Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Look at Menu Planning

This week's box contains:
  • Desiree Potatoes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Lettuce (traded for more potatoes)
  • Strawberries
  • Chantenay Carrots
  • Sweet Corn
  • Walla Walla Onions
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
Great box, especially with the lettuce traded for more potatoes.  Like last week, this proved to be a busy weekend.  I have a lot going on at work, so don't expect to have time to get creative during the week.  Next weekend I'm out of town.  Same sad story ~ great food, desire to eat well, not enough time...

One way I manage situations like this is through planning.  There is no one "right" way to plan a menu for the week and I use several.  This week I'm going for my fast and easy method:
  1. Pick some generic preparation methods and map them to the days of the week.
  2. Take a look at the ingredients I have on hand and align them with the selected methods.
  3. Scan recipes as needed to determine what other ingredients will be needed, then build a grocery list.
Do you plan your meals for the week?  If so, what's your method?   Here's how it went for us this week:

Step One: Preparation Methods

This is as simple as listing the days of the week on which you plan to cook and picking a method or meal type that will fit in the amount of time you expect to have available.  Grilling (with charcoal anyway) takes more time and is a leisurely meal for us, so I chose that for Sunday.  All the rest are quick and easy assuming ready made ingredients or pre-preparation of those that take time (more on this later).
  • Sunday: grilling
  • Monday: risotto
  • Tuesday: wraps
  • Wednesday: stir-fry
  • Thursday: pasta

Step Two: Ingredients on Hand

A quick scan of the pantry, refrigerator, and the freezer gave me a solid list of ingredients to work with.  Here's what I found that looked promising or time sensitive:
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • bread
  • vegan sausage
  • Thai curry cubes
  • pesto
  • chipotle tofu
  • black beans
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • salsa
  • frozen spinach
  • carrots
  • cabbage
  • fennel
  • parsley root
  • turnips
  • green onions
  • veggie stock
  • asparagus stems

After that, I just matched the list of ingredients to the list of meal types.
  • Sunday: grilling (vegan sausages, green onions, fennel, corn, potatoes, bread, tomatoes
  • Monday: risotto (sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, vegetable stock, salsa)
  • Tuesday: wraps (whole wheat tortillas, chipotle tofu, salsa, black beans, onions)
  • Wednesday: stir-fry (red Thai curry, potatoes, carrots, turnips, frozen spinach)
  • Thursday: pasta (pesto, vegan sausages, carrots, fennel)

Step Three: Choose the Recipes, Build Grocery List

As I sorted out the ingredients, likely dishes came to mind:
  • Sunday: Grilled Sausages with Vegetable Kabobs and Grilled Farmer's Market Bruschetta
  • Monday: Sweet Corn Risotto with Salsa
  • Tuesday: Black Bean Burritos
  • Wednesday: Thai Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice
  • Thursday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto and Sausage and Roasted Vegetables
By dish, I referenced cookbooks and websites to find recipes that I could follow or adapt.  By looking at the recipes, I was able to build a grocery list to fill the gaps.  After a quick trip to the store, we had everything we needed on hand.

One final note.  As the saying goes, the best laid plans ... often go awry.  I know that in order to be able to prepare these dishes, I'll need to do some prep work today.  I'll clean and chop the vegetables we'll use this week, cook the rice and store it in the refrigerator, etc.

1 comment:

  1. I'm boring but this is timely, I actually created a meal plan for last week. I should get going on this week's one, so good reminder.

    I generally stick to a PCF guideline (Prot/Carb/Fat) then work from there, as well as try and get what's on special at the super or just something I haven't made in a while. Fibre and more fruit and veg also factor into the calculation. (so loads of yoghurt with berries for breakfast/morning tea as well as my poached eggs :) )

    I have to be careful though as I am cooking for a fastidious 4.5 yo :)

    Although this week I am going to try a curry, probably chicken, although I am sure you could sub the potatoes and it would be just as good.

    Biggest point for me is to try and get my 5 meals a day in. So if I plan it out I tend to stick with it.