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Busy Family Menu Planning

January 12, 2019

 As a busy mom, I am always looking for ways to streamline the different areas in my life that I oversee. One of these areas is menu planning, grocery shopping, and planning meals. I also want to teach these things to my daughters, so that when they get married and start a family, they will have the knowledge of cooking, menu planning, and grocery shopping as well. I was so delighted when one of my friends, Mrs. Zsuzsanna Anderson, a busy mom of 10 herself, decided to write a cookbook. Not only does this cookbook have delicious recipes throughout, it has 10 weeks of menu plans and grocery lists. Amazing. Figuring out meals and writing down everything I need for them is one of my least favorite things to do. 

 I mainly shop at Aldi, so I wanted to see how the price comparison was when I went armed with my Week 1 grocery list, versus a week of my thrown together meals. It was almost identical, and I found that I didn't throw as many random things in the cart when I had a list in hand. 

 I had many of the staples, and Aldi had everything I needed except for Farina, and leeks, for the potato soup. A run into Wal-Mart, and I was all set. All the weeks have five main recipes for breakfast, five for supper, and one dessert. That leaves flexibility for favorite family meals, meals that you eat out, etc. 




One of the first things I made was potato leek soup, and lemon bars for dessert. I had never eaten leeks before, and I didn't even know how to cut them. I had to Google it, haha. I am not a big fan of onions, but I cooked them way down, and I liked the soup. The leeks seemed milder than regular onion. The lemon bars were a big hit, too. 


 Also in Week 1 was Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, and Carnita bowls. My kids loved the pizza, but my favorite were the carnita bowls. The meat (I used pork loin) was seasoned and cooked in the Instant pot. The flavor was amazing. 







 I was a rebel and picked a random week for this past week. I picked Week 7. Some of the things I made last week were Chicken Paprika, Oatmeal Cake, and Schnitzel, potatoes, and Cauliflower sauce. I had a Hungarian grandmother who made a lot of Hungarian/German food, and there are many recipes throughout the book of this origin. My daughter Allie and I loved the Schnitzel. If you don't know what Schnitzel is, (don't feel badly, because I didn't know either- thank you, Google!) It is thinly sliced meat dredged in a flour mixture and fried. I was a bit skeptical of the Cauliflower sauce, (more like a gravy) but I am telling you- MAKE THIS RECIPE! Allie asked me if I could make it every week. I am not going to lie, this meal was a bit more extensive, as I had many pans going at once, and doing an egg bath/flour/fry routine always takes a bit more time. But it was well worth the end result. 


 So far, I have not been disappointed in any of these recipes. I have had to modulate a couple things, mainly just cooking time, etc, but that might be due to my oven not being hot enough. 


I love the lists. It has taken all of the thinking and planning of meals off my shoulders~ and with 10 weeks of meals, I can just keep rotating, and we won't ever get bored of the same meals. I admit it, I was in a rut. A bad rut. I think my family has been enjoying the different types of foods I have been churning out. 


I am also excited at how detailed all the recipes are. My 14 year old, Abby, made Shrimp Linguini this week for me. I had been craving it, and my 38 week pregnant self just couldn't put the effort in to it. She followed the recipe exactly, and produced a restaurant-worthy dish! 


 I am due to have my baby any day, and the week that I have her, I am going to give Abby the cookbook, tell her to pick a week, and then have my oldest son drive her to the grocery store, where she will be able to get everything she needs. She will have the list right there, and then she gets to cook yummy meals the whole week for our family! She seems very excited about it, as am I, and I love that the cookbook makes it exciting and easy for her to do. If a 14 year old can do it, even an inexperienced chef can do it. 


 All in all, this is an excellent tool for any busy mom. There are plenty of recipes to choose from if you are on a special diet, like Weight Watchers, or low carb. You might just need to skip the Cinnamon Coffee Cake. (SO hard, I know.) The book is available now, and I would definitely recommend buying it. It's a lifesaver, at least for this busy Mama. 














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