the process, it will flow automatically, Getting started is the hardest part. Spend some time planning the process and you'll make life easier for yourself.

I've inserted my responses into your post.
 

lulu

Head Chef
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
2,039
Location
England
I agree that you are making it harder on yourself. I have always made a rough "week ahead" menu as part of my shopping list, I am now training my self to extend that a bit to become a more economical shopper, so I am planning further ahead...maybe three weeks, more like two and a half. and luckily my husband and I don't mind eating the same thing twice in a month so I have standby things, like salmon fillets, which I pan fry, serve with whatever rice we fancy and a seasonal veg....and never get bored of.

Also, I find that moving out side my comfort zone cooking wise keeps things interesting. We eat less meat than you plan to, and while I don't cook thinking vegetarian, our meals often don't need meat, and so we do fine. If your wife is a carb addict good artisan bread aand a wonderful soup, of which there are as many varieties as there re days of the year, would be great way of adding variety into a week.

Seasonal eating is always good, because the food feels right with the weather, and the veg etc taste better in season and then you know you have th chance to relish it before it disappeaars from domestic produce for a year. I would use that as you basis rather than a country/ethnicity theme. Do differnt things with what is easily to hand and seasonal and you'll be ok.

I have to say, the only eating things a few times blows my mind though. We have somethings over sand over. Like, when mussles first come into season here after the summer we both crave them and have them every friday for a month before leaving them for a while! And I am afraid, I make the same sauce everytime. I changed it once and my husband, normally a very adventurous eater, was devastated! LOL

Also, we often have salad as a main meal erspecially lovely if you have some deli treats...good cold meats or things like artichokes and peppers. Personally I think that seting out the "meats" and building around them rigidly might be a little claustrophobic for me.
 

Claire

Master Chef
Joined
Sep 4, 2004
Messages
7,967
Location
Galena, IL
I was raised in a large family. When people say they won't eat "leftovers" I'm astonished. I have no children and have been married to a man who loves my cooking for over 20 years. Leftovers is how we live. I learned to cook for six, and still do. Sometimes I invite four other people over for dinner! But mostly I plan ahead and freeze a lot. For example, I may cook a roast, then freeze chunks of it. They may wind up being stroganof, stir fry, etc. I'll make meat sauce for spaghetti, but it will also be lasagna and other dishes. A roast chicken will be a basic roast chicken dish, and two or three other dishes. We don't eat the same meal day after day, thank heaven for freezers. We almost never eat the same meat two days in a row. We don't even eat meat every day, period. But when you cook a meal, think ahead. Almost any meat -- ham, poultry, beef -- can be stuck in the food processor with mayo, pickles, onions and other seasonings and make a great sandwich spread. Most fish or shellfish can be augmented with bread crumbs and eggs and some Chesapeake seasoning, then sauteed for great cakes ... that, I might add, my husband likes tossed on a burger roll for a sandwich the next day.
 

Claire

Master Chef
Joined
Sep 4, 2004
Messages
7,967
Location
Galena, IL
I was raised in a large family. When people say they won't eat "leftovers" I'm astonished. I have no children and have been married to a man who loves my cooking for over 20 years. Leftovers is how we live. I learned to cook for six, and still do. Sometimes I invite four other people over for dinner! But mostly I plan ahead and freeze a lot. For example, I may cook a roast, then freeze chunks of it. They may wind up being stroganof, stir fry, etc. I'll make meat sauce for spaghetti, but it will also be lasagna and other dishes. A roast chicken will be a basic roast chicken dish, and two or three other dishes. We don't eat the same meal day after day, thank heaven for freezers. We almost never eat the same meat two days in a row. We don't even eat meat every day, period. But when you cook a meal, think ahead. Almost any meat -- ham, poultry, beef -- can be stuck in the food processor with mayo, pickles, onions and other seasonings and make a great sandwich spread. Most fish or shellfish can be augmented with bread crumbs and eggs and some Chesapeake seasoning, then sauteed for great cakes ... that, I might add, my husband likes tossed on a burger roll for a sandwich the next day.
 

Claire

Master Chef
Joined
Sep 4, 2004
Messages
7,967
Location
Galena, IL
Oh, dear. I might add that I married a little late in life (I was pushing 30, hubby was pushing 40, and we were both full time workers). It was a second marriage for both of us. I went into the marriage with one agreement: the person who does the work is doing it correctly, period. If you want to do the work, go for it, otherwise, well, then shut up. My laundry, my cooking, etc, is perfect. My husband's dishwashing, perfect. His table settings, superb. His pasta -- superb. I grocery shop to die for. After almost 25 years, we live by this. If you don't like the way it is done, well then do it yourself.
 

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