This is the question almost everyone asks when they hear about the way I cook. How do you make a menu for a whole week? How do you know what you’re going to want to eat next weekend?
The easy answers are:
- I don’t know what I want to eat next weekend.
- I would like to go to my favorite restaurant for breakfast, have salad rolls for lunch, and maybe out for dinner somewhere new. Duh.
- The weekend shouldn’t be any different than the other days I menu for.
Of course, the weekend is different than other days. By my best guess, 90% of the times we eat out are on the weekend. Dishes that are only so-so (like, say, the super-salty ‘chicken’ salad we had this week) are harder to compliantly choke down because we’re not in as much of a hurry. On the weekend, neither of us is in a hurry- even if K works, she almost never has school obligations. Eating out so much would make both of us feel sick, plus- it’s not so hard for K to order gluten-free since she’ll eat some meat, but not so easy for me to avoid both meat and gluten. Without going to an actual vegan/ vegetarian restaurant, that is, which is spendy.
Mostly, I make a menu with a starting point. I ask K what she wants, I think about what I want, I try to make something different than the previous week (or, if it’s terrific or I immediately want to try a modification on a recipe, exactly what we had the previous week). Hopefully an in-season vegetable, but definitely a variety of vegetables. If I get to the grocery store and realize there aren’t enough in the dishes I menu-ed, I add affordable vegetables that go with what we’re having. Sometimes I start with a couple cookbooks, leaf through and look for new things to try. Recently I’ve been sampling recipes from various gluten-free cookbooks to decide which ones to purchase. I used a couple cookbooks as starting points this week. Occasionally I get a brilliant <hopefully> idea strikes and I decide to go with it- breakfast taquitos were one such idea. Dinner this week will be another example.
This week was a bigger challenge. Next weekend we’re going out of town Thursday night and coming back Sunday. We won’t get home any earlier than noon, which is frankly more optimistic than I’m inclined to be. Usually when we make this trip I take off the following Monday to get our kitchen back in order for the week, but I have a Monday-specific obligation at work that I spent half the summer shirking. I need to be there on Monday with the holidays creeping up so quickly.
In short, I’m trying something new. Instead of cooking only on Sunday, I’m cooking this evening and tomorrow to make two weeks of menus. The first week’s menu I’m making on Sunday, it will go straight in the fridge. I have a relatively inflexible policy of only keeping cooked food in the fridge for a week, so the second week’s menu will be dealt with both days but put straight into the freezer.
Don’t make that face, folks. People spend buckets of money on pre-cooked and frozen food. You might even know them as microwave dinners? You can even spend buckets of money to pre-cook and freeze your own meals of someone else’s recipes at those dinner-on-the-go kitchens. There’s nothing wrong with frozen food.
Breakfast- Taquitos, half an apple, half an orange
Lunch- Egggplant Lasagna out of a GF cookbook
Supper- Stir Fry out of another cookbook
Dinner- Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries. I’m going to wing the chili recipe and I’m operating under the assumption that making fries will be time-consuming but relatively simple.
Breakfast- Taquitos and fruit. I couldn’t think of anything else that we like and is easy to freeze.
Lunch- Eggplant Sandwiches with a small cup of tomato soup. The first time we had this, it was a hack of a sandwich we sell at work. I’m taking this one pretty far off the path though.
Supper- Hummus and carrot sticks. We still have hummus in the freezer from the wedding, so that should save me some time cooking. I even have a plan to speed up the carrot sticks.
Dinner- Repeating Sloppy Joes on Dinner Rolls
Wish me luck, folks!