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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Menu or Madness?- {Day 13 of 31 days of Revealing my “secrets” as a mom of 4 + time for decor & more}



Today starts a few days of discussing some kitchen “secrets.” If you hadn’t gathered yet, I love to cook and bake!! So, the kitchen is often the room in which I reside in often.

Do you wonder where I’m headed with this? Well, I’ve had many ask me if I make a menu for the week, month, regular meals, etc. My answer…."No!” I have received many responses including, “Sounds unorganized” “You’d save money if you did” and many other sometimes humorous responses. 

Today’s “secret” is there are benefits of cooking from your freezer/stash and not from just a menu!

I learned early on that it was important to be creative with what food God had provided for us. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, and quite honestly remember some pretty poor days that consisted of very little. But, there was a certain someone that made even the poorest of days seem so much better. All the credit is given to my mom! She ALWAYS made yummy food from seemingly nothing. Ever met one of “those” kind of people? You know the ones who can grab 2 jars of something and a box of pasta from the almost bare cupboard and make something that melts in your mouth? Yup, that was/is my momma! So, at a young age it was instilled in me even without purpose that I can be creative with a few ingredients. Thus explains my love for attempting to make food look beautiful and taste good without it costing a ton of money.IMG_2815

I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up eating spaghetti every Monday, meatloaf on Tuesdays, Pizza on Wednesdays, etc.  I know MANY people who cook this way and it works wonders for them and they do it with great style and love doing it. So, this post is not to poke fun at those who do it this way at all! I sometimes wish it would work to do it this way for my family, but it doesn’t. Kudos to you who can get away with it this way.

Me, on the other-hand, have had tight budgets through the years and have had many times where having a set meal plan could never have worked. So, I had to figure something out that best works for my family, our schedules, and our budget. I tried the weekly menu thing for about 1 grocery shop and calculated how much money I was spending based on shopping solely for what was on the next 2 weeks menus. After getting through 2 weeks I threw that plan out and just bought items I knew we would eat and meat on sale etc. I found that I spent far less money and purchased almost double the food than I had the previous shopping trip. I am not a processed food buyer other than an occasional frozen pizza, so this makes a huge difference too.

It became a fun thing to create my own or try new recipes based solely on what was in my cupboards and freezer. This does not mean I never make a menu or never shop for specific items for a certain recipe, etc. It just means that I’ve learned to create things based on what I have rather than the same stuff over and over again.

I have also drastically changed my way of shopping just recently. A few days ago I went through a pretty detailed post on my grocery shopping habit and the fun “new” way I shop. You can read all about it here! I believe much of the way you cook and bake is based on your shopping and can make a huge difference.day3image

The way grocery prices have soared recently I have found myself biweekly stocking up on particular things that can make a wide range of dishes! Pasta is something that I typically can get Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals on. With it sometimes coming to .40 cents a box I can stock up quite a bit. What an overwhelming list of things you can make with pasta and it doesn’t have to be the same spaghetti dish every week. My kids are LOVING all the different shapes of pasta that I have started to buy too which makes mealtime fun. Sometimes it’s just the variety that really does become the spice of life! (:

Every grocery store has to mark their meat down at some point in the week. Take a trip to your store and speak to the meat manager and find out the best time to stock up on meat that they need to get rid of quickly. I like to stock up as often as I can and throw them in the freezer. Lately chicken seems to be the only “cheap” meat option, but when you can price match meat or buy when they are on their “out the door” sale you can still get some great quality meats for very little money.IMG_4098These are just some of the “secrets” and benefits of cooking from your stash and not just from menus. I love to make a menu at times, but honestly rarely do because it costs me way more money. The organizational aspect would be great, but I love opening the freezer in the morning and thinking, “Hmm, look at the options…what shall we have tonight?” Oh, and I love asking my kids, “What do you want for supper tonight?” It’s fun to give them a variety of options solely based on what is sitting in the freezer.IMG_4099

Would love to hear how menu cooking works for you or if you prefer to create different meals each day, etc. I know having a passion for cooking makes a huge difference too and not everyone likes to be in the kitchen as much as me!

Thanks for reading, sweet friends! Looking forward to sharing some recipes and organizational tips from the kitchen this week.


  1. I am new to your blog. I loved this post, as I too, do not plan meals or make menus. I also shop bi-weekly. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a Happy Week,
    Sherri Smith

    1. So glad you found my blog! Love hearing how you do things too! Sherri, do you have little ones? Hope your day is wonderful!

    2. Good morning, Molly,

      I am glad I found your blog as well :)

      I have two daughters, they are mo longer lilttle ones. They are 16 & 19. We are a homeschooling family. My oldest is in college and still living at home ( thankfuly) and we are in the throws of tenth grade with my 16 year old. God has blessed my family with allowing me to be a stay at home mom from the beginning.

      Have a blessed day!
      Sherri Smith

  2. I think that this is the way that I cook, I just don't seem to have what I want on hand, so it can be very frustrating. Can you give us a list of the types of this you usually stock? Thanks! Love ya!


    1. These are typically the items I try not to run out of....
      Cheese, frozen veggies (I don't buy canned anymore for health purposes), flour, sugars, chocolate chips, various meats, bbq sauce, spices, onions, NOODLES, potatoes, rice, and any other items that we love. I love to keep lots of fresh fruits and veggies in stock too, but my kids seem to eat me out of house and home with those. Hope this helps. If you have lots of favorite dishes find out the key ingredients to several and just make sure you keep up on those items especially if they are on sale. For instance, we eat cheese with almost EVERYTHING! I don't buy it though every 2 weeks because I may have bought TONS the week it was on sale. Love and miss you!

  3. Molly, I'm so glad you posted this. I ONLY shop the sale papers and clearance bins at our grocery stores here in downtown Montreal. My husband and I both have learned to cook from what is in the fridge. Some meals are more basic than others, but we our size is proof that we don't starve. :) TIP: Get regular Recipe emails from places like Betty Crocker and All Recipes.com which feature NORMAL. Many times I see an interesting recipe that needs 1 special ingredient. I save the recipe and when the ingredient goes on sale, we try it. This adds variety too!