Meet The Nat Pack!

My photo
The Nat Pack: The super fashionable, super mod, super hip family consisting of Nat, Pete, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy. Like The Rat Pack, only younger, cuter, and not as rich or famous.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Can You Smell What's Cookin'?

I am about to proudly present my project that I've finally finished. And because I'm counting it toward one of my Young Women projects, you get to hear all the nitty gritty details. Lucky you!


Yes, that would be my super organized, super amazing recipe book. Isn't it pretty? But wait, there's more!

Here's the before shot:

At one point I was trying to hand-write all my recipes and keep them in a box. But my writing sucked on some of them, my pen sucked on others (where it smeared or bled all over), and the contact/lamination paper also was not helping things. I also had other recipe books and recipes from Relief Society, etc. I decided I wanted all of my most-used recipes in one spot. So I started typing. I even typed up the recipes that I don't have a written recipe for. That way, someday when my boys start to cook, they can't pull a "I don't know how" excuse on me. (Also someday, when everything I do is electronic, my recipes will already be on my computer.)

After I typed everything up, I categorized them all, but I kept it simple: dinners, breakfasts, desserts/pies/cookies, and sides/salads. I decided to put all my dinners together, but then arrange them so that they are chronological instead of like chicken all together and burger stuff all together. That way, in one week, we'll have a chicken meal, then something with rice, then a pasta meal, then another chicken meal, then a beef meal, etc. (Does that make sense at all?)

I was really surprised when I ended up with about 6 1/2 weeks' worth of dinners that I like and are easy to make. Sure, some things are similar (like burgers and cube steaks), but those things I also spread out as best as I could. I stretched the meal schedule out to 7 weeks, inserting a night here and there where I try out new recipes or we go out to eat somewhere.

I also threw in easy side dishes that can go with that dinner. For example, next to chicken noodle soup, I put "bread", which could mean rolls, or scones, or French bread, or muffins, etc. And not that it's set in stone, but just as suggestions.

After I got all that done, I decided to make a grocery list for each week. I wrote down all the things I need for each meal. Where things repeated I just added them all together (if I need 2 cans of tomato sauce for one meal and one for another, I put down "tomato sauce x 3" for that week). Then I made it all nice and neat, where I mentally walked through the grocery store; so I listed all the meats together, and all the canned goods together, and all the produce together, etc.

Also on my grocery list, I wrote down things to check on. For instance, I might need bread crumbs for one meal, but I don't need to buy a container of bread crumbs every time I go to the store. But I do need to make sure that if I'm getting low, I need to pick it up when I go shopping.

After that, I wrote down things to prepare. Someday, I will get to the point of having a lot of freezer meals added in to this fabulous little system of mine. (Also someday, maybe I'll get breakfasts and lunches rotating and going in here, too.) But until then, it would be nice to at least have a few things done ahead of time, mostly cooking the meat that needs to be cooked. I have a bunch of meals that call for cooked, chunked chicken. If it's already cooked and chunked, then I don't have to spend the time that night doing it; I can just scoop it up and stick it in, or pull a pre-measured bag out of the freezer. Badda bing.

Even though I've still been putting this together this week, I started following my first week's meal plan. I loved not having to think about what I wanted to make/eat for the week. I loved having it all right there. I love the idea of eating something only about 7 times in the whole year. I love that I won't get in a cooking rut. I will love having things pre-cooked, so there's not a rush to get things in the oven or whatever else. And I love that there's still some flexibility with trying new meals, because some of my favorite recipes have been new ones.

Doing this has also helped me realize that I have a lot of really yummy dessert recipes, so I decided that either Sunday night or Monday for Family Home Evening I'm going to make a dessert of some sort.

D&C 109:8-Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

And because I've rediscovered some fabulous recipes, here are a couple that I'd like to share:

1 cup celery, sliced (2 stalks)
1 cup carrots, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 Tbl. Flour
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup water
1 can condensed chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup slivered almonds, if desired
1 Tbl. Parsley

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook celery, carrot, onion, and green pepper in the butter about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in flour and pepper, wild rice, water, and broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in half-and-half, almonds, and parsley. Heat just until hot. (Do not boil or soup may curdle.) May also stir in 2 cups cooked chicken with the half-and-half.

Mmmm, so yummy, and so easy!

TEXAS BROWNIE SHEET CAKECombine 2 cups flour and 2 cups sugar in a bowl.
Boil: ½ cup butter, 3 Tbl. Cocoa, 1 cup water. Stir into sugar and flour while warm. Add ½ cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour mix into cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

For frosting: Combine ½ cup butter, 3 Tbl. Cocoa, 6 Tbl. Milk.Bring to a boil. Add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 cup chopped nuts (if desired). Spread on cake while frosting is still hot.

Oh, how I love you, Texas sheet cake.

And one more, for good measure:

LIME JELLO COTTAGE CHEESE SALAD1 6-oz. package lime jello (or other flavor, if preferred)
1 20-oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained (or other fruit, if preferred)
1 24-oz. carton cottage cheese
1 12-oz. Cool Whip

Mix dry jello into drained fruit. Add cottage cheese and fold in Cool Whip; chill. Add 2 cups of marshmallows, if desired.

This week I made this cottage cheese salad with strawberry jello instead of lime, and I put in fresh cut-up strawberries instead of pineapple. I also did not add the marshmallows. Oh, it was SOOOO good! Yum.

So there you have it. The thing that's been keeping me away from the internet. But aren't you so glad that I shared my tidbits of wisdom and yummy goodies with you?


Marshyl and Jen said...

Wow Nat! That is amazing! We can go about 3 weeks w/o eating the same thing. I would love for you to share some (or all!) of your yummy recipes!

Great job on a HUGE task!

jomama said...

wow! 7 weeks worth of recipes?!?! make one of those up for me! (only partially kidding.) i've just been planning my meals week to week, but i'm nowhere near as organized as that! good for you!

Karlenn said...

Oh my gosh... Your organizational skills truly amaze me. I need to do something like that someday. My recipes are a total mess. Good job, Nattles!! A gold star from me.

Jenny said...

what a great idea!
i really need to get to work on my yw projects. sigh.

Rachel said...

Awesome! That is a great idea. I need to do this.

Stacy said...

Wow, that's impressive! I have a thousand recipes but never know what to make for dinner.

Jennifer said...

Go Nat! What a ton of work! I typed up all my mom's for a Christmas present for my sister a year or so ago. It was WAY more work than I expected. I didn't even organize them as cleverly as you! Way to go!

Amy said...

What an accomplishment! You are amazing. In your honor I made Texas Sheet Cake for our Sunday evening treat tonight. It's one of our favorites too!

Anonymous said...

yum. Love texas sheet cake. Way to go getting so organized. I have good intentions of starting personal progress, I just haven't done it yet. I'd say you have a great start.

Momza said...

Looks GREAT! THat's alot of hard work there, Sis! Good job!

Becky said...

WOW Um after reading that I need a nap! I am so happy that you put something together that is awesome and a time saving miracle! You are one super fantastic woman!

Robin said...

Such an awesome idea!!! I may have to look at it someday. I also hate the brainwork involved in making dinner so your binder is so cool!

Janae said...

That is one of my goals for this organize all my recipes. We just barely started a similar dinner idea, but my isn't as refined as yours. Loved all the ideas!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh!! You are totally awesome!!! Can you come help me do that? I really need to. We've been having burritos and spaghetti way too much! I think we're all tired of them now:P I definitely want to become more organized so I don't have to figure out what we're having every Saturday morning before rushing to the store. Great idea, Nat!! Kar says you're great with organizing and budgeting. Want to help me?:)

Mindy H. said...

You are my hero. Really. HERO!

Automobile Birdsinger said... very unorganized self could not even keep up with the reading of your blog. I am impressed...and slightly disgusted...;) As always, you amaze me!:)