Week 15 Plan Post

My recent weekly scores have me thinking about attempting a return to the Family Dinner table.  It really didn’t work for us on my last attempt, and when we did all sit down the stress level (me) and eat and run with minimal talking (everyone but Tiny) were just a horrible way to end a day.

The weekly meal plan, where everyone eats what’s served, and some of us eat together and others later has been working. There are days where I’ve thought about hollering everyone over to the dinner table, but I’ve held off, because I don’t want to push my luck. Having everyone say ‘thank you’ for a meal and not ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘Do I have to eat this?’ is a big step toward my own peace of mind. I don’t want to mess that up! 

I am considering picking a day and calling it Family Night, so that once a week we’re all at the table. Maybe next week. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the plan:

  • Mon:  grilled cheese, tomato soup, strawberries, cucumber
  • Tues:  Taco Tuesday! pulled pork tacos, fixins, beans, fruit & veg
  • Wed:  linguine with clams, garden salad, garlic bread, fruit
  • Thurs:  sesame chicken, pork dumplings, rice, veggie stir fry, pineapple
  • Fri:  venison stew, egg noodles, garden salad, homemade rolls, fruit

Items on sale that I’m using this week: strawberries, ground pork, pineapple, cheese.

Also this week I’m staring a ‘Stock the Freezer’ plan. When I started the blog, I’d decided to work on utilizing my freezer and pantry, and that’s been successful. So now I can start stocking back up!

This week’s project is pork dumplings.  DH and I both love them, and while you can buy them in a giant sack at Costco for about $10, they’re tastier when you make them at home.  Ground pork is on sale at Sprouts for $2.99/lb, which isn’t as cheap as buying the pork briskets at Fiesta for $1.99 and grinding my own but in the interest of not having it be an all day project I’m going to buy the ground pork.

They freeze better than anything, and you can steam them, fry them, or boil them when you’re ready for a batch. Just put them on cookie sheets and slide into the freezer,  and then fill freezer bags up with lovely frozen pockets of yum. The recipe I’ve linked to makes 100 dumplings, and it’s a process that’s easy to break up if you’ve got some helpers.

Until next time, Cheep Cheep!

A bit off…

photo 2

…but still a square meal. There’s still pasta involved.  It’s no freshly rolled noodles with sausage, which was the goal, but it’s not takeout or pizza.

Cheepie calls that Winning Wednesday!

Week 14 Plan Post

I can’t top the perfect score from last week, and I was tempted to go ahead and plan a week of cereal and sandwiches in order to rig at least a decent score as a follow-up. But that would be cheating on the Internet Dinner Accountability Plan.  Cheating to get imaginary self-imposed internet points seems a terrible legacy to leave my children, so I’ll stick with a regular week of meat/side/fruit/raw veg/cooked veg and hope for the best.

Given we’ve had Monday dinner already, that’s a head start.  Refrigerator buffet was a pretty slow go, but everyone has those days where you just make do with what’s leftover. The benefit is everyone gets what they want–bean and cheese tacos? Sure! Osso bucco and bread? Of course. Salad and pork tenderloin? Aren’t you the healthy eater!  Was there a party this weekend? Yes there was, leftover veggies and ranch for all!  The plus of being able to choose what you like seems to balance the possible dreary aspect of leftovers.

So here goes Week 14:

  • Mon: Refrigerator Buffet
  • Tue:  chicken soup, rolls, garden salad, apples.
  • Wed:  Prince Spaghetti Day! pasta, sausage, caesar salad, blackberries.
  • Thur:  pork fried rice, pineapple, snap peas.
  • Fri:  macaroni and cheese, fruit, veg.

This is not an exciting menu, but we’ve got an excitable week here at House Cheepie.  Boy is going to a dance, Eldest has got a lot of after school things going on, and Tiny? Tiny is all hopped up on sugar after the first day of a week-long Valentine candy situation. So she’s excited.

This week’s plan is things I could make in my sleep. Good things, that some of us like, that are dead simple.  The sale items I’m using are: chicken, apples, blackberries, pineapple and pork.

I’ll post the sale round-up tomorrow.  If you’ve got some standard go-to dinners that you put in your ‘I can make this out of what’s in the house in about a half hour’ file, I’d love to hear them.

Unless it’s eggs. Believe me, I’ve done pretty much everything to eggs and all anyone around here wants is scrambled.  I’ve made Eggs in Clouds, and been denied the applause due an egg magician of this caliber of EggDom. 

It is a perfect savory meringue pillowing a lovely egg yolk (/gordonramsay). Look at how perfect that is!  So pretty. And fluffy. But I can’t eat four of them when people abdicate in favor of peanut butter toast.

Tiny was a baby when I tried this, and gave her egg a solid go, as she did all food. She’s still the most adventurous eater.

So, if you have non-egg based dinners that you haven’t ever seen on my meal plan lists, I’d love to see them in the comments.

Cheep Cheep!

Sunday Night Goal Post

Football season is over, do I need a new sports metaphor to use for the title of these posts? I’ll have to consider it. Given I have enough trouble just getting the meals out, I’m not sure I should put any neural power on the task, but the brain wants to ponder what the brain wants to ponder.  

The plan:

  • Mon:  baked chicken breasts, couscous, caesar salad, berries and apples, cauliflower
  • Tues:  Taco Tuesday. beef tacos, beans, pico de gallo, queso, apples, carrots
  • Wed:  Prince Spaghetti Day.  salmon ravioli, spinach salad, fruit
  • Thurs:  tomato soup and grilled cheese,  fruit, veg
  • Fri:  Family Crafty Night. coconut chicken on rice, fruit, veg

The actual:

  • Mon: baked chicken breasts, couscous, caesar salad, berries and apples, cauliflower. (love writing the plan after Monday dinner!). 3 points.photo 1
  • Tues: beef tacos, beans, rice, shredded cheese, carrots, apples. 3 points.photo 2
  • Wed: pesto fettucine, salmon ravioli, spinach salad with tomatoes and avocado, carrots, berries. 3 points.
  • Thurs: tomato soup, nachos with queso, sugar snap peas, plums. 3 points.
  • Fri:  coconut chicken on rice, snap peas, sautéed zucchini, mushrooms and carrots, grapes, cauliflower. 3 points.

Well, look at that! Just look.

After 13 weeks, I completely won dinner!  All dinners involved a balanced meal. All followed the plan. All were eaten by a majority of the family.  Over three months in, and the plan and reality finally merged.

I’m just going to bask in the joy here for a bit and do the meal plan tomorrow. It’s not every day I get to give myself 15 imaginary internet dinner points AND post a link to one of the best shows of the 1980s.

Cheep on, Cheepsters!

Monday Night Goal Post

While I am trying to make sure these go up on Sunday, my life is conspiring against me. It’s possible that I’ll have to permanently shift the Sunday Night Goal Post to Monday, but for now I’m continuing to view it as an aberration. 

As with the Happy Ad Tuesday post, I’m trying not to see this as a failure, but simply an adapting of the blog to my actual life.  The blocks of time I have free to compose a post are when they are, and I’ve got to use what I can.

This week will have a head start, since I’ve already fed dinner to people, meaning I’ll get all the points for Monday.  Whoop!  I’ll add a challenge to a later weeknight to balance it out.  See if you can spot it.

Sale items this week that I’m using are: apples, bone-in chicken breasts, and avocados.

  • Mon:  baked chicken breasts, couscous, caesar salad, berries and apples, cauliflower
  • Tues:  Taco Tuesday. beef tacos, beans, pico de gallo, queso, apples, carrots
  • Wed:  Prince Spaghetti Day.  salmon ravioli, spinach salad, fruit
  • Thurs:  tomato soup and grilled cheese,  fruit, veg
  • Fri:  Family Crafty Night. coconut chicken on rice, fruit, veg

I’m feeling good about two weeks of good scores.  This week Eldest has a lot of school commitments, and Tiny is doing booths for selling cookies for Girl Scouts, so there are scheduling concerns.  With luck it’ll all work out!

Cheep Cheep!

Dinner Score, Week 12

For everyone that’s had their mind clouded with cholesterol and poor choices since the Super Bowl, here’s the plan for last week:

  • Mon: beef curry w/rice, spinach, berries
  • Tue:  baked chicken thighs, fruit, veg, carrot sticks
  • Wed:  Prince Spaghetti Day!
  • Thur: osso bucco, polenta, broccoli, fruit
  • Fri:  Fish Fry!

Nothing crazy, no wild ambition to go all Hell’s Kitchen and make a Beef Wellington so Gordon Ramsay can holler about soggy pastry.  Let’s go to the videotape:

  • Mon: beef curry w/rice, berries, cucumber and carrot sticks. 3 points.
  • Tue:  baked chicken thighs, spinach, grapes, cauliflower.  3 points.
  • Wed:  out with friends to fried things and sunshine. 1 point.
  • Thur: homemade pasta, meatballs, caesar salad, apples. 3 points.
  • Fri:  hot dogs, cauliflower, raw vegetable, strawberries, s’mores. 2 points.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

A 12 pointer! That’s a good week.  One meal shifted (spaghetti day), and one changed (minus osso bucco, add hot dog), but over all the week went as expected.  The osso bucco got moved to the weekend, and  the original night out was planned as a Fish Fry night turned into a different night out with friends.

Monday night’s dinner was the funny curry sauce I bought at Fiesta and tweeted about. What, you don’t follow CheepieAustin on Twitter? Why not?  If it’s just because you don’t do Twitter, that’s not a good reason. I don’t do Twitter either, as evidenced by the facts that I feel compelled to capitalize it, I often forget to hashtag, and I’m being followed by more than one racecar driver for reasons deeply unclear to me.

That sauce is not going to be a favorite.  It’s not even in the running. It’s a kind of fruity horrifying thing, and the fact that  I laughed at  the tagline ‘just add mutton’ was less funny once my house smelled like this stuff!  It was very odd. 

Friday night was originally a night out for fried catfish and hushpuppies.  The remix to hot dogs was the result of Tiny wanting to cook her dinner over a fire in the fireplace, since it’d gotten so chilly out.  It was a good plan, but the fire Boy built was so hot that nobody could stand in front of it long enough to cook a hot dog, so a kitchen assist was necessary.  By the time s’mores were needed, the fire had burnt down a bit, thank goodness.

Overall I’m pleased with the week.  Let’s hope I can say the same next week!

Cheep Cheep!

Week 11 & Goal Post

Last week, if you remember, I got a head start on the scoring by not posting the plan until after dinner on Monday. That’s okay for rookies. But I’m on Week 11 of this Internet Dinner Accountability Plan, so this week I’m getting the post up before dinner on Monday.  So I’m already winning this week!

The plan last week:

Week 11 plan

  • Mon: grilled cheese, carrot soup, salad, apples
  • Tue: ham and cheese soufflé, cauliflower, pomegranate seeds
  • Wed: beef and barley soup, homemade bread, fruit, veg
  • Thur: red beans and rice with venison sausage, fruit, veg
  • Fri: homemade pizza & Family Game night!

The actual:photo

Mon:  grilled cheese, carrot soup, salad, apples. 3 points.
Tues:  ham and cheese souffle, green beans, carrots, bananas. 3 points.
Wed:  beef and barley soup, alfredo noodles, homemade rolls, green beans. 2 points.
Thurs:  box mac & cheese, leftover buffet. 1 photopoint.
Fri:  pizza, red beans & rice, blueberries, carrot sticks. 3 points.

No, I don’t know why that second list won’t bullet point when I click ‘Bulleted list’, it always has before. Since we’re focused on dinner, and not formatting, I’m going to ignore it.  If you’re too OCD to cope with the lack of bullet points, you’ll just have to draw them in on your screen.  I’ll wait a sec.

Ok, now we go.

This was not a bad week.  I made the souffle I’d wanted to make for a while, and mostly stuck to the plan.  Cooking beans is an ongoing problem area in my life, so it didn’t surprise me at all that I had to slide red beans and rice over to pizza night because the beans weren’t really cooked enough to eat yet.  Leftover Buffet cleared out the fridge nicely, and with the exception of Date Night we didn’t eat out, so those were additional good points this week.

For scoring, the only points lost were for Wednesday, where I took a point off for alfredo noodles, which I only made because I knew two kids would balk at soup, and for Thursday, which was a off-plan non-nutritious meal.  Overall, though, we had all five people eating, in the house, a meal I’d planned to cook for most of the week.  12 points to Cheepie!

This is the best week since before the holidays, and I’m curious to see what happens this week. Last time I had a really good score the next week I completely tanked!  So here’s the plan:

  • Mon: beef curry w/rice, spinach, berries
  • Tue:  baked chicken thighs, fruit, veg, carrot sticks
  • Wed:  Prince Spaghetti Day!
  • Thur: osso bucco, polenta, broccoli, fruit
  • Fri:  Fish Fry!

Look at that! Bullet points. Kooky. 

Let’s see how that all works out, shall we? I’ll post the ad roundup early on Wednesday, so keep checking on me, and don’t forget to post any deals you spot out in the wild!

Cheep Cheep!

Week 10 & Goal Post

Week 10 Scoreboard

It’s week two of the new scoring system, which is based on a 15 point scale.  I know, it’s not a nice number like 10, and it makes translating things into percentages more difficult.  We’ve all got calculators on our phones, though, so it’s not like you really have to do the math.

The plan:

  • Mon: pot roast, garden salad, potatoes, blackberries, green beans
  • Tue: ham and cheese soufflé, peas, avocado, oranges
  • Wed: salmon cakes, pasta, steamed spinach, carrot sticks, apples
  • Thur: grilled pot roast sandwiches, carrot soup, and salad
  • Fri: BBQ night!

The actual:

  • Mon:  leftover buffet, Cheepie + DH date night
  • Tue:  Taco Cabana drive-thru fajitas
  • Wed:  pot roast, green beans, garden salad, potatoes, grapes
  • Thur:  I do not remember.  I’ve sat here for ten minutes, and no clue.
  • Fri:   BBQ night!

Certainly a downturn from last week!  In my defense (I seem to need to use this phrase more often than you’d expect, given that I’m setting these goals myself, not trying to follow someone else’s plan), I was throwing a big event that was using up most of the mental space in my brain that isn’t devoted to the basic mammalian-mom drive of keeping everyone alive through another day. 

And Thursday? It wasn’t that long ago. Why don’t I remember what I fed everyone? I think it must have been grilled cheese.  Making grilled cheeses is so automatic that my brain doesn’t even register it any more!

So out of a possible 15 points, this week gets 5 points. Monday gets two for having all the food groups and three people, Wednesday gets two for being a planned meal (if for a different day, I’m taking what I can get this week) and being nutritious, and Friday gets one for being planned.  Tuesday and Thursday are zero, because while I want to say Taco Cabana is at least three food groups, the amount of salt on that chicken negated any possible nutrition involved.

Luckily, the weeks roll on and I’ve got a new chance every seven days.  This week I’ve got a head start, since I know darn well what I fed everyone last night.  Grilled cheese.

photo

Week 11 plan

  • Mon: grilled cheese, carrot soup, salad, apples
  • Tue: ham and cheese soufflé, cauliflower, pomegranate seeds
  • Wed: beef and barley soup, homemade bread, fruit, veg
  • Thur: red beans and rice with venison sausage, fruit, veg
  • Fri: homemade pizza & Family Game night!

Wish me luck, and check in tomorrow morning (or very late tonight for the  Happy Ad Wednesday post.

Cheep Cheep!

Week 9 & Sunday Night Goal Post

Week 9 Scoreboard

This was the week to get back on track after the holidays, and I think things went pretty well.

The plan:

  • Mon:  pork fried rice, peas, pineapple, spinach salad
  • Tue:  ham and bean soup, fresh bread, fruit, carrot sticks
  • Wed:  angel hair, alfredo or pesto sauce, garlic bread, ricotta cheese, sautéed vegetables, fruit
  • Thur:  leftover buffet!
  • Fri:  grilled steak, triangle potatoes, salad

Reality:

  • Mon:  pork fried rice, peas, pineapple, spinach salad
  • Tue:  ham and bean soup, corn muffins, fruit, carrot sticks
  • Wed:  angel hair, pesto sauce, spinach salad, raspberries
  • Thur:  leftovers and homemade pizza
  • Fri:  roast chicken, mac and cheese, cucumber slices, raspberries

With my old scoring system, this would get about a 4 out of 10, with one point for each meal on the plan (they were all pretty good), and zero for everyone eating together at the table (which didn’t happen once).

With my new scoring system I’m calling this a 10 out of 15.  Each day gets three points:

  1. one point for following the plan
  2. one point for nutritious meal
  3. one point for three people eating at the table at the same time

This means each week is 15 points.  Three people at the table is a significant shift from my rule about wanting everyone there for it to count as a point, but it’s certainly more practical.  Family Dinner will continue to be the goal, but for now a 3/5ths Family Dinner is going to have to do, despite racist past government compromises.

Slogging through another meal where everyone eats as fast as possible to get away from the table because we’re all grumpy and tired is just not how any of us like to start the evening.  Eating dinner late because we’re waiting for someone who stopped for chili cheese fries will now be a thing of the past, and I think we can all agree that’s sensible.

Apparently my book will not be titled ‘Family Dinners‘ but ‘At Least Try to Cook Sometimes, for Some People in Your House’.

Have thoughts on my scoring?  Let me know in the comments, or share on the Facebook page, or email me explaining how I’m abandoning my goals like always and never follow through with things, and it’s ruinous parenting that I shouldn’t really be blogging about at all.

Moving on, let’s see what I think will work this week.

Week 10 Plan

Keep in mind that the kids and I have been watching Master Chef Jr., which we adore (still love you, Oona!), and the kids are more interested in helping than usual, so I’m trying to keep things they can help with as part of the meal.

  • Mon: pot roast, garden salad, potatoes, blackberries, green beans
  • Tue: ham and cheese soufflé, peas, avocado, oranges
  • Wed: salmon cakes, pasta, steamed spinach, carrot sticks, apples
  • Thur: grilled pot roast sandwiches, carrot soup, and salad
  • Fri: BBQ night!

Sale items are the carrots, blackberries, apples, avocado, and potatoes, and all the meat/fish is from the freezer.

Have a great week, everyone, and let me know what you think about the new Family Dinner score plan.

Cheep Cheep!

Sunday Night Goal Post

Check Cheepie out! 

Four months in, and not only am I wrapping up loss leaders for efficient stocking up, but I am getting those Clearance aisles rounded up, tweeting (and soon pinning! look out!), Facebooking, and now, possibly for this week only, I’m inviting random internet strangers, AND MY MOM, to score me on dinner for the week.

It’s internet history, Cheepsters.

To recap things that have derailed weeks past: people not at home/sick, food that only I like, going out to eat, not looking at the calendar and Wednesday.  Wednesday really did turn out to be the biggest bitch of the list.  Apparently I’ve only got two good days in me per week for Family Dinner. 

That was true according to my very harsh personal CheepieAustin score, though.  I’m interested to see what the voting public thinks. According to everything I know about voting after living here in Austin for decades, this should prove that one out of every 20 readers will share an opinion, and most of those will be about light rail.

Cheepie will sally forth anyway!

This week’s plan:

  • Mon:  pork fried rice, peas, pineapple, spinach salad
  • Tue:  ham and bean soup, fresh bread, fruit, carrot sticks
  • Wed:  angel hair, alfredo or pesto sauce, garlic bread, ricotta cheese, sauteed vegetables, fruit
  • Thur:  leftover buffet!
  • Fri:  grilled steak, triangle potatoes, salad

And no, we’re still not going to include weekends, because I can hardly keep track of the weekday meals. It’s enough that we’re all together. If we all live off of Triscuits and cream cheese all weekend, well, that’s just my Yankee roots alive and well then, isn’t it?

Sorry mom, no liverwurst. Love you!