Posts tagged ‘Menu’

November 3, 2013

Menu Planning

Everyone is so busy now-a-days with duel working households, endless activities and chores, the list always seems to go on. We are certainly no exception. BF and I both work and have our own activities keeping us busy. We also try to exercise and eat healthy. The task of keeping even just the two of us fed for a reasonable amount of money and time invested often seems daunting. For those of you with families, I am sure it is compounded!

We often talk about eating healthy and that there is a triangle you get to choose from: healthy, tasty and affordable. The caveat is you can usually only pick two. We are doing our best to work all three in as often as possible, but that takes planning. The best way we have found to stay on track is to plan our menu for the week and create a shopping list prior to our weekend errands. BF and I sit down together and talk about the schedule for the week and what we would like to have. I usually have some new recipe I have been wanting to try (usually inspired from my Pinterest boards). I also plan to have things that complement each other so I can cut down on the number of things we are making, for example rice with two meals or leftovers with lunch. We then make a list of what to get at the “regular” store and what to splurge on at Whole Foods. We seem to stay much more on track when we have a plan and don’t do as much impulse buying.

I am also working much harder at paying attention to coupons. I think you can get sucked in to couponing and end up buying things you don’t need, but for those things you buy anyway it is great if you can save a little. This week our store was offering a coupon for 10% off your groceries if you got your flu shot. So for a flu shot that was covered by my insurance, we saved more than $10 off our groceries…those things really do add up! I have even gotten pretty good at remembering to bring my own bags, which is now something we pay for in our town. I feel really good about myself when I remember bags and coupons!

You can see from our scribly menus that our system is not fancy, but it works for us. The latest menu goes on the fridge and we work together to make it work for the week. We often shop on Saturday and I prep on Sunday. That usually involves roasting chicken breasts and prepping veggies. I try to make sure we have things that are easy to pack for lunches (probably where we save the most money from this system). Mary, Ali, Geff and I recently had an all day cooking extravaganza to create some meals for the freezer…lots more on that to come…it has been so helpful to have soups and sauces, even ready-made meals on hand. It is so nice to be able to pull something out and know where it came from. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out (like when I forget to defrost the fish) but for the most part this helps us a lot! Do you do something similar? I would love suggestions!


November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 1 Day

Today is a big prep day! Check out our list here. There are always things that come up and things that you forgot to pick up. Or maybe new great ideas you came up with this week that you just have to incorporate. Regardless, I will be trekking out to the store for a few last minute things and some decorations. Plus, a trip to the gym for one more good workout.

Here’s how we split up the day:


5:30 Spinning Class

7:00 Review Thanksgiving lists

8:30 Work

12:00 Lunch Prep time! I work close to home, so in 45 minutes here’s what I accomplished:

  • Peel potatoes and celeriac. Store in water.
  • Cut Celery, carrots, radishes. Store in water.
  • Clean and sauté Leeks.
  • Coordinate with friends –bringing me stuffing so I’ll have it in the am. Also bringing appetizer, squash, rolls and whatever else she wants to make (thanks Lisa!)

Back to work!

I got off easy.

Here’s what Kelly did:

  • Gym for a good 90 minute strength workout got my head on straight for errands!
  • Running store to sign up for the Turkey trot! (Really? Yep. Guess we’re doing that)
  • Went to Whole Foods (For the complicated special order boned turkey for the roulade. Even they think we are crazy; at least we don’t have to bone it this year!)
  • Went to regular grocery
  • Went to specialty store for candles—that worst part with people buying last minute decorations and cookware, yikes!
  • Blanched the green beans
  • Made croutons
  • Made ginger cookies
  • Started setting the table
  • Another run to the liquor store!

Still to do tonight:

  • Set the table
  • Make dip for veggie platter
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow: running and dress up clothes (what to wear??)
  • Make compound butter for the turkey
  • Lay out serving dishes/utensils for the buffet

Hope your preparations are going as well as ours! The best part of today I have to say was the beautiful Colorado sky and 70 degree weather with an open sunroof. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours!!





November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 4 Days

Today we want to share with you our plan for the week. As I mentioned before, we like to spread out our tasks across the week to make things a bit easier. Yesterday, we did most of our shopping, so we are all set to get started. Since some things save better than others, you need to think about what can be done the earliest. Also, now is a good time to reconfirm your guests. Just remember, if anyone wants to come last minute (or cancels), you are already making everything so don’t freak out! Here is what we are planning:


  • Finish menu planning
  • Shop
    • Grocery
    • Beverages, both non-alcoholic, festive cocktails, wine and beer – Ask your guests to bring what they like to drink. If you keep what you like or the basics, then you are covered. Remember kids and non-drinkers.


  • Count place settings
  • Polish silver, check glasses for dust.
  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Make pumpkin roulade (to be frozen)
  • If you are making rolls or pie crust, make them today and freeze
  • Start defrosting turkey in the refrigerator (ours is 21 lbs, check the instructions for your bird)
  • Get nails done (a nice treat after prepping all day)


  • Get a good workout in to start the week off right!
  • Decide on seating arrangements
  • Pull out decorations


  • Complete shopping
  • Make onion jam
  • Brine turkey (if you do this; we don’t)
  • Blanch green beans
  • Make stuffing (leaving out eggs to add before stuffing the turkey)


  • Make cranberry relish
  • Peel potatoes and keep refrigerated in a water bath
  • Set the table
  • Clear serving area
  • Set up bar and chill beverages
  • Clean the house


  • Turkey Trot!
  • Roast Turkey
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
  • Finish Citrus Green Beans
  • Defrost pumpkin roulade
  • Make gravy
    • William Sonoma makes Turkey Gravy Base that we always keep on hand for Thanksgiving just in case you need to supplement your gravy. It is awesome, especially if you end up a little scant on your drippings. My recommendation is to get it early because they tend to sell out; I drove 35 miles last year to get ours…oops!

Our Thanksgiving tends to be pretty traditional and straightforward. We try to include everything that is a favorite of each guest: if there is something they can’t live without, we make try to make it happen or ask them to bring it. We try to experiment on the other things and tend to make a few last minute additions (often in the way of appetizers and dessert). Plus, as I mentioned, we delegate a lot of the tasks which makes the day much easier! It has always been a team effort for us, which really is fun. Is there anything unusual you include for Thanksgiving? Fried turkey? Noodles? Soup? We always love hearing people’s traditions!

November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 5 Days

Our Thanksgiving tradition has evolved over the years, but the last 10 or so years, we have joined forces with a family friend to share the workload and the fun! As we mentioned earlier in the week, we always invite people who are without a “home” for dinner. It really has made things fun and interesting over the years. Plus, when you split things up, it gives us the opportunity to experiment with some new dishes. The weekend before Thanksgiving is a great time to get organized and start on your shopping. Planning out your menu, make-ahead dishes and timeline will also help keep the stress at a minimum for the week. Check out our menu (in progress) below.

Thanksgiving Menu 2011


  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Relish Tray
  • Bacon Wrapped Duck with Jalapeño and Cranberry BBQ Sauce
  • Dove Nuggets
  • Spiniach and Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips
  • Holiday Brie with Crackers and Apples
  • Stuffed Grapes


  • Roasted Turkey
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
  • Citrus Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Rolls
  • Cider Gravy
  • Onion Jam
  • Asparagus
  • Squash Casserole


  • Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • Pecan Pie
  • Chocolate Roulade with Pumpkin Mousse Filling
  • Ginger Snaps

**The items in green were added after Thanksgiving and this represents our final menu with lots of appetizer additions.

What we do from here is to decide who will be making what dishes. Next, pull out any recipes you will need and make a list of all the ingredients you will need for each dish. Then, double check what you have on hand for both equipment and pantry items. Finally, go shopping! Thanksgiving preparation can feel overwhelming but if you do one or from two things a night, it really helps!

A couple tips if you are up for it:

  • Our friend makes copies of each recipe so they are within reach while cooking. Keeps your cookbooks from getting icky. ~Mary
  • I am neurotic and start by listing things by dish and then reorder them by section of the store in a spreadsheet. It really helps make shopping more efficient. ~Kelly

Next steps: Make a plan for the week.

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Burger Bash

Memorial Day seems to kick off the BBQ season. We grill, not so much BBQ, though I’m thinking about getting a smoker. Here in Boulder, we have a hugely athletic community and our Memorial Day tradition is the Bolder Boulder. My husband, Jack (mowing the lawn above), runs with a group of disabled athletes called Beyond Limits. We like to celebrate both the season and all the men and women who have fought for country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We never miss the Memorial Day Concert that airs every year on PBS from the steps of the Capitol. We stumbled upon it one year in D.C. and sat through a downpour to watch John Denver perform in one of his last performances. It is one of our favorite family memories. Thank you to all of those who serve our wonderful country!

Kicking off the “summer” season can mean a lot of things in Colorado, this year we had highs in the mid-fifties and snow in the mountains, but some years are HOT. We spent the weekend BBQ hopping and shopping for new plants to add to the garden. Check out our menu below. We will have more recipes and progress on the garden coming soon! How did you spend your holiday weekend?

Mary & Kelly



Condiment Bar including Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade Hamburger buns

Onion Jam with Habenero

German Potato Salad

Baked Beans




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