Category Archives: Tips & Hints

Soup Swap

I forgot to take pictures and I’m disappointed.  People brought yummy soups that I am so excited to pull out of the freezer, and we had a lot of fun visiting. I’m going to tell you what we did and what I’d do differently, if you want to plan your own swap. (and you totally should)

The directions were pretty simple: each participant needed to make 6 quarts (24 cups) of soup, and prepackaged them in 4 containers that held 6 cups of soup each (people can bring more if they want, everyone will go home with the same amount they brought). Some people brought the Ziploc type tupperwares, and a lot of people used freezer zip loc bags. Either is great. Have them label the containers clearly before coming, and bring enough copies of the recipe for each person who will be there.

After everyone gets there and you’ve all had a chance to eat some snacks and visit, we each went around and told about the soup we brought, then drew numbers to see who got to pick their soups first. We repeated the rotation until everyone took home as much soup as they brought.

What I’d do differently: Some girls suggested a great idea – have everyone bring enough soup for the swap, then extra in a container for everyone to taste before swapping. Genius. Use the mini Dixie cups for tasting. We’ll so do this next time. Also, we had some friends who wanted to come but couldn’t because of sickness, recovery from surgery – whatever. I think next time it would be great to have people bring an extra container of soup, if they can, so we can deliver it to the friends who were sick or recovering or just had a baby or fill in the blank, and couldn’t make it. Call it “Soup Swap and Service” or something. Oh – we had 10 people this week, but last time I think we had 15 or 16. I think 10-20 people works great, but you can do it with only 5!

I’ll be posting the recipes from this soup swap here. There was nothing that sounded just “fair” – everyone made recipes that I can’t wait to dig into, and there were some soups I didn’t get to take home that I was dying to try (I was #9 of 10 for picking!) that I’ll be making pronto.

My Recipe for Menu Planning

(reprinted from my main blog)

With my looney idea to go one whole month without eating out of any kind, I’ve needed to reaquaint myself with, oh, the kitchen.  Menu planning helps.  Last week I hadn’t planned, and one day I came oh too close to saying “forget it! we’re going out! it was a dumb idea from the start!” Nathan jumped in, suggested pancakes, and saved the day. (even though I didn’t want pancakes – I wanted BAJIO)

The next morning, I decided that getting back to planning menus would be a good idea, as it’s the only thing that keeps me from giving in.

My quick and easy recipe for planning menus right now is to have – every week –

one soup night
one pizza night
one freezer dinner night (take dinner out the night before or that morning to thaw, and just cook it that night)
and one crockpot night.

Yes, that’s only 4 nights, but it makes thinking about the other 3 so easy and planning menus anything but overwhelming. A lot of weeks, we’ll have a nice breakfast night and a taco night, too.  There – 6 nights done.

When I plan the meals, I make sure we have at least 1 vegetarian dinner, as well as 1 chicken, 1 beef and 1 fish. If I don’t think of that before hand, and go down the check list as I plan each week, we would eat chicken every single night. (or Rubios) (I wish)

I figured out a year or so ago that planning the main dish only got me into trouble every single night as I scrambled for sides.  So now I preplan side dishes for each main dish.  Usually we have 2, and this week it seems like most nights are a veggie and a bread.

Just thought I’d share what makes life easier over here.  If any of you post menus, I’d love to see and get ideas.  Leave your link in the comments.

I’ve gotten back in the habit again of posting our menu plans on this recipe blog.  I’ve found I really like going back to see what we ate at this time last year to get ideas for this year.