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  #21  
Old 11.09.2012, 17:02
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Re: Menu Planning?

On a good week, I sit down Sunday evening or Monday morning and plan out dinners for the week. My husband eats breakfast and lunch at work, and I'm happy eating whatever for those meals, so I don't plan that out too much, except to make sure we have eggs on hand for hardboiled eggs. No kids to worry about yet On weekends, he does breakfasts and one dinner, so I let him worry about that for the most part.

For recipe inspiration, I have a google doc where I track recipes I find on the internet that look interesting. Right now, they're organized by: appetizer, soup, salad, vegan meal, non-vegan meal, sides, desserts, breads. (We aren't vegan or vegetarian, but have occasional meal flings in that direction.) I also have a google doc that is a "journal" of meals - I haven't been keeping it up very well, but find it useful when I do. Basically, I just write the date and what I made and any comments I have. Then, when I want to make it again, I can remember what to tweak.

For shopping, we just got a freezer which is very exciting for sale buying (and for freezing leftovers). I pretty much only buy meat on sale or at the nearby metzgerai (except last night when I neeeeeeded a steak). I shop at a few different places to get the slightly better deals.

Common things in rotation here are: chickpea masala curry, chicken salad, roasted chickpeas (good in salads and for snacking), beef stroganoff, chicken wings (for watching fussball games!), carnitas, chili, tofu noodles, etc. etc. It varies by the season and what I feel like, and if there are complaints, then it's good my husband knows how to cook too

Last edited by anowheels; 11.09.2012 at 17:06. Reason: ..
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  #22  
Old 11.09.2012, 17:09
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Less expensive food, and eating healthy, so give me an example of something that I can eat out of season, year round, and is good both for my health and my waist?

No dis respect, showin' red dot luv all the way.
I would do a moroccan-seasoned chicken breast, with couscous (cooked in vegetable broth, with a bit of the moroccan seasoning thrown in) with peas, carrots, onions and zucchini. All these ingredients are available year-round, are inexpensive (especially if you manage your portion size), and this is a very balanced meal, IMO. You can bake the chicken in the oven instead of pan-frying it, and with the vegetable mix in the couscous, you're getting 2 green vegetables, 1 white vegetable, and one colored vegetable in one meal. The only thing I didn't put on that plate was something dairy or a fruit, but you can put out some goat cheese and apple chunks for a delicious dessert later.

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Do you have a meat grinder?
No, and that may be the problem...
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  #23  
Old 11.09.2012, 17:37
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Re: Menu Planning?

I do most of the cooking in our house (because I like it) and so prefer to do most of the shopping as I can decide on what to cook depending on what I see that's good and in season.

We do plan out a rough menu before going shopping but usually for only four meals or so and then I work the rest out whilst the week progresses.

The other thing we do is try and cook something new every week - it's one of the best ways of improving your cooking skills.

The BBC recipe website is as good as any to get ideas.

The key to all the above is, IMO, to have all the basics always in:

We grow most herbs so if the recipe demands a bunch of flat-leaf parsley or a chili or two then I get it from the herb garden.
Obviously this is more difficult in the winter!

We also always have store cupboard essentials that are re-stocked whatever we decide to cook, including:

Parmesan
Olive Oil
Preserved Lemons
Garlic
Shallots
Ginger
Polenta/Couscous/rice/pasta
Lemons
Limes
Eggs
Milk
Cream
Butter
Soy sauce
Spices etc.

It's amazing how many recipes you can cook without having to go back to the shops as long as you have the basic meat or veg base for the recipe.
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  #24  
Old 11.09.2012, 18:01
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Re: Menu Planning?

Love all the tips!

Off the top of my head, here are some of our "standards" that I can cook without the need for a cookbook (and kid friendly):
  • beef stroganoff (ok, I consult the cookbook)
  • goulash
  • chili
  • tacos (usually use the packets/kits from Old El Paso, as the kids like them, and it is super fast and easy to do on a day where I get caught out of the house or don't feel like being creative...)
  • spag with bologese sauce
  • a geschnetzeltes dish usually using chicken as a base
  • chicken fried rice

Usually I make a green salad and/or a tomato or greek salad to go with the meals. Need some good ideas of veggie sides. My 1 daughter will eat broccoli, which is good as I like it, too, but the other 3 not so much!

Anyhow, love the suggestions and am looking up recipes like crazy. And then I just need to implement.

BTW, I am not into necessarily skimping on buying good quality, it is just I have 1500 CHF as a goal to hit for my spending for the month on food/toiletries/cleaning supplies, etc., and I don't always hit it...so I figured planning has to help me!
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Old 11.09.2012, 18:10
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Love all the tips!

Usually I make a green salad and/or a tomato or greek salad to go with the meals. Need some good ideas of veggie sides. My 1 daughter will eat broccoli, which is good as I like it, too, but the other 3 not so much!
I like this indian-style spinach quite a lot - I leave out the chickpeas (they have a weird texture for this dish) and I don't bother straining the yogurt. http://www.recipe.com/spinach-with-y...and-chickpeas/
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Old 11.09.2012, 18:21
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Re: Menu Planning?

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So basically you don't do menu planning.
That's what the post seems to be saying, and it's a perfectly valid response to the OP.

As for me, well the idea of planning menus is not something I'm familiar with (but not having kids allows a level of freedom others don't have), but we'll typically think about main ingredients for the few days ahead, and whether we fancy steaks, lamb chops, roast chicken, or whatever, then when at the (French) supermarket see if anything else catches our eye.

Notice the slight Freudian slip there, where I've automatically associated 'main ingredient' with 'meat'? Well, it's kinda true, so although we have ideas about what veggies might go with each type of meat/dish, they're only really an afterthought and don't need to be 'planned' for as such.
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  #27  
Old 11.09.2012, 19:19
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Re: Menu Planning?

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I do my weekly grocery shopping on Thursday because Migros gives twice the Cumulus points on that day (in eastern Switzerland). The night before I go I make my mealplan for the next week letting the items Migros has for sale inspire me. When I run out of ideas I usually look through a cooking magazine, my recipe folder or some of my cookbooks. I try not to make the mealplan after dinner as I find it very hard to come up with good ideas for meals when I am full.

I do the same, on Monday night I check Migros and Coop online to see what is in season/on sale and then let that inspire the week's meals. I really hate eating the same thing every week, so sometimes I have to get creative. My latest inspiration has been ottolenghi recipes for veggies (thankfully, now, most of the recipes are on the internet). It really is a process though. Right out of University, cooking meant buying everything on the ingredient list. But once you have a well stocked spice/herb cabinet, various types of carbs and condiments based on what you like to eat (for me that means I have 10+ bottles of asian condiments), it is easy to take a single veg purchase and make a meal out of it. If saving money is really an issue, get a pressure cooker and make more lentils and beans for your protein.
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  #28  
Old 11.09.2012, 19:25
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Re: Menu Planning?

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BTW, I am not into necessarily skimping on buying good quality, it is just I have 1500 CHF as a goal to hit for my spending for the month on food/toiletries/cleaning supplies, etc., and I don't always hit it...so I figured planning has to help me!
I don't know how large your family is, but my wife and I (just the 2 of us) make our grocery budget on 650 CHF/month, usually with just under 50 CHFs left each month (savings for the Thanksgiving splurge).
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Old 11.09.2012, 19:32
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Re: Menu Planning?

I've got plenty of cooking books from home and bought a couple of Swiss cooking too. I look around what tends to be on offer and in season. Because I get fruits and vegs delivered by local producer, I base recipes around what we get, and top it up with our local farm market.

I vary recipes for a whole week, also depending on forecasted weather (so more mixed salads if warm weather). ALWAYS a starter with a salad of some kind or a simple vegs soup (what looks tired from previous delivery), then a main course, then cheese (we are addicts), then a quick desert.

My wife has to remind me that sometimes things hang around in the freezer for too long, so I aim to plan some meals that will empty the freezer within a week!
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Old 11.09.2012, 19:52
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Re: Menu Planning?

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I don't know how large your family is, but my wife and I (just the 2 of us) make our grocery budget on 650 CHF/month, usually with just under 50 CHFs left each month (savings for the Thanksgiving splurge).
So does this cover 3 meals a day for 2 people, or is this just for breakfast and dinner, or some other combination?


We are a family of 5. As I say, the numbers aren't just for food, it basically is all our monthly needs from laundry detergent, to prepaid garbage bags, toothpaste, etc. and food. But still, I am sure there is some fat to be cut off of that which I can then embezzle, er, save and buy those things on our needful things pyramid Oh, and we never ever eat out (well, maybe at McDonalds once in a Blue Moon or when we drive to Omas but then we stop at the ones in Germany, cheaper, you know!) so there is no other separate budget for eating out. Hubby does grab a sandwich or something like that for lunch every workday...
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  #31  
Old 11.09.2012, 19:52
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Re: Menu Planning?

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I don't know how large your family is, but my wife and I (just the 2 of us) make our grocery budget on 650 CHF/month, usually with just under 50 CHFs left each month (savings for the Thanksgiving splurge).
Ours is 500 a month, or 400 if money's run tight for some reason, but we do have a chest freezer which helps in that respect.

Migros points collected during the year pay for the Christmas turkey at least, but most of my shopping is done in Aldi so don't buy too much in Migros.

I definitely plan menus for the coming week. We shop on Friday evenings after OH gets back from work and that let's me see what's on offer from pretty much everyone. If I feel like making a certain dish - Green Pepper Steak for example - then if I don't have frozen peppers I know I'll be buying a pack of 3 from Aldi so will plan another couple of meals to make use of the remaining peppers. I try and do that with all my fresh veg purchasing to save on waste.

One of my favourite recipes is Crispy Italian Chicken & Polenta from the BBC Good Food magazine's book "101 Meals for Two".

500g pack of ready to use polenta - or make up a packet.
25g parmesan, grated
250g cherry tomatoes
2 chicken breasts, skin on - I use skin off as I haven't found any with skins.
A few fresh rosemary leaves torn - I use dried
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil.

If you make up a packet of polenta, spread it out on a baking tray or greaseproof paper to cool then break up into small chunks and scatter over the bottom of a small roasting tin. Stir in the parmesan.
Sit chicken breasts, tomatoes, rosemary and garlic on top of the polenta, drizzle with the oil and season to taste.
Roast for 25 minutes in preheated oven (220C/Gas 7/fan 200C) or until chicken skin is crisp and golden, and polenta and cheese are turning crusty around the edges.
You can serve with a green salad, but we find it's quite filling on its own.

And for the health conscious per serving figures are:
Calories 513
Protein 40g
Carbohydrate 47g
Fat 20g (saturated 5g)
Fibre 7g
Added sugar - none
Salt 4.63g (assuming you add salt I guess, which I never do).
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  #32  
Old 11.09.2012, 20:04
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Re: Menu Planning?

I get bored with the same meals never know what to cook gets boring so I have a look what I have in my freezers and fridges and do a google search my family always get a surprise in the evening lol
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  #33  
Old 12.09.2012, 08:10
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Love all the tips!

Off the top of my head, here are some of our "standards" that I can cook without the need for a cookbook (and kid friendly):
  • beef stroganoff (ok, I consult the cookbook)
  • goulash
  • chili
  • tacos (usually use the packets/kits from Old El Paso, as the kids like them, and it is super fast and easy to do on a day where I get caught out of the house or don't feel like being creative...)
  • spag with bologese sauce
  • a geschnetzeltes dish usually using chicken as a base
  • chicken fried rice
Usually I make a green salad and/or a tomato or greek salad to go with the meals. Need some good ideas of veggie sides. My 1 daughter will eat broccoli, which is good as I like it, too, but the other 3 not so much!

Anyhow, love the suggestions and am looking up recipes like crazy. And then I just need to implement.

BTW, I am not into necessarily skimping on buying good quality, it is just I have 1500 CHF as a goal to hit for my spending for the month on food/toiletries/cleaning supplies, etc., and I don't always hit it...so I figured planning has to help me!
If you pay me 1500, I'll do all your shopping for you, and cook and freeze your meals. I am only slightly joking, but, as others had said, and include me in those replies, you should be able to halve or more that quite easily.
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  #34  
Old 12.09.2012, 08:30
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Re: Menu Planning?

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So does this cover 3 meals a day for 2 people, or is this just for breakfast and dinner, or some other combination?
3 meals x 2 people. I usually cook enough for dinner that my wife takes leftovers to work for lunch the following day. This number also includes chemicals, paper goods, i.e. anything you'd buy at the grocery.

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We are a family of 5. As I say, the numbers aren't just for food, it basically is all our monthly needs from laundry detergent, to prepaid garbage bags, toothpaste, etc. and food. But still, I am sure there is some fat to be cut off of that which I can then embezzle, er, save and buy those things on our needful things pyramid Oh, and we never ever eat out (well, maybe at McDonalds once in a Blue Moon or when we drive to Omas but then we stop at the ones in Germany, cheaper, you know!) so there is no other separate budget for eating out. Hubby does grab a sandwich or something like that for lunch every workday...
For 5 people, 1500 seems quite reasonable. And, yeah, my wife & I could probably trim some money out of our food budget also, if we wanted.
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Old 12.09.2012, 08:31
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Re: Menu Planning?

OP, if you have not already done so, I would suggest that you try adding a couple of meat-free dishes to your rotation. I feed five, like you, and while we lived in the US we almost always included a meat with dinner. I have found that meatless meals are well-received by my crew along with (obviously) being cheaper, and in some cases easier to prepare/clean up.

Some examples:

Quiche with salad, broccoli, bread (see basic quiche recipe here). Amazingly easy with store-bought crust!

Bruschetta (split baguette brushed w/ olive oil and topped with fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, and mozzarella or feta then broiled) with Greek salad

Tomato, pesto, mozzarella, arugula, and balsamic sandwiches on Ciabatta bread with hummus/vegetables

Bon Appétit!
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Old 12.09.2012, 08:34
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Re: Menu Planning?

Just do packet rosti with egg sunny side up and maybe some veg if you're feeling adventurous. Every night.

Job done, what's all the fuss about?
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Old 12.09.2012, 08:36
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Re: Menu Planning?

I'm impressed with people who can eat well on some of the amounts suggested here. I think we spend around 1500 CHF a month or so for two adults and that's food and cleaning stuff (no toiletries). We also don't eat out.

There was a good point made about meat. It's true that we eat meat every day of the week but one (meatless Mondays). We buy it half off at the Coop and freeze it but I think it does add up. Still, when I read that people are eating well on half our amount or less, I'm thinking the two of us must have monster appetites..hehe.
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Old 12.09.2012, 08:57
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Re: Menu Planning?

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OP, if you have not already done so, I would suggest that you try adding a couple of meat-free dishes to your rotation. I feed five, like you, and while we lived in the US we almost always included a meat with dinner. I have found that meatless meals are well-received by my crew along with (obviously) being cheaper, and in some cases easier to prepare/clean up.

Some examples:

Quiche with salad, broccoli, bread (see basic quiche recipe here). Amazingly easy with store-bought crust!

Bruschetta (split baguette brushed w/ olive oil and topped with fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, and mozzarella or feta then broiled) with Greek salad

Tomato, pesto, mozzarella, arugula, and balsamic sandwiches on Ciabatta bread with hummus/vegetables

Bon Appétit!
I came to that conclusion myself last night as I made a meal of spaghetti with just a tomato sauce...as I usually always do a meat dish and maybe I will try and do 2 nights without! Anyways, the amount we spend isn't killing us, but as a SAHM I would like to try and save and then spend the rest on me, aren't I selfish?

I will also be anal and save my grocery receipts over the next few weeks and see what I really spend money on (and here I thought it was good enough I download it all into quicken and put into categories!). If the kids are along, I can easily spend 20+CHF extra on stuff we don't need, so I rarely take them along! Also, I sometimes pick up some clothes for the kiddos and other supplies (hangers, office supplies, etc.)...

And time to search the internet for those yummy budget meals, just to see what can be done...

Time for my first test, I am off shopping
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  #39  
Old 12.09.2012, 09:21
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Re: Menu Planning?

Well, it does depend on where you do your main shopping. If Coop and/or Migros are your only choices then you will end up paying more because they are more expensive than Aldi/Lidl/Denner, etc. I mean, why pay CHF3.10 for a sliced American loaf in Migros when you can get it at Aldi/Lidl for CHF2.99? Or oven chips at CHF5.00 (Aldi CHF2.59). It all adds up and you can save a lot. I do buy a few food items from Migros, just because I prefer them, but I haven't bought any regular food items in Coop for years. In fact, I rarely even go into any of their stores.

And their markups on non-food items is ridiculous sometimes. Migros' Budget range used to do nice, comfortable, underpants at a reasonable price for a pack of 3, about CHF10 iirc. But those seem to have disappeared and there's no way I'm paying CHF16+ for a single pair of underpants from their normal range. Get real!
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Old 12.09.2012, 09:25
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Migros' Budget range used to do nice, comfortable, underpants at a reasonable price for a pack of 3, about CHF10 iirc. But those seem to have disappeared and there's no way I'm paying CHF16+ for a single pair of underpants from their normal range. Get real!
I wouldn't want to eat at your house
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