Saturday, October 25, 2014

Menu Planning Helps

Things just go so much better when I take the time to plan a weekly menu. For one thing, I'm not scrambling around trying to come up with meals at the last minute. But it's also good from an economical standpoint, because we shop only for what we will use.

This week I kept an eye on the menu so I knew if/what I needed to do ahead of time, whether it was thawing meat or doing some prep work. I was also able to plan for those days I knew I'd be busy working in the garage, and therefore not able to keep an eye on things in the kitchen. Double score for trying a couple new recipes that were big hits with both of us.

I don't really plan for breakfast. We have a few favorites we rotate, depending on how much time we have and how hungry we are: yogurt pancakes, oatmeal, eggs of some sort, yogurt and fruit, or simply muffins or toast.

Here's a peek at this week's menu:

grilled cheese with pickles (homemade whole grain bread and three kinds of cheese)
leftover roast chicken and vegetables; salad with tomatoes and onions
Thai noodles with sauteed vegetables and topped with chopped peanuts; salad with orange, pecans and blue cheese
homemade pizza with homemade Italian sausage, red pepper and onions; applesauce
chicken milanesas; mashed potatoes; salad with tomatoes
tomato and blue cheese pasta; salad with tomatoes and onions
sandwiches (homemade whole grain bread, farmer's cheese, tomato, avocado, lettuce)

roasted chicken and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions)
homemade vegetarian pizza (onions, garlic, red pepper, olives); applesauce
rosti potatoes; eggs; sliced tomatoes
leftover Thai noodles with sauteed vegetables
wedge salad with bacon, sauteed maple onions, blue cheese, avocado, cherry tomatoes and Ranch dressing

Ivan is busy at least a couple evenings each week with ministry responsibilities, and when he's gone, it's pretty much clean-out-the-fridge-time for me.

Love sesame yet we haven't loved any of the recipes I've tried -- up until this week when we both really enjoyed the Spicy Thai Noodles I found over at A Small Snippet blog. Yay! 

Basically I halved the ingredients, since there are just two of us, but we still ended up with enough for two meals. Probably because I added some sauteed vegetables. It's one of those dishes you can customize to your family's taste and/or what's in your fridge at any given moment. We always have onion and garlic on hand, plus there were some carrots and a red pepper in the crisper, and we picked some swiss chard from our container garden for a little bit of green. It was a very colorful dish.

I subscribe to The Splendid Table's weekly emails and knew when this recipe for wedge salad popped up that I had to try it, pronto! Again with adapations, because we simply don't have access to all the ingredients. We shared a small head of iceberg lettuce; no romaine or fancy radicchio for us. I made do with the white onion I had on hand, because who cares what color it is, right? And pancetta instead of bacon, although there I think it was an improvement because we have some nice artisanal pancetta. (It comes in about a foot long rolled up cylinder that Ivan slices rather thinly and we package in small amounts and freeze.) I left out the baguette but threw in an avocado and some cherry tomatoes. As for the dressing, we do not have access to either buttermilk (ever) or chives (this time of year), so I mixed up some of the dry mix Ranch dressing we brought back from the states. I figured it was a close approximation.

Did you notice a lot of the meals are vegetarian? We've cut way back on meat, partly for health reasons and partly for economic ones. My goal is to buy one piece of meat each week (which I can stretch to 2-4 meals) and so far it's working out really well. Our one concession is the bacon, but as I mentioned, we buy a big chunk, repackage and freeze, and it lasts us for a long time since we don't eat it very often. In fact, the bacon we used on the wedge salad this week was the first bacon we've had all month.

We're always on the lookout for good vegetarian recipes, so if you have one (or more) you really like, do share! It may only be Spring here, but we've had temps in the 90s all week, with no end in sight. We're getting ready to haul the toaster oven out to the garage to use when necessary and our regular oven probably won't see action until next April. That means we are on the look-out for recipes that require no, or very little, cooking. So summer-time recipes get extra credit :)


Mari said...

I've been menu planning for years and it's saved me often! I don't have to plan lunch though, so it's a little easier.

The Bug said...

We're so random on our menu planning. I take my lunch to work most days, and usually just stick with a salad & some frozen dinner (or leftovers). And since Mike's been so busy with school I've had to plan evening meals. NOT my strong suit. Sigh.