Posted by: mmstanger | May 17, 2010

Menu Mondays: Getting Back on Track

menu planYikes!  It seems I dropped the Menu Planning and focus on my Provider of Good Eats ball while juggling other ones that had to take precedence in the past 4-6 weeks.  Today, I am picking it up again.

Mike and I recently took a hard look at our home finances and realized we need to make further cuts and to be consistent with the ones we have already put in place.  Among these is trying to spend no more than $100 a week on all groceries, toiletries, paper products and household cleaning and upkeep items.  Not an easy feat for us since we cannot Super Coupon the way some we know do as finding coupons for many of the natural and organic grocery items we try to stick to purchasing can be challenging.  (Please, if you know great sources for such coupons, let us know!)  But, with discipline, we usually manage.

For me, part of that discipline is to think ahead about menus so we have enough in the house for healthy, filling meals and snacks without going over budget each week.  So, here I go tr-training myself in that habit:

For “Breakfast 1”, I like to offer fruits (or vegetables), since (1) a number of sources I have read either say it is best for digestion to eat fruit on its own, (2) an equal amount of sources suggest that the body appreciates receiving vitamins from fruit first thing in the morning and, practically speaking, (3) the kids are produce-picky and I tend to have more patience for getting some fruit into their bellies first thing in the morning.  Granted, I have failed miserably in this effort over the last month or more, so this week, I am going to try again.  Choices will be:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • pears
  • pineapples
  • defrosted berries
  • raisins
  • oranges
  • crock pot applesauce (basically just chopped apples and cinnamon thrown into the crock on low for  several hours)

I would love any tips other may have on getting picky toddlers and pre-k’ers to find fruit more appetizing!

For Breakfast 2, we concentrate on fueling our bodies for the day with carbs.  This meal is no problem for us as we are all carb-o-holics.  However, since we try to stay away from cereal, breakfast can be a less convenient meal in our home than in some.  And, now that the weather is getting warmer, I am trying to find focus less on crock pot breakfasts , while picking up on soaked grain breakfast ideas again,  and trying to add in some meals that are handy both for Mike to grab-and-go with when he has to get out at the crack of dawn for studies at work as well as for when the kids and I want to enjoy the-sun-is-shining breakfast picnics.  As such, I would love to hear your favorite healthy, handy, easy-to-prepare ahead or in 15 minute-or-under portable breakfast ideas.  Please leave me comments or links! In the meantime, just based on what we have in our cupboards and fridge, as well as on the fact that I know I will be overloaded with work this week without a lot of time for baking, our Breakfast 2 choices will be:

  • French Toast and Toppings made with day-old whole grain bread on sale, local farm eggs, homemade yogurt, cinnamon and vanilla
  • Zucchini Pancakes, because I found a stash of frozen zucchini lurking in the recesses of my fridge
  • Soaked Grain Banana-Wheat-Pancakes, because we have some bananas that are ready for baking /cooking
  • Maypo and Toppings, because we were given a box and can consider Maypo close to a whole grain
  • Overnight Oatmeal and Toppings, for a rainy morning, only because we have plenty of oatmeal in the house
  • Waffles (likely with butternut squash or mashed bananas snuck in), because Luke has been asking for waffles
  • Whole Grain Toast and Spreads, for a grab-and-go morning

Ideally, for Lunch, we focus on proteins, but with picky eaters and carb-o-holics, plus a vegetarian mommy in the house, we often fail to stick to the ideal or fall into a nut butter or cheese habit.  So, this week, I am really going to make an effort to pre-prepare and provide protein spreads, dips and add ins, as well as finger foods, for consumption with crackers, whole grain bread and leftover starches.  Some choices will include:

  • Tuna (Salad)
  • Egg (Salad)
  • Chicken Slices and Parts
  • Chicken (Salad)
  • “Poppin’ Beans” (edamame)
  • Chick Peas
  • Bean Dip or Spread
  • Refried Beans
  • Nuts
  • and, of course, our old stand by, nut butter

I would love to hear about your favorite vegetarian (or not, for Daddy and the kids) protein-based dips, spreads and finger foods.  Please share!

For Dinner, we try to include high protein and low carbs, with vegetables, but we often fall into our carb-loving selves and Mike and I are usually the only ones eating the vegetables.  So, just trying to find meals that are healthy and balanced for all can be a challenge.  Plus, this week, since I am working  or out at appointments many nights, I have to focus on ones that I can make ahead easily; that the kids won’t balk at too badly; or that are easy for Mike to prepare and clean up.  A tall order, especially since I forgot to leave room in our food budget for ingredients the kids’ favorite – Build-a-Tortilla-Bite Night.  So, the choices will be:

  • Lazy Mom’s Simple Supper: Oatmeal and Toppings, to include brown sugar, because Luke requested “sugar” for dinner (So much for my efforts at raising healthy eaters!)
  • Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Vegetables
  • Baked Omelet (with concealed butternut squash inside) or Scrambled Eggs and a side of Sautéed Zucchini, Tomato and Garlic
  • Pasta with Feta, Tomatoes, Olive Oil and Garlic
  • Nori, Rice, Edamame and Miso Soup
  • Top-an-English Muffin Night (mini pizzas, fruit and nut butter, etc.) with Soup
  • Pasta with Sauteed Greens, Nuts and maybe Boiled Egg Slices

And, finally, for Snacks, Tea Time and Treats, we try to stay somewhat healthy and, this week, due to my work commitments, cannot have a lot of baked or homemade goods, so our choices will likely be:

  • sliced and whole fruit
  • raisins
  • sliced,”stick”ed and cubed vegetables
  • garbanzo beans
  • peanut butter or cream cheese and crackers
  • homemade cookies, if Luke gets his wish
  • leftovers and forage from fridge, freezer and pantry
  • tapioca, if I remember to make it
  • yogurt
  • mixes of banana chips, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, etc.
  • whole grain crackers and cream cheese

And, so, we’re back on the healthy, budget-friendly eating kick, I hope.  And, we are looking forward to your ideas for healthy, portable breakfasts, dip/spread lunches and any picnic friendly meal foods. (We do love back porch, front yard blanket, park, playground and beach picnics!

For others menu ideas of the week, see the links at I’m and Organizing Junkie.  Also, check out Hartley’s Life with 3 Boys today, a rich SPD-related site where I am guest posting.  What an  honor!



  1. I have been trying lots of different versions of granola and granola bars lately, so this is right up my ally. here are a few links for some of our favorites (including me, my husband, AND my toddler), as well as a muffin recipe and a dip recipe too. hope you find some great ideas! (scroll down for the superpower granola bars)–Rosemary/Detail.aspx
    Good Luck!

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