Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm a Fan of the Meal Plan

If you're looking to simplify and de-stress your life, do yourself a favor:  

Become a fan of the Meal Plan.  

Meal Plans take the stress out of “what the heck am I making for dinner?!”, keeps the increasingly picky kiddos off my back and insures that my tight food budget stays in check.

Here’s what I do:

I develop a week’s worth of themed dinner such as Pasta Night, Rice & Veggie Night, etc. then get creative with those themes depending on what’s easily available, affordable and in season.

Here’s how that looks:

Monday – Pasta Night - Depending on the season this could be fusilli tossed with walnut pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, Mac 'n Cheese or the Easiest Baked Ziti ever. 

Tuesday – Quesadilla Night - Stuff ‘em full of seasonal veggies… Let the kids help!

Wednesday – Rice and Veggies - Again, use seasonal ingredients, but also experiment with different types of rice.  (Costco sells a wonderfully nutty organic brown rice that’s easy on the wallet.)

Thursday – "Brinner" (y’know, Breakfast for Dinner = Brinner!) - Try homemade blueberry pancakes and eggs; quiche; strata or a seasonal scramble.

Friday – Pizza Night– The possibilities are endless…   Pizza dough is ridiculously easy, cheap, and fun to make. 

Saturday – Leftovers - Time to eat down that fridge!

Sunday – Wildcard! – We sort of wing it on Sundays, often cooking a big dish that will make easily reheatable lunches all week long.  Try turkey enchiladas, a lovely batch of savory black beans or Crock Pot “Rotisserie” Chicken. 

You’ll need to start with a well-stocked pantry of go-to spices and seasonings (sea salt, cumin, garlic and such) plus keep plenty of non-perishable goods on hand. Pasta, rice, flour and tortillas are in expensive and easy to store.  (When I’m not making my own, I buy organic tortillas in bulk.  They freeze beautifully.)  It look me a few weeks to get the hang of developing a schedule, taking inventory of my pantry and creating meals with available eats but once I got the system down it makes meals (particularly dinners) so easy and stress-free.