I hope all of you affected by this weekend’s blizzard are safe and sound. Wishing you a speedy comeback!
In this week’s dinner planner, I wanted to share how I go about choosing recipes for my family’s meal plan.
- Every Monday I choose a vegetarian meal for “Meatless Monday.” But I always have at least one, if not two, more meatless meals during the week. I will then choose 2 poultry, 1-2 fish and 1 red meat option, although I may only have 3 beef dinners over the course of 4 weeks. Cattle production, even grass-fed, is disastrous to the environment.
- Then I check my calendar for the week and look to see who is home for dinner each night and how busy I am each day. For example, if my husband and I are out and the kids are home, I will choose one of the kids’ favorite dinners that I don’t personally love. Or I might see that I am teaching a night class and I need a slow cooker meal that night or something that can be prepared ahead, like a casserole, that my family can easily pop in the oven.
- I also look in the refrigerator and freezer to check the inventory and try to incorporate any perishable ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, quickly so they don’t go to waste.
- You can also arrange the meals to use more perishable ingredients earlier in the week, such as fresh fish or berries. I find this strategy to be more relevant in the summer months or when the produce is more delicate. Winter fruit and veggies are quite hardy!
Taking a look at this week’s suggestions, check the refrigerator for veggies for the shrimp dish on Tuesday and Thursday’s meal since those are flexible. I am also using frozen fish right now since fresh wild fish is not in season. Vital Choice is a great, high quality option for wild halibut and salmon. The best value is the “5 lb Bulk Pack of Random-Size Portions” boxes of wild halibut. I wanted to also note that I do eat as seasonally as possible. There have been a lot of cruciferous vegetables and winter squash on the menu lately. This will continue until early March when we will see English peas, sugar snap peas, leeks and asparagus come back into season. But no tomatoes or cucumbers in the salads until June!
Monday: vegan mac and cheese (I use spelt macaroni, but use gluten-free pasta if you need to. I also use butter, but Earth Balance or avocado oil will make this vegan), roasted kalettes or Brussels sprouts (400 degrees with olive oil or coconut oil, salt and pepper until tender)
Tuesday: shrimp and mixed veggies with coconut-basil sauce, brown rice (I might use cauliflower, shiitakes, bok choy and carrots — you can also make this without shrimp and just add some seared, cubed tofu instead.)
Wednesday: tasty turkey burgers (or grass-fed beef burgers) with sautéed onions, sprouted grain buns or lettuce leaves, oven French fries or sweet potato fries, kale salad (I’ll probably add red cabbage and dried cranberries.)
Thursday: homemade teriyaki* chicken with brown rice (or cauli-rice) and veggies (I will probably use broccoli, carrots and green cabbage.)
Sunday: slow cooker vegan sweet potato and black bean chili, green salad with radishes, red cabbage and carrots with Everyday Salad Dressing #2
*I haven’t posted my teriyaki recipe, but basically I use 1/4 cup mirin, 1/4 cup soy sauce/shoyu, 1/4 cup sake and 2 Tbs. maple syrup + a little water if the shoyu is rich. I simmer it all until it thickens up a little. Sear boneless, skinless thighs on both sides in a skillet, pour a little sauce on top and bake in a 400 degree oven until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Then I use a little of the reserved sauce to drizzle over the veggies. This isn’t a thick sauce, so if you want it thicker, dissolve 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch in 1 Tablespoon of water and add that to the simmering sauce. Let me know if you have questions about this. You can always use your favorite, additive-free teriyaki sauce instead of making your own, but there aren’t many good ones out there!
Prep ahead Strategy (obviously you can make everything ahead and reheat it, but it’s better if you can prep ahead and cook day of)
Sunday prep day:
You can actually make the mac and cheese up to the point of baking and refrigerate it. Bake the next day.
Prep kalettes/Brussels sprouts (wash, dry and trim — store in a bag or container)
Prep veggies for shrimp dish
Wash, dry, de-stem and chop kale for salad
Make dressing for kale salad
Make stock for beef stew all day — refrigerate overnight and freeze until Friday. Defrost overnight.
Make teriyaki sauce and refrigerate
Soak brown rice all day (maybe make extra to have on Thursday)
Make salad dressing for Sunday
Wash and dry greens for Sunday
Previous Dinner Planners: