Sunday, January 2, 2011

2 January 1957 “Q & A Sunday: Meal Planning and Marketing”

womancooking I often get asked about meals, meal planning, and shopping. How to make lists or plan meals. I think, in many ways, this needs to be a personal thing, based on availability, amount of budget, and the number of people for whom you have to shop/cook.
Some people have their meals planned out to the letter before going to the market. For me, as I like to ‘poke about’ and see what is out there, I simply have a skeleton list. I know that I need enough meat and veg and starch for 7 meals. I know that I need to maintain my pantry list ( a separate list) of things such as flour and spices. When one gets used to simply cooking most of your things in this basic way, it can be rather easy to shop.
For example, I do use frozen vegetables to augment fresh (except in Summer when we eat from the garden). I sometimes use canned things, such as whole plum tomatoes to make homemade spaghetti sauces or casseroles etc. But, for the most part I have found that cooking simple always seems to be the best and truest way to enjoy the food. I do like sauces and other adornment, but still a good pork roast simply glazed and served with roasted potatoes and a green salad is a wonderful meal and quite easy to prepare.
My list, then, will often be broken up into items such as meat and veg. As I will want to choose the best items once there and then the type of veg I might like with the meat I have chosen. By having a running pantry list at home for things such as spices, flours, baking powder, syrup, honey, tea and so on, the main staples of the week are easy to shop for.
We eat no prepared cereal (just steel cut oats and cornmeal) and rarely do I buy things like chips and we do not drink soda. Milk and cream are the only beverages I buy. We drink water with all our meals and usually have a cocktail or a glass of wine.
Here is a sample of the type of food we might eat. As I said, I don’t make the meal plan set in stone before I shop. I simply know to buy for 7 days. I usually use guides such as, I know we need about 4 oz of meat per meal for dinner, so that’s 56 oz or three and a half pounds of meat. This gives me a number when I am looking at meat at a price per pound. I will often buy a bit more than this when meat is well priced.
I honestly believe that simple ingredients cooked well with good seasoning, a pretty presentation, and fresh veg and a good dessert make an easy and happy meal.
Saturday:  Fried Eggs, Bacon (2 slices ea) toast (one each) Grapefruit half (each) Coffee with cream, Jam and butter.
Sunday: Waffles with fresh fruit (Or homemade jam), whipped cream, scrambled eggs, sausage links (one ea) coffee with cream, syrup.
Monday:Steel cut oatmeal (So wonderful-though it takes 30 minutes to prepare) with brown sugar and syrup and bananas. Whole wheat toast (one ea) with Jam and butter. Coffee with cream
Tuesday:Omelet made with leftover veg (or anything. Eggs are a great way to use leftovers, for dinner as well with quiche or soufflé) bacon (2 slices ea), 1 orange sectioned and one apple sliced divided for two. Coffee with cream.
Wednesday:Eggs Benedict on English muffin. sausage link (one ea) coffee with cream
Thursday: Fried Eggs (one ea), pancakes with syrup and fruit. Coffee with cream.
Friday:Corn meal made as hot cereal (simply take corn meal ratio of 1:2 with more liquid. I use milk as it makes it creamier. Let milk just simmer-that’s when it just starts to steam-and add corn meal. stir until thick, about 5 minutes.) Served with warm milk, syrup and fruit, usually bananas/apples and walnuts. Toast with Jam. Coffee with Cream. Friday is a good hot cereal day as it is marketing day for me. We have only one car now so I need to be ready to go and drive hubby in to have car for my marketing and errand day. Easy, good and filling.
Now, for lunch, I simply prepare a ‘third meal’ for hubby’s lunch the next day. So if I were making chops, I would make three and three portions of veg and so on. This way I have made and packed his lunch the night before and can pop it in the icebox for easy morning. For myself I usually eat light. I take an half hour or so and sit down with a pot of tea, a magazine and either tuna sandwich and cottage cheese. Or a salad with crabmeat. Sometimes I have egg salad. I usually have a little slice of whatever dessert I have going, but this I need to lessen so I can drop some pounds. But, not having a child at home and hubby at the office, I really have less cooking mid-day.
Saturday:Pork Chops, asparagus with cheese sauce, carrot and celery spears (usually served in a glass with frayed ends. I saw this as a presentation in one of my vintage books and think it a fun way to showcase simple raw veg, so important in our diet) and dessert (usually a slice of cake or pie, or some cookies. We usually have tea in the evening with this and sometimes a bowl of nuts to accompany).
Sunday:Roast Chicken with stuffing, mashed potato and turnips with garlic, green salad with raw veg (carrots, tomatoes), steamed green beans. Dessert.
Monday:Leftover Pie made with Sunday dinner fixins (chicken, stuffing, etc) mixed with eggs and milk and baked in easy ‘pat a pie’ pastry.  The above recipe are the measurements I use for a one crust pie like this. The other is good for a two crust. This is a great way to whip up a fruit pie last minute. Simply mix fruit with some sugar and cinnamon and a bit of flour and pour in. Either top with crust or make a crumble of butter/brownsugar/and flour and sprinkle on top.

1 1/2 C Flour
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 C  Salad Oil
2 Tbs milk
patapie recipe
Tuesday:Chicken soup (made with bones and unused portion of innards of chicken for stock), warm bread and butter, rice with mixed vegetables stir fry. Dessert.
Wednesday:Pork Roast with apples and apple glaze. Potatoes and carrots cooked with roast. Celery stalks and radish and olive dish (fresh veg), gravy. Dessert
Thursday:Fried Chicken thighs (often the cheapest cut),Biscuits, creamed onions, fresh salad, Dessert.
Friday:Either I put the slow cooker on before I leave the house for marketing or errands so it is ready for me when I come home and have time to prepare. Or I might take Thursday’s leftovers and make for example creamed mushrooms on toast with the leftover fried chicken warmed, de-boned and sprinkled on. Veg and Dessert.
I am not sure if this is of any help to any of you. I would be curious to know how you plan your meals and what you like to cook. I will sometimes pull out my Cordon Blue Dione Lucas French cookbook and make Bouillabaisse or other fun things, but often I find these type of things also easy in that you are simply using good ingredients in an easy and pure way. Once you begin eating your own foods and realize how easy it is to cook simple and delicious meals, you will toss away those pre-packaged dinners and meals.
Happy Homemaking.
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