Thursday, 28 August 2008

Menu planning & the first of school

Menu planning
I cannot believe I've only just discovered menu planning, it's like a revelation. I seem to have spent the last year (since having a baby) running round like a headless chicken at 4.30pm wondering what the hell I'm going to cook for tea. Oh there's been the odd day where I've got it together and put the slow cooker on but this has only been the odd day. Then because I'm not organised, dinner is thrown together last minute and I have to admit not all that appetising. Now I consider myself to be a good cook and I was beginning to wonder what had happened to me and my apparent lost skill in the kitchen. Also, I seemed to be going to the supermarket at least 3 or 4 times a week, spending a fortune on what I don't know and still not having anything in to cook. So in order to rectify the situation and gain back my culinary flair, I've been doing some research on the web on menu planning and was actually surprised to find whole websites dedicated to inspiring and helping with the "What's for dinner" question. I decided that before I start planning allsorts of lovely dishes and going shopping for the stuff, I must make use of what I've got. I wrote a list of all the things I've got in my fridge, freezer and cupboard and wrote a weeks worth of dinners based on this. I was literally amazed that just by sitting down and doing this easy little exercise making the tea this week has been a doddle. I've known exactly what to get out the freezer every day, what little bits of prep I need to do and what odd bits of shopping I need to get while I'm out and about. Be prepared I am going to go menu planning mad..

List of stuff in freezer:
Chicken fillets
Lamb cutlets
Minced beef

List of stuff in cupboard (this is just the main stuff obviously I have loads of staple ingredients):
Pitta bread
Tinned tomatoes
Tinned chickpeas
Tinned tuna
Red pesto

List of stuff in fridge (again just the main stuff listed I have loads of jars, veg, beers in there):

So here's what I came up with for this weeks tea:
Tuesday: Falafels with salad in pitta bread with flavoured yoghurt(garlic, coriander, tabasco, lime juice)
Wednesday: Chicken in a pesto sauce with rice and vegetables
Thursday: Moroccan lamb cutlets with jewelled couscous(spring onions, sweetcorn, peppers & pomegranate seeds) & salad
Friday: Homemade pizza dough (made with beer) with chicken & sweetcorn topping for kids & chicken & gorgonzola topping for us.
Saturday: I've designated this fun tea night. They can have what they want within reason. Party food, frozen kids food. Whatever.. it's the one night I chill out about them eating a proper dinner.
Sunday: Chicken Pot pie, roast potatoes, veg & gravy. We usually have a roast dinner but as I say I'm determined to use up what I've got so I can get serious with the menu planning and being frugal with the food shopping (thus saving precious pennies for other things like books, nice lunches out & make up!!)

First day at school
It is my godson and nephew's first day at school in 2 weeks time. He has never been to nursery (neither have mine) but as his mum & grandparents were all teachers he couldn't have had a better preschool education. I can't believe it's here already, where have those five years gone... His mum is finding the letting go very hard indeed and I am crying right alongside her. Luckily I have another year before my little girl has to go to school however we do have to start applying in a few weeks time. I am not looking forward to that whole business I can tell you. Getting your kids into the good schools here is a real cut throat business, with every man and his dog volunteering to mop the church floors in order to secure a place. But I digress... I'll cover that when I get to it myself. On the subject of my nephew... I have been trying to think of a nice way to mark this important event. I've spent that last few months picking up bit and bobs for him
  • a first picture dictionary
  • a lovely collection of playground games such as hopscotch, scullies, sidewalk salom and grand prix complete with chalk
  • some magnetic reception year words (all the words they are expected to recognise by the end of the first year) to put on his fridge at home
  • a book called the "The Incredible Book Eating Boy" by Oliver Jeffers which is just gorgeous. It's all about this boy who ate books, got smart, ended up being unable to digest all the input he was taking in but in the end discovering that the best thing to do with books is to read them. I love the last page which says "Now Henry reads all the time although every now and then" and there's a big bite mark cut out of the last page.
  • 3 ready to read books of bible stories: The Good Samaritan, Noah & Jonah the moaner which combine reading with fun activities and lots of lovely stickers.

I plan to make him a fantastic pencil cake which I saw on the family fun website which looks just perfect and I'll present it to him the night before. I also think I'll write him a letter " To my godson on your first day at school" and just talk about the past five years, how privileged I feel to have been an active part up to this point, the fun we've had together and what my hopes are for him for the future: enjoyment from learning, good friends etc.

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