Premium Menu Questions
- I can’t access my menu. What is wrong?
- I want to switch my menu to a different plan. Can you do that for me?
- How many people do the recipes feed?
- Can I substitute other ingredients?
- Can I change the menus around to fit my schedule?
- Why aren’t the menus using all healthy ingredients?
- Where can I get fresh, locally grown vegetables and meat?
- Where can I find out more about healthy eating?
- Do you offer a low carb/frugal/vegetarian/gluten-free menu plan?
- Do you have lunch and breakfast menus?
Busy Mom Menu Questions
- What does the double asterisk mean on the ingredient list in a recipe when more than one ingredient option is given?
- What is the difference between the Regular Shopping List and the Makeover Shopping List?
- Why do the recipes call for onions and peppers from the freezer?
- When you chop onions, how do you freeze them — what type of bags/containers, all in one, or in several servings (how big)? Also, any advice on how to keep from crying while chopping?
- How do you cook chicken in bulk?
- What other items would I want to stock in my freezer?
- Bulking Cooking Meat for the Freezer
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Menus generally will feed a family of 4 with leftovers or a family of 6 without leftovers. If your children are teenage boys, however, all bets are off!
Many families have allergy issues or simple dislikes. Please feel free to substitute whatever you wish. A good site for substitutions is Foodsubs.com—just look up an ingredient for suggested substitutions and more information. There are also some suggestions on the Meal Plan Primer page.
Please switch the menus around so that they coincide with your schedule. We may schedule a slow cooker day for Wednesday, but you should use that menu on the day that you will be gone or busy for most of the afternoon. Just pay attention to ingredients. If you are switching a day, note if other days use planned leftovers from that meal so that you will not be caught short-handed.
Individuals are all over the map when it comes to the level of healthy cooking that they can or choose to do. It is easy to substitute if you are at another level of healthy cooking and we encourage you to substitute healthier ingredients as appropriate for your family.
For more on beef, this article from Michael Pollan is enlightening. Michael Pollan decided that “If I was going to continue to eat red meat, then I owed it to myself, as well as to the animals, to take more responsibility for the invisible but crucial transaction between ourselves and the animals we eat. I’d try to own it, in other words.”
If you thought organic was better and keeping money from the pockets of the conglomerates, think again. This chart tells a different story. Buying locally from farmers using sustainable agriculture is a better option.
Our Busy Mom Menu includes Meal Makeovers to offer healthier versions or substitutions for dishes that could use a makeover. The Frugal Mom Menu includes meals for those looking to cut costs. Living Gluten-free Casein-free is a comprehensive 4 week menu plan for those with wheat and dairy allergies/intolerances. We do not currently offer a vegetarian menu.
Not at this time, but we do offer some ideas for breakfast and lunch.
What does the double asterisk mean on the ingredient list in a recipe on the Busy Mom Menu when more than one ingredient option is given?
**Indicates the option that is on the grocery list when more than one option is given for an ingredient. Feel free to substitute, but be sure to adjust the shopping list.
What is the difference between the Regular Shopping List and the Makeover Shopping List on the Busy Mom Menu?
Most menus give makeover options given if a meal is high in fat or calories. The makeover grocery list is made up using all of the makeover/substitutions options given and the regular grocery list is using all of the meals as listed without the substitutions/makeovers.
The same principle of bulk cooking can be applied to onions and green peppers either individually or together. If your recipe calls for a sautéed onion, instead of sautéing one onion, buy a whole bag of onions, chop them all and freeze in casserole-sized servings. When you have these meal-sized portions of meat and vegetables, it is a cinch to throw together a quick meal late in the afternoon.
If you are just starting the meal plans, you will not have sautéed onions in your freezer. Go ahead and use this time to cook a bag of onions and/or green bell peppers so you will have them ready in your freezer. These are also best stored in quart-sized freezer bags. For more information about stocking your freezer, see the Meal Plan Primer.
When you chop onions, how do you freeze them — what type of bags/containers, all in one, or in several servings (how big)? Also, any advice on how to keep from crying while chopping?
Cooking onions in bulk is probably one of the most difficult preparations we do for the menus. There is just no getting around the strong odor when cooking onions in bulk, but the more you cook at one time, the more pain you save yourself each night you need to use an onion while cooking. Since cooking inactivates the enzyme that reacts with the acids in the onion (which cause you to “cry” when mixed with the enzyme), the sooner you start cooking an onion after chopping it the less affected you will be from the gases released.The best way to prepare onions is in batches – chop only the amount of onion that the pan can hold, sauté the chopped onions in oil until tender, and store them in dated quart-sized freezer bags or 1 cup freezer containers. The easiest way to keep track of measurements is to divide up the portions into the same number of onions there were to begin with so that each bag contains one cooked onion.
You can cook your chicken however you prefer: broiling, roasting, grilling (if you have a large grill it is easy to cook a large quantity at one time), boiling, etc. Grilling is easy and a great way to cook in bulk; it also adds additional flavor to recipes. If you don’t have a grill, you can just bake or boil, then chop. You can also put chicken breasts in the crockpot with any seasonings you like (Montreal Chicken Seasoning from McCormick’s is great on chicken) and cook all day. It will shred easily with a fork that evening.
The best way to stock your freezer is to add what you are already preparing by cooking extra. Items we frequently use in the menus include meatballs, sautéed onions, cooked beans (from dry), cooked ground beef, cooked chicken, formed hamburger patties, and more. Ask yourself what you can do to make prep time easier as you are cooking and make your decisions based on that. If you are interested in what a stocked pantry (including refrigerator and freezer) might include, read The Well-Stocked Pantry.
Most weeks feature recipes that use quick and easy ingredients like chicken from the freezer. This is a way that we save prep time in the evening. When a recipe calls for ground beef, instead of browning one pound of ground beef, buy 5 lbs. and brown all of it, freezing the extra in 4 freezer bags. When you need cooked chicken for a soup or casserole, instead of cooking just enough for that recipe, boil or grill 3-4 extra lbs. for the freezer. When we cook a ham, we dice the leftovers and bag them in freezer bags in 1-2 cup portions for later use in cooking beans or soup.
If you are just starting the meal plans, you will need cook this meat since you won’t have it in the freezer. Go ahead and take this time to add a few pounds of whichever meat you are cooking to your list and when you cook for the dish, put the extra in the freezer. If you consistently do this, you will always have extra meat in the freezer for those days when prep time is at a minimum. The best way to store your freezer meat is in quart-sized freezer bags. For more information about stocking your freezer, see the Meal Plan Primer.