Today I give you my thought process and tools I use for planning out meals for the week. Enjoy my incredible brain at work to feed me! Also, I included some pictures of the finished products.
Let me first explain, I meal plan for a period of about 11 days, or the typical time frame in between my visits to see my partner. Then, I also meal plan for the 3 days we are together in his town, since at the moment we do not live in the same city. Therefore, right before the weekend I visit him, I make sure to update the google document of my current food supply to be able to plan accurately while taking the train. This post features my meal planning for the 11 day period I am in my town, let me know in the comments if you want more information on how I handle the living/cooking in 2 separate cities situation.
I start with contemplating about what I have been craving and how that might align with the food I already have in stock. For instance, I bought tempeh on sale from Whole Foods with a $1 off coupon, which made it cheaper than the tempeh at Trader Joe’s! If I had been in the mood for a rueben, I could make a vegetarian rueben sandwich. My all time favorite way to eat tempeh!
Although, this week I am craving crab cakes and something from my happy hours with my Museum Studies cohort at Michigan. Sava’s had an incredible vegetable lasagna. Hands down the best lasagna I have ever eaten. I have some Italian cheeses (pecorino and mozzarella) and frozen cauliflower that I could use in a recipe I found recently that reminded me of this dish, so why not try to recreate it! Especially since I heard Sava’s took it off the menu. 😦 It is one reason I LOVE recreating things I had at restaurants, because then you can enjoy it whenever and wherever you are!
Since that is not enough servings for 11 days, I know I could either bump up the amount of ingredients to make a larger batch OR I could finally make the vegan crab cakes I had been eyeing for months. Not to mention I have a huge jar of artichoke hearts in the pantry, plus the celery and onions in stock.
Now, what about breakfast, snack and dinner. In the same document where I keep my current food supply listed, I also save ideas I have throughout any given week that involve items I own. Sometimes these are poorly thought through, but usually it helps me fill in the blanks.
Under breakfast suggestions, I saw something that could help me make a dent in the 15 lb. bag of gold potatoes I picked up at Costco, as well as, use up the hatch chili salsa leftover from a previous meal. So huevos salsa over spiced home fries it is. And the free range eggs I prefer are on sale at Whole Foods for cheaper than those at Trader Joe’s! As for a snack, I love to have fruit and I see Gala apples are on sale for 88¢/lb. I can have my beloved apple nachos with the cashew butter and cacao nibs I already have in my pantry.
Lastly, what to do for dinner. I want to eat down the some of the grains I have and items in my freezer. I also would love to try out a recipe from my new Soup & Bread cookbook that a friend highly recommended to me. So why not make the coconut lentil soup from the book to use up some red lentils. Then pair it up with the veggie burgers I have in the freezer. Also, I should finish up the pita bread I have so I could make veggie burger pita pockets! Ta Da! Done!
In the end I will only need to purchase the following (which cost me less than $30 for 2 weeks worth of meals):
- Gala apples ($6 for 1/2 peck organic, should last me more than 2 weeks)
- Swiss chard
- Slaw mix
- Sweet potatoes
I feel much of my creativity is really shown in my cooking. I love to take what I have and make something amazing out of it, even without a recipe specifically in mind. Yet trying recipes is how I understand how to combine flavors and the role each ingredient plays. My inventiveness in the kitchen keeps me within my budget and from contributing to the immense amount of food that is wasted in our country.
What works for your interests and needs when it comes to meal planning? Please share in the comments below!