Posts tagged ‘menu planning’

September 9, 2012

What’s For Dinner? Lessons Learned from Week 1 and Planning for Week 2

Last Sunday I wrote about our meal plan for the week – reflecting my hope that by planning I could reduce some of the stress associated with the start of a new school year. Before I jump into a discussion of what we think we might eat this week, I want to do a quick recap of how last week went.

So here was the plan and what we actually ate:

Sunday, we ate out. No changes there. Food was good, and it was a nice way to start of the school year.

Monday, we had a green meatless Monday. Pesto pasta, roasted green beans, cucumber and tomato salad. Visited South Mountain Creamery and got the andouille we needed for the gumbo.

Tuesday, we did have the gumbo as planned. We ate dinner quite late though — so Lesson 1 in menu planning – don’t plan long cooking times unless you’re sure you are going to get dinner started as early as you had anticipated…

Wednesday was the night that I was out. The man of the house decided to go with the frozen pizza and other “fending” items. This meant that the hamburger that was defrosted for his use needed to be prepped on Thursday. This led to the first modification of the plan for the week.

On Thursday, we were going to make a black bean and sweet potato chili but we needed to cook the hamburger….so, I pulled up Epicurious on my Nook and found a recipe for a Southwestern Shepard’s Pie. That made use of both the hamburger and the sweet potatoes…I will share the recipe tomorrow in my SSFC blog. Accompanied by corn muffins and roasted green beans, it hit the spot for all of us (well, not the Picky Eater, but you probably already knew that).

Friday I was up for making the leek, chard, and corn flatbread…but the rest of the crew turned their noses up. Instead, we made a pizza using up the last andouille from South Mountain and red peppers.  Accompanied by another cucumber and White Queen tomato salad it was quite tasty.

Last night, all bets were off as the power went off — again — so we went out to dinner to the East West Grill and had wonderful kebabs.

So, what else did I learn from my first week of planning?

Lesson 2. Having recipes in mind is great, but sometimes recipes are too much work in the middle of the week.

Lesson 3. Knowing what is in the fridge makes deciding what to make much easier, even if the meal plan doesn’t work.

Lesson 4. Plans only work when you share them with other chefs in the house.

Lesson 5. Planning on Sunday doesn’t take into account the CSA very well (since the CSA comes on Tuesday).

And for Week 2? I think I’m going to just list out the recipes I’m thinking we’ll make, but not associate them with a date….many of these come from the latest edition of Saveur that conveniently arrived on my Nook on Saturday. Recipes aren’t showing up yet on the Saveur site, but will link up when they are there!

Sunday (well, this one I can do because we’ve already eaten). Pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, green salad.

Senate bean soup with Gougeres (cheese puffs)

Seared salmon with green peppercorn sauce, rice, sauteed swiss chard

Chicken fingers, colcannon, summer squash salad

Cheese tortellini with roasted Roma tomato sauce, green salad

Gan bian si ji (dry roasted green beans with ground pork), lemon grass chicken rolls from Trader Joes, rice

Carbonnade (Belgian beef stew)

So this is where I am – I will need to run to the store to get a few basics that I am out of, but otherwise we should be good to go – and as the evenings are going to be cooler this week, cooking will be something we look forward to!  In fact, I think I’m already hungry…

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September 3, 2012

What’s For Dinner? First Week of School Edition

School starts tomorrow.

It’s a big year for us. The Eldest is going to be a senior in high school…when the heck did that happen?!?…and the twins are going to be eighth graders. Lots of consequential decisions being made this year, and I haven’t filled the calendar in yet because I am relishing the illusion of emptiness for a couple of more hours.

But knowing that schedules are going to be insane, I am going to try to do some menu planning this fall. If it goes well, I might even extend it into 2013 :).

So, here’s what this week looks like in my house, I think:

  • Sunday (last night): Dinner out at the Mad Fox Brewing Company in celebration of the end of summer.
  • Monday: Pesto pasta, roasted green beans, cucumber salad.
  • Tuesday: Gumbo (but with season-appropriate okra instead of asparagus), corn bread. We get our CSA delivery today, so veggies for the rest of the week will depend upon what we get!
  • Wednesday: I have a dinner engagement, so it’ll be up to the Man of the House. There will be hamburger so he could do tacos, or straight up hamburgers. And there are mushrooms, so he can sautee them to accompany.
  • Thursday: Black bean and sweet potato chili with polenta. I’m going to make it in the slow cooker.
  • Friday: Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread from SmittenKitchen.
  • Saturday: Chicken Normandy, to feature some of the delicious apples that I will get at the market.

We’ll give it a go, and see how it works!

Hope the first day of school is smooth for everyone who starts tomorrow.

September 29, 2010

Midweek Musings

Time to take a deep breath, and assess whether menu planning has helped us move smoothly through this very full week, and helped us reduce waste by eating all the yummy fresh produce before it turns into yucky not-so-fresh produce.

And, the answer is “yes”!

It’s Wednesday, and we have followed the plan pretty closely so far, and there have been no complaints about dinner so far this week – that, in and of itself, is a victory I’d love to repeat every week.

On Sunday, I made chicken noodle soup with the carcas from the roasted chicken we’d had earlier the prior week; used some farmer’s market potatos, and celery and garlic from our CSA.

On Monday, we made a variant on a vegetable and chickpea curry from Cooking Light – did it on the stove, rather than in the slow cooker.  It was good – and was a great way to use many many vegetables that needed cooking – onions, sweet potatoes, red peppers, hot peppers, green beans – but will need additional tweaking to make it a regular in our house.  It does reheat very well for lunch.

On Tuesday, the man of the house prepared Italian sausage and fusilli for the kids before the first back-to-school night, and used the tomatos to make his favorite tomato-cucumber-feta salad (an all garden/CSA/market salad).

And tonight, we made a squash, tomato, and provolone (instead of feta) bake; accompanied by some baked chicken breasts.  Easy to prepare before the second back-to-school night.  Even better, as I was walking out the door, the Picky Eater cried out, “Mom, can I make some brownies for dessert?”.   I was more than happy to respond in the affirmative.

The short ribs are defrosted for tomorrow’s meal, and I am feeling ready for the remainder of the week.  Emotional benefits of meal planning have definitely been realized.

And on another note, I really enjoyed Bittman’s description of his week in the Times this morning – online versions of “Eating Solo” are available.  Mr. Bittman certainly eats  his quota of fruits and veggies!

September 26, 2010

Weekly Eats…

As I looked at our calendar for the week, and my quite well-stocked kitchen (with vegetables to-be-consumed from our last CSA pickup, after a farmer’s market visit yesterday, and a run to the grocery store today), I realized that this is a week where a menu plan is going to be a must for sanity (two back-to-school nights, plus a full evening schedule of music lessons and scouts….).  I’ve copied the recipes into a single Word document, double-checked my cabinets and fridge.  Let the week begin!

So, here’s what we’re looking at for dinner (breakfast will be cereal and/or waffles and/or hardboiled eggs with fruit; lunch will be sandwiches and/or leftovers, veggies, and fruit).

Sunday:  Homemade chicken noodle soup, with green salad; chocolate chip cookies for dessert!

Meatless Monday: Vegetable and Chickpea Curry; Basmati Rice

Tuesday: Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Parmesan Pasta (an opportunity to use the unbelievably good Italian sausage from our local butcher); salad

Wednesday: Summer Squash and Feta Bake; Leftovers

Thursday: Curried Beef Short Ribs served with Israeli couscous; tomato & cucumber & feta salad

Friday: Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Gratin; Sauteed Swiss Chard

Saturday: Green Lentil Soup with Noodles and Mint; homemade bread

And maybe I can even convince the man of the house to make the first apple pie of the season…

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