As you folks can tell by the (in)frequency of my posts, I’m a busy girl. In any given week, there’s my normal-person, full-time job and commute time, the care of a home, garden, yard and animals, keeping the ol’ marriage good and healthy, volunteer work I do helping a fabulous local farming organization, and the practicum for my work as a student doula. Throw in family happenings, along with the unpredictability of life, and like I said above, my plate runneth over.
Sure, many people are a lot more busy with activities much less pleasant and happy, and I am grateful for my life. The point is: with a full schedule, planning is important, and being the food lover I am, meal planning is extra important. For if I don’t engage weekly in that most beloved of tasks, our favorite Mexican joint, Torta-landia, provides dinner. As much as I want to help the owner, Kyle, send his kids to college eventually, there are only so many blood orange braised beef empanadas allowed in the budget.
Some folks don’t meal plan, if I can use the phrase as a verb, and that’s fantastic. It doesn’t work so well for my family. Some folks plan for a month of meals at a time and then do the Costco thing. Also fantastic, but just not for me. There’s a lot of whim and last-minute additions in my cooking, and if I had a free day every day, I’d probably walk to the nearest market and grab whatever I felt like for that day’s meals. Ahh, the dream. What I’ve found works well is a balance of the two – I do a monthly staple shop at the food co-op’s bulk bins (plus cheap, South American table wine and Kerrygold butter at Trader Joe’s). Then on weekends, I assess the produce in the garden and pick up whatever looks great at the farmers market, then come home, plan the work week’s worth of meals around my fresh veggies, and shop for any fringe items I’ve missed. It’s a little less streamlined and a little more time-consuming, but I enjoy it. Following is this week’s dinner menu. Admittedly, it is quite salad-heavy.
Monday: Red cabbage Caesar slaw with mini cheeseburgers. This red cabbage slaw is eaten often in our kitchen, front yard, dining table, etc., and the ingredients are taken fairly directly from Molly Wizenburg’s recipe for “Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper.” It’s a combination of shredded red cabbage, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and parm. You can find the recipe in her book A Homemade Life, one of my favorite storybooks/cookbooks. I am going to pair it this week with bite-sized cheeseburger patties made from grassfed beef, topped with raw white cheddar, and pan-fried. They’ll be adorable.
Tuesday: Sauteed turnips and greens with roasted chicken. I got the turnips from a farmer friend today, and even though it’s going to be hot this week, we’re going to eat a hot meal because a) I don’t have a lot of experience with turnips and I found a lovely recipe in my Brassicas cookbook, and b) I try to roast a chicken weekly. A whole chicken is a phenomenal purchase for the omnivore’s household. It provides several meals: the initial roasted bird meal with whatever fixings you prefer, chicken sandwiches for lunch the next day, tacos, a stir-fry or a casserole, and broth from the carcass. Beautifully sustainable and delicious.
Wednesday: Tropical rice radish salad with chicken. Again, this one’s adapted from the Brassicas cookbook by Laura B. Russell. I can’t say enough good things about this cookbook. My good friend Kristen (of the blog Rose City Table – read it, you’ll love it) and I attended a book signing and cooking demo for this book, and had the opportunity to meet Laura and ask questions during the demo. Her recipes are all so fresh, and inventive without being weird. They’re naturally gluten-free, too, so if you’re into that, you’re all set. The salad I”m making includes brown rice, radishes, avocado, mango or pineapple, onion and cilantro – and I may throw in the above tomato and leftover roasted chicken for good measure and more protein.
Thursday: Savory carrot salad and grilled vegetables. Joe and I thinned out a bunch of carrots from the garden this weekend. It is also officially summer squash weather, which means almost all of the meals this week will include squash as a side. It’s a prolific plant, and we planted a ton, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The carrot salad recipe has been adapted from this recipe by my friend Lucy. One of the important adaptations is fresh basil instead of dried, and a TON of it. The salad is bright and fresh and colorful – a perfect use of the often-boring carrot.
Friday: Arugula and goat cheese salad with spiced nuts and bacon. And a lot of it.
And then the weekend.