I've spent a lot of productive time over the past few days, planning a better system for our grocery budget, creating a master sheet of favourite meals, preparing new recipe cards, and choosing (from now on) to purchase only what I need for our weekly menu.
If there's a really good special on pantry items I shall indeed stock up on them, but apart from that I'm not going to be distracted by unnecessary items on the supermarket shelf.
Whilst in the midst of creating a menu ideas master sheet, a weekly menu plan sheet, an accompanying grocery list, plus a recipe card template, I thought some of you might like them as well?
In the photo above you can see three sheets to download, but later I decided to add a fourth. On the first menu ideas master list (below) the categories are - Breakfasts, Lunches and Main Meals...
...but later I realised the need for three more categories - Savoury Snacks, Sweet Snacks and Desserts - so that's what the fourth sheet is in your free download.
To me the game changer was the two Master List sheets. I wrote down all the meals and snacks and desserts we go back to over and over again, and this gave me the best resource list for weekly menu planning.
Now you might think the shopping list on the side is small, and you're right. I made it this way because the only things which will be written on that list are items I need from the menu.
I will be creating another shopping list later this month where I can write all the other grocery and household items we need, but this small list keeps me on track with the weekly menu.
When I went to the supermarket at the weekend I only took this list with me and was able to get everything I needed for a week of dinner meals. Before going to the shops though, I checked my freezer, fridge and pantry for any ingredients we already had so that I did not double up.
On Sunday (to clear out the leftovers) I made our meals from what we already had in the fridge, so today we began fresh with the new menu plan. These are things I did way back in our homeschooling years because it was so much easier to have a menu on the fridge to point at when the kids would ask (as they do!) "Mama, what's for dinner?"
The recipe cards will be well used as I have so many hand written ones on scraps of paper, some more than thirty years old and barely legible from the food spots across the paper.
I have printed the two Menu Ideas Master Sheets and the Recipe Cards on 250gsm premium digital paper because you'll keep them permanently so they need to be sturdy. I also slipped mine inside plastic sleeves to store in my homemakers folder.
The weekly menu sheets and shopping list have just been printed on ordinary 80gsm printer paper because they get used and thrown away at the end of each week.
If you'd like to print these up for yourself, I have two options. In Australia we use A4 paper, whilst in the US 'letter' size is used, but I'm not sure about the rest of the world, so download the one which is common to your country.
As I said, later this month I will have a larger shopping list for you to save and download, but for now I hope you have fun with these!
IN THE KITCHEN
Monday is usually a big day in the kitchen, and today was no different. I began by making fresh cashew milk, and fresh vegetable juice.
The veggie juice is carrot, apple, lemon and ginger, which has a lot of zing from the lemon and ginger - perfect for easing migraines as the lemon is alkaline once it reaches your stomach and the ginger is anti inflammatory. I have found both of these ingredients helpful over the years.
Cashew milk is very easy to make and being a soft nut it doesn't need to be strained through a nut bag like almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts.
I soak one cup of raw cashews in filtered water overnight, then next morning strain and rinse before adding to the blender with four cups of filtered water and one teaspoon maple syrup. Blend until smooth (my blender has a nut milk setting) before pouring into a jar and storing in the fridge. Use within four days. It's delicious on cereal, with porridge, in smoothies or as milk for your tea or coffee.
I also made a second baked bread & butter custard as my husband loved it last week. I also made jelly (jello) for him to have with it alongside some tinned apricots.
We had old bananas which needed to be used and as I already have two bags of banana pieces in the freezer for smoothies I decided to bake some banana, raisin and chocolate muffins, scattering some walnuts across the top. They made a delicious afternoon tea with grapes and juice! Tomorrow we'll have some for breakfast with mangoes, and the rest are in the freezer for another day.
I also began a new sour dough starter today. It's been quite a while since I made this part of my routine but lately we've been spending quite a bit on store bought sour dough and as our main focus is to pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible, I knew it was time to get back to that habit and save the pennies. Besides, I adore bread making.
It will be a while until the starter is ready for making a loaf of sour dough, so in the meantime I'll keep baking our regular daily loaves. The loaf today is a multigrain and here it is kneaded and ready for the first rise. I very lightly oil the glass Pyrex bowl first and then cover the dough until it has doubled in size.
Normally I cover the bowl with cling wrap but recently on a baker's blog I saw a different way to cover the rising dough, and now I don't waste cling wrap anymore! Use a shower cap instead! Isn't that clever? Of course I don't own a shower cap so I bought this one at Kmart for just $2.
This dough was not destined to be a regular loaf of bread, though. I'm off to Blossom's tomorrow and wanted to take a morning tea and some lunch for everyone so I have this cream cheese lemon cake in the oven right now...
...and the bread dough became a delicious batch of savoury scrolls, filled with parmesan, tasty cheddar and tomato pesto, plus a scattering of mozzarella cheese over the top. They smell amazing so I'd best pack a couple for hubby's work lunch tomorrow.
On Wednesday I have something very special for you, and dear Blossom made it possible...but no hints, you'll just have to come back and visit again.
I do pray for you often, and really hope that your heavy days are made lighter, your dark days become brighter, and you feel - really feel - the presence of Almighty God wrapping His arms around you and assuring you of His love.
Have a lovely day or evening, wherever you are in God's earth.