I surveyed people in my community recently. (Thanks again to everyone who responded!) When asked “What do you find most challenging about eating?”, 48% gave an answer that was some variation on the theme, “I need fresh ideas for what to cook day after day” (after day after day). Quick-to-prepare meals were the most common descriptor mentioned.
Guess what? Me too! Prioritizing quick meals, that is. The idea of spending a leisurely afternoon chopping and simmering, sipping wine with a friend… hahaha that’s a good one. Maybe in 10 or 15 years. When we’re retired, I’ll invite you over and we’ll do slow food together.
For now, it’s reliable family favourites, meals made from pantry staples, and the occasional new recipe for fun. Even some “processed food”. (Some “processed” food is just fine, and can make our lives easier! Take the salmon burgers below, for example.)
For sanity’s sake, I meal plan about once a week, depending on the ebb and flow of our schedules. Honestly, I don’t know how working moms manage without one. The odd time I don’t and I try to wing it… not pretty. I leave the improvising to the food shows.
And it’s easier than it sounds – I just check the calendar and the forecast, scan the fridge and pantry to see what we have on hand, and pick 4-5 meals that fit, referring to my Go-To Meal and Snack List and geeky Evernote recipe collection. Leftovers, pantry meals, and/or dinner out round out the week.
Truly, the whole thing takes about an hour, which might seem like a lot, but I also use meal planning time to make notes on or delete recipes from last week’s meal plan and tidy up the fridge. It’s worth it to have a decent meal ready to go every night as well as leftovers for lunch.
Even if you don’t follow your meal plan exactly, just having the ingredients on hand for a few meals makes all the difference. If you think it might help you, grab my meal planning checklist and worksheet here.
Anyhow, in hopes of helping you with that most commonly mentioned struggle, I’m going to experiment with sharing our meal plan every week, and if people seem to like it, I’ll keep doing it.
A few notes, to help you decide if this is for you:
- We’re cooking for four, including a 7 and 10 year old, so high gourmet it is not.
- I try for fish twice a week and vegetarian 2-3 times a week. We don’t do pork or beef.
- I tend to repeat our favourites once or twice a month.
- We almost always have raw fruit and vegetables on the table in addition to whatever is in the meal plan.
I’m going to try posting this on Thursdays, since most people seem to shop on the weekend, so you have it in time to do your meal planning.
And I’ll link to any recipes that are available online. If it comes from a cookbook, I don’t want to violate any copyright laws, but know that you can get just about any cookbook at the library, in Calgary at least.
One last final note: As always, none of my posts are sponsored! I’m 100% independent. I give some brands below if I think it will help you, but I’m not being compensated for that at all.
Without further ado, here goes…
Meal Plan starting June 16, 2018
(Meals are for dinner unless otherwise noted. Breakfast is usually leftovers from the weekend or some combination of oats, eggs, or peanut butter. Lunch is usually leftovers.)
Breakfast: Buttermilk Waffles (with white beans) – Spilling the Beans cookbook, Julie Van Rosendaal & Sue Duncan
Dinner: Salmon burgers (Trident, from Costco), roasted sweet potatoes, and Caesar salad
Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Lentils – Julie Van Rosendaal (You’ll notice I’m a big fan of Julie’s recipes… and baked oats mean we have breakfast ready to go on busy weekday mornings.)
Dinner: Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing – Ambitious Kitchen with grilled chicken (I often make a grainy/beany salad on summer Sundays so that we have something to grab for a quick lunch or side during the workweek.)
Catchall pasta with white beans (to use up veggies – shopping tomorrow)
Tuna/egg salad sandwiches (we’ll be at a school function, so hopefully it will be nice enough out to picnic)
Hurry-Up Fill-Me-Up Burritos — Dietitians of Canada or leftovers (I like to plan this dish late in the week because the ingredients come from the pantry or freezer, and if don’t end up making it they can wait until another time.)
* Mark Bittman’s Arugula Pasta Salad appeared in The New York Times — 101 Simple Salads for the Season. Rather than have you dig through that whole article, I’ll summarize here: “Mix lots of arugula with somewhat less cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan. The idea is an arugula salad with pasta, not a pasta salad with arugula.” I like to add lemon juice.
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