When I first announced that I wanted to plan out my menus for an entire year many thought me totally NUTS! My thought was you plan a menu every week, so why not collect all 52 menus and end up with your menus planned for the next year. The benefits of having a meal plan are numerous. These posts are about the menus I planned and how I did them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As the heat of the summer rolls in my thoughts automatically turn to my desire for a Summer Kitchen or a Canning Kitchen as some folks call them. 

In the summertime humans by nature are more active and therefore need more substantial meals to have the energy to do all we want to. 

It is also a time when more foods are preserved in one way or another in millions of homes.  All of this cooking requires heat and heat is the enemy in the summer.

Today, June 25, 2012, the high is suppose to be 106 degrees.  In June!  What are August and September going to be like?  Record air conditioning bills are expected.  Cooking adds heat to the inside of the house and cranks the air conditioner even more.

So as the summer rolls on here in hot and humid Oklahoma expect to see more and more cold foods and outdoor cooking on this blog.  However, don’t think by outdoor cooking I mean simply charcoaling.  No I use a modern version of the old time summer kitchens by moving my electric cooking appliances, and the heat they put out, outside! 

I am hoping to have a homemade solar oven soon, so be prepared for that adventure.  You will see the beginning of the Summer Kitchen cooking with this post.

The main protein item for this week is chicken leg quarters.  Alas the ones I purchased were not on sale, but at $.78 a pound they are still a decent buy.  I purchase them in a 10# bag, then once we have them home we either cook them all up right then if all the meals are using cooked chicken, or we package them up in two leg quarter packages.  This week it was package and freeze.

We find that for most meals two leg quarters will feed the three adults in our family nicely with proper side dishes. These are labeled and frozen until needed.

So here is our menu for the week:


Raisin Bran




Multigrain cereal

Strawberry Breeze juice


Dried fruit


Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Jarred Salad



Day 1

Baked chicken leg quarters

Cranberry Sauce

Baked Potatoes

Baked Sweet potatoes

Green beans


I can hear some of you screaming now, baked chicken, baked stuffing, baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes and a baked cake?  Woman are you NUTS?  It’s 106 degrees outside!  But remember I’m using my Summer Kitchen.  In this case I am using my turkey roaster and placing it securely in the sunroom out of harm’s way. 

And I’m doing it in layers.  I make use of the heating pans I have for my turkey roaster oven by putting the cake in the bottom of the roaster in a 9 x 13 pan.  The potatoes are foil wrapped and on the bottom of the roaster, next to the cake.  Using my heating pans to hold the stuffing with the chicken leg quarters on top of that.

The trick is all cook at near the same temperature.  You preheat the oven and then fill it.  With it being outside there is no cooking heat in the kitchen on this hot summer day.  Plus, you don’t need to stay with it.  Just set a timer in the cool house with you so you will remember to get the cake out of the oven when it’s done as it cooks faster than the other foods.  I start it all at the same time and just remove things as they finish.
If you don't have a turkey roaster, use your toaster oven and microwave to cook this meal outside and cut your cooling bill.

I baked extra potatoes to use in the potato salad the next day.

If you like sun tea you could even make your tea outdoors.  My family does not care for sun tea. But I know many folks that do.

Dinner Day 2

Fish Sticks

Potato Salad

Cole Slaw

Wacky Cake

Iced tea


To beat the heat for this meal I use the toaster oven in the sunroom for baking both the biscuits and the fish sticks. 


Fried Bologna

Macaroni ‘n Cheese

Green Beans

Cucumber and Onion Salad

Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chip cookies



I know it’s a southern thing, but fried bologna is good folks.  When my husband got the slicer going he sliced half of the chub thick and the rest thin.  Then a few of the thick slices were fried and then cut in cubes to serve of up with my friend Kay’s BBQ Sauce.  It took me years to get the recipe from her, and I am so glad I did.  Kay has gone on to her reward, but I have fond memories of her every time I make this sauce.

Warning the recipe makes a huge amount, around 5 quarts worth.  Generally I’ll put a jar in the fridge, and the rest I’ll either can or freeze for future use.  When I can it I use the pressure canner due to the butter in it.  Some have told me it could probably be water bath canned safely, because of the ketchup acidity, but I prefer I not take the chance. 

Once you open a jar be sure and refrigerate any leftovers.

My beat the heat strategy for this meal was to cook the BBQ sauce in my large crockpot, and to fry the bologna quickly in the house.  I could have used the electric skillet in the sunroom.  But that would have required me being out in the heat to do it.  I figure the short time it takes to fry bologna wouldn’t be worth me suffering in the heat.  I also cheated and did the bringing of the water to boil for the blue box Mac ‘n Cheese in the house, but because I have an electric stove I was able to turn the burner off as soon as the macaroni was added to the boiling water and the residual heat cooked the pasta perfectly.

The cookies were cooked in the toaster oven in the sunroom.


Jarred salad

Wacky Cake or cookies



Cook the chicken leg quarters in the crockpot in your summer kitchen and you have a filling meal without ever heating up the kitchen.   This recipe combines two Master Mixes to make an entirely separate meal.


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Jarred salad

Garlic toast


Peach cobbler


If you own an electric skillet hit the summer kitchen and use it to make this dish.  Use your rice cooker or a small crockpot to cook your spaghetti noodles.  OR use the same method I used for cooking the macaroni the day before.

The peaches for this meal were purchased as “seconds” at our local feed store.  I got a bag full for $2.50 and they’ve been delicious, but it’s time to finish them up.  So into the cobbler they went.  The cobbler crust was simply Stir ‘n Roll biscuit dough with some sugar and cinnamon added in to a thin version of the biscuit dough that was dropped on the hot syrup from my prepping the peaches and then baked until golden brown in the toaster oven.


Refried beans

Jarred Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Cinnamon Sugar Flour Tortilla Chips



The first time I ever heard of fish tacos I was a young sahm watching soap operas and one man on the soap was complaining his wife had served him tuna tacos for dinner the night before.  At the time I gagged at the thought of any fish in a taco.

Fast forward through the years and I heard more and more about fish tacos of all sorts.  Then one weekend, back when we were still eating out, we were at Long John Silver’s and they were giving away free fish tacos.  I thought “why not?”  I was hooked! 

Not long after that Taco Bueno started carrying them too.  While one makes them with shredded cabbage on them the other uses shredded lettuce. One uses corn tortillas, the other uses flour tortillas.   Either way they are truly good.  They are something I’ve come to miss since we’ve stopped eating out.  So why not make them at home?  I developed the recipe and was VERY pleased with the outcome.  I hope you will like them too.





We love going to that very famous pancake house for pancakes and waffles, just like everyone else.  One of our favorite parts of the meal is the large variety of flavored pancake syrups.  But why spend the money for so much money for a meal you can make for pennies on the dollar at home in just a few minutes?

As you can see you can easily do Summer Kitchen cooking and help keep your home cooler with just a little pre-planning.

Jan who REALLY  wants a solar cooker and dehydrator in OK

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