Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Parmesan Chicken and Menu Planning

The dog decided he wanted to wake me up this morning rather early, like before 6am. Not nice! But when he puts his paws up on the side of the bed and starts poking me with his nose, I figure he really wants something, because normally he stays curled up in his bed until I decide I want to roll out and get going. I am pretty sure he was hungry because he was begging for extra food last night. He is on a diet. We fed him too much for years and now he has quite the belly - which as an aging adult is not easy to lose :) So I decided to spend a little extra time on the blog this morning and tell you about my method of menu planning as well as a recipe for Parmesan Chicken, which is really quick!


For at least 15 years and maybe closer to 20 I have been planning meals for the family for 2 weeks at a time. I have developed a method that works well for our family and really helps to save on the grocery bill and cuts down trips to the grocery store. When the kids were younger I would plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now breakfast and lunch are usually every man for himself. Occasionally I get a bug to make breakfast on a Saturday, or some special day, or I just feel like making pancakes or waffles. I try to keep bacon and sausage in the freezer for those "just in case" days, and my pantry is almost always stocked with any baking item that would be needed for bread, muffins, pancakes/waffles, cookies, brownies, etc.... which reminds me, I am out of confectioner's sugar!! Better go put that on the list before I forget!

On my menu plan I make three columns. The first is the day of the week, then the date, then the meals are lists. Under the day of the week I write any special events or activities for that day. It helps me in the planning to know who is going to be home and where may potentially be at dinner time and how much prep time I will or will not have. I also put an asterisk (*) next to the days that David is on shift at the firehall so I know when he will be home for dinner. Then I plan my meals. Wednesdays are always dinner at church, so I don't have to cook (yay!), and Tuesdays I am gone for 10 hours, so I usually try to put something in the crock pot. Then I plan to make spaghetti sauce, if the freezer supply is depleted, and then spread the meals so I plan for a few chicken meals, a few "Italian" type meals, ground beef, a roast or two (beef or pork), a soup or stew... in other words, variety! Sometimes I will pull out a cookbook that I haven't used in a while and search through it for new things to try and work one or two into the menu. Sometimes I ask the crew what they haven't had in awhile that they want me to make, and I always work in 2 leftover meals. In 14 days, with 2 church meals and 2 leftover meals, that only leaves 10 meals to plan, which works out great.

Normally I do it by hand, but I do have a type-written format, which you are welcome to copy and paste into a Word document and adjust with dates, meals etc., but this is what my next two weeks will look like:

Day      Date                 Meal
M         1/24                 B
WHHE                         L
dentist                          D – chicken noodle soup, slaw, bread

T          1/25                 B
CHET                          L
Cheer                           D – Roast in crock pot w/ potatoes, carrots, onions, celery

*W      1/26                 B
Joelton                         L
Church                         D - CHURCH

Th        1/27                 B
Cheer                           L
                                    D – spaghetti (make sauce in am), salad, bread in machine

F          1/28                 B
C’ville class                  L
Tumble/Cheer 5p        D – tacos/burritos, yellow rice

*Sa      1/29                 B
Competition                  L
                                    D – (leftovers)

Su        1/30                 B
4:12 @ 4p                    L
                                    D – pork roast with sauerkraut, carrots, mashed potatoes

M         1/31                 B
                                    D – pasta, olives & cheese, salad, bread

*T        2/1                   B
CHET                          L
Cheer                           D – Chicken in crock pot w/ veg., cook rice

W        2/2                   B
Joelton                         L
Church                         D - CHURCH

Th        2/3                   B
Cheer                           L
                                    D – hamburger steaks w/ mushrooms, potatoes, green beans

*F        2/4                   B
C’ville                          L
Tumble 5p                    D – French bread pizza (pepperoni, sausage, mush, peppers…)

Sa        2/5                   B
                                    D – vegetable soup, grilled cheese

Su        2/6                   B
4:12                             L
                                    D – (leftovers)

Tomorrow I will share with you my grocery shopping strategies and share my "list" with you. It is what works for me because I have been doing it so long. You may already have a plan in place that works well. If not, give this a try and see if it helps you to save a little bit of money on your grocery bill.

Now for dinner last night. I had pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer the day before thinking I would forgo the normal crock pot recipe... I won't make that mistake again because I barely got food into the girls (Kami, Emily and Ella) before we had to leave for the gym. But, dinner was tasty and it was easy to put together and 3 chicken breasts actually fed 6 people! I buy rather plump boneless breast pieces and while they are still slightly frozen in the center, I slice them in half horizontally with a serrated knife, making chicken "cutlets". It really is the perfect size of a meat portion and no one ever complains :) I served this with basmati rice and steamed broccoli. Here's the recipe


3 plump boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
1-2 T. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375'. Oil a baking sheet or pan with olive oil. In a bowl combine the crumbs, cheese and salt. Place melted butter in another bowl. Dip each breast piece in the melted butter and then into the crumb mixture, patting the crumbs into the mixture. I usually turn and pat the breasts a few times to be sure they are thoroughly coated with the crumbs and then lay them on the baking sheet. Bake at 375' for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Simple, easy and really only 5 ingredients, if you don't count the olive oil! It's a great stand-by and works for bone-in chicken, chicken tenders and pork chops!

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment