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Simple, homemade pizza.
Simple, homemade pizza.

And, here’s mine.  No, I’m not talking about pizza every night.  Although that does remind me of my college years (along with ramen noodles & three rolled tacos with guacamole)…talk about the “freshman 15!”

There are some amazing ways to plan your menus each week including free services, those through magazines, paid services which can help with calorie counting or even utilizing Google Calendar.  Since even working on this blog can be complicated for me, I use the paper and pen method and plan my menus using a bound, blank book or journal.  I confess that someday I’d like to switch to menu planning for the 2000’s but for now this works just fine. 
Here’s how I do it:
I primarily rely on what’s in my pantry or freezer.  I keep a well-stocked pantry with dried and canned beans, canned tomatoes, various oils and vinegars, a multitude of dried pasta including angel hair, penne, orichiette and couscous.  Don’t forget about brown and long grain rice and arborio.  I also like to have on hand tuna packed in water and olive oil, sundried tomatoes, capers, artichoke hearts, different types of olives and anchovies. 
My freezer operates much the same way my pantry does in that not only do I store meat, poultry and fish there but also fresh pasta that I’ve made and then frozen, fresh tomato sauce and various herbs and pestos.
Previous Menus
Let’s face it, when you have young children you may try something that you and your spouse love, but doesn’t fare so well with the pre-school set.  I put an asterisk (obviously this can be done on your computer too) by those newer recipes that I introduce (with a thumbs up from the family) and then toss those into rotation.  I do take requests though, such as baked macaroni and cheese, build-your-own panini, and spagetti and meaballs.  Usually I put one request into that week’s menu.   Although I am a personal chef, I don’t operate my kitchen like a restaurant.  What I make for dinner everyone eats.
Grocer’s Weekly Specials
I confess that I am less driven by coupons and online specials than what I really want to make in the kitchen.  My nearest grocery stores are Lowes and Harris Teeter.  Before I head to the market on Monday morning (shopping day for me), I’ll check their store websites for specials on items like boneless, skinless chicken breast, pork chops, steak, fish and fresh produce.  I may alter my menu for that week based on what I see at those two stores.  I’ve found that waiting until I get to the actual store and then making a change is more or less made confusing especially with young children in tow.
 Here’s what’s planned for this week:
Thin Crust Pizza Two ways:  recipe #1- zucchini, prosciutto, & red onions  and recipe #2-  the classic margherita style along with an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan
Marinated Roast Loin of Pork with Rice Pilaf
Marinated Flank Steak with Roasted Red Potatoes
Soy-Ginger Chicken Thighs with Steamed Broccoli and Lo Mein Noodles
And, my personal favorite:  leftover night!