Control Journal, Step 8: Menu Planning

This section is where you’ll keep all your menu plan outlines. Below, Leanne Ely, the Dinner Diva and FlyLady’s resident nutritionist, explains how to create a basic menu plan and how to pick recipes for it. In FlyLady’s own words:

The goal is to have about five weeks of different menus and recipes for those menus, along with their grocery list. Leanne has some great ideas about this. Set up your own outline for your week and stick to it. Keep it simple. – FlyLady

Create five outlines like the ones in Leanne’s example, and you’ll never not know what’s for dinner.

Making a Menu Plan with Leanne Ely

Menu making makes all the difference in being able to pull off successful, stress-less dinners. Can I hear an amen?

The keys to success are having ingredients on hand via a well-stocked pantry and fridge, an on-going shopping list so that as you get low on something, it’s picked up right away, and of course, menus and cooking.

Most of us are extraordinarily busy women — we have families, careers, part-time work, volunteer work, church — just to name a few. And, we are all learning to FLY. FLYing’s reward is that it makes more time for us, but as we are learning to FLY, it’s also something else on our plate of things to do

How can we do all of this successfully? How do we keep all those balls in the air without dropping any? In my book Healthy Foods, sometimes I use a system called, “If it’s Monday, it must be spaghetti.” In other words, I have NO time to think about dinner, now is NOT the time to get creative in the kitchen, and I just need to make sure it’s done.

So here’s the gig: A No-Brainer, “If it’s Monday, it’s spaghetti” Menu Plan.

  • Monday: Spaghetti and salad (your recipe)
  • Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner (kids love it — pancakes, eggs, whatever you want)
  • Wednesday: Crockpot Dinner (see recipe below or make something you like)
  • Thursday: Salad and Sandwich supper
  • Friday: Rubber Chicken — Day One
  • Saturday: Rubber Chicken — Day Two
  • Sunday: Rubber Chicken — Day Three (your favorite soup recipe)

With every meal, serve either lots of salad or plenty of veggies — we need the nutrition!

Here’s the shopping list:

  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Canned or jarred sauce — your choice
  • Ground beef (for the spaghetti — optional)
  • Chicken
  • Round steak
  • Parmesan or Romano (grated)
  • Lots of salad fixings
  • Lots of veggies (fresh and/or frozen)
  • Green peppers
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Pancake mix
  • Sausage or bacon
  • Syrup
  • Butter
  • Can of black beans (or equivalent of dried beans, cooked)
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • 1 can beef broth
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro (optional — we love it!)
  • Brown rice (optional — we like it on day two of the Rubber Chicken adventure)
  • Bread
  • Sandwich meats or tuna
  • Condiments: mayo, mustard, etc.

Here are the recipes you’ll need.

Crock Pot Beef n’ Peppers – Serves 8

  • 2 pounds round steak — lean
  • 2 green peppers — sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion — chopped finely
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves — minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut the steak into serving-size pieces. If desired, you can brown the meat in a little hot oil before adding to crockpot. Place the thinly sliced pepper rings in bottom of crockpot, reserving a few to place on top of meat if desired. (Veggies will cook better when placed on bottom of pot.) Arrange the meat on peppers evenly, careful to not stack one piece directly on top of another. Mix all other ingredients and pour over meat and peppers.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for about 4 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.

Per serving: 239 Calories (kcal); 14g total fat (52% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 67mg Cholesterol; 373mg Sodium

Rubber Chicken – Serves 4 for 3 days

  • 1 chicken — washed and patted dry (get a nice sized one)
  • 1/2 celery rib — cut in pieces
  • 1 onion — quartered
  • 1 carrot — cut in 2″ pieces
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Day One

The adventure begins! Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In the cavity of the chicken, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and place cut up vegetables inside. Sprinkle the outside with salt and pepper and a little garlic powder, too, if you like. Cook for about an hour or longer (depending on the size of the bird), until the juices run clear. In the meantime, boil the neck with some celery, onion, and carrot and have that broth, too. Let sit a minute and then remove the vegetables. To further cut down on the grease from the chicken, you could take the cooking juices and put them in a cup and refrigerate while you make the rest of the meal. This will get rid of a significant amount of chicken fat, which will all rise to the top. Make a nice gravy by deglazing the pan with a little water and thicken it up with a flour/water mixture (about a tablespoon should do) Serve your wonderful chicken with mashed potatoes and lots and lots of veggies. Remember, you want leftover chicken!

Day Two

Let the adventure continue! Take your time and pull every last itty bitty bit of chicken off them bones. You want that chicken skeleton to look like a science project. Toss the chicken meat in a pot with a can of black beans and season with a little cumin, some garlic powder, and serve it up with lots of salsa, tortillas, some cheese — whatever turns your key! A great, big salad will give you a perfect dinner.

Day Three

The adventure ends with the skeletal remains of the chicken finally hitting the stock pot. Throw in the same veggies: onion, carrots, and celery, and season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and throw about three quarts of water over the top. Cook the daylights out of it and strain. Now make soup or store appropriately. Bet you didn’t know one puny chicken had so many meals in it, did you?

Remember, this is Rubber Chicken, not Miracle Chicken. If you have a big family, you will need to cook more than one chicken to ensure leftovers!

Once you have your basic menu plans created, you’re ready for step nine!

Back to the FLYing Lesson for building a Control Journal.


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