Feb 25, 2010

Save Money By Cooking like the Kennedys! (Carole)

Years ago I read, that Rose Kennedy (mother of JFK, RFK and recently deceased Teddy) served the same seven meals every week.   Since the Kennedy clan has been in the multi-multi-millionaire category since the 1930’s, I’m confident that Rose was not actually in the kitchen with an apron on, whipping up these nightly meals.  But, however these meals were prepared, the message is that she had a limited list of dinner main dishes that kept life simple.

Like your family, mine would probably revolt if I only served 7 meals – over and over and over again.  So I’ve increased mine to 37.  There’s nothing magical about that number, it’s just what I came up with about 10 years ago.  I sat down one day and listed all the decently easy-to-make main dishes my family liked.   I can hardly express how much this little list has helped me over the years.

I am not an amazing cook, nor do I love to cook.  However, since it is so much cheaper and healthier to eat at home than it is to eat out, I have cooked most of the meals in our house for the past 26+ years.  And I have found it is much easier to deal with dinner time if I am extremely familiar with the main dish recipe I’m cooking -- I've also found that my family eats more of the meal if I serve a dish they recognize. 

My list of 37 main dishes are all family favorites.  About once a year I update it – whacking out anything  I’m tired of making (or have ceased to be favorites) and adding in the occasional new recipe that I’ve tried and everyone found tasty.  So, it is a list that continues to evolve.

I keep this list as a Word document on my computer (for easy updating) and print it out.  I then tape the list to the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards for easy reference.  It is titled “Main Dishes that David Likes.”   Since he and I have very different palates, I also use this list as a reminder of what he will enjoy eating (mild and creamy) – versus what I might enjoy (hot and spicy).  I’ve highlighted the REALLY EASY meals on the list, so that in a time or ingredient pinch, I can remember what makes a good meal without taking either too much time or having to run to the grocery store for a special ingredient.  I also have all the crock pot recipes grouped together.  

Having a list like this saves me a huge amount of time and effort when planning my weekly menu – no more digging through piles of cookbooks, recipe cards or websites for ideas of what to serve.   Some of these 37 recipes don’t get made more than a couple of times a year (Manicotti).  While other recipes are made every couple of weeks (Quiche).  It just depends on what sounds good to me at the time. 

This simple list also helps me when I’m at the grocery store or looking through the store’s weekly sale flier.  Because my menu is pretty standard month to month, I know what ingredients I traditionally need, so when I see them on sale I can stock up (saving lots of money).   It also keeps me from having to buy some odd ingredient and then having it sit in the back of the fridge until I throw it away (wasting lots of money). 

I’ll share my list with you and maybe it will get you thinking of your own family favorites.  Feel like sharing your favorite go-to meal ideas??  We'd love to hear them!!

  1. Chicken Bacon Wrap - crock pot
  2. Pot Roast - crock pot
  3. Beef Stroganoff - crock pot
  4. Chicken a la King - crock pot
  5. Stew - crock pot
  6. Beef Dip Sandwiches - crock pot
  7. BBQ Spareribs - crock pot
  8. Taco soup - crock pot 
  9. Quiche
  10. Pork Loin Roast 
  11. Pepperoni Alfredo
  12. Salmon
  13. Tuna over Rice
  14. Mini Pizza
  15. Ham and Baked Corn
  16. Breakfast for dinner (waffles, pancakes, eggs and toast)
  17. Tacos
  18. Hamburgers
  19. Baked Chicken
  20. Fried Chicken
  21. Baked Pork Chops
  22. Chicken Packets
  23. Potato Soup
  24. Tuna and Pasta casserole
  25. Italian Pastry Bake
  26. Shepard’s Pie
  27. Manicotti
  28. Chili and Corn Bread
  29. Enchiladas
  30. Chicken Pot Pie
  31. Crepes and Fruit Smoothies
  32. Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  33. Grandma Henrie’s Meatballs over rice
  34. Peanut Butter Chicken Soup 
  35. Chicken Salad
  36. Ranch Chicken
  37. Chicken Divan 


Packrat said...

Menu planning is such a good idea, and one that I have completely gotten away from doing. Must start again.

You wouldn't be willing to post any of your recipes, would you? It is nice to get recipes that "real" people have made and actually enjoy eating.

Unknown said...

This is perfect--my husband and I have recently done something kind of similar--we have "themes" for certain nights. Asian, Italian, Mexican, casseroles, etc. That way when we buy groceries, if we do buy ingredients that are more specific to one type of cooking, they get used up before they go bad (like a jar of spaghetti sauce). Making a list of foods we like to fill in on the "theme" would be so helpful though. It seems like when I sit down to plan the week, I can never remember what we actually eat.

Thanks for this blog guys--the ideas are so practical!

Betsy said...

This (meal planning) is something I've just started doing; I'm in my 4th week of it and while it has really simplified everything and saved money, it's hard coming up with that weekly list! I'm still building my list of favorites though and trying out recipes I've collected over the years but never tried. I'm learning to take into account what food I have on hand while making the week's list so I get it used up. My food waste has dropped dramatically.

Jon and Laura said...

What a great blog! I'm really enjoying reading your ideas. As for the meal planning, I have a very similar system- though I tend to start getting tired of recipes too fast so I'm always looking for new recipes to swap in. Could you share some of yours? I was especially interested in these 4-
Chicken Packets
Italian Pastry Bake
Ranch Chicken
Chicken Divan

Some of my other favorites are homemade chicken pineapple pizza, ginger chicken, greek turkey burgers, black bean tacos, cranberry basalmic pork tenderloin, and ham and cheese cassarole.

Saskia said...

I like cooking too much to do this, but of course I have a lot of meals that come back regularly - the pastas, the curries, the casseroles. Every once in a while I'll splurge and go through my cookbook for something fun - but I always make sure I can use the ingredients in something else!

Ashley said...

This is genius. I already make a weekly menu but struggle with ideas of what to cook! I am going to start making my own list (adopting some if your favorites). As always-thanks a bunch!!