Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And now for some meal planning.

As I mentioned a little while ago, last semester was decidedly crazy when it came to what we would be having for dinner. Every day we would get home and ask each other what we were doing for dinner, and by then it was often later in the evening and the chance of us having the ingredients to make what we wanted was unlikely.

Hence the meal plan. I'm going to try and keep it up for the entire semester, but we'll see what happens. Last weekend we sat down (with all our neglected cookbooks spread across our kitchen table) and planned the next two weeks for a bit of a head start, and we'll just keep adding recipes to a 'we'd like to make this' list as we encounter them.

We figure we have two days where time is a real issue - Mondays and Tuesdays. On Mondays I don't arrive home until around 6:30, while on Tuesdays Charles doesn't get home until ~6:30pm and I don't make it home until after 8pm. Thus Mondays and Tuesdays we're going to attempt speedy meals or those utilizing the slow cooker.

Yesterday was day one of school and the meal plan, and we made something inspired by the "Beijing Noodles" recipe from Moosewood's Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table. This is a vegetarian cookbook (although they do include fish recipes), but amazingly, we substituted the tofu here for beef (I used to do the opposite during my veggie days, so this is hilarious to me).

We couldn't find any sweet bean sauce in our area and in the spirit of using up things from the pantry, I rifled through the cupboard eventually finding a small jar of Thai roasted red chili paste to use instead. In the same spirit, I also discovered two packages of soba noodles in the pantry; I have no idea why we have these, so we subbed the 'Chinese wheat noodles' for buckwheat soba noodles which were really tasty. Other than that we cut up the veggies on the plate below and added some shitake mushrooms to our 'tofu' mixture as directed in the recipe.

Veggies at the ready

This was a lovely fresh way to start the week and all our substitutes worked pretty well. I certainly think this dish - currently nameless - will make it around again.

My plate

Here's what we've got planned for the remainder of the week:

Tonight (Tuesday) - Spelt pancakes with winter squash and goat cheese filling (from Sophie Dahl's Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights); with some wilted spinach on the side

Wednesday - Pasta with artichoke hearts, spinach and feta (also from Simple Suppers)

Thursday - Chicken curry (from Lynn Alley's The Gourmet Slow Cooker) with carrot and seed salad (from We Eat Together)

Friday - Moroccan Spiced Fish (again from Simple Suppers) with some greens

Saturday - We've decided to leave one free day, and this week Saturday is it. So we can either head out or stay in, whatever we choose.


Isabelle said...

This is such a great idea - we started doing it a few years ago and it works really well. Way fewer worries when you get home from work or school! We've cooked nearly everything from Simple Suppers and there's lots of great stuff in there. Some favourites are the Scrambled Tofu with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, the Roasted Vegetable Curry, The Hot and Sour Stir Fry, Navajo Stew, Potato Salad with Green and White Beans, and lots more.

Marianne said...

Definitely, Isabelle! This has been one of the least stressful weeks re. dinner plans in recent memory.

The Hot and Sour Stir Fry sounds great, and I will attempt to get Charles to eat the Scrambled Tofu. I'm loving their recipes so far - really quick and simple. I made the Navajo Stew this past fall, and it was great!

A Canadian Foodie said...

Whoa! Isabelle is a wealth of knowledge in this department, isn't she? Great to have someone who can steer you in the right direction. I think you are amazing just thinking of cooking under the circumstances!

Caitlin said...

Hey! Hope you're semester is getting off to a good start. :) I've been really getting into meal planning, too. I found this amazing tool for it. It's an Excel spread sheet you can download and input various meals under certain categories, then you can select them from the drop-down menu in the actual meal planner. I've done a poor job of explaining it but you should check it out. You can get it here: http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

This reminds me, I should really get to updating my blog!

Marianne said...

Thanks, Caitlin. Not that my classes aren't interesting, but I don't know how I'm going to get through all the reading, essays, etc. Hope yours has started well!

Thanks for that! I'll definitely take a look. I'm glad you've started a blog and love the idea!

Court said...

I'm really impressed - I really should do something like this, but I always get too lazy :-( When time is short though, this must make sure you eat a lot better than you would otherwise. Love it!

Marianne said...

Thanks, Court! I'm surprised we've rounded week four to be honest, but it's working well. Staying two weeks ahead is definitely key for us.

I'm not sure what kept me from doing this before, but I think I'm more lazy when it comes to figuring out what to make for dinner the evening of. Thus we ended up going out often. Honestly, to do a week + grocery list takes about half and hour with both of us working on it, so not too bad at all.

Absolutely. The planning has definitely helped us create meals that are a bit more balanced. And it's also been great for the wallet - always nice!