I did a pretty good job of planning weekly menus, shopping and cooking accordingly last year. I tried a lot of new dishes; our kids took more risks and we found some new family favorites (like this go-to easy chicken pot pie that I make almost weekly).
I want to continue to expand our flavor and food horizons this year, and make a stronger lean toward meatless and fresh foods.
Towards that end, I’m starting a theme to help guide my menu planning.
Mondays will be meatless. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is easily accomplished in the mornings, since we never eat meat, but dinners get a little more difficult. I don’t think I’m going to take it too far (i.e. not cutting out broths or flavoring) but I won’t be cooking actual meat into the main or sides.
This week’s Monday menu: Homemade tomato soup (I’m using this recipe, minus the panini) with croutons and crusty grilled Havarti and sliced apple sandwiches.
Tuesday is often a crazy busy day for me, so I’m going to make it my slow-cooker day. For us, this might mean pot roast, carnitas for burritos, chunky beef ragu, chicken and stuffing rollups – anything. I want to explore more soups (and convince my 4 year old they’re worth exploring).
This week’s Tuesday menu: Creamy crockpot chicken tarragon – it’s both low fat, fast and easy. #Win
Wednesday, we’ll try healthy, simple meals starring a protein and veggie. I want to incorporate fish one day of each week – if we do that on Wednesday or Thursday will depend on my stepson’s schedule with us (he doesn’t care much for fish but we’re working on it!). I’m going to lean toward sweet potatoes, broccoli or green beans, but also try some new quinoa and cous cous side dish recipes I’ve been keeping on hand.
This week’s Wednesday menu: Tilapia (it’s on sale at Publix!), green beans and roasted sweet potatoes.
Thursday will be my “try something new” day – something I wouldn’t normally try. An outlandish recipe or my Pinterest of the week. Something ethnic or spicy or outside our comfort zone. Something like Zucchini Spaghetti with Creamy Lemon Chive Dressing, perhaps. Yum.
This week’s Thursday menu: I’m definitely going to try that Zucchini Spaghetti with Creamy Lemon Chive Dressing.
Fridays, we’ll be leaving to chance since they’re usually a “go out” night for us, or a meet up with family and friends night. Since I’m also starting a serious lose-ten-or-kill-me-now diet, I’m hoping this ends up being at home more than going out. But we’ll see – and I’ll be working hard to make good choices.
I’m also starting a few new family rules with regard to dinner: each child has one or two “replacement” meals they can select if they don’t like what’s being served – but they can’t request that meal until they’ve at least tasted (and honestly responded) what I’ve made. I don’t want to force them to eat something they don’t like, but they have to try it. We’ll call it the “no thank you” bite. Then, they can select their go-to replacement meal (maybe some oatmeal and yogurt for the 4 year old, or a grilled cheese and veggie for the 12 year old). No more fighting.
And lastly, we’re starting a potluck dinner club with themes with my group of friends. Perhaps it’s a “raw” night or maybe it’s vegan, or paleo, or soup, or Indian. Who knows. Whomever is hosting gets to choose the theme, and we all sign up for a dish. Don’t worry – I’ll be documenting each night along with successes and failures here.
So that’s my plan of attack for 2013 with regards to menu planning. I came home from Vermont renewed and ready to organize my life, my finances, my menus – even my closets. I’ve got lists upon lists and they’re ready to be tackled – and it’s a strange feeling of freedom to know that it’s will all happen now that it’s written down.
I love lists.
What’s on yours for the year?