Last week I got so busy that I didn’t make a menu plan for the week— I had to wing it! I felt very lost, but since I’m a creature of routine, I pretty much stuck with my regular breakfast routine and made use of what was in season from the garden and the CSA. This week I’m sort of combining Menu Plan Monday with a longer editorial, continuing my not-to-be abandoned series on the Baby Steps to Transitioning to Real Foods (If you missed the others, check out #1 and #2). Hang with me, it’s rather long, but the menu plan is at the end. Read the rest of this entry »
Soon after my full conversion to traditional food, I decided to get rid of my microwave for health reasons. There are conclusive studies showing the microwaves effect on food, but if nothing else I was eager to make some more space in my tiny kitchen for all of the real food cooking I was about to begin doing!. Read the rest of this entry »
Menu planning tip of the week: For simple and nourishing lunches, have on hand the ingredients for a “chef”s salad”. Over a bed of greens, chop fresh veggies that you have on hand. Top with lacto-fermented sauerkraut (that’ s the pink stuff in the picture above), shredded cheese of choice, and leftover meat (shredded roast beef, chicken, ham, or fish). This way, you can count on using up leftover meat and veggies in a creative, nourishing way!
Menu tip of the week: Consider eating 2 vegetarian meals per week to give your body a chance to “rest” from meat digestion and to save a litte money! We regularly have Wednesdays and Fridays meat-free (in following our Orthodox Christian tradition). Challenge yourself by making a tasty “rice and bean” meal each week….these are very thrifty and nourishing when properly prepared!
It’s that time of the week again. I’m going to miss my weekly CSA bag….our last bundle of goodness was delivered last Thursday, so I’ll savor all of its bounty while I have it. Fortunately, the weather here in Oregon has been so lovely that the farmer’s market Saturday was still boasting locally-grown produce in all shapes and sizes. I’m hoping the harvest will hold out for another couple of weeks!
Kirsten, by the way, is doing well. While I don’t want to overdo them, I am allowing some more fruit to her diet (Wednesday morning) as well as millet (which Donna Gates of Body Ecology says is okay for a candida diet, as long as it comprises only 20% of the meal and is only combined with non-starchy vegetables)
B: turkey-sausage omlette
L: veggie saute (zucchini, carrots, onions, etc.) w/ millet
D: sicilian salsa (crockpot) over spaghetti squash
B: strawberry-kefir smoothies w/ coconut muffins
L: leftover baked potatoes with “the works” (kraut, butter, avocado, cheese)
D: taco meat w/ hidden veggies (crockpot) topped with salsa and guacamole
Make fish broth using bonito flakes and kelp, defrost lamb
B: apples sauteed in butter w/ cinnamon
L: miso soup w/ seaweed & veggies
D: pad thai w/ kelp noodles
Marinate lamb, bake butternut squash
B: veggie egg scramble
L: tuna nori roll-ups
D: morrocan lamb (crock-pot)
steam cauliflower, defrost roe
B: pumpkin pudding
L: sauteed fish roe topped with cauliflower sauce
D: tabouli-millet patties (from Betty Crocker!) w/ fresh veggies
B: kids out with dad, me @ women’s retreat
L: leftover morrocan lamb
D: hot dogs, veggie saute, sauerkraut
D: millet topped w/ curried squash sauce
This post is a follow-up to the overwhelming response I received for my Menu Planning Tool. I realized that it wouldn’t hurt to outline my simple steps at Menu Planning for those of you who are interested in getting started.
For those of you who received my documents, you’ll notice that there are four main components:
1) Inventory of what you have
2) Menu Plan based on what you have*
3) Shopping List based on your meal plan*
4) Archive of your favorite recipes as you go, and keep a record of the meal plans
*If possible, try to print these front to back!
Here are the steps I use when meal-planning:
1) Carve out time on Saturday or Sunday. I try to have my meal plan completed by Sunday. Give yourself time and space to quietly and peacefully pour over your cookbooks, surf the internet, and go through your fridge and freezer. Pour yourself a cup of tea, play your favorite “relaxing” CD, and begin the process.
2) Take inventory of what you have. Knowing what is in your fridge is crucial. What leftovers can be “made over”? What produce needs to be used? What other perishables can be utilized? Remember: The key to being a Thrifty Oreganic is to “Use what you have, and buy what you’ll use”.
Use the menu planning worksheet to list out all that you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. It might be helpful to keep an ongoing inventory on an eraseable white board on your fridge/freezer, as well as on the inside door to your pantry. That way you can see what items you really are using, and what’s just festering!
3) Plan meals based on what you have. This involves some research, perhaps, if you want or need to be creative. Consult your favorite cookbooks, or do internet searches for recipes that utilize the foods that you have. For example, if you have a surplus of green beans and tomatoes, you might google “Green Bean and Tomato recipes” to find some new and innovative ways to serve these.
Tip: For breakfasts, I have a “standing menu” that basically doesn’t change much from week to week (except for now that we’re on Gaps, things are a little bit different). For example, make every Monday scrambled egg day, Tuesday can be a smoothie day, etc.
Tip: Lunches can be simple: Leftovers are the most obvious thing to do, but you can also do simple “finger food lunches” like sliced veggies, cheese cubes, salami and crispy nuts. These are especially easy to pack and eat at school or work.
Tip: I usually plan my dinners based on which type of meat or poultry I’m going to roast. If it’s a “Chicken Week”, I’ll roast a chicken on Monday and use the leftovers in a curry or in enchiladas or soup. I always have plenty of leftovers to make a couple more meals. If it’s a beef week, I’ll roast a beef cut and use the leftovers in shepherd’s pie or sandwhiches. The possibilities are endless! Too often, money is wasted when leftovers rot in our fridges!
4) Make your shopping list based on what you are cooking this week: Don’t get sidetracked by the fancy displays in the supermarket: Buy what’s on your list because you know you’re going to utilize it! Notice that the shopping list tool I offer is separated by category. It’s helpful and efficient (not to mention healthier!) to “shop the perimeter” of the grocery store. My shopping list is grouped according to the perimeter of the typical grocery store, emphasizing fresh produce, meat, seafood, and dairy. Packaged/boxed food should be kept to a minimum as it is more expensive and less healthy.
5) Archive! I suggest you keep a binder of all of your weekly menus. As you go through several months/seasons of meal planning, you can look back and more easily plan your menus based on what worked in the past for your family. Also, keep a running list (on the worksheet provided) of your favorite recipes, along with page references and notes. Keep this at the front of your menu-planning binder so that when you’re having “menu-planner’s block” you can look at what you’ve enjoyed as a family.
6) One last thing: Keep it simple! If cooking isn’t your favorite thing to do, look for simple recipes t hat focus on quality meats or seafood, whole grain pilafs, and a side vegetable. Slow-cookers are also a life-saver. Soups are deliciously satisfying in the winter time. Start simple, and work your way into more “gourmet” faire.
For an archive of my past menu-plans, you can go here. To receive my menu-planning tools, or to give feedback on the effectiveness of these tools, please feel free to contact me.
Plan your menus based on what you already have in your pantry:
Plan your menus, but don’t be extravagant! Use what you have. I find the biggest waste of money is when I search high and low for exotic or rare (or out of season) ingredients to try to make something that sounds good to me. I end up wasting time, gas, and money on these ingredients only to use half the package and have the other half rotting in my fridge. Sound familiar??? I’ve since tried the principle of using what I have. What a concept! I use what I have, and I buy what I know I’ll use.
Here’s are my top 10 “staples” of what I always have on hand, no matter what:
1) Organic whole grain oats
Good for a hearty breakfast when soaked overnight in whey or yogurt water.
2) Raw Milk
I use this to make my cream cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, kefir
3) Eggs from pastured chickens
Breakfast of champions!
4) Ground beef from grass-fed cows
Always good for dinner, mixed with assorted spices to make tacos, curry, burgers, etc.
5) Tomato paste
Essential for making from-scratch sauces such as spaghetti sauce and enchilada sauce (note: read the ingredients for “tomato sauce” at the store; it’s not a whole food!)
6) Stock essientials: (Chicken necks, feet, Onions, Celery, Carrots)
I have stock simmering on my stove about 6 out of the 7 days of the week. Essential for sauces, soups, cooking rice, etc.
7) Seasonal Organic Vegetables
The perfect side dish, steamed with a little butter
8) Kerrygold Irish Butter
Made with milk from grassfed cows.
9) An arsenal of spices
A penny’s worth gives a mouthful of flavor, and for mere dollars you can have a collection that will take you South of the Border or to India within seconds!
For making “Crispy Almonds”, the best snack on the planet!
As you can see, some of my essentials are very cheap, and others are a little more spendy. All in all, I believe that by consolidating and purchasing whole foods that can be made into a variety of other things, I am stretching my “oreganic dollar” farther.
Please comment: What are your top ten “essentials?”
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