I know there are a million and one blogs out there that post every dish they are going to eat for each week but I am going to do it anyway. (Or at least try.) I’ve been menu planning for the last 8 months or so and have found it very helpful. With all of the food that I put up, it really does help me to go through it. Otherwise, I tend to go to the grocery store and pick up random foods that look tasty. Then, when I go to cook, I realize I have all of these things in the fridge that need. used. now. and I can’t pull anything out of the freezer or off of the canning shelves. (I’m aware this is a sign that we have a lot of/too much food. Yes, it’s ridiculous.)
I want to encourage you to menu plan, too. Even if you don’t preserve hundreds of quarts of tomatoes and peaches, I’m sure you have a pantry with random cans of veggies or bags of beans stuffed in the corners or a refrigerator with lost jars of tomato sauce or a couple of withered carrots lollygagging around. Don’t you? DON’T you? Come on, admit it. We all throw out food that should have been used a couple of weeks (months? years?) ago. I really feel like I’m throwing less out now that I have a bit of a plan.
Don’t you roll your eyes at me. I know you are probably thinking that you don’t have time for this stuff. I know I did. But then I started spending 10 minutes on the weekends jotting notes on scraps of papers about what I could possibly cook up that week. And it was fun. I would peek in the fridge and see if there was anything that might spoil in the next few days and put that on the menu for Monday or Tuesday. Then I’d fill in the rest of the week using pantry/freezer/seasonal ingredients, adding things to my grocery list that I might not have in stock.
I’m not a stickler. I don’t necessarily cook everything I scribble on my papers. Sometimes later in the week I’ll discover a jar of something I hadn’t seen in the back of the fridge. Or I’ll notice the tomatoes that are rotting on the counter so I’ll make a pot of spaghetti instead of the planned honey baked chicken. It’s a bit like a puzzle. A puzzle that ultimately saves me time and money. Who doesn’t like that kind of puzzle?
Something I should highlight here…our meals are not always logical. Sometimes they really don’t make any sense at all (just check out Monday’s plan if you need an example). I just try to have a protein, starch, and green veggie at each meal. I throw random dishes in that I really feel like cooking or if I just want to use up an ingredient.
So without further ado, here ’tis. Be inspired. Or maybe not.
This week I have some peppers to use up. Frost was threatening early last week and so I picked all of the peppers, whether they were red or not. So recipes featuring them are up for the beginning of the week. I also dug the sweet potatoes and have some damaged ones that need used up.
Monday: Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Baked Corn, Green Beans, Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions
Tuesday: Sweet and Sour Lentils with Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad
Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers, Broccoli, Fresh Bread
Thursday: Meatloaf, Roasted Sweet and White Potatoes, Green Beans
Friday: Macaroni and Cheese, Stewed Tomatoes, Broccoli
Saturday: Deep Dish Chicken Pie, Cranberry Relish
Note number 1: I don’t make a plan for Sunday. More often than not we either go to someone’s house or out to eat that evening. Or we will have gone away one night during the week and I’ll make that meal on Sunday night. Or we’ll eat something random and quick that I whip up. I consider Sundays a bit of an “off” day for me.
Note number 2: Usually I don’t pencil in desserts on my menus. I like to make sweets on a whim. Feel like a pumpkin pie on Tuesday? Great. Make one. Want some pudding on a Friday? Good because the milk needs used up ASAP.
Note number 3: We eat leftovers for lunch. I don’t very often have to serve them at an evening meal so that’s why we don’t have a leftovers night.