Monday, January 11, 2016

the meal plan routine

Sooooo, I feel like I am due to write another post about how -- for the second and likely final time -- I quit eating paleo.  However, this is not that post.  Several of you asked about menu planning and go-to meals.

Readers from years back may remember that I like to cook.  In fact, I did a "cook-through" once, christened "Doin' Time with Martha", where I went through all of the recipes in Ms. Stewart's cookbook Great Food Fast.  It was fun and I would do it again.

But not now. 

I don't cook very much now.  I do miss it, actually, but there is not an easy or practical way to fit it in on weeknights right now, so I don't.  I have started to cook more for dinner parties or Sunday potlucks -- usually fitting this in during C's nap.

However, I still place a high value on healthy food made from good ingredients.  And I am (incredibly) lucky to have a nanny (G) who is not only willing to cook, but adventurous enough to make most of the recipes in Practical Paleo and Well Fed when I was heavily into the paleosphere last year.  

Despite the fact that I am not the one actually whipping up our family meals, I still do all of the planning.  Every Monday morning (usually my workout rest day, because it's sacred weekly planning time), I sit down and create a weekly list of meals & an accompanying grocery list.  G shops for us on Monday and does the cooking during the week, typically while C is napping.

This week (for example):

M - shrimp, green beans, plantains (kids fave)/sweet potatoes

T - taco soup (made with hominy & shredded chicken, topped with avocado) from Dinner: A Love Story cookbook.  Tortilla chips & salsa on the side.

W - leftovers

F - leftovers

Typical rules:
1. The kids eat what we eat.  No separate meals.  If Annabel really really doesn't like or want the meal, she can have carrots & hummus.  (Generally Cameron will eat almost anything if hungry, but A will flat-out refuse in certain circumstances.  Usually she is pretty good about eating what is served, though.)

2.  Leftovers are usually 2x/week - Wednesday & Friday.  

3.  Monday is usually a simple meal of fish or seafood, veg, and sweet potatoes or plantains.  Because I looooooove this meal, feel like it's healthy, and it's one less thing I have to come up with.   Although Cameron may or may not be allergic to some fish (but not salmon or shrimp.  Thank goodness!).

4.  One night I am going to aim to make vegetarian (yeah I know, 360-swivel from paleo.  Thank you Cowspiracy.)  

On the weekends, I don't meal plan.  We either eat leftovers or go out (sometimes date night) on Saturday, and Sunday is usually some kind of social occasion.  This used to mean takeout, but as C has gotten a bit older I'd like to do more cooking some weeks (although . . . takeout can be pretty great, too).

I get many of our recipes from magazines - Cooking Light, Real Simple, etc.  Or online, like the butternut mac 'n' cheese recipe from this week.  I have a few favorite cookbooks, but my collection is super small, particularly since I gave away several books in a fit of paleo pride last year (and also: Kon-Mari).  

Do you have a similar method?  Do you shop once per week, or more?  What is your favorite go-to meal, if you have one?  I feel like I can never have enough ideas in this realm . . .