As of late, I have slacked off to the max on the meal planning. A combination of energy level, disorganization, and a reluctance to acknowledge that my cooking needs have shifted have made a different strategy a must. Instead of developing that new strategy, I’ve just avoided menu planning entirely.
And how’s that working out for me?
Not good. Not good at all. There have been more than a few nights of scrounging around for something suitable for dinner (not always a successful venture).
Being that there are only nine days left in the month, I think I can handle scrabbling together a menu plan for the rest of the month. After some contemplation, here are the factors I’m working with:
- I like to cook, and I enjoy complicated recipes. I don’t mind cleaning up, but at this moment, I have neither the time nor the energy to clean up a massive mess if it’s not for Shabbos prep. So, good-bye fancy recipes, for now.
- We can (and should) do leftovers, and if I can get two nights of dinner out of one day of work, that is fantastic.
- The slow cooker is my new favorite kitchen gadget
- I still need to work on doubling recipes for later use. I also need a second freezer, since the one attached to my fridge is teeny.
- Wiggle room is something I need. This means I’m searching for the balance between planning things out (saves time, money and sanity), and being able to improvise (feeds my creative spirit, takes some pressure off planning and shopping). I’m still working on that part, and any suggestions would be much appreciated.
- I want to switch my shopping day from the beginning of the week (Monday) to the middle of the week (Wednesday), but am firmly entrenched in my current shopping mindset. The idea of shopping for the days after Shabbos is just beyond me at the moment, but I’m working on it.
And so, with those musings in mind, and a determination to use easy, healthy recipes, I give you…the plan.
- Sunday, the 22nd ~ Leftovers from Shabbos
- Monday, the 23rd ~ Zucchini Lentil Soup (Kosher by Design Lightens Up). I love this soup, and will freeze whatever we don’t eat.
- Tuesday, the 24th ~ Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie (from the February issue of Real Simple). This actually a slow cooker recipe, and I’m using chicken leftover from a big batch of chicken soup. I have to kosherize the recipe (it calls for heavy cream with the chicken, a kashrus no-no. I’ll probably make roux from Earth Balance margarine, flour and soy milk).
- Wednesday, the 25th ~ Leftovers from Tuesday!
- Thursday, the 26th ~ Noodles with Sautéed Veggies, which I will try to do in the morning as to reduce dinnertime pressure. We’ll probably also have cheese on the top, ’cause that’s how we roll.
- Shabbos, the 27th & 28th ~ Tuna Croquettes (Kosher by Design Short on Time); Salads (made from random veggies I shall pick up from the store); Heart of Palm; Chicken (I’ve taken to making chicken on the stovetop and simmering it with various sauces and vegetables. It’s working for us for now), Potatoes (cooked with the chicken). Dessert will probably be something I cobble together from the fillo dough in my freezer and strawberry jam in the pantry. And ice cream in case that’s a flop. :)
- Sunday, the 29th ~ Leftovers from Shabbos
- Monday, the 30th ~ Cheese Sandwiches, but awesome ones with lots of yummy veggies, condiments and on multi-grain bread. Cut-up Veggies (red peppers, cucumbers, celery) plus homemade dip for a side. The dip will probably be something along the lines of mayo, olive oil, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley (basically like the dressing in Quick and Kosher’s Sun-Dried Tomato Caesar Salad).
- Tuesday, the 31st ~ Noodles with Pasta Sauce and Salad.
And that’s where we’ll stop for now. I’m hoping to make a monthly plan for February. Will keep you posted.
How often do you tweak your planning? Have you found your rhythm?
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10 thoughts on “Back in the Menu Planning Saddle Again”
I still have no plans for my weekly cooking. Or rather I plan Shabbat and a few meals but have no special dates for the meals in question, except if I have a meeting. Now my cooking is also affected by the weekly vegetables I get every Thursday.
I admire your organization though!
I would love to get weekly vegetables. One of these days I will sign up for a food co-op. One of these days…
We have a kosher food co-op here. We order on Monday and pick up on Wednesday, which is kind of like shopping on Wednesday. Most of the focus of the order is on food for Shabbos, but I have to think of the 2 days at the beginning of next week (Sunday’s are leftovers, so just Monday and Tuesday). What I like to do is plan a loose menu, like tomorrow will be a noodle dish, then a chicken meal, and while shopping, get the ingredients I know I need along with a few extra interesting things (like an eggplant). Then I try to work my interesting ingredients into the recipe I want to make. Or make a side dish I wasn’t planning on ahead of time. It works great for me because I never really have time to sit and plan ahead, and my taste preferences seem to change from hour to hour. This way I have a general idea, I”ll have the chicken or the noodles I need, plus some random fun ingredients that I can be creative about sticking in. But good luck! As I’ve found, every person has a system that works for them at different times. Try to roll with it, and I’m sure you’ll have fun!
P.S. If you want some complicated, messy, dishes, try some of the Food and Wine cookbooks or recipes. I think there’s a rule that each recipe must use a minimum of 3 dishes. That’s my husband’s cookbook. I like Short on Time and One Pot Meals. =)
I subscribe to Bon Appetit, which is chock full of recipes I wish I had time to make. Right now the One Pot meals are much more up my alley! It sounds like your system works for you. Yay!
I totally relate to this. I find myself clipping recipes and feeling hopeful and then so much time passes before I think to use them that I get this overwhelming feeling of dismay. There have been times when I’ve been super organized and planned it all out and made good use of leftovers. One thing I do well: I always make good use of Shabbat leftovers. AND, when I cook anything that can be frozen I generally double or triple the recipe (turkey chili, stews, etc.) Then I can grab something from the freezer and just throw together a salad. Those nights are THE BEST.
Those are the best nights, totally! Though sometimes I feel like hoarding what’s in there, you know, just in case….
I’m impressed that you manage to come up with different ideas. We pretty much have the same thing every week (pasta, pizza, dumplings, cinnamon rolls and grilled cheese/tomato soup). We’ve been tweaking the days of the week, but there isn’t so much variety.
Mmmm, dumplings sound good. If you want to infuse some variety into your routine, looking at magazines and blogs can help. I look through the recipe index and see if there are any dishes which seem appealing, and then I check if they are easy and quick to make, and then I plug them into the plan.
I used to be really good about writing out a weekly menu, but I’ve adopted a loose weekly plan for about the last 12 years. Monday is pasta, Tuesday is eggs/dairy, Wednesday is fish, Thursday is chicken, If there aren’t leftovers for Sunday night, I figure it out Sunday morning. I have a file of recipes on my computer sorted into these categories. (I “clip” recipes online and sort them into the folders as I acquire them.) Monday morning I look into my pasta file for a recipe that I can make with ingredients I have on hand. I do this all week. I don’t like shopping, and I try to minimize my outings. This way I can also reduce my grocery bill by purchasing goods that are on sale. As for Shabbos, I have a formula for that also. I’ve picked up some really good recipes lately at cookkosher.com I enjoy seeing your creative menus–Tuna croquettes for Shabbos really intrigues me….might have to check out that cookbook.
I really like the Kosher by Design Short on Time book. It has a number of recipes that we use regularly. Interesting that you do chicken on Thursdays. We nearly always have chicken on Friday night, so I keep it milchig on Thursday. Thanks for sharing, and lovely to see you again!