Menu planning is all the rage these days (did I just sound really old?). I’ve tried planning for a long time, but have usually still been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve found that, with me not getting home from work until after traditional dinner times and frequently not “having” enough time on the weekends to meal prep, I’ve gotten further and further off course. No more! I vow this day to get back to the straight and narrow as quickly as possible, or as soon as we get through the leftovers in the fridge and get caught up on dishes. But I digress!
I’ve mentioned before that we’re vegan. That kind of limits our meal options (at least for a not-very-skilled cook such as myself). I also found that dental issues from grinding/clenching my teeth my whole life are limiting. Also, (surprise!) having a seriously limited grocery budget is a hindrance. So that leaves…
I started by writing down a list of menu items I could make at least palatable and that my daughter, Kaida, would usually eat. This was not a huge list. I then divided that list over four weeks. I used an Excel spreadsheet. I planned out what type of bean, what flavor profile I was going for (different spices), what grain I wanted on the side, and what vegetable would accompany it. I used “The Great Vegan Bean Book” for recipe ideas for beans and “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook” for potato ideas, though you’ll notice that my potato dishes are not really that hard. *sigh*
At first, I alternated having a bean dish and a potato dish for dinner, but found that I just can’t devote the time to cooking potatoes when we get home, mostly because of the peeling. My solution was to plan all the bean dishes for dinners, since they can go in the crockpot, and to use potatoes or sweet potatoes for lunches. Breakfast alternates between cold cereal with almond milk and oatmeal. About every other week, we have pancakes on Sundays and Wednesdays. I make a large batch on Sunday and then we just warm up the leftovers on Wednesdays for a mid-week break from the monotony.
This schedule has been working better for me. Last week, I actually used the slow cooker twice! I know it’s not five days, but it’s better than none! My problem now is figuring out leftovers. I guess I could freeze all of the leftovers for now. I have days/meals scheduled to eat leftovers in my finalized schedule, but we’re not quite there yet. Bedtime is horrendous, but that’s another post. 😉
This week is week 3. Tonight’s dinner is schedule to be what I call “sweet beans.” It’s pinto beans with garlic powder, pepper, brown sugar, mustard powder, and a little maple syrup. Sometimes some chopped sweet onion, if I think of it. I may try it with a prepared mire poix just to see how it turns out. I think it’s similar to some baked bean recipes, but I just kind of throw things in there. The menu says I’m supposed to make applesauce biscuits to go with them, but I will probably be too lazy to make them. I’m supposed to be making them Sunday evening during food prep time, but it’s not Sunday anymore so we’ll probably just have a slice of wheat bread instead. Broccoli on the side.
Lunch for today is supposed to be mashed potatoes. Ugh. I like mashed potatoes; I just don’t like having to peel them. Okay, I admit I actually don’t like to spend time cooking. Ooh! Maybe I’ll cheat and use tater tots!
Tomorrow’s dinner is supposed to be black beans with carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower with curry seasoning with brown rice. I know chickpeas are more frequently used with curry, but we’re having homemade hummus tomorrow for lunch. I used it to make sandwiches on Tuesdays because I have to go to work earlier. Lunch is scheduled to use leftover veggies. We’ll see what’s still edible in the fridge while I try to get this schedule under control.
For reference purposes, the mashed potatoes I make are similar to the “Good Garlicky Mashed Potatoes” on page 138 of “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.”