Every weekend, we sit around and plot our meals for the week. Generally one trip to the grocery store follows the meal planning and we rarely stray from the plan. We may not get around to cooking everything we planned to cook but we don’t usually decide to make something completely different once the shopping is done.
Despite having done this for about 2 years, planning meals for the entire week is a challenge for me. I used to be the type that would make a zillion trips to the store and would decide what I wanted to cook on a complete whim. This ended up costing a lot of money and I wasted a lot of food. I also worked in a restaurant for a long time and quite honestly didn’t have to cook that many real dinners. I pretty much never had to think about what to eat for lunch since the restaurant fed me. In addition, I detested leftovers and rarely wanted to make something that would last for several meals.
Fast forward to now and life is pretty different. Instead of working 4+ nights a week, I’m home every night and need to have something to eat for dinner just about every night. I also take lunch with me to work most of the time. When we plan our meals for the week, we think about what we want to eat for lunch and dinner for a full week. To make decision making a little easier, we keep a list of all of the meals I’ve cooked that we liked enough to eat again. We also have to think about leftovers. It’s rare that I don’t cook something with the intention of eating it again at least once. All this planning is not an easy task. For me, it takes a little bit of the fun out of cooking. I liked the old way…where I would wake up and decide what I felt like cooking. Fortunately I still get to bake on a whim as we don’t plan desserts or baked goods in advance and I keep enough supplies in the house to bake nearly anything we might crave.
So…here’s what we’ve planned to eat this week. Pretty much everything on the list will be eaten more than once.
Pork Fried Rice – I use a variation of the recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I’ve made this enough times that I don’t actually need the cookbook anymore. This is great reheated in the microwave and even better if you fry it a second time. Also, my version is made with brown rice.
Potato Leek Soup – I like mine pureed and topped with cheese and chives. The topping is not necessarily traditional but it’s delicious. The version I’ll make is from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
Shrimp Cakes with Tartar Sauce – Like crab cakes…but with shrimp. I found a great recipe online last year at Je Mange la Ville and this will be the recipe I use again this week.
Turkey and Muenster Cheese Sandwiches on Homemade Oatmeal Wheat Bread – I could eat turkey sandwiches every day so they’re a common item when we plan meals. The bread recipe is slightly adapted from one found in the February 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living. It’s great tasting and doesn’t get stale as fast as a lot of the homemade breads I’ve made.
If all of the food above doesn’t last until Saturday, we’ll have baked potatoes or eggs or vegetables or even a bowl of cereal. We probably won’t have to resort to any of these as I usually make more than enough food.
And then there’s dessert. I don’t have anything planned for later in the week but I did already bake a batch of dark chocolate oatmeal cookies – minus the oatmeal and white chocolate chips in the recipe. Instead I used toffee bits and peanut butter chips. Still very delicious…so much so that they won’t last all week. By Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll need to dream up something else.
P.S. Let me know if you want to stop by for dinner…we’ve usually got plenty of food!