Aaaaand we're back! With the meal planning I mean. I love the bomb-in-the-meal-planning-schedule that the holidays bring, but I don't miss the gut-busting meals (okay, maybe I miss one or two of them) or wondering when the last time I ate a vegetable was. I don't know about you, but our holidays always seem to revolve around meat and cheese.
I am ready to get back to our normal way of eating with a special emphasis on following my 2009 intentions. I still want to make tasty, healthful meals for my family, but I also want to make sure our choices are just as budget-friendly as ever (without sacrificing my commitment to eat and shop local) and I want to try and reduce the amount of energy I use to prepare meals.
Speaking of which, did you know that replacing one meal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can save the world? Looks like this week marks the return of sandwich night. I knew there was a reason we used to do that.
Budgetwise, I got into the habit of keeping myself honest last year by sharing what I normally spend on groceries per week. I do this also to show that you can shop local without breaking the bank (mainly I need to show myself this). I would almost rather spend money on food than anything else because this is the fuel that is going into my children's bodies and I love to cook, but I can't realistically shop just at farmer's markets or even buy everything organic. I am thrilled, however, that my local Korean market has an ever expanding organic section so I can now find organic soy sauce, teas, rice, noodles, and sesame oil.
This week I spent $91 at my local natural foods store to get all the items for this week's meals plus the fruit (8 apples, 4 pears, a bunch of bananas) and yogurt that will get us through lunches and snacks this week. I didn't buy any meat because we have so much leftover in the freezer and I am making a conscious effort to reduce even our moderate meat consumption, but I did get beans, canned tomatoes, and bulk bin items like barley, polenta, and peas. Tea was half off so I got 3 boxes--we go through a lot of it. All four of us drink it. I also bought a bag of gingersnaps, a bottle of ketchup, a box of veggie burgers, and some ice cream sandwiches for dessert night (Friday nights).
As I type up this week's menu, I have Smitten Kitchen's Beef Barley and Leek soup simmering on the stove. Thanks to @posthipchick who Twittered about its deliciousness the other night, I have had practically nothing else on the brain since. I used about 2 pounds of leftover brisket instead of the shortribs (next time) and I used four gorgeous leeks instead of three and 1 onion instead of two. I don't have to defat the soup since I already defatted the brisket once it was cooked. I just checked on it and it's pretty thick already after an hour so if you like a brothier soup, I'd have a couple cups of broth in reserve to add as necessary. (I used Imagine Low Sodium Organic Beef Broth.) Can't wait to dive into this soup tonight!
Now that you know what we're having for dinner tonight, on to this week's menu!
- Monday--Smitten Kitchen's Beef, Leek, and Barley soup
- Tuesday--Baked potato bar (toppings: steamed broccoli, crispy bacon, plain yogurt, blue cheese)
- Wednesday Sandwich Night: Grilled salmon sandwiches with herby greens and dill dressing
- Thursday--C.O.R.N. (Clean Out Refrigerator Night) perhaps into a big, veg-ful taco salad? Yes, I think so.
- Friday--Date night
- Saturday--hoping for vegetarian Indian dosas with raita and sambal. At $5 a pop they are far better and just as cheap as "fast food." Dinner for four for about $20!
- Sunday--Leftover leg of lamb and creamy polenta, veg TBD pending Farmer's market trip
What are you cooking up this week, and has your menu planning been influenced by New Year's resolutions or intentions?