Do You Create Meal Plans?
I need to start creating vegetarian meal plans for dinner. And because I'm married to Carnivorous Maximus, I need to plan for how adjust the dishes for him. I find myself way too often at 6:00 (that's p.m. not a.m.) wondering what I'll make for dinner. The result is often something thrown together that's not particularly healthy. Other times, my last minute dinner may be healthy, but not filling, leaving me to look for ice cream or cookies later at night. However, when I take the time to make a menu plan for the week, I'm almost always happy with the result. So why don't I do it more often?
Maybe I need a handy, cute tool to sketch it out so that it's fun. Or maybe it's as simple as creating a new habit. Whatever the reason, in the end, I put it off because it sounds so time consuming, and I have a bazillion other things I need to do first. This year, I want to come up with a system that works for me. A system that makes it easy and efficient, and one that might give you some ideas around your own meal planning. All of this is to say that this menu series that I'm rebooting will change through the year as my menu planning develops. And if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! It takes a village.
Meanwhile, here are some dishes I'm considering for next week, along with ideas of how to make them work for my husband, Carnivorous Maximus. I hope this motivates you to plan your week ahead too, and hope this helps you – especially if you eat with family members who prefer to keep meat on their plates. When we plan, we eat healthier, throw away less ruined food in the refrigerator, and enjoy cooking more. As I wrote in my cookbook, there are enough things to stress us out during the week. Making dinner shouldn't be one of them.
5 General Tips for Weekly Meal Planning
- Search through the refrigerator to see what should be used this week. This helps to better manage both the space in the refrigerator and your grocery budget.
- Look at your schedule. Do have some long workdays during the week where you need dinner to be uber-fast or on-the-run? Can you make something ahead over the weekend, if only a key ingredient to a recipe?
- What's in season? Fruits and vegetables are frequently more affordable when purchased in-season.
- Document the week of menus and keep it handy. Create a shopping list from the menu.
- Always have a Plan B. You need a backup plan so that you're covered for life's surprises – for example an easy meal everyone loves that comes together quickly.
Note: Check out this link for more meal planning tips, and go to this link for 4 common mistakes we all make in meal planning.
M O N D A Y
Swiss Chard Gratin with Quinoa
by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Prep Ahead: Roast the tomatoes and make the topping over the weekend when there's more time. Or make the entire dish ahead on Sunday, and just re-warm it Monday night for dinner.
Omnivore Tip: Separate the casserole into 2 baking dishes, and stir bite-sized chunks of roasted chicken into one. If you want to bake just one casserole, serve roasted chicken on the side. I cheat and buy pre-roasted chicken at the market to make it easy.
T U E S D A Y
White Bean Cabbage Potato Soup
by Vanilla and Bean
January is soup month. I use soup as a main dish for myself all year round, and this White Bean Cabbage Potato Soup is a perfect example. This Simple Lemony Romaine and Avocado Salad and these Citrus Ginger Roasted Carrots are on the menu too.
Prep Ahead: The entire soup can be easily made ahead on the weekend and just reheated for dinner.
Omnivore Tip: I plan to sauté up a couple of Andouille sausages for Carnivorous Maximus, and either slice them up and add them to the soup, or serve alongside with some spicy mustard.
W E D N E S D A Y
Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta and Olives
by Cookie + Kate
This Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta and Olives looks like an incredibly fresh, flexible salad. To lower the carbs, I plan to replace the orzo with cauliflower. It's an easy switch to make, and it keeps the flavor soul of the dish firmly in place. If there's soup left over from Tuesday night, I'll have the soup with this salad, or I'll pick up a baguette. Another soup I can this will it my favorite Butternut Squash Apple Cider Soup.
Omnivore Tip: Season skirt steak and either grill it, if you live where you can grill this time of year, or sauté it in a hot skillet. It cooks very quick, so don't let it cook too long. Slice it in thin strips across the grain, and toss into the omnivore's salad portion. A fish option is shrimp. Season and sauté shrimp and fold into the salad.
T H U R S D A Y (M E X I C A N N I G H T )
Cheesy Beans and Rice
by Damn Delicious
By the time I get to Thursday, I often want something quick and easy. This Cheesy Beans and Rice dish is perfect. It's also a good side dish for Carnivorous Maximus, although I'll substitute cauliflower for the rice to lower the carbs. To do this I'll toss florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Cumin powder is another option if you don't have any smoked paprika. I'll roast the florets at 400˚F, and add them to the dish with the rice, salsa, and cheese. If I have cherry tomatoes on hand, I'll roast them with the cauliflower, and I think tofu would be another great addition. All I need then is a big green salad with some pickled onion, and a lot of avocado slices.
Omnivore Tip: Carnitas is my first thought of course, or skirt steak left over from Wednesday night, or roasted chicken left over from Monday night.
F R I D A Y
Easy Brussels Sprouts Pita Pizzas with Optional Bacon
by Kitchen Treaty
Friday night is pizza night in a lot of homes, and we love pizza. I instantly fell in love with these Easy Brussels Sprouts Pita Pizzas because we both love Brussels sprouts. I'm using a lot of store-bought cauliflower pizzas where the dough is made of cauliflower, eggs, and mozzarella cheese, and will use that in place of the pita bread. Serve it with any leftover Orange Orzo Salad from Wednesday night. If that's gone, make this Crunchy Kale and Apple Salad with Peanut Dressing.
Omnivore Tip: Bacon, just as suggested by Kitchen Treaty.
If you make any of these dishes, I would love to see how it turns out for you!! Take a photo and put it up on Instagram – just don't forget to tag me @wimpyvegetarian.