31 days of dinner

I spend a lot of time thinking about food. How many carbs my husband is eating for his diabetes throughout the day. What should the boy be eating and what will he eat?  How do I work getting to market for fresh produce and meat?  Am I getting the best deal for my money? Why is peanut butter, cheese and milk so expensive? Do I have time this week to make my own bread? Do I have any coupons? Is the frustration and annoyance of Walmart worth the actual savings?(The answer to this one, is always a resounding HELL NO!)

I try to run this aspect of my family’s life like a well-oiled machine.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I plan dinner schedules at the end of every month for the next month based on what I have in the pantry and freezer. It’s almost cliched, but I try to cook healthy, nutritious, delicious meals that are affordable and not time consuming. (We’re talking less than 30 minutes.)  I don’t have two hours to prepare a meal especially with a whiny, picky, almost-five-year-old and a diabetic who needs to stick to a schedule.

When planning I follow some basic rules.  Every meal needs to have a vegetable and/or a fruit. Mondays are meatless.  Wednesdays are for leftovers. Thursdays are crock-pot days. Fridays involve seafood. I don’t plan Saturdays other than for leftovers.  Every meal must produce leftovers. Sunday’s meals may take than 30 minutes to cook.

Now, for some of my more neurotic behavior.  I don’t use plastic containers in the microwave. I try not to buy prepackaged foods such as Hamburger Helper or frozen meals like Stauffer’s Lasagna which are usually always high in sodium, fat and carbs for the serving size.  I try to cook high fiber grains mostly brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa and couscous.  I measure food out in measuring cups for accurate serving sizes. I prefer making breads and mixes from scratch. (They taste better and don’t have all the preservatives in them.)

I will also try almost any recipe.  The boy always hates what I’m cooking, but the rule is that he has to try at least one bite of everything. I am fully prepared for my husband to hate the new recipe. In which case, I use new recipes only on days after I know I’m going to have leftovers.  

Attached is my January calendar of dinners.  If you want a specific recipe, let me know here.  I’ll post it in the comments section.

January Food Calendar

How does your family plan for meals?




Courtney Cashour

Courtney Cashour is mother of The Boy. Wife to Bill. She has an Eidetic memory (photographic). She is often found muttering to herself, swearing or humming Green Day’s "American Idiot." Has been known to fall over randomly while standing still.

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9 Responses

  1. Sheri says:

    I love your menu plan – it looks healthy and has some interesting dinner menus. I used to do mine monthly, but when you’re planning breakfast, lunch and dinner for both daycare and family, it’s a little insane. So now I do weekly. I do take into account what is in the pantry, freezer and fridge but that’s not the defining factor for me on whether or not to plan it. Dinners are pretty adventurous with some old standbys thrown in. Everything has to be as fresh and whole as possible to start and I do make my own bread. It’s become such a habit I don’t know if the family would even accept store bought bread. :)

  2. Emileigh Clare says:

    That’s a really nice menu! Since I live alone, I eat pretty simply. Breakfast is usually a healthy cereal with berries or dry toast (I love Fiber One bread) with peanut-butter and/or jam or a Laughing Cow cheese wedge spread on top. I usually have fruit or Greek yogurt for a snack and something simple for lunch like a canned soup or a microwavable lunch with several cups of frozen vegetables on top. I love Asian-style instant noodles (there are a few brands that have their serving sizes around 200 calories) because I can add loads of broccoli and mixed peppers and it’s really satisfying. For dinner, I usually have a 100 calorie wrap from Tortilla Factory with spinach and more veggies, maybe a veggie burger. Sometimes I make a spinach and feta omelet or just a Greek salad. I figure if I try to stay healthy and smart during the week, I can indulge a little more over the weekend!

  3. Lyzz says:

    Courtney, I love quinoa, too. And the best part is that my daughter, who has food allergies, eats it up. Do you do anything to yours? Mine is normally plain with a little non-dairy butter but it would be nice to switch it up.

  4. Courtney Cashour says:

    Lyzz- I usually cook it up in the rice cooker with chicken stock and then add butter buds. Sometimes I make a Quinoa Tabbouleh salad. Which is below. It’s really great for diabetics because it helps with glucose reduction.

    2 cups water
    1 cup quinoa
    1 pinch salt
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    3 tomatoes, diced
    1 cucumber, diced
    2 bunches green onions, diced
    2 carrots, grated
    1 cup fresh parsley, chopped


    In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.
    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, carrots and parsley. Stir in cooled quinoa.

  5. Courtney Cashour says:

    Emileigh- May I come to your house for dinner? Laughing Cow is the best thing ever invented :) I like Fiber One too.

  6. Courtney Cashour says:

    Sheri- Whenever I talk to William, his lunches always sound much better than anything I could come up with. I’m coming to your house for fresh bread and scones. By the way, Bill says that your Chocolate Cherry Bread is better than Wegman’s :)

  7. Kara Eberle says:

    Thanks to this comment string, I bought Laughing Cow cheese (with a coupon) last week. It’s so fabulous! Plus, my kids loved playing with the wax. I also bought Nutella for the first time, because of everyone raving about it. I can’t believe it took me so long! My kids love it!

  8. Lyzz says:

    Sounds delicious! I’ll definitely be trying that.

  1. October 15, 2012

    […] Plan your menu ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be a month in advance (although kudos to those who do); a week in advance should suffice. But taking inventory of what’s in the fridge and what you […]

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