This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve talked about meal planning here, but it’s an ever changing process for us that we tweak as we see fit in order to best serve our needs.
I personally love meal planning because it gets me excited for the week ahead and it’s a great opportunity to talk about any upcoming plans we may have. I find that I crave the meals we have plan and it definitely helps curb cravings for ordering out or eating junk. (Don’t worry, we’re not perfect and sometimes we’ll scrap plans and order take out curry, or Chinese, or pizza or something.) We usually try at least one new recipe a week in order to expand the arsenal from which we choose and that’s been a really fun aspect of it too. Luke doesn’t enjoy meal planning as much as I do, but he’s still game for it every week.
Every Sunday morning, we sit on the couch and meal plan for the week ahead. We began following a template for the week in early 2018 so we could more easily see how often we’re eating things like rice, pasta, bread, etc. and try to eat fewer carb-heavy meals each week. This year, we’re trying to eat less meat, so we’re alternating vegetarian salads on Tuesdays and vegetarian soups on Wednesdays. We’re not great at it, but a goal of two meatless dinners a week is pretty good for us.
After we’ve planned our meals, we’ll go grocery shopping for most or all of the ingredients. (Because the UK doesn’t have as many preservatives and other stuff in the foods, produce doesn’t last quite as long as it does in the US, so we might do a smaller trip later in the week for the rest of the vegetables.) The only downside is that we organise our shopping list by recipe instead of by location in the grocery store. I need to create a template for a shopping list that groups things by location.
Our two week rotation looks like this:
Monday: fish & vegetables
Wednesday: vegetarian soup or sandwiches
Saturday: grain bowl
Sunday: Luke’s choice
Monday: meat & vegetables
Tuesday: vegetarian salad
Wednesday: soup or sandwiches
Friday: courgetti (zoodles)
Sunday: Hannah’s choice
Last summer, we decided to expand our options for Wednesday because who wants to be eating hot soup on a warm summer evening? We also included courgettie (or zoodles, for us Americans) because we found we were eating it about every other week anyway.
So what kind of foods do we cook? (And yes, I do mean we. We split the cooking about 50/50. It might even be 60/40 with the scales tipped to Luke if I’m being honest.) Here’s what a typical two-week menu looks like for us.
SALMON, ASPARAGUS, & BROCCOLINI
We probably have this meal more often than anything else. The grocery store near our house as a great deal for packs of 2 salmon filets (3 for £10). It’s just too easy and too refreshing to resist. We cook the salmon at 200°C for about 20 minutes with lemon, salt, pepper, and sometimes dill. We do the vegetables on the stovetop with oil or butter, lemon, salt, and pepper. It’s great all year, but it’s also the perfect al fresco dinner in the summertime.
We used to have Buddha bowls a lot more frequently, but the truth is they can kind of be a big undertaking. However, the beauty is they can be whatever you want! We typically do it with quinoa or couscous, roasted chickpeas (love the crunch!), roasted veggies, spinach, avocado, and a poached egg. We’ve never added sauce because of the egg but I’m definitely curious about tahini dressing.
We love Linda McCartney’s veggie burgers. They’re seriously delish. When we’re trying to be good, we’ll cook some portobello mushrooms to use as buns too. It’s insanely messy, but insanely good. We might have it with slaw, corn on the cob, or a salad depending on the season.
Or zoodles for us Americans. Like I mentioned above, we found that we were eating courgetti about every other week anyway, so we decided to add it to balance out our pasta nights on the opposite weeks. We usually keep it simple with pesto and sausage, but we recently started making our own pesto. It’s easy. Blend 50g basil, 50g pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in a food processor for two servings.
Motomaki is one of my favourite restaurants in Boulder, but there’s nothing like it around here. It’s essentially Chipotle, but for sushi. You can get big rolls (wrapped in seaweed, not tortillas, don’t worry) or bowls. I always get the shrimp tempura and add sushi salmon and we’ve tried to recreate it a couple of times. We can get frozen shrimp tempura at the grocery store and now our store has a sushi bar that has salmon & tuna sashimi. You need rice, tempura asparagus (we make our own), slaw mix, cucumber, and mashed avocado. Add the shrimp tempura, diced salmon, and finely chopped tuna. Top with sriracha aioli and soy sauce.
Photos from the source recipes or of similar meals found via Google.