How do you do menu planning?

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Madeleine's picture
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After all this time, I am finally trying to sort out recipes to make the process easier.

I have a 3 inch binder filled with recipes.

I want to have 10 starters and 10 entrees to mix and match. Coming up with a system that works is where I am running into problems.

Right now the dining room table is covered with 3x5 cards and recipe pages and I'm not any closer to what I want which is to pull out a menu that has an entree, starter and all the sides along with the actual recipe.

The menus also have to work for a variety of numbers of guests. Some recipes don't work for fewer than 8 guests. Some are better with a full house. 

How do you organize your menus?

 

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Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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Shopping every day is a luxury and leads to too many potential 'impulse' purchases.

I start to panic if I get below 3 dozen eggs in the fridge.

Thank goodness Cost co is just 10 minutes away. Though they've been out of frozen OJ now for a couple of weeks. GRRR!!

I am also a forager - look in the fridge to see what needs to be used up and, viola! breakfast is served! This is how it happens this time of year. August - October, however, is another matter. Things have to be planned and shopped for a week or so in advance. 

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Madeleine's picture
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I think part of the problem I'm having here is most everyone seems to keep a stocked pantry. We don't. If we're making x for breakfast then we go buy the ingredients. We'll use whatever is left a couple of days later and then it's gone. I can't even say for sure I'll have enough FLOUR in the house at any given time to make something.

I guess it would be better if I could look at fresh, seasonal food in the store and say, 'I can use that for breakfast,' and then go home and make something. No can do.

I'll keep trying to come up with a system that works here. If I find one, I'll share! I see it as a one of those 'selecta-wheel' kind of things where you turn the outside dial to the number of guests and then another dial to 'eggs' or 'bread' and then another dial to 'starter' and it all lines up and shows me what we can make!

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I know DH wants to get out and go shopping every day, but that doesn't mean you can't have plenty of staples stored. Let him shop for the perishables and sale items every day.

I'm curious, since he's the one buying and cooking the ingredients, why isn't he the one to create the menu? He obviously knows how to cook it all. You have built in confrontation from the get go!

 

Madeleine's picture
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Breakfast Diva wrote:

 You have built in confrontation from the get go!

 

Bingo!

He wants to 'run it by me' before he shops but he doesn't think it thru. He'll say, 'I'm going to make omelets,' and I'll say, 'You have a table of 5, how are you going to get the toast done?' 'Oh, I forgot the group.' Then he gets stressed. And so it goes. (Which brings us back to why we cannot do a cook to order menu. Or a lot of oddball allergies.)

It only gets really bad in the summer. Right now he's pretty much got the week laid out in his head. I'm trying to plan for V-Day so we do something special.

Silverspoon's picture
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winkI do a massive shopping at the big box food club for staples once a week, stocking up on what  I need for at least 8 days. Dairy that is not in use gets stored on second refrigerator in basement.   I also keep a binder and computer file of recipes.  Over the years I have accumulated recipes that are tried and true and use the same basic ingredients.  Here are the perishables I always have on hand...which might mean a mid-week run to the local grocer: milk, OJ,  half&half, heavy cream, buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Romano cheese, several (up to 6 doz) eggs, mayo, cottage cheese, yogurt, assorted veggies like red peppers and spinach, assorted fruit including oranges, blueberries for garnish as well as apples, seasonal berries, pineapple, bananas and melons.  Refrigerator dough might also be stocked if we have a bunch of weekly guests.  The freezer is well stocked with butter (I buy 10-12 lbs at a time in  1 lb blocks), breakfast meats and more fruit(bought on sale and frozen): bacon, turkey bacon, sausage (links and patties), Linguisa,  frozen blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, as well as partially baked rolls, breads and sweet breads/muffins.  

Since I try to avoid turning the oven on during a heat wave, having a well stocked freezer gives me the flexibility to pull things as needed.  I bake on the mornings that are cool enough to be comfortable and serve baked goods (homemade) from the freezer, when hot humid weather is persistent...Or use the bread machine if I want good, fresh-baked, smells.

 

oh geeze...i've gone off the deep end with the details...and missed your main question.  In a nutshell, I make one of my standard recipes, tweeked based on dietary requirements.  Since I keep well stocked, I can do this without a shopping trip every day, which saves me time and hassle.

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Madeleine's picture
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Silverspoon wrote:

  Since I keep well stocked, I can do this without a shopping trip every day, which saves me time and hassle.

DH wants to shop everyday. It gets him out of the house. It's a requirement that he be able to do that.

Generic's picture
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What about the specials? Don't you use that to determine what to make? Seasonality?

For example, if your local supermarket has apples on special, then French Toast with caramelized apples. Then again, strawberries, sweet potatoes, breakfast sausage and cream cheese are also on sale at H...d this week. The cream cheese would make a nice baked French Toast dish. Sweet potatoes for potato pancakes or sweet potato hash. And strawberries with simple syrup or yogourt in a parfait? 

I have some staples, but really the market often defines what I make and when. Around here, it's pears, strawberries, hamburger/hot buns, and  apple juice. So a strata with the buns, a gelatin with the apple juice, French toast with caramelized pears. 

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Madeleine's picture
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The short answer is no. DH does not shop that way. For him, there is a list, he buys what's on the list and that's it. If there was a sale on peaches next to a full price pear and pears were on the list, then pears it is.

He will come home with sale stuff but so much of it we end up having to freeze it and make sauce instead of using it fresh.

THIS is kind of why I want to get some recipes organized. Then I can say (because I know what is on sale), 'Hey, how about this for breakfast?' Then we stop spending a pile of money on fruit that goes bad in a day.

Generic's picture
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Okay, work on variations on a theme, then. 

French toast: Apple Caramel, Blueberry, Maple Pecan, Strawberry stuffed with cream cheese, etc.

Pancakes: Blueberry, banana, chocolate chip, etc.

Omelet: Cheese, Ham, Red Pepper, etc.

Madeleine's picture
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Sugar Bear wrote:

Okay, work on variations on a theme, then. 

Exactly what I am trying to do. In the paradise of my existence I would hand him a 3x5 card with the menu on it and the recipe paperclipped to it or a note saying where to find the recipe.

Menu for 8:

Starter: Pumpkin Panna Cotta (can of pumpkin puree, 8oz heavy cream, gelatin)

Entree: Tomato Mushroom Omelets with toast & sausage (list of ingredients here)

Then he can make notes on the shopping list that there is a GF and he needs GF bread for the toast. Or some such thing. (You know, I am not working in a vacuum here! I did ASK him how this would look best to him and I got, 'I don't know.')

 

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I'am tiny (3cottage type B&B rooms) but see what I do here........

http://bridgewaterinncottage.blogspot.com/        works for me and guest appreciate the service.

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birdwatcher's picture
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I started a three ring binder, bought some plastic inserts with notebook holes, dividers with little labels.

I didn't copy or type index cards unless necessary, with the computer I just printed the recipes, or collected them from magazines and put them in the binder. Dividing them into sections...I always know were my go-to recipes are. I have four B & B recipe books. the WV one is held with a rubber band I've used It so much.

Good luck! cause I am a recipe hoarder...good luck to my kids when im gone cause they will have so many recipes and cookbooks that they will have no trouble dividing It among all 6 and the grandchildren too.

We used to do menus, but this B & B you never knew who would be here, if we had a full Inn we would do a menu for the weekend. Depending on the amount of guests and the amount of time they were here we would do a menu accordingly. We learned quickly the KISS method-We don't have a lot of room, but we do not go to the store daily we found that is a waste of time, we usually keep at least two days worth of breakfast items at the Inn, this saves time, money, gas, arguments and frustration...

smiley

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I did the same thing! A big binder with dividers, overflowing with recipes. Sometimes I get myself in such a rut making the same few things over and over again and I'll head to my binder and start flipping through and lo and behold a beloved recipe I totally forgot about!

It helps!

gillumhouse's picture
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I am small and do not have your occupancy - I decide depending on my schedule, diet restrictions, what is in house (when I have an actual walk-in) usually the night before of in the morning as to what I am going to fix. I rarely get below 1 doz eggs in fridge and if caught like that, it is definitely baked oatmeal.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I'll be no help. I'm totally disorganized. I usually figure it out about 10pm the night before...sometimes not until I'm in the kitchen in the morning. We have the storage space to be able to have lots of things in stock so I can be flexible. I know your DH is the cook, so you can't get away with how I roll!  smiley

Generic's picture
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I open the fridge. I see what has to go. I ask if it's a sweet or savoury day. I come up with one or two choices. I ask my better half and then do what I think anyway.

Ice
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Sugar Bear wrote:

II come up with one or two choices. I ask my better half and then do what I think anyway.

Amen!

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Madeleine's picture
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Sugar Bear wrote:

I open the fridge. I see what has to go. I ask if it's a sweet or savoury day. I come up with one or two choices. I ask my better half and then do what I think anyway.

What we do now is come up with the menu and then go buy the food. There is rarely more than 6 eggs and some bread and jam in the fridge.

I'm looking to give DH a shopping list so we stop 'discussing' what's for breakfast every stinkin' day!

Generic's picture
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In the winter, we usually have 2.5 dozen eggs in the fridge. In the summer, I've been seen buying two dozen dozen at a time! We keep an extra fridge downstairs just for this.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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There is rarely a time I have less than 12 dozen eggs in the fridge!

Right now, I have no idea what I'm going to make tomorrow, but I know I have stock on hand for most anything I want. The fruit is what I run out of the quickest.

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