This Week’s Meal Plan and How I Made It

Sunday: Farro with Broccoli Crunch from 101 Cookbooks. Not my favorite meal of the week but I try to have easy dinners on Sundays and easy it was. I switched the farro for quinoa because I had a bit of a time crunch [time crunch, broccoli crunch, heh].
Monday: Roasted Turnips and Southern Greens with bacon [because bacon salt weirds me out]. When Chuck got home from work I asked him to take us for a Trader Joe’s run [crazy, crazy day] so we had a late, late dinner of whole wheat pitas stuffed with spinach, carrots, tomatoes, and spicy mustard. It was delish!
Tuesday: Veggie burgers and sweet potato fries. Since sweet potatoes have a longer shelf life we ate the greens tonight. With bacon. The irony is not lost on me, my friends.
Wednesday: Penne with root greens. I didn’t have a recipe for this. When I got home from the farmer’s market Saturday I removed the greens from my radishes and turnips and put them in a ziploc bag with a damp paper towel. The plan was to saute them down and add them to a penne dish [probably with red sauce]. This meal didn’t happen because I forgot Chuck had conferences this week and I didn’t want to cook a big meal without him. The kids had sweet potatoes with some corn and peas from the freezer. I saw someone on facebook making veggie muffins and I couldn’t get it out of my head so we whipped some of those up too [I used spelt flour]. I did add half a cup of almond milk to the batter because it seemed a little thick. It made 18 muffins.
Thursday: Chuck was at conferences again but I wizened up and invited a friend over for dinner. And then I couldn’t find the recipe for the tuscan cabbage and white beans. I didn’t pin it [my usual way to keep the ‘to-try’ recipes in line]. So I sauteed the cabbage with a mirepoix [kind of like here] and then added mushrooms and brown rice.
Friday: Vegetable Corn Chowder. I didn’t use a recipe but I used 8 ears of corn, a couple green bell peppers, 6 mini sweet orange and yellow peppers, an onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 2 stalks of celery, and the leftover carrots and zucchini I had from the veggie muffins. Yes, I packed 8 vegetables into my corn chowder. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, chipotle chili, and cumin. It was really yummy and we’ll have some leftovers.
Saturday: Eggplant Parmesan sort of like this one, but we use real cheese. Because I love cheese. And I don’t love fake cheese. We are going to make Lucy some noodles and give her some of the eggplant. Oh, and we’re using almond meal in place of breadcrumbs.

[I think this week is a good example of having some flexibility in your meal plan. If you have to switch things up just try to prioritize based on which veggie will hold out for you and which need to be used up sooner.]

So here’s a behind-the-scenes look on how our meal plan comes together. [I talked a while back about how we started meal planning.] It all starts Saturday morning with a trip to the farmer’s market and grocery store [or just the grocery store]. Conveniently, they share a parking lot. The kiddos and I hit up the market while Chuck is working [he teaches a Saturday morning enrichment program]. We have some favorite booths at the market but in general we do a quick sweep to see what looks good and what’s the best value. We spend between $10 and $15 and fill up a couple reusable shopping bags! After that we run to the grocery store and pick up anything we couldn’t get at the farmer’s market. I then come home and prep the veggies and put them away. I have some baskets from the dollar store in the fridge. Usually there’s one for green leaf veggies, one for the rest of the veggies, and one for apples [they like to keep to themselves].

I don’t wash anything but I do prepare the green leaf veggies like I mentioned earlier. And I also check my fruit to make sure there’s not a trouble-maker in the bunch, trying to go bad early.

After everything is settled in the fridge or on the counter [here’s a pretty thorough look at what goes where] I write a list of what I’ve got to work with. Usually I’ve been busy during the week pinning recipes that have come across my google reader so after my list is written I check there first to see if I’ve pinned anything that matches up with my ingredients. Usually there are a few overlaps because the farmer’s market produce matches up with the seasonal dishes other food bloggers are whipping up. I next do a few ingredient searches in google reader. I really like this because it’s only searching blogs I read so the results are a lot more relevant than a google search, which is my last resort.

Once I decide which dishes I want to make it’s a matter of ordering them according to what will go bad first. [Here’s a good resource for checking vegetable shelf life.] Then it goes up on the menu board, which I share with you guys each week.

I would say the most challenging part for me is finding new and different ways to cook different vegetables. I love to try new dishes and Chuck doesn’t mind it so it’s rare that something hits the menu more than once in a month. But, if you don’t enjoy wild and crazy culinary adventures quite as much it would be a great idea to list out 20 to 30 of your favorite meals [you could be really crazy and do it seasonally] and then use that list to create your meal plan.

I make my meal plan in this order, rather than choosing dishes and making a shopping list because this way I can generally find the best produce deals and make my meal plan around that. Just one way I try to keep the food budget lower.

Anyone else have any tips for how your meal plan comes together?

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2 thoughts on “This Week’s Meal Plan and How I Made It

  1. Nikki says:

    We meal plan, too, and it goes according to what veggies/fruits will go bad first. We get our CSA box on Wednesdays, so I tend to do a midweek menu plan, always consulting the following week’s schedule (do I have a client coming over and need a clean kitchen meal, like a crockpot meal or picnic?; do we have meetings to go to? do we have company coming over? is Brian working late? How busy will my afternoons be- will I have time for a more involved dinner?) I always work to use what I have on hand before buying anything from the store and consult ingredient recipe searches to aid in that. .

    I tend to have an ongoing supply of recipes to try, but they don’t always fit with what’s in season or highlight a veggie dish, so those might get on the menu once a week or even less often. We don’t cook on Sundays at all, except for heating something up that we prepared on Saturday (like a casserole, etc.), so we try to make sure to have leftovers, easy food like salad or sandwiches, or restaurant time planned for Sundays.

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