May Meal Plan: Thanks, Backyardigans!

L. has recently begun asking — no, begging — me to make borscht.  No kidding.  His favorite television show, since as long as I can remember, has been “The Backyardigans;” for those unfamiliar with it, it’s actually a pretty watchable kids’ show about preschoolers who get together in the backyards of their homes and play make-believe.  At the end of each show, they finish by inviting one another to somebody’s house for a snack, which is usually related to the theme or imaginary location of the episode.  And it just so happens that there’s an episode set in Russia…and the characters talk about borscht and Chicken Kiev.

“Mommy, what’s Chicken Kiev?” L. first wanted to know.  Though I have never actually had Chicken Kiev myself, or at least not that I can recall, I did know enough to be able to tell him that it’s crunchy chicken with garlic butter and dill — this knowledge is based upon a recipe I once pondered in Saveur magazine.  Also, we eat enough things with dill in them that L. understands what dill is and knows that he likes it.

Armed with that information, he sagely nodded and said “That’s yummy, huh, Mom?  Now…what’s vorsch?”

It took a bit more decoding for me to understand the question, but once I realized he was asking about BORSCHT, I could easily explain about a soup made from beets (his new favorite vegetable).  That’s all it took.  For two weeks or more now, he’s been absolutely begging me to make a Russian Backyardigans dinner of Chicken Kiev and borscht so he can try these delicacies for himself.

Far be it from me to deny my kids any type of palate-expanding experience, no matter how weird I think it seems; so as I got thinking about where in this month’s meal plan the borscht was going to go, it occurred to me that the Backyardigans’ constant references to different foods and cultures could make for a pretty fun theme week.  L. and I decided that we’d have “Backyardigans Try-It Week” this month, with each dinner planned directly around foods mentioned in different episodes of the show.  He’s happy because he gets to eat like his television heroes; I’m happy because it gives me an excuse to freshen up our meal plan and make some different things.  We’ll see how it all goes down, but it should be a fun diversion from the usual.

Sunday, May 1: Sunday roast chicken dinner
Monday, May 2: DIY salad night (using leftover chicken)
Tuesday, May 3: Slow cooker — barbecued pork sandwiches, carrot salad, potato-green bean salad
Wednesday, May 4: Whole wheat pasta with sweet potatoes and red peppers, salad
Thursday, May 5: Cinco de Mayo celebration!  Grilled fish tacos with avocado cream, smoky black beans, and fruit salad
Friday, May 6: Fend night
Saturday, May 7: Grilled chicken sausages on buns, veggie chips
Sunday, May 8: J. has told me to abdicate responsibility for cooking on Mother’s Day, so I’m following instructions!
Monday, May 9: Backyardigans Week begins with Chicken Kiev and borscht! (Episode: “Catch that Train”)
Tuesday, May 10: Backyardigans samosas and lassis, served alongside a slow-cooker version of an Anatolian lentil stew I’m dying to try (Episodes: “Into the Deep” and “Elephant on the Run.”)
Wednesday, May 11: Assorted tea sandwiches and crumpets (Episodes: “High Tea” and “Break Out”)
Thursday, May 12: Balsamic sloppy joes and corn fritters (Episodes: “Garbage Trek” and “News Flash”)
Friday, May 13: Fend night
Saturday, May 14: Grilled chicken, salad, cous cous
Sunday, May 15: Eggplant parmigiana, greens, pasta
Monday, May 16: Turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, fruit
Tuesday, May 17: Slow cooker — Asian chicken lettuce wraps
Wednesday, May 18: Breakfast for dinner
Thursday, May 19: Lamb mini-meatballs, pita, greek salad and grilled vegetables
Friday, May 20: Fend night
Saturday, May 21: No-fuss chicken, yellow rice, assorted veggies
Sunday, May 22: Roast turkey breast, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables
Monday, May 23: Farfalle with creamy wild mushroom sauce, salad, fruit
Tuesday, May 24: Slow cooker — California chuck roast, cornbread
Wednesday, May 25: Grilled sandwich bar (we’ll use leftover meats and ingredients from the fridge to construct different sandwich combos)
Thursday, May 26: Homemade pizzas, salad
Friday, May 27: Fend Night
Saturday, May 28-Tuesday, May 31: We’ll be off for Memorial Day weekend, so I’m not planning dinners.  Some warm-weather holiday favorites that will probably show up on the table are cappellini salad with tomatoes, basil and capers; grilled pork tenderloin; flank steak; and my mom’s potato salad.

Spring is finally here!

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8 Responses to May Meal Plan: Thanks, Backyardigans!

  1. Claire says:

    Hi! I stumbled across your blog a few months ago looking for some meal planning inspiration, and feel like I’ve struck gold. It feels good to be out of the slump and cooking again. Thank you!

    I have a silly question – how do you write out your meal plan? Do you type it up in the format like you have it above and tape it to the fridge? Do you write it in its own calendar? Do you keep the paper it’s on or have a file on your computer? I want to switch from weekly plans to monthly plans, and am not sure the best way to organize myself. For my weekly plans I just divide a piece of printer paper into six boxes (I usually don’t cook on Saturdays).

    Also, I’m just curious…..you mention a lot about rehearsals and performances….Do you sing or play an instrument? I’m a musician mommy, too, so I always wonder. I am a freelance oboe player.

    • Hi Claire! Thanks for reading, and thanks for the kind words! I’m so glad reading my silly little blog has helped you.
      I actually write my meal plans, believe it or not, in spiral notebooks. I’m the kind of person who always has a spiral notebook handy, so it sort of developed over time as a habit that I could write ideas, recipes, etc. in the notebook of the moment and just keep the meal plan in there. I do keep them — I keep my old notebooks, at least for a period of time — and can refer back to them as needed; but having this blog really helps me out with the archiving!
      Organizing for the monthly plan is easy for me if I keep my calendar for the month right next to me as I work; the first thing I do is fill in the “known stuff,” like Friday Fend nights and Tuesday Slow Cooker nights. I then fill in any unusual events from the calendar that might change our usual dinner hour or my prep time, like a party or a performance. Even if I don’t immediately write what MEAL we’re having on those nights, just having the note there helps. From there I have method to the madness; Sundays are always either a roast dinner or an Italian-American traditional meal, for example. I’d really love to create a monthly meal planning guide/tool for people, though; even though I use a calendar and a spiral notebook, I know that’s not going to work for everyone.
      I AM a musician mommy! I do have a full-time job that pays the bills, as well as some contract work and side jobs that are not musical; but I also am a section leader for a very serious choral group. We sing with various symphonies, with performers like Dave Brubeck, etc., and lately it seems like I’m always out doing something singing-related at night!

      • Claire says:

        Very cool! I enjoy finding like-minded people. Thanks so much for writing back to me.

        I do the spiral notebook thing, too. I have books and books of old grocery lists. A few years ago we bought a gigundo pack of spiral notebooks at Costco and they’ve kind of multiplied and spread all over the whole house. I love finding old ones and seeing old lists and meal plans.

        Have a good week! I’m sure I’ll be checking in again soon. 🙂

      • I hope you do check in soon! It’s fun to see all the different people who are drawn to this blog. (And I think the spiral notebook thing is like a trademark of creative people. So many of the creative types I know have journals, notebooks, and other tangible paper writings…)

  2. Heather says:

    I’m stealing your menu for the month!

  3. Justin says:

    Too bad the show writers didn’t bother to do their homework. They would have found out that Chicken Kiev is an American-born dish and, if my memory serves me right, it wasn’t even invented by a Russian-American chef (sadly, I learned this by watching way too much of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats”). 🙂

    That aside, it’s wonderful to hear that a children’s television program is introducing new foods, customs, and ethnic traditions. I’m glad it got L asking questions and wanting to learn more and try new things. That’s the way those types of TV shows should be.

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