I wasn’t necessarily going to use this blog as a place to post things like meal plans, but I’ve heard some reactions to the confessions of geekdom with which I kicked off this whole project which lead me to believe that…somehow…possibly…further explanation might be useful to someone out there. The “plan for a month” philosophy can be pretty intimidating if it’s not something you’re used to doing, and I certainly didn’t always do it this way. Looking back to the beginning of my meal planning days, it appears that I started with two weeks at a time — in fact, in the back of my recipe binder, there’s a folded piece of notebook paper on which the dinners for the first two weeks of wedded bliss (post-honeymoon) for me and J. are written. But that was pre-kids, pre-demanding jobs, pre-hectic lives, and now two weeks goes by so quickly that I think if I had to write a meal plan every fourteen days I would literally hide under the dining room table (“Nooo…don’t want to do it again so soon…”).
There is a method to the madness, though I’ve been able to relax the “rules” a little over time. They are, after all, my own rules, and are therefore completely made up, so I don’t have to feel guilty about bending them when it suits me. But it is helpful, if you’re trying to organize yourself this way, to think of the June Cleaver model of meal planning: in June’s kitchen, Monday was probably Meatloaf Day, Tuesday Tuna Casserole, and so forth. Next week: Repeat. As I’ve already stated on this blog, I don’t often do repeats within the month, but I do apply the June Cleaver logic, which is to say that if I have a bit of a formula, life becomes easier.
In my world, the “formula” consists of the following:
1) Fridays are automatically assigned as “Fend” days — this means that it’s a day to go through the fridge, use up leftovers, and make something out of nothing. That way the fridge is cleared out for the weekend shopping and cooking.
2) Sundays are always something, well, Sunday-dinner-ish. In our house, it’s a bit of a culture war as to what that means, because my husband comes from an Italian family, and I claim New England Yankee roots. So we tend to alternate; some Sundays are dedicated to a slow-cooked homage to red sauce, and the rest of them generally beget a roasted dinner of some description.
3) At least once a week, I pull out the slow cooker.
4) Also once a week, we tend to make something of the sandwich/wrap/panini variety, with simple sides.
5) I try to go meatless 1-2 days a week, “try” being the operative word.
And with that, I unveil the following: 29 days of dinners for August. (I ran out of space on the paper at the 29th. And yes, I was too lazy to turn the page. Deal with it.)
Sunday, 8/1: Had big Italian family dinner yesterday at the in-laws’, so we went lighter this Sunday. Grilled maple-brined pork chops, wild rice salad with roasted carrots and pattypan squash (thanks, Zephyr Farm!), and cherry tomatoes dressed with olive oil and kosher salt.
Monday, 8/2: Homemade pizza night! We’ll do one margherita-style, and one “upscale” with prosciutto, zucchini, and caramelized onions.
Tuesday, 8/3: Slow cooker honey-mustard chicken with cous cous and broccoli
Wednesday, 8/4: Turkey tacos
Thursday, 8/5: Tuna-artichoke panini with fruit salad and fresh greens
Friday, 8/6: Fend!
Saturday, 8/7: Birthday dinner for J. and L. — veal parmigiana with spaghetti and salad
Sunday, 8/8: Parmesan salmon fingers with avocado dip, roasted potatoes, green beans
Monday, 8/9: Grilled chicken with blueberry-ginger chutney, cous cous, salad
Tuesday, 8/10: Slow cooker barbecued chuck roast with carrots and potatoes
Wednesday, 8/11: Stir-fry of leftover chicken and farmers’ market veggies over rice
Thursday, 8/12: BLTs, fruit salad, baked sweet potato fries
Friday, 8/13: Fend night!
Saturday, 8/14: Fish — I just go to the fish market and pick whatever’s freshest, then grill or bake with some nice vegetables.
Sunday, 8/15: Pork roast, potatoes, and farm vegetables
Monday, 8/16: “Hakuna Frittata” — a big baked omelet, filled with eggs, cheese, and whatever vegetables I have hanging around that I want to use. Usually served with salad, fruit, and bread.
Tuesday, 8/17: Turkey burgers, potato salad, zucchini and tomatoes
Wednesday, 8/18: Whole wheat spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce made in the slow cooker
Thursday, 8/19: Grilled flank steak, corn and tomato salad, mashed potatoes
Friday, 8/20 – Saturday, 8/21: Will have family in town, so we’ll wait and see!
Sunday, 8/22: Sunday Roast Chickens with herb butter, homemade stuffing, fresh vegetables from the farmers’ market
Monday, 8/23: Pasta with creamy mushroom sauce, salad
Tuesday, 8/24: Slow cooker meatballs for subs, fruit salad
Wednesday, 8/25: Skillet pork cutlets with red peppers and artichokes, gnocchi, greens
Thursday, 8/26: Grilled garlic-marinated chicken, cous cous, grilled vegetables
Friday, 8/27: Fend night!
Saturday, 8/28: Linguine with clams, bread, grilled vegetables over greens
Sunday, 8/29: Roast beef dinner with fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes
Now that I’ve written it all down for the world to see, I’m feeling self-conscious about it, but I’ll rely on feedback from you all to tell me whether it’s helpful to see it all laid out or not. My domestic soul is bared. Be kind.