Menu Plan Monday: The Process


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Every Saturday I'm one of the first folks in line at our local farmer's market. I buy most of my meat and all of my produce there, and I like to finish before it gets too hot or they run out of anything. If you're there and you're standing between me and an egg vendor when the woman in charge rings her cowbell, watch out! - you're likely to get mowed down. I have to have my eggs; my family can eat/use up to 2 dozen a week. We're practically clucking.

When I get home with all my goodies (including eggs), I lay it all out, so that I can plan my menu around what I've purchased. All of my decisions are based on what's available, and I think there's a broader lesson in that for me. Not being able to have whatever I want, whenever I want it, forces me to accept the circumstances and to look for the blessings in what I have. If okra's what you've got, then be thankful for it and find a way make okra that you love.

That said, I skipped the okra this week. I did get a gorgeous watermelon, alongwith cabbage, pattypan squash and some Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples ( the first of the season). The tomotoes in my garden have stopped ripening, so I picked up a couple of those, too.

Here's the plan:

  • Monday - Spaghetti Night (Whole wheat spaghetti and grass-fed beef)
  • Tuesday - Brunswick Stew (Crock-pot night)
  • Wednesday - Toasted Ciabatta with Apples and Cheddar or Hummus and Peppers plus Cabbage -Carrot salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing
  • Thursday - Pepper Jelly-Glazed Salmon on Goat Cheese-Corn Bread Pudding with Garlic Greens (Seafood Night)
  • Friday - Grilled Pizza with Squash, Bacon and Onions plus Margherita Pizza (Pizza Night)
  • Saturday - Grass-fed Local Beef Burgers with Salad and Watermelon (Sandwich Night)
  • Sunday - "State Fair" Local Chicken with Creamy Aioli Potato Salad and Green Beans

If I'm ever going to prepare any of this, I need to get to bed!

Menu Plan Monday: New School Year, New Menu Plan


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We're starting school tomorrow, so I though this would be a good time for me to engage in a new endeavor: Meal Plan Mondays.

I've been planning menus for some time now. Before I began planning meals for my own family, I was planning meals for other families as a personal chef. My menu emphasis has shifted several times in this, as I figured out what was important to me in feeding my family (and others). I experimented with extravagant (ok, that was before the kids), super low-fat, super low-carb, super inexpensive, etc.

Still, I was never really passionate about any of those plans, so I usually gave them up quickly and returned to the world of too many options where menu planning would take me the better part of a day. Finally, I found two things that are currently driving my weekly cooking, and they're keeping my quick AND passionate. What are they?

1 - a weekly menu outline
2 - focusing on cooking local, seasonal, sustainable food

A weekly menu outline is mostly helpful with the "quick" part of my planning. It helps me wade through the endless possibilities in the sea of ideas that is my culinary brain. It gives me paramaters to plan within. So here is my weekly outline, which varies every homeschool semester, depending on activities, etc.

Monday = Spaghetti Night (the fam gets one recurring meal a week, and this is what they want)
Tuesday = Crockpot Night (we're gone most of the day on Tuesday)
Wednesday = Seafood Night
Thursday = Vegetarian Night (usually beans or eggs - no tofu for dh)
Friday = Homemade Pizza Night
Saturday = Sandwich and/or Soup Night
Sunday = Sunday Dinner (feasty or fancy)

So that's what I plan around, and it makes so many decisions for me!

The second thing that has altered my planning and cooking is a new interest in local, sustainable foods. I want to post some other time about why this has become so important to me, but the summary it this: I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I want that time to be as worshipful and glorifying to God as possible. You can explore this more at Kitchen Stewardship.

Since my meal planning is frequently hampered by the abundance of choices available to me, focusing only on what's local, seasonal, and responsibly produced cuts down on the decision making. Should we have asparagus or spinach salad with our chicken? Neither one; it's August in Georgia - how do pole beans grab you?

Good gracious - am I ever going to get to my menu?

Monday -Spaghetti Night (homemade sauce and local, grass-fed beef)

Tuesday - Crock-pot Enchiladas (sauce with garden tomatoes & local peppers)

Wednesday - Crowder Peas, Corn Bread w/Cheese and Jalapenos & Tomato Salad

Thursday - Tahini Shrimp, Grilled Peppers and Squash w/ Feta & Homemade Pitas w/ Hummus

Friday - Grilled Pizza Margherita (if you've never grilled pizza, you've got to try it!)

Saturday - Huevos Rancheros on Romaine

Sunday - Grilled Pepper Jelly Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad of Baby Lettuces*, Bleu Cheese and Early Pears w/ Balsamic - Mustard Dressing

* I can't believe I found baby lettuce at the farmer's market in August!! You can get a second planting and grow lettuce in summer, but it's been so hot, I assumed lettuce was done. She said she's been "babying" them all the way.

Breakfast Menu: Bible, Hymns and Poems


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I've fallen behind in my summaries of last school year, and we're starting school tomorrow! The only subject that I didn't really cover so far is Bible. I know the county won't ever check on that, but I want to remember what we did all the same.

We covered Bible in the morning during breakfast. This involved memorizing a weekly verse, learning one hymn each month, and reviewing the topic we discussed on Sunday evenings during our family devotion time.

For our Sunday evenings, my husband would read a lesson from a sweet little book his mother gave to me called Little Visits with God. Both the language and the illustrations give away the 1950's publishing date, but an excellent updated version is now available. Although I enjoy the sometimes quaint, sometimes corny aspects of the vintage version, we occasionally had to change the wording so that our children could understand the point more thoroughly.

Each lesson in Little Visits centers on a Bible verse, which is illustrated in a short story. Discussion questions follow and a closing prayer is provided. We found these lessons appropriate and interesting enough to hold the attention of both our 5 year-old and 8 year-old. I think they would work for children from about 3 to 11.

During breakfast that week, the boys and I memorized the Scripture verse from our lesson and also learned a hymn. I generally organized our devotions into monthly themes, thanks to the index in Little Visits, and our monthly hymn alligned with the theme of the month.

If time allowed, we would continue to discuss the week's lesson. This was particularly true once we started on themes of Christian character, which I would emphasize with readings from The Book or Virtues by William Bennett or Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum. Both books provide stories, poems, and quotes to illustrate a variety of noble character qualities.

We also used the breakfast hour for poetry memorization, with each of the boys memorizing a poem every month. The only difficulty in that was choosing a poem; Favorite Poems Old and New provided too many options. Of all our selections, Bearclaw's rendition of Psalm 8 and Shortbread's sweet and stumbly recitation of "The Quarrel" by Eleanor Farjeon were my favorites.