Planning Dinners Has its Benefits

20 May

We went on a shopping trip to my new favorite market, North Park Produce, on Sunday.  I can’t believe I lived a little over a mile away from this place for three years before I realized that they were the pinnacle of ethnic food and cheap, fresh produce awesomeness.  For under $30, we got enough produce, plus rice, bread, carne asada, and pasta, to last us through the week (we had most of the meat already in the freezer).  While shopping, we decided to plan out our dinners (and, consequently, lunch leftovers) for the whole week, and so far we’ve really enjoyed knowing that we had all the ingedients to go in all the dishes we plan to make.  We haven’t officially assigned days to dishes – so our menu may shift – but even just the simple act of saying, “Okay, we’ll have Italian one day and Chinese another” was super-helpful.  We tend to buy whatever looks good and not think about a whole meal – and then we lack inspiration and don’t use up the food we’ve bought.  But we were super-excited to plan out our meals this way!  Our meal plan and purchases are listed below:

  • Monday: Poached Chicken with Soy-Ginger Glaze, served with jasmine rice ($1.29 a pound!), garlic-wilted bok choi, and snap peas with bell peppers and onions
  • Tuesday: Tequila-Lime Carne Asada burritos.  I made so many of the veggies that they didn’t fit in the pan with the meat – but that was okay, because there are leftovers for Saturday’s brunch!
  • Tonight: Italian sausage and white bean soup with homemade chicken broth (I unintentionally made chicken broth while poaching my chicken breasts on Monday night; there was a piece with skin and bones, two excellent components of a broth, and at one point the heat got too high and boiled…  When I removed the chicken from the pot, I realized that it was awfully chickeny, so I added some onion, carrot, and celery, and boiled it for another hour…  We had the sausage in the freezer and the white beans in the cupboard, so tonight’s meal is ready to go!).  I think I’m going to make homemade bread and salad on the side, since there aren’t many veggies in my version.  I’ll take pictures if I remember!
  • The other two choices:
    • Crab cakes with orzo and salad (I’ll try to post my crab cake recipe when I make them; we always buy crab when it’s on sale at the grocery store for under $10/pound and this is one of our favorite treats!)
    • Spaghetti with ground turkey sauce and salad
  • And then, of course, for Saturday brunch, last night’s leftovers will become either a Mexican omelette or a quiche.

It’s no huge feat, but for someone who likes to cook on a whim, it’s a pretty cool accomplishment.  And it’s actually a really nice feeling (I know, I know…  everyone’s been telling me for years!) to know that I’ve got dinner in the fridge and it’ll be a really fantastic, well-balanced meal.

We also got fruit – peaches, strawberries, and apples – to bring as accompaniments for our lunch-sized portions of leftovers.  I’ve been eating a peach-strawberry-blueberry salad topped with vanilla yogurt every day during lunch, and it’s just about the best thing since sliced bread.  Now to make plans for next week…


6 Responses to “Planning Dinners Has its Benefits”

  1. Emilia May 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    You are a sneaky devil! Thank you for the sweet comment. I didn’t realize someone from work read my not-so-anymore-secret blog so if anything (or anyone) sounds familiar don’t tell! 🙂

    • liska02 May 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

      Cross my heart and hope to die 😉

      I promise I’m not stalking you – I just think your wedding plans kick ass 😉

      • liska02 May 21, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

        BTW, I also wanted you to know I was replying not as a coworker but as someone who has SO been there before 😉

  2. Helena May 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    That’s awesome you planned the whole week. I do that way every weekend. I sit down and go thru cookbooks for inspiration, coupons I have on hand for deals, make a list and hit the store. I hate having to go more than once a week so this does this trick. It seems to be cheaper this way and we eat healthier.

    Your crabcakes sound yummy! If you like crab I have a wonderful recipe for crab based spring rolls that you might enjoy.

  3. liska02 May 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    This is, I think, the first time we’ve done it successfully. We did a sort of flexible plan – Italian one night, Mexican another, etc… – but we bought what we’d need for each dish and I LOVE it!

    Mmmm… Crab spring rolls sound sooooo good 🙂

  4. Helena May 22, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    I’ll type up the recipe (or maybe scan it) later this weekend when I have my recipes out. It’s kind of a lot of work, but totally worth it. They are delish!

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