Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Meatloaf, Menus, Computers, and Writer's Block

This is a random post. I was invited to write an article for our church's newsletter and I have writer's block. Most days, I can't type fast enough to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. Not today. Drawing a complete blank. So, a few random things...

We had meatloaf for dinner and it's a favorite in our family. Meatloaf gets a bad rap at many family dinner tables, mainly because most folks have had pretty bad-tasting, dried-out, questionable-content, meat-in-the-form-of-a-loaf. I adapted my mom's recipe and it is a winner. Even my picky eaters scarf it down!

Jen's Easy Meatloaf
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 egg
15-20 crushed butter flavor crackers (not saltines!)
1/2 onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
3/4 C ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have a glass or metal loaf pan close by to transfer meat mixture. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix by hand. (Go ahead, get your hands really messy!) Mix until ketchup and egg are thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to loaf pan and pat evenly into pan. Top with the following:

1/2 C ketchup
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
Mix ketchup and brown sugar together in small measuring cup and pour over meatloaf.

Cover loaf pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I've had several women ask me recently how I plan out meals and do grocery shopping for our family. I guess I hadn't given it much thought, but this is how it works for me...
First, I look through our pantry and freezer to get an idea of what we already have on hand. Then, I take a look at our grocery store ad for the week to see what sort of specials they are running. I write out each meal for each day of the week I'm planning. If we are planning to eat out, I write it down so I remember to budget some grocery money for that event. Breakfasts are almost always homemade oatmeal with several topping choices or cold cereal. Lunches are typically leftovers from the night before or soup and sandwiches. Dinner is where I put most of my cooking efforts. Here is a sample of our weekly menu:
B: Cereal, Yogurt, OJ
L: Chicken nuggets, grapes, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes
D: Chinese Take-Out
B: Eggs, toast, fruit
L: Conner Prairie sack lunches
D: Special Family Night Out
B: Homemade oatmeal, yogurt, milk
L: Leftover Chinese, sandwiches, veggies
D: Steak Fajitas, Quesadillas
B: Cereal, bananas, milk
L: Leftover fajitas and quesadillas
D: Ham, Bean and Potato soup, cornbread
B: Oatmeal, yogurt, juice
L: Leftover soup and cornbread
D: Crock pot orange chicken, rice, salad, ice cream
B: Oatmeal, yogurt, milk
L: Pizza Hut
D: Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, steamed broccoli, cantaloupe
B: Waffles, apples, milk
L: Leftover meatloaf
D: Big Sandwich, veggie chips, cantaloupe, raw veggies
B: Cereal, yogurt, juice
L: "Must Go's" (leftovers from all week)
D: Chicken and Dumplings, mashed potatoes, salad

It works well for me to have a plan, but I'm also flexible. If it turns cold and rainy one day, I might swap out a lighter meal for one that is a little more hearty. In addition to my planned meals, I always keep the ingredients for a good spaghetti dinner on hand, including frozen bread sticks and extra green beans. If we have unexpected company or my husband ends up in charge of dinner, an easy meal is at our finger tips.

The Lord is blessing us with a new computer! It's in the want category, but I must say, after almost 8 years, this computer has seen better days. We got an amazing deal on our new one and were even able to purchase a new printer, complete with a port for our digital camera, so more photos will be appearing in my posts--yea! I'm really looking forward to our updated system. I will be able to do more writing and reading, surfing and dealing. Thanks, God, for showering us with every good and perfect gift!


HeiressChild said...

God blessed me with some extra $$$ and i bought a new computer and a 4-in-1 printer/fax/scanner/copier. my next buy will be a new flat panel monitor and new speakers.

i'm going to try your meatloaf recipe next week when i grocery shop again. it's just me at home now, so i eat a lot of salads (with the works), lean cuisine & weight watchers dinners. however, every now and then, i'll cook. spaghetti is my all-time favorite.