Fort Wayne – Joe and Dot Cochran of Whitley County agree that meal planning was a necessity in raising their eight children: Joe, 31; Andy, 29; Charlie, 27; Nora, 24; Betsy, 22; Claire, 20; Rebecca, 14; and Paul, 12. Likewise, as the couple transitioned from a household of 10 down to four, she says the planning has enabled them to stick to a healthy and budget-friendly menu.
I have two at home, two in college and the other four are married, says Dot, 50. We plan five days’ meals on the weekends because of our schedules, and it has helped us in our budget.
Joe, 54, has been an independent insurance and investment adviser for 31 years. Dot is the office manager. Their office is at 1032 Huffman St. in Fort Wayne.
Dot says Joe enjoys gardening and that they put out a large garden each year that includes tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, green beans Swiss chard. They can and freeze much of the produce.
Oh, Joe fishes and hunts, too, she says, We freeze deer meat. We butcher our own deer, and we grind it. When you’re trying to raise boys and send your kids to private school, it was affordable. Now, the boys hunt. Joe hunts turtles, squirrels and rabbit. He fishes and that’s for any kind of fish.
They also raise chickens.
We do 25 chickens at a time, twice a year, Joe says. We raise roasters to eat and six to lay eggs.
In keeping the family’s meals healthy, Dot makes it a goal to cook from scratch.
I try not to buy prepared items. I try to make it from scratch. We even make our own noodles. Homemade noodles don’t bother my stomach like store-bought, she says.
She also associates meal planning with healthier eating.
I think to pre-plan is good. You have your main course and vegetable. If you don’t, you’re more apt to buy fast food. It’s not as nutritional for you. And you’re snacking more. We use popcorn as a snack, she says.
Asked what their advice to beginner cooks would be, Dot responds, Plan your meals ahead, at least five days. Go to the store and shop for those five days. It will save you from going out. We always think about tomorrow’s meal the day before.
Joe adds: We enjoy cooking ,and we enjoy planning our meals. By planning, you can feed a family on $50 a week. If we’re buying meat, we look for sales. I think our menu changes with the seasons. Soups and stews in the winter and fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer. Every week we make stock.
And what did the Cochrans plan for dinner?
Pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans, Dot says. You can always stretch a meal with biscuits or bread made in a bread maker.
Marinade for Chicken or Pork
1 gallon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup celery salt
1/4 cup seasoning salt
1/8 to 1/4 cup red cayenne pepper
Pour off half of the vinegar into a container and add the dry ingredients. Add remaining vinegar and shake well. Do not cook; use to baste often while cooking on grill. Shake container often. Keeps well on shelf since it contains vinegar. Makes 1 gallon.
Homemade Pizza Crust
1 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups sifted flour, divided
Mix water, yeast, sugar, salt and oil. Add 2 cups flour; beat until smooth and add remaining flour until workable. Knead on board. Place in greased bowl and let rise to double in size. Divide dough in half and move onto two pizza sheets. Bake using your favorite pizza recipe. Make 2 crusts.
Quick Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup margarine or butter, cut-up
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Mix together ingredients for cake; pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. To make topping, mix together margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Makes 12 to 15 servings.