More SIMPLE BUT DELICIOUS meal planning thoughts

Here’s a quick one mid week (backdated to last week,) and I’ll give you a more substantial post on Friday… hopefully. 

I have lots of clients who really stress out about meal planning and shopping. I know I’ve posted about that before. But I think sometimes I make it sound harder than it is. Really, you have some starch in your house. Roasting and baking potatoes, regular and pearled couscous, fries, wild, arborio, spanish and jasmine rice, nice bread to grill, hot dog/sausage and sandwich rolls, baked and black beans, tortillas and a both short and long pastas are what we usually have on hand. You keep those in stock as your “par.” 

Then you think about how many days you want to cook, how many days you want to pull something out of the freezer, and how many days you want to do take out or eat leftovers. I generally figure look at the nights we will all be home and think about 7 dinners that need to happen.

  • 1. Right now, I’m doing 5 Guys one night a week while my wife works late and the kids have practice.

  • 2. We’ve got tons of Matzo Ball Soup in the Freezer. Add a roll and a salad/some veggies = a meal. Might be potato leek, chile, Fejoada, Kale soup, etc. 

  • 3 & 4. There’s always a pasta in here somewhere, maybe two. I’ve got several I rotate through. I’ve got pesto in the freeze, cacciatore, meatballs, amatriciana, and artichoke pasta when Michelle is out like this Friday. 

  • 5 & 6 are usually a piece of meat, a veggie, and one of those starches. I generally have chicken breast and thighs, sausages, pork tenderloins or chops, 80% lean burger, and eye round steak hanging out in the freezer.

  • 7. I consider fish an extravagance. So sometimes I consider it a “protein/veg/starch” meal. Sometimes I consider it a “special dinner.” I generally do one special dinner: Stroganoff, Stirfry, Roasted teriyaki drumstick, taco night, Gyro night, or something fancier from my culinary past

So, really the answer is to keep the shelf stable starches in the “larder.” To keep a variety of proteins in the freezer. Have some sauces canned or frozen… or have some family favorites that you buy. Same with hearty soups. (I don’t expect everyone to cook like me. A jar of Newman’s Own Marinara and some frozen organic meatballs is an easy dinner with stuff you have in the house that will never go bad!) Then you decide how many days you need veggies for and if you need something special for the one “interesting meal.” Do you need avocados for taco night or sour cream/ yogurt for stroganoff? 

No, this is not as novel and exciting as pulling out a “recipe” and cooking a different thing from scratch every night in order to satisfy your need for newness. But it will make your life damn easier and still give you and your family plenty of day to day variety if you mix and match the pieces. And as long as you keep your pars… it’s not that much planning. 

Guess this ended up not being so quick… oh well. Attached is my menu for the week. Not so complicated, is it? Mother’s day I usually do lobster for my wife. But this year I did lobster and bacon grilled cheeses and an assortment of other grilled cheeses for the rest of us non-lobster lovers. Everything else was pretty straight forward.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

Leave a Reply