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Sunday, January 13, 2013

My weekly menu plan -- it's definitely January here

Menu planning -- dull, huh? "Not so," says the one who couldn't drag herself to do this for literally years!!! The week was most definitely made easier by having my meals all figured out in advance. Busy days call for a plan of action.

We are in the midst of a freeze, here in the Pacific Northwest of the US. That means the outside garden is on a break, and my "garden" produce is coming from my indoor light garden. It's just a small patch of baby salad greens. But a wonderful treat once a week! I used the light garden lettuce this past week for the base of the avocado-citrus salad on Monday. It was delightfully fresh and made me think of spring.

How did the menu plan go? Well, for the most part, pretty well.

The thumbs up --
  • having the menu plan on creative savv meant that my kids could look up what we were having for dinner, without asking me
  • I could go online and quickly see what I needed to do for the next night's meal
  • it meant we were even more on top of using everything up, including working through the freezer stash. I went through the freezers, pulled out all the dinner leftovers for Saturday's dinner, and breakfast leftovers for this morning's breakfast. And I now know what we have, and what we're needing. (It was a bonus to discover I have several containers of pasta sauce still!)
  • it saved me the trouble of thinking what to have each night, and wondering if we had all the ingredients in stock
  • my kids' help Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday gave me a bit of extra time to take care of other matters
The thumbs down --
  • My one big glitch came on Thursday. I made an oversight. When planning that day's dinner, I totally forgot that I would be starting back to work this week, and Thursday is my day out of the house. My plan had me preparing 3 items for dinner, from scratch. I managed to get one item finished and another set up and ready for the oven, before I left for work. I gathered all my ingredients for the third and had them in one place.  Cooking that dish was made slightly easier by that bit of work in the morning. So, while it did work out, I was dead tired by the end of the day. I'll have to remember this for Thursdays.

This next week will be even busier, as I have a couple of afternoon appointments, along with work, volunteer work, dance classes, and driving the daughters to and from school every day. So most of my menu will be simpler items, though still scratch-cooked.

I'm still working from the freezer. I have 3 freezers here. I'm trying to empty one of them, so that it can be unplugged.

Shopping is minimal. We had a freeze this week, so kale and broccoli are gone for the time being from my menus. Frozen leafy greens will need to be purchased. I'm using fresh produce which is seasonal for winter -- cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, celery and mushrooms.

what I have ready and in the freezer: buns, cooked ham and turkey, pureed pumpkin and sweet potatoes

what I need to buy: soymilk or Lactaid, mushrooms, celery, frozen spinach

  • turkey-noodle casserole, with homemade mushroom/celery cream sauce, served with carrot-pineapple salad and pumpkin snack cake (pineapple in freezer, double snack cake recipe for Tuesday, make extra cream sauce for ham/spinach on Thursday, cook extra noodles, and toss w/ EVOO for Wednesday's pasta with marinara, save some shredded carrots for tossed salad on Tuesday)
Tuesday (daughter make plum-apple sauce)
  • French dip sandwiches on buns, tossed salad w/ shredded carrots, cabbage, and light garden lettuce, plum-apple sauce, leftover pumpkin snack cake (buns from freezer, snack cake leftover from Monday, save leftover beef for soup on Friday, make extra plum-apple sauce for Wednesday)
Wednesday (daughter chop celery, shallots and garlic)
  • pasta with marinara, marinated lentil salad with celery and dijon dressing, leftover plum-apple sauce (marinara in freezer, make extra salad for Saturday's dinner)
Thursday (son help chop carrots and onions)
  • ham and spinach in leftover cream sauce over toast, with roasted carrots and onions (take turkey breast out of freezer for Sunday) 
Friday (kids cook)
  • vegetable-beef soup, biscuits, brownies (for vegetables in the soup, use carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, canned tomatoes in freezer, spinach in freezer)
  • oven roasted potatoes, leftover lentil salad, fruit salad, leftover brownies
  • roast turkey breast, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato souffle, spinach


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Carol!
      What's on the menu at your place this week?

  2. Delicious meals. It's amazing what a filling meal you can make for a family when you use staples such as your lentil to save for the extras. I hear people all the time talk about how they can't afford to have better meals, and I want to suggest they try using dried beans rather than canned and so on to have the extra money, but I know they prefer the convenience of those convenience foods and won't try to make things from scratch.

    Hope your freeze ends soon. I live in Northwestern PA and it's currently 58 degrees outside! Yesterday was in the high 50s as well, while I was listening to announcers talk about it being 8 degrees in Denver. Crazy weather patterns are still with us this year.

    1. Hi Lois,
      Yes, dried beans have got to be one of the biggest bargains in the grocery world. Even though prices have risen for us on dried beans over the last couple of years, to about 70 or 80 cents per pound, on average, when cooked up, that per pound price drops to about 30 cents per pound rehydrated. Excellent price for protein.

      We're expected to stay below freezing overnight for the next week. Now the upside for us is, when it's cold like this here in winter, it's because the skies are clear! We have sun! It's been avery gray December and January to date, so this is a treat! So strange that it's warm in Penn. I would've thought you'd be under snow and very cold.

  3. Once again everything sounds delicious. Will you come live at my house?

  4. Your menu looks great and I love the little garden you are keeping going over winter :)

    1. Hi Economies,
      Thanks. My light garden keeps me hopeful that I'll be able to get outside again in a few months. But I do realize that it's primarily a "toy". I try to make it a productive toy. Next month I'll be starting many of our garden seeds under it. And I do save quite a lot over buying plants at the nursery, especially with tomato plants. And here I am, again, rationalizing my "toy". Oh well, everybody needs a toy now and then.

  5. Everything sounds great! I've never made lentil salad, but am off to search for a recipe.

    1. Hi Shara,
      the lentil salad is usually something I make in summer, but was looking for an easy, high protein, vegetarian dish to do for this week, so thought of it. Basically mine is cooked lentils and barley (about 2/3 lentils, 1/3 barley), marinated and chilled in a dijon vinaigrette, with minced shallots, chives or green onions, and some chopped salad vegetables, like celery. If you like tabouli, you may like this. It's along the same lines. It keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge, also. So I always make extra.


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