Menu Planning

Thursdays have become my meal planning days for the upcoming week. I go through phases where I’m really good at planning out my dinners and cooking ahead on the weekend so I have actual lunches to take into work instead of heating up a frozen meal or going out. (Or lucking into leftovers from a catered meeting. Sadly, it is not the season for such luck.)

I’m trying to make this phase stick so I’m not going to the grocery store every other evening to pick up dinner fixings. I live near my favorite grocery store, and it’s right on my way home, so it’s no trouble to pop in, but I have more and more things I want to do with my evenings, so I need to be smarter about managing my time. Eliminating my mid-week grocery runs gives me an extra hour and a half to two hours per week. Lately, that’s been translating into more reading time. Oh, books, how I’ve missed reading more than one of you a month!

And, as I’m rediscovering, it’s fun to sit down, look through recipes, and consider what I want to eat. I fell down on the menu planning last week and have been cobbling together a lot of chicken-based meals, since that’s what I had in the freezer. I am now in the position of being a little tired of chicken for dinner but also in need of more chicken stock, so I will roast a chicken this weekend and use the meat in my lunches next week. Thankfully, my brain equates lunch with work and doesn’t get bored with the same lunch over and over. I think I take comfort in the consistency of having the same thing each day. So lunch next week is taken care of: I’ll get some salad greens and cilantro, a few cucumbers and avocados, make a ginger soy dressing, and toss some roast chicken on top and chow down. I’m happy already. :3

As for dinners, I want to try my hand at palak paneer. One of my go-to frozen meals (aka lazy lunch of choice) is Tandoor Chef’s Palak Paneer, and I’ve been wanting to try making it myself for awhile. I’m undecided if I’ll try my hand at making the cheese. Downtown Puyallup has a cute little cheese store, so I’ll chat up the folks there and see what they recommend.

I also have some frozen tenderloin steaks thanks to a Christmas sale at my local grocery store. One of my coworkers mentioned that she had some brussel sprouts to use up, so her husband tossed them in the roasting pan with some fig balsamic vinegar when he made a pot roast the other day, and the brussel sprouts were the most amazing thing ever, so I’m thinking I have to try that with one of the tenderloins, because yum. That may even have to be dinner tomorrow night, seeing as how I’m tired of chicken.

I’m also going to try a roasted winter vegetable medley. It will depend on what looks good at the store, but I’m thinking golden beets and butternut and/or acorn squash. I’m eyeing a couple of beet salad recipes, and I have some lemon-thyme chicken gravy in the freezer that I want to use up. If it doesn’t thaw well, I’ll toss it in the crockpot when I make chicken stock. (Is there anything more satisfying than making stock? I don’t know what’s so comforting about it, but I love it.)

And finally, I want soup. The first few days of next week are looking cold and rainy, and I want soup. I have never made butternut squash soup, so this may be the winter to try it. On the other hand, I need to pick up some carrots for chicken stock, and last winter, one of my friends forwarded me a recipe for carrot ginger soup, and I never tried it. Why didn’t I try it? I think I need to fix that.

I think I just talked myself into the carrot ginger soup. I do live in Western Washington, so it’s going to be cold and rainy and soup weather-y for a few more weeks. I can put butternut squash soup on the next menu plan.

So now I’m off to make my grocery list. What delicious food are you all planning to enjoy in the next few days? (Yes, this is a shameless attempt to collect more recipes. :3)

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8 thoughts on “Menu Planning

  1. French onion soup! Hearty and always good for the cold weather. πŸ™‚ and if you hv a penchant for Asian dishes, I’ve got some home-made recipes on my blog if you’d care to check them out! πŸ˜‰

    • I love French onion soup! When I moved into my first apartment, my mom gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook, and one of the first things I tried was the golden onion soup (which easily becomes French onion soup). I haven’t made it in awhile. I’ll have to at some point this winter.

      And I’ll be venturing over to your blog to check out some of your recipes. πŸ™‚

      • Please do. Let me know if you have any comments on them or if you get to try them. Some ingredients can be hard to find in your part of the world.

        Hope you get to make the onion soup soon – when I first tried it out, I’m amazed at the sheer amount of onions I had to use!! πŸ™‚

  2. I am a huge fan of 1 pot meals and by that I do not mean casseroles πŸ™‚ A current family favorite is pot roast. I never liked it as a kid (I have discovered that my mom was a fan of cooking the life out of all meats-(no wonder we went through so much ketchup!) but an adaptation of this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/momma-neelys-pot-roast-recipe.html has us hooked. We sub the wine out for either 2 Tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar. I hope you enjoy it. Meal planning is not my forte but I am always so glad when I do it. I find I spend less money as well. Thanks for the post.

    • I love 1 pot meals, too, and now swear by crockpot roasts, though that link has me convinced to give the oven another go one of these weekends. I bet the drippings would make a delicious gravy!

      • We just spoon the juices over the meat. Occasionally we add new potatoes with the carrots.- A MAZ ING!! Hubby is not a huge fan of the slowcooker unless it is pulled pork, carnitas or soup lol. Enjoy and let me know what you think πŸ™‚

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