I am a huge fan of weekly meal planning. The benefits for me, are crystal clear. I spend less on groceries, I am less stressed about “what’s for dinner”, I waste less food and it forces me to try new dishes on a regular basis. Problem is, it’s not always easy to sit down every week and make my plan. To that end, I’ve decided to start documenting it here every week (to force the issue :) Perhaps it will help someone else who is struggling with wanting to meal plan but not having the time.
The meal plans posted here will be for the week just ended, so that I can add notes about any new recipes I tried. Meal Plans include 5 days of meals, one for each weeknight. I find having each weeknight planned the best way to go. If we have a dinner out during the week or things just don’t go as planned (last minute activity or something), the one extra meal can just be bumped to cover the Saturday, instead. Sunday is always a wildcard for me. With the time to cook in the afternoon, I usually pick up something while grocery shopping Sunday morning that “appeals to me at the moment”.
Here is my process: Each Saturday, I peruse the local grocery store flyers to find out what’s on sale that week (especially meat). With that in mind, I browse my cookbooks, online archives here and other food sites for meal ideas. I try to maintain a variety of menus, including at least one fish per week. I try to avoid processed foods in favour of whole foods and I try to find the sweet spot between healthy (for all of us), filling (for my H), satisfying (for my picky eater child) and flavourful (because who really enjoys bland dinners?!).
Once I set a meal for each day, I print out the recipes I need and use those to create a shopping list of items I will need to make the various dishes. I will grocery shop Sunday morning and then have all the ingredients for the week’s meals on-hand at the start of each week.
Weekly Meal Plan for September 26, 2009
Monday – Fish, Healthy, Ready in 15 minutes
Rosemary Trout with Cherry Tomato Sauce (Found on Epicurious, adapted and posted here.)
This was a new recipe for me. I love Rainbow Trout, simply pan fried. The addition of the cherry tomato sauce really appealed to me because they are available year round. We decided to quickly saute the tomato sauce after we took the fish out of the frying pan, since it was a cool day and we didn’t want a cold topping. In the summer though, grilling the trout and using the tomato sauce raw, as detailed in the recipe, would be lovely.
Tuesday – Pasta, Ready in 20 minutes
Pasta Carbonara (Emeril’s from the Food Network) with Fresh Tomatoes/Lettuce/Cucumber on the side.
This was a very good carbonara recipe. I found some chunk pancetta at the grocery store, which was very nice in this dish. Definitely use good parmesan for this dish (Parm Reg). I made the pasta at home or just use a good quality dried spaghetti.
Wednesday – Chicken, Ready in 30 minutes
General Tao’s Chicken (From my archives) with Rice and Fresh Green Beans
I make this dish often as it is one of my daughter’s favourites. To make it healthier, I often cook it without breading the chicken. I just pan fry the chicken and then add the sauce once the chicken is cooked. Choose whatever kind of rice your family likes (we like Jasmine) and a “green” veggie on the side.
Thursday – Beef, Healthy (with small portion of beef), Ready in 30 minutes
This was another new recipe for me. I loved the idea of using flank steak (cheap!) and marinating it. I marinated the beef longer than suggested, maybe 2 hours. We tossed it on the BBQ and it was great – fork tender and very flavourful. Will definitely make this again. As for the slaw, I thought when making it that there didn’t seem to be enough dressing for the amount of cabbage but the taste indicated otherwise (do be sure to toss it several times before serving though). I only used 1/2 of a jalapeno, diced (not the 2 as suggested), since I’m a wimp. I thought it was enough but if you love jalapenos, adjust to your taste.
Friday – Soup, Ready in 1 hour
Roasted Corn Chowder (From my Archives) and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
The weather is getting cooler here every day, so soup is back onto the rotation around here. I love this soup and make it often. It comes together in less than an hour and with the potatoes as a thickener, needs only a little light cream to make a hearty, creamy soup. Don’t leave out the bacon. It adds a great, smoky flavour to the soup. Pair with your favourite biscuit recipe (just Google if you don’t have one as there are lots out there).
Potential Grocery Items Needed for These Menus
I’ve not included basics here, just the main ingredient items for each dish. Including extra items for school lunches, pantry and fruit, my grocery bill for the week was just a shade over $100 (including a whopping $12 for the Parm Reggiano, as I was out). Not bad!
Flank Steak (1 1/2 lbs)
Jalapenos – 2