We have been on a bit of a menu plan hiatus around here. There are a few different reasons for this.
1. I have found planning specific meals using specific ingredients along with our alternative diet to be quite expensive. I am making more use of the things we have on hand... potatoes, rice etc. Menu planning can be a great way to save money and an opportunity to waste less food. However, I often found myself trying many new recipes and having to buy many specific ingredients. Menu planning does not have to look like that though.
2. It is summer and we use our bbq a lot more, grabbing some meat at our local store down the road and pairing it with a green salad, or a salad containing whole grains and legumes.
3. I have just gotten out of the habit, I've been using recipes from the Whole Food course and don't have interesting menu links to pass along to you!
4. I cannot decide where to get my groceries. I need things from many different stores and I find it frustrating to make many stops with the girls. For example, I love our local Co-op, but they don't carry Coconut Milk, Udi bread, and some other products I buy often from the Superstore. I can get raw nuts and seeds easily at Aura (our local Health Food store), but I other foods are more expensive there. I still haven't quite found my groove in our weekly shopping. And I need to figure it out soon!
So the week passes and I realize that I haven't been to the grocery store and there is nothing for supper. A bit of a dilemma. I have cooked huge batches of chickpeas and black beans recently, so I will probably make something with those.
Some of my go-to summer meals are these:
1. Green salads. I try to keep a salad mix in the fridge so that it's easy and I'm not hand washing and drying lettuce for 15 minutes every meal. I like to add a few veggies (whatever is on hand), and seeds (raw pumpkin, sesame and hemp). Dressing.... I am still using store bought, but I dream of experimenting with homemade sometime soon. I did make a homemade Thousand Island dressing that was gluten and dairy free to go with my Aunt's lovely Nacho salad that is SO yummy. However, you just need those cheesy chips with that salad, it doesn't taste the same with plain corn chips. (Basically it is a green salad, cooked hamburg, kidney beans, Nacho chips and Thousand Island dressing... a very tasty "meal" salad.)
2. Whole Grain/Legume salads. I have a few favorites from my course that I tend to make again and again. I really need to go through the recipes again and find some new ones! My go-to favorites are: Warm Rosemary and Parmesan Chickpea Salad (minus the Parmesan), and Brown Rice Salad with Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette. I also have fallen in love with this Southwestern Pasta Salad with Black Beans and Avocado using brown rice pasta.
3. BBQ meat and potatoes. Both of my girls love with meat and potato meals. They are not keen on fancy salads, but give them steak, potatoes and carrot sticks and they are happy eaters. So I definitely include simple meals like this throughout the week.
4. Stir-Fry or Curry over rice. This is a "use up what you have in the fridge" meal for us. I keep curry paste on hand and add some coconut milk for sauce (canned coconut milk creates a thicker, sweeter and more coconut flavored sauce). Onions, finely chopped carrots, a little pork and two heads of broccoli were what we had recently. (I should mention, I need to find a gluten free stir-fry sauce, or make my own.)
5. Pizza. Although turning on the oven is not appealing in summer, we have been loving Bob's Red Mill pizza crust. (A friend reminded me that is is VERY sticky... add some extra rice flour or other gluten free flour mix to the table, pan and rolling pin. And roll right on the pan.) I didn't have pizza sauce last week so I blended two tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic power, and chickpeas to thicken the sauce. It was so tasty! We had tomatoes, fried onions, and yellow peppers for topping.
I have been all about the easy meals this summer. I am also hoping our CSA will contact me soon so we can start enjoying produce from a local farm! However, as my mind begins to think and plan for the fall, I know that menu planning will be a part of our lives again. My goal is plan more than a week at a time and include weekends as well. With homeschooling and other weekly activities I will need to find a routine that works, and that routine will include menu plans.
Need some menu planning inspiration? Check out Laura's blog!