Monday, June 17, 2013

Meal Plan Update

 Master sheet with drop down menu
Final shopping list with the selected meals + standard list
Printed shopping list
I'm so happy that my initial enthusiasm about our new format for meal planning still stands! We've been using the new approach consistently for two months.
On Sunday afternoon, Henry and I open up the Excel document and click on the five meals we want to eat that week. We also click on our "Standard List." Excel then spits out our shopping list for the week (organized by section of the grocery store). We print and we're on our way to the grocery store!
When I explained the system to my neighbor, she said that when she was growing up, her family ate the same five meals every week. While I absolutely understand the drive to make things as easy as possible, I also don't want to drag my family into a rut. That's why the trick to our new meal planning system is going to be pushing ourselves to add new recipes from time to time so our repertoire is broad and interesting. It's easier said than done because a) we are lazy cooks who want a meal to take 30 minutes from start to finish b) we are cheap cooks who don't want to spend much money on a ton of ingredients c) we are vegetarian d) Matt has a gluten allergy and e) we are kind of snobby about ingredients and don't like to take too many shortcuts by starting with processed foods.
Anyway, I'm declaring my intention here so I make it a habit: I need to regularly try out new recipes to identify more candidates for our repertoire. A concrete next step would be to add a food blog to my reader. Any ideas for fast, fresh, vegetarian recipes?
In the meantime, I'll share a recipe we added to our repertoire: fried rice. (I apologize if I've already shared this!) We don't use celery, carrots, or peas, but we add shredded cabbage, another egg, and edamame. We also use brown rice instead of white. It's delicious! It's even better the next day...
For those of you who are interested, you can download our meal planning template here. The actual content won't be particularly useful because the ingredient lists are based on the recipes we have in our binder, but the formatting might come in handy.

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E. said...

After your post, I actually started something similar - not as fancy, but a master plan google doc with all of our standard recipes and at the top it has the meal plan for the week. I cut and paste from the standards or try something new. I try to try no more than 1-2 new recipes a week, because otherwise it is overwhelming. Perhaps you could set aside one of your typical "going out" nights to try a more complicated recipe and see whether you want to add it to your repertoire? There are certain recipes that once I have the hang of them, don't take that long, and there are some recipes that are a nightmare start-to-finish and I make once a year.

She doesn't post a lot anymore but the crockpot recipes on are all gluten free and some of them are vegetarian. You should at least paw through the archives and see what you can find that might work for you.

Hannah Murray said...

Would love to hear more of your recipes! We have similar limitations at our house and are always looking for more ideas :-)

LauraH said...

ooooh, try Cate's World Kitchen. She used to post a lot of desserts but has more dinner food now. She's vegetarian and her husband is now vegan so lots of good ideas. I also recommend checking out Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison -- it's like the bible of vegetarian cooking! The veggie section of that book is split up by veggie so if you find a veggie on sale or at the farmer's market you can get good ideas for how to cook it!
I also love love love the Moosewood cookbooks, esp Cooking for health ( There are TONS of great recipes and I've found they use pretty easy-to-find ingredients. Hope this helps! :)

Jennie said...

I am in love with a recipe for 'Mexican Pizza' (I think it's a Trader Joe's recipe? Not sure - found it on Pinterest!). I use a pie plate or casserole dish, coat it lightly with oil, put down a tortilla, spread on some refried beans and then another source of protein on top (with some 'taco' seasoning - or just chili powder and cayenne). We use meat, but you could probably do it with black beans or tofu. Then top with another tortilla, cover with some salsa, whatever veggies you want and a little cheese and put in the oven until it's warmed through. You can have sour cream and/or guacamole on the side too. So delicous and super, super quick and easy!

KT My Lady said...

Oh. My. Goodness! This is PERFECT for my husband and me. We are list makers to the max, but have never made anything quite like this. I've downloaded the template and can't wait to try this out!

Sarah said...

I enjoy the food blog '101 cookbooks', it's veggie stuff and all the recipes I've tried from there have been good.

Thanks for sharing the spreadsheet (I love a good spreadsheet ;) )

mamaschlick said...

try (she lives in texas)--super healthy and delicious. Also, believe it or not, Martha Stewart has lots of fast dishes. I am an avid cook and every single thing I've made of hers was a hit, like pasta with butternut (winter) squash. We actually love it more than mac n cheese--so creamy!

Anonymous said...
Wonderful vegetarian friendly blog!!

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