Works-For-Me-Wednesday: A Breakfast Menu “Routine”

October 27, 2010

Planning a menu can sometimes feel like drudgery. I find that I go through menu-planning phases – from the Mountaintop of Menu-Inspiration to the Valley of Absolutely NO CLUE! What works best for me is a sort of menu “routine.”

My weekly breakfast routine looks something like this:
– Saturday = pancake breakfast (cooked by my loving husband EVERY SINGLE Saturday)
– 3 hot cereal breakfasts
– 1 egg breakfast
– 1 muffin/toast breakfast
– 1 granola/yogurt breakfast

Within this outline, the details can vary, but it gives me a GREAT starting point.

The hot cereal breakfasts consist of some type of hot cereal (Red River, Cream of Wheat, oatmeal) with various toppings. Sometimes I’ll do a raisins and spice version; other times it’ll be a more exotic coconut and dried pineapple, etc. We usually have a glass of milk and a fruit alongside our cereal. It all depends on what is in my pantry and what’s on sale that week!

The egg breakfast has limitless possibilities. A personal favorite is a fried egg on English muffins with tomato slices and a glass of juice. The kids drink milk. I sometimes add a slice of cheese for the family if they’ll need an extra boost that morning. Or, scrambled eggs with all sorts of chopped veggies and basic buttered toast with a glass of juice. Or simply a fried egg with a muffin and a smoothie. Or biscuits and eggs and a fruit salad. Like I said, limitless possibilities.

The muffin/toast breakfast is a quick one. The muffins are prepared ahead of time so the morning of that breakfast, we can just grab one and go. I like to pair this breakfast with a smoothie or a fruit salad and a glass of milk. Very quick and simple is the key for this one. It usually ends up being our Sunday morning breakfast because we have to be out of the house much earlier than usual on Sundays.

The granola/yogurt breakfast is just that – homemade granola and yogurt with fruit. Another quick and simple breakfast.

So with my menu “routine” already in place, planning the breakfasts for each week are a little easier, even when I’m feeling uninspired. The routine is half the battle!

Stay tuned next week for my weekly lunch routine!

Works-For-Me-Wednesday is hosted by Kristen at We Are That Family.

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Friday Frugality – Cabbage

October 22, 2010

Cabbage

I almost forgot about Friday Frugality, so today you all get two posts for the price of one!

Cabbage. Cabbage is today’s tip. How many times have you purchased lettuce for salad only to discover it has wilted long before you’ve used it up? OR, have you made a salad that didn’t get finished and have to throw it out because it got wilted due to being cut/torn/or slathered in dressing? No more! Cabbage to the rescue!

I love to use cabbage for salads. I love the crunch – no matter what! I love that it lasts WAY longer in the fridge (or even just in the salad bowl) than actual lettuce. Not only that, it’s packed with far more nutrition than the average lettuce. AND, it’s WAY CHEAPER! You just can’t beat that!

If you don’t like regular green or purple cabbage, try Chinese or Napa cabbage instead. It’s a lot more lettuce like with all the benefits of regular cabbage!


Friday Frugality

October 1, 2010

My current favorite way to be frugal has nothing to do with food, but I’ll share it anyway.

Rubber bands and hand soap.

My kids – like many kids under the age of 12 – tend to use WAY too much hand soap. And in my neck of the woods, hand soap is NOT cheap! I cannot be the hand-washing-police all the time, so I had to come up with a way to keep the soap-pumping down to a minimum. My solution was SIMPLE and very, very frugal. I used a rubber band (taken from my latest bundle of celery) and wrapped it around the base of the soap pump. This limits how far one can push the pump down, thereby limiting the amount of soap consumed in one pump! Voila! I think this has probably reduced our hand soap usage by at least half.


Free Ebook: Smart School Time Recipes

September 3, 2010

Check out the ebook at this link! Some excellent healthy recipes in here, perfect for packing school lunches!

Smart School Time Recipes


The Necessity Of Forethought

April 16, 2010

I just wanted to insert a little blurb  here about the Necessity Of Forethought when it comes to maintaining a frugal grocery lifestyle.

One of the main reasons I plan my menu with my calendar in front of me is because of the Necessity Of Forethought. Take this weekend for example. My husband is away from home on Sunday from about 7:30AM until about 9:00PM. He will need food. He will need both a packed lunch and a packed supper. He prefers not to take food that needs to be reheated, so leftovers are out. And, it has to be food that will keep all day. This means sandwiches and things like granola bars. So, I have to make sure I have bread on hand, and that I have snacky things like granola bars. This means that I have to bake. BUT, I am away from home all day on Saturday!!! This means that I need to bake before Saturday!

If I didn’t have my calendar in front of me when I planned my menu, I would have been caught off guard and stuck without anything appropriate to pack in my husband’s lunch. The result would have been a trip to the store or he would have had to get food from a restaurant. This would have cut significantly into my food budget of under $300/month! Thus, the Necessity of Forethought. It makes all the difference.

So, not only does it save money, it also saves time and stress. Take beans as another example. In order to keep the budget down, I use only dried beans. This requires a great deal more time than canned beans. It is absolutely essential that I am prepared before a meal requires beans! Once again, the Necessity of Forethought!

When I plan my menu, I use my calendar to help me determine WHAT we’ll need to eat, but also WHEN we’ll need to eat it, and also WHEN I will have time to PREPARE it. In the case of dried beans, if I know I’m making chili on Friday because I’m gone all day and want to have it in the slow cooker, then I need to cook the dried beans BEFORE Friday. So I look at my calendar. If we’ve got appointments on Thursday and I’m running errands, that might not be the best day to do the beans! So, I’ll mark ON MY CALENDAR/To Do List on WEDNESDAY that I have to cook dried beans.

The Necessity of Forethought! It pays off. Really.

*Note: My example of dried beans really isn’t the best one. If you’ve seen my tip on How to Cook Dried Beans, you’ll notice that this is actually something that can be done literally while you are sleeping! But I hope I got the point across anyway.


Saving On Snacks For Kids

March 18, 2010

Cut It Up

Whenever I serve my kids snacks, I always portion it out. If I’m serving something like trail mix, I put it into little cups that hold exactly 1/3 cup. If I’m serving fruit, I always cut it up and divide it between the kids. This is a huge savings because, if I send them to get an apple, they each take one, and two of them leave at least a third of the apple around the core and then throw it away, believing it’s done! That’s two-thirds of an apple wasted! Instead, I slice two apples and divide them evenly between my three kids and add some cheese or nuts or a glass of milk. No waste and everyone’s satisfied!

This probably sounds like a lot of work, particularly if your kids are all still really young. Believe me. I’ve been there! Here’s another idea for you:

Sort It Out

Get a plastic platter with compartments and an airtight lid. I got a nice, big, round Tupperware one from a garage sale. Actually, I think I got mine for free. On the day you do your grocery shopping, take a few extra minutes to fill each compartment with something different – chopped veggies, cheese cubes, fruit (cut it up and soak it for several minutes in a water/lemon juice mixture), nuts, dried fruit, granola bar bites, pita chips, etc. If you want dip, you can make veggie dip or yogurt fruit dip or Happy Apple Salsa or hummus or whatever. Store this in the fridge. When snack times roll around during the week, give each of your children a small bowl or container and let them choose what they put into it. Then close the container up and put it away immediately. Don’t refill the container until it’s totally empty. My kids love the weeks I do this. And they get a nice variety of snacks and they are all healthy! It’s also super easy.

Make It A Combo

I have also found that my kids don’t get hungry as often when I combine their snacks properly. If we’re having fruit or veggies, I always pair it with some sort of dairy or protein. Apples and cheese or a glass of milk, dried fruit with nuts (trail mix), raw veggies and yogurt dip or hummus, etc. If I give them just an apple, or just a bunch of carrot sticks, they’re hungry 20 minutes later!

Be Sneaky

If your kids are asking for a snack and it’s really close to mealtime, give them some raw veggies. They’ll eat them because they’re so hungry, and you don’t have to worry if they don’t eat their veggies at supper! It’s a win-win!


Granola Bar Crumbs

March 17, 2010

DON’T THROW OUT YOUR CRUMBS!

I dump all granola bar crumbs, or super crumbly granola bars, into my granola bin! Even if a granola bar recipe flops, it’s usually still a perfectly acceptable granola that we can eat with yogurt! And if I’ve made granola bars with chocolate chips, it’s a bit of a treat, too!