Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back to Meal Planning

I usually plan our meals. It keeps life going smoothly and also helps keep our food budget down. Unfortunately, over the past few months, I didn’t do a very good job planning our meals. I still planned, but not as well as I could have. That is, I didn’t plan meals that used some of the same ingredients (to save money), I didn’t make sure the items in the pantry and freezer got used up, and, most importantly, I didn’t make any new and interesting meals. We pretty much ate the same things over and over again. It got pretty boring.

So I am getting back to planning meals on the blog. One of the things I plan on doing, is cooking beans and lentils on the weekends so that they can be easily added to lunches and dinners during the week. I don’t plan lunches because I usually eat leftovers and the guys often eat a sandwich, and this works. But having some beans and/or lentils around to bulk things up and add some protein will be nice.

I am also going to do most of the prep work on the weekend. Besides cooking beans and lentils, I’ll wash and cut up veggies and fruits and make sure everything is easy to grab. I find we eat a lot more veggies and fruits when they are ready to eat. I’ll also boil eggs for the week.

I’ll also precook some meals on the weekend. Some meals truly taste better on the second or even third day, such as Bolognese sauce. It’s easy to have a pot simmering on the stove while I do other things on the weekend and use the sauce for easy meals during the week. I have also several soup recipes that taste great throughout the week.

As stated before, I plan on using my slow cooker more. I made a couple meals in it over the last few weeks, and they turned out great and everyone loved them.

Finally, I plan to stock the freezer with some homemade frozen meals. By making just a bit more food and taking a few portions away right away and freeze them, we can have another meal to eat on busy nights and save money at the same time.

So here are the meals for this week (Note: Monday’s meal is planned for Monday as it’s leftovers. The other meals are interchangeable, depending on what we feel like.)

Monday: Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and a salad. I made the sauce on Saturday, so this will be a leftover meal. I bulked up the meat sauce with lots of veggies and used more than twice the veggies that are traditionally used in a Bolognese sauce. The sauce tastes great, and the extra veggies ensured that there is enough for two meals.

Meal 2: Veggie stir fry with over easy eggs over rice. – I used to make this a lot but haven’t in many months. I’m looking forward to this meal.

Meal 3: Grilled salmon with dill and lemon juice and a salad. – I have some frozen wild salmon in the freezer that needs to be used up.

Meal 4: Kimchi stew with chicken. There is some very ripe kimchi in the fridge. It’s a bit too ripe to eat raw, but it’ll be delicious in a stew.

Meal 5: Leftovers and refrigerator and pantry finds. There is usually plenty leftover from the week in the fridge. If not, there is always wild canned salmon and tuna in the pantry. Plus, there is pasta, pasta sauce, rice, etc. In addition, I usually go to the Farmers’ Market on Fridays, so we’ll have some fresh veggies to supplement our meal with.

Questions: Do you plan meals? What’s on your menu this week?

Be well,