Once upon a time, I began each week with a meal plan.
It was an amazing little thing — a simple sheet of paper with hand written notes outlining the week’s meals. It also made doing traditional foods preparation a lot simpler.
If I planned sandwiches for lunch on Tuesday, I would make a note to bake sandwich bread Monday night. I’d note when to make mayonnaise, ketchup, or dill pickle relish. I’d tell myself when to marinate meat or start the crock pot. When to sprout grains or legumes.
I’ve fallen out of the habit, and our meals have suffered for it. Now dinner is what I feel like making when 6 o’clock rolls around — and I often have no idea what to make. No meat is defrosted. I’m hungry and tired. It’s a recipe for disaster, and we usually only barely escape it.
That’s why this Monday I’ll be posting a menu plan for the week. And, to make it easier for myself (and you), I created a weekly meal planner. Feel free to download it here.
So, I want you guys to take a moment this weekend to print up the download, grab a pen, sit in a comfortable chair, pull together your favorite cookbooks for inspiration, and join me in planning next week’s menu.
If you feel too busy to prepare traditional foods 7 days a week (even with planning), here are some tips to get you started:
The Meal That Keeps Giving — Cook one main course recipe that can be used for different meals. For example, I may cook roast beef. It’s dinner one night. Sliced thin, it becomes sandwich meat later in the week. And shredded, it becomes the base for a delicious soup. If the roast had a bone, it gets used to make a scrumptious beef bone broth. You can do the same thing with turkey, chicken, or even a large batch of ground beef.
The Freezer Is Your Friend — If you make taco meat one night, why not triple your recipe and freeze the rest in single-serving containers? Later that month, you’ll have several ready-made meals. Or marinate pork chops in a sesame honey glaze, store them in freezer bags with as many as you would need to feed your family for one night contained in each bag, and keep the bags frozen until you’re ready to use them. My go-to cookbook for freeze-ahead meals is Don’t Panic: Dinner\’s In The Freezer. The ladies who put that book together have another one coming out in April called Don\’t Panic: More Dinner’s In The Freezer, and I’m excited to see what recipes it contains.
Plan Some Quick & Easy Meals — You know, the ones that take you 15 minutes from start to finish. Kelly The Kitchen Kop has a whole list of quick traditional food options here.
Leftovers Rule — Plan how you’ll use your leftovers. If you made tacos for dinner, use the leftovers in omelets the next morning. If you have multiple small portions of miscellaneous vegetables leftover, put a week’s worth together in a hearty soup. You get the idea.
(photo by feministjulie)