Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meal Planning

Since we moved here and I'm doing most of the cooking now, I've planning meals on a weekly basis, sometimes 2 weeks at a time. When we were in language school our houseworker cooked lunch for us and our evening meal was leftovers or sandwiches. I'd cook some on the weekends but our houseworker tended towards cooking for a brigade of hungry giants so sometimes weekends would just be catching up from the week of lunch leftovers. No bad thing but I enjoy cooking so living that way for 10 months got a little tedious. Working on meal planning has also helped me to work in more veg. meals and work out of meat and a side dish meals. Its added more variety and nutrition to the dishes we eat. All upsides in our book.

On Sundays I sit down with my cookbooks and my planning notebook. I ask Jonathan and @ what they'd like to eat this week and I try to honor a version of at least one suggestion. When asked what he wants to eat, Jonathan typically replies with "Meatloaf, potatoes, sloppy joe, Silken Chicken". That last one throws you off I know but for Jonathan its Indian gold. This is chicken marinated in heavy whipping cream, folks. There is nothing healthy about it but its delicious. @'s reply is always mac-n-cheese and PBJ. So from there I go through cookbooks, looking back at what we've eaten last week, thinking about what's still in the fridge/ cabinets, thinking about where we are and what we are doing in the week ahead and then finding recipes that look like fun, would be quick on the right days, can take longer on others. I've also been working into my thinking what can we do without meat. Generally my meal plans look something like this. A list of what I'd like to make for us this week. I take into account that what I can do with extras of some ingredients. I tend to keep this page of the planner open on the counter so that I look at it and think about planning my day accordingly. I also write down the leftovers that are in the fridge. Normally I plan 5 prep meals for the course of the week. I know that at least one day we'll forget the whole thing and order pizza or decide its too hot or there's no electricity so we can't open the fridge. We eat our larger meal at lunch most days and that is the meal I plan. One night a week is wacky leftovers- the night where no one eats the same dish as anyone else. A lot of evenings are sandwiches or large portion leftovers. Sunday nights are always family movie night so that means popcorn, apple slices and mozzarella slices. I also try to plan a few desserts/ cookies/ treats to make in the week. We have a never ending supply of lemons and so that is always available.
Mondays are grocery shopping days while @ is in school. My weekly grocery list is planned from our meal plan. I know what I need to buy and what I still have in the cabinet. I try to never go to the store without having done a meal plan. I have a notebook in my purse that I keep grocery lists in and then I stick to task. I'm a list crosser off-er so that helps me too. Generally I stay within the same $ amount but a few times a month I'll buy a special new ingredient that might be a little pricier. Feta cheese has been my new once a month splurge but oh have we enjoyed it.
The top most pic is lunch today Ful with Homemade Pita bread, Feta Cheese and hard boiled egg. Cooking Pita in the oven is the last photo.
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