Menu Monday/The Week Ahead

Another week ahead...I have a few items in the refrigerator I'm trying to use up here at the start of the week and then I'll be cooking 'fresh' foods, new items that will no doubt morph as my menus normally do into second and third appearances.  I signed up for a newsletter that is supposed to help with cooking for two.  I got the first one and not seen once since...

I plan to go through cookbooks and magazines over the next two weeks to plan out menus for the month of January.  Yes, the whole month.  I found the quarterly menu I did in September very helpful but a little too much all at once for us.  I didn't figure in leftovers and meals eaten out into the equation at all.

January will also be my annual pantry freezer challenge month, where I attempt to get back on track after the higher grocery spending in December.  While I confess the spending has not been as high as I anticipated due to the lack of sales, I will still come in over budget for the month.  I find January a good time to rein in and refocus in all areas, including the freezer/pantry.  Here's our meals for this week:

Monday:  Chicken and Dumplings, Waldorf Salad
 Yes, leftovers today.  In fact all three meals today are leftovers of other meals.  Not complaining at all as it means I can take all day today to plan meals for the rest of this week and determine just what of my culinary skills will be put to use...

Tuesday: Philly Cheese steak buns, French Fries, Tangelos
Leftover roast beef with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese on French rolls will be the main entree.  The roast beef leftover from Sunday dinner.

Wednesday:  Chicken Divan, Rice, Tossed Salad
  I'll thaw a package of boneless skinless breasts.  Split into cutlets I'll oven fry part of them and make a simple divan casserole with the rest.  Haven't tried this recipe before so we'll see how it goes.

Thursday:  Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Baked Apples
 Supposed to be rainy and cold and this would seem a good day to make a meatless meal, agreed?  Especially when it's a classic combination of soup and grilled sandwiches.

Friday:  Chicken Parmigiana, Pasta, Green Salad, Hard Rolls
Some of the chicken will make a second appearance as one of my favorite chicken dishes.  John will get the hard roll filled with the same chicken which he can reheat in the microwave at work.  

Saturday:  Chili, Cornbread, Ambrosia
Katie has already confirmed she'll be in this day...Samuel?  I'm still waiting on that answer.  Since I'm not sure when or how many, I figured chili would be a good thing.  I can stretch a little meat a long way so it's economical, it's not hurt at all by long slow simmering and waiting upon the unknown factors, and I can easily freeze or can the leftovers if there is a huge excess.   

Sunday:  Dinner at Mama's 

I hope to make a few batches of Christmas cookies. I don't even have to ask what my family would like, I can tell you myself: Stovetop cookies, Ruby Thumbprints, Magic Cookie Bars, and Chocolate chip cookies.  I'll put some dough in the freezer for the next month (and baked cookies too no doubt) because the kids will only be home for the weekend at most.

I have gifts to wrap and tag.

I plan to go out to pick up a few necessities: Holiday paper plates and bowls for the family dinner, butter while it's on sale at such a good price, pet food  and bread so I don't have to stop at the store over the holiday weekend.

I want all my cleaning this week to be done by week's end so I can just enjoy the weekend in fullness.

While the weather is nice, I mean to get outdoors and gather pecans, perhaps do a little yardwork.  Rain is on the forecast off and on for this week, so this will need to get done early in the week.  You'll hear no complaints of rainy weather here.  So many of our ponds and creeks have gone dry and the river is alarmingly low so much so that this summer fun seekers drove down the river bed, which had been laid bare by the drought.

The gas man came today.  Typically we'd have needed a half tank or more by now, but it's not been cold but a day or two really.  He left behind the bill and our annual courtesy calendar.  It's so nice to deal with a company that still extends a little additional courtesy I think.  So many have left that off.

Time to get back to work...

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