Saturday, January 11, 2014

Disney Movie Night: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins has been on my mind a lot lately.  I've been wanting to go see Saving Mr. Banks; I just haven't had time yet.  And the Walt Disney exhibit is at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago right now.  I'm trying to figure out when we can go see that as well.  Plus, I'm working on early plans for our next Disney World trip and one of the meals I've been contemplating is breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, which includes Mary Poppins as one of the characters.  So, naturally, Mary Poppins was our movie for tonight!

When I was trying to come up with a menu for tonight, there were only a few obvious choices from the movie.  Cakes and tea?  Not really supper food.  Fish (that is what they were going to buy when they got sidetracked to Uncle Albert's)...I'm allergic.  Hmmm...what to do?

So, I decided to go with a menu based more on the location of the movie than movie references itself.     I found a recipe for the Guinness Stew they serve at the Rose and Crown at the UK Pavilion in Epcot, so I went with that.  I know...Irish.  But, it's close.  And delicious!!  I decided on scones for a side.

For dessert, I went back to the Rose and Crown.  Sticky toffee pudding.  The kids response?  "That's not pudding!  It's cake!"  My response?  "Heaven on a plate!"  I'm a sucker for toffee.

This was a great movie night, and one of my all-time favorite Disney classics!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Take on Meal Planning: Week 1

So I decided to try something new for my grocery shopping and meal planning this year.  Instead of doing one month at a time like I used to do, I'm starting the year by planning 4 weeks.  Each week, I'll plan one week to add on the end.  So, I'll always have 4 weeks of planned meals.

Why?  First, this gives me some flexibility.  If I just don't have time on the day I want to plan, it's not a huge deal.  I can put it off a day or two.  Second, sales!  If I have more than this week's groceries planned out, I can shop sales, coupons, etc. in advance.

So, how do I do this?  I have a monthly meal calendar in my planner (missed that post?  Find it here.) I use that to write out my dinner plans.

I don't really plan breakfast or lunch.  I have things I keep on hand for both.  Breakfast: eggs, bacon, cereal, bread, milk.  Lunch: salad mix, chicken that I've grilled, celery, dressings, soup (either canned or leftover and frozen), crackers, fresh fruit, and sometimes Hormel Compleats for a treat.  So here are my steps for creating my meal plans:

1.  Fill in Church Dinner on Wednesdays.  Our church has a community dinner every Wednesday before the kids' programs.  It's a great way to meet new people and fellowship with friends.  Plus the food is good!  If you don't have a night where you have a church or community meal, you could always have a pizza night or McDonald's night or just generic eating out night.  That makes one night a week really simple.

2.  Fill in special meals.  This month is J's birthday, so we'll go out that night.  We also have a pizza party for cub scouts.  Plus, on Saturday's when we have nothing going on, we like to do our Disney movie nights.

3.  Go through the freezer.  I look at what meat I have on hand and what meals from my cooking co-op I have.  Right now I have a lot from co-op.  I got a lot in November, and with the car accident, we didn't do a lot of cooking.  So, I have those to use up, plus we meet tonight so I'll get all of January's. I fill these in where I want to use them.

4.  Fill in the remaining nights with tried-and-true recipes or things I've found online that look good.  I have a huge recipe board on Pinterest that I've hardly cracked! ;)

So here is my meal plan for the next 4 weeks.  Meals with * are co-op meals.  You can either fill in a different main dish, find a similar recipe, or if you ask I might share! :)

5.  Make a grocery list.  This may be the long way, but I like to write down EVERYTHING I need so I can double check my pantry.  All spices, everything.  I use a printable shopping list I found on Pinterest from  I print off a new one each week, write the dates at the top and fill out the groceries for week #4.  So I'm actually working from 4 lists at a time...but more on that later.

6.  For the current week (week 1), go through the pantry/fridge/freezer and cross off what I already have.

7.  Once I have my list of things I need, I go through adds and coupons.  I usually go through the weekly adds for the 3 stores I do my shopping at first and look for good sales (Target, Fareway, and HyVee).  I also look for Fuel Saver items at HyVee.

8.  Coupons!  I use,, and digital coupons from the Target app and HyVee site.

9.  Apps.  I use both Cartwheel by Target and Ibotta.

10.  Once I've marked everything that has a sale, coupon, cartwheel, Ibotta, or Fuel Saver, I sort things by store in Shopper on my phone and I'm ready to go.  Anything not marked goes on the Fareway list, since things tend to be a little less expensive there.

And that's it!  Here is the grocery list this week's trip.  I've marked the coupons and such that I've found.  Hope it helps!  Once I take off the things I have on hand, I'm left with a pretty short list!