I’ve been trying a few recipes lately and have found a few that work quite well. I have also been trying to combine those recipes into a meal plan for the week. The idea is that by planning your meals in advance, you can make more efficient use of your groceries and don’t end up with a bunch of rotting food that you didn’t consider how it was going to be eaten. It makes financial sense, environmental sense, it makes health sense and even time management sense. Shop once for what you will need for the week, stick to your plan and see less of that food go to waste. Plus, make fewer trips to the grocery store during the week wondering what you are going to have for dinner when you don’t even really have time to think about it in the first place. Your Mom knew this. Your Grandmother knew this. You should know this.
Now this does require some work up front. It isn’t exactly easy at first. And I have to admit that right now I am unemployed and I have the time to make dinner each night. So, I may sing a different tune when I return to long days at work. But, even now, I spend less time during the week wondering what I am going to make for dinner; less time in lines at the grocery store; and more time making dinner and doing the other things that require my attention.
So what is the point of all this? Plan your meals for the week. It doesn’t have to be all of them; maybe only the dinners. Maybe you plan only four of the dinners for the week and think of bringing left-overs to work for lunch. Then go out for dinner one night. You decide what you are comfortable with. The point is to plan. Make sensible, healthy choices that will improve your body as well as your lifestyle. Plan to use left overs from one meal to make another. Or even plan to pre-cook some of a future night’s meal while you are cooking today’s meal. There are many sites that talk about meal planning in greater depth and some even offer up some sample menus if you are strapped for time in the planning stage. Many of them charge for a membership to receive the full benefit of multiple menus and recipes but they tend to also offer trial memberships for free; or even sample plans and recipes. Just beware of the ones that offer a trial membership that requires a credit card to sign up. Chances are the trial period may be free, but as soon as it is over they will start charging your credit card for the membership immediately until you cancel. My point here is not to list the sources. Google is your friend. Your cookbooks are your friends. Your Mom is your friend. Your friends are your friends.
Sit down on a day that you have time to think about what you would like to eat for the week. Set aside a good 1-3 hours to do this. It may take you a long time in the beginning, but as you develop plans that work well for you, a great, easy resource will become available. If you have four weeks of plans that you like, then you have a month’s worth of meals potentially planned. Go through your favourite recipes that you may have accumulated and see if they would work together. Do an internet search for some recipes that you might like to try. Need some resources? These places will get you started: Epicurious, Food Network, Cooks.com, Worlds Healthiest Foods, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Real Simple, Fine Cooking, AllRecipes.com. These are places that I use regularly.
Consider if you can make a couple of dishes in one week that use up that bunch of cilantro or parsley, that you always end up buying yet only use one tablespoon’s worth then let it rot in the crisper. Could you buy a whole chicken (or two) and cook it on one night and use it over a couple of nights? Or even better; could you cook a large amount of something that week so that you could freeze a bunch of it for another time when you know that you will not have time to cook? The point is plan. And I think you know what that means.
To get you started, here is the one that I used last week. February is Heart Month and in honour of that I made five dinners that came from the Heart and Stroke Foundation website.
A word of warning on these recipes. I found an error in the Meatloaf with Kale recipe that said to cook to a temperature of 325F. This is wrong and should read 165F. I sent them an email and they thanked me for pointing out the error and said that they would change it. I also found that the estimated cook time of 30 minutes for the Pork Tenderloin didn’t work for me and I ended up needing much more time. I’m not sure why but be aware. Use a meat thermometer if you like.
In all, these ended up being some very good recipes. We especially liked the Pork with Fruit and Vegetables and the Meatloaf with Kale will definitely be making a regular appearance. In fact, all of these will be made again. It is perhaps a plan that is a bit heavy on the meat and deserves some tweaking but worked well nonetheless. Also, note that while the Chickpea Pattie recipe serves 2 people, the other recipes make more servings. If you are cooking for two, like I am, you will be presented with left-overs to take to work for lunch; have the next night for dinner(lengthening your Dinner Plan) or freeze for another time. You choose!
A Weeklong Dinner Plan
|Baked Chickpea Patties on Whole Wheat Pita with Carrot Salad and Olives||Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fruit and Vegetables||Winterlicious Dinner at Auberge du Pommier. YUM!||Pork and Apple Salad (uses Tuesdays pork and fruit!)||Meatloaf with Kale and Baby Spinach Salad||Mediterranian Beef and Pasta Bake|
Here is a link to a pdf collection of this week’s plan and recipes. I’ve formatted it so that it is a bit easier to read and I have corrected the mistakes in the original recipes. Enjoy.
*Hannibal Smith was a character on the TV show the A-Team if you didn’t already know. He loves it when a plan comes together. – click –