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What's a typical week-long menu for you at home?

I have been doing great on two of my New Year's resolutions this year- to eat at home more and out less and to simplify things! When I am doing good about cooking on a regular basis, I tend to make a grocery list, usually over the weekend or at the beginning of the week, and get enough groceries for the whole week. Lately, I've been trying to have at least one meal or components of a meal that I've previously frozen or a meal made with things from the pantry. I always build in one day where we eat leftovers too, since we are normally not good about doing that. I've also been trying to be realistic and build in at least one or two days where we have the option to eat out, so I don't feel so guilty when/ if we do. I'm curious what others try to do to simplify their week and what a typical week-long menu would look like for you. Here is our menu for the week.

Sunday
- Black Bean, Corn, and Salsa Dip w/ chips
- Roasted Shrimp with Thousand Island Dressing
- Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts
- those lil' smokies with grape jelly/ chili sauce (I was curious, couldn't help myself!)
(Okay, this day was not so typical, although we do have appetizers for dinner every once and awhile. We don't usually watch the Super Bowl, but didn't want to get cheated on the Super Bowl food, so we did the appetizers and a movie!)

Monday
- leftovers

Tuesday
- Mushroom Soup
- Grilled Cheese
- Roasted Asparagus

Wednesday
- Honey and Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- Mushroom Ravioli (in the freezer)
- Veggie of some kind? (I might actually have to head to the store, because I think I only have frozen peas, and don't know if I can make those taste good enough to be a side by themselves!)

Thursday
- Hamburgers (in the freezer)
- Sweet Potato Fries

This is where I ended for the week, usually I would go a bit further, but I might try to make a pantry meal on Friday. I know we're eating out on Saturday!

So, tell me about your typical routine!

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  1. Katie Nell, I'd go nuts if I had to plan my meals for a whole week and shop for food only once weekly. Most of my meals are created only once I'm at the market/butcher/grocer, and a particular ingredient (or ingredients) pops out and talks to me. Unless I'm planning a dinner party, a holiday meal or decide to make a dish that requires advance preparation or lengthy cooking times, most of my meal prep is unplanned.

    5 Replies
    1. re: FlavoursGal

      I wish I could cook that way, but I just don't have the time to. I get home about 5:45 or 6 most nights, and my husband a little while after. I'm also a slow cook in general, so I need all the time I can get! Also, for me, the planning is half the fun! If I get to the store, and I had planned green beans, but the green beans don't look good that day, I just get something else. It's not a hard and fast plan- just a guideline!

      1. re: Katie Nell

        Admittedly, it's easier for me since I work from home, and my time is my own. When I did work a job with regular business hours, however, I just stopped at a butcher and/or supermarket on the way home and purchased easy-to-prepare poultry, meats and veg. We rarely ate before 7:00 at the earliest (and I had young kids at the time), but everyone became accustomed to the routine.

        1. re: FlavoursGal

          Yeah, I guess I've just found a method that works best for me. I get really frustrated and flustered at a busy grocery store after work... I just want to come home, relax, and know that I have the groceries there to make a good meal for that night.

        2. re: Katie Nell

          I hear you. I normally get home at 6:15 and now that it's tax season, I get home at 6:45...if I stop at the store on the way home, which is not on the way, it will be another half an hour at least...

        3. re: FlavoursGal

          We plan our menus weekly - I used to shop nearly daily and simply pick up whatever looked best. Now, I plan the menu a week out - this saves us quite a bit of money, as we can better balance days on which we use expensive vs inexpensive ingredients. Any fellow bean-lovers will know that inexpensive food can be sublime. Also, planning ahead a bit is just more practical with two young children

          But I still love to shop the market and cook with what's in season and what looks best. So we approach it this way: we hit the farmer's markets on Saturday or Sunday, and pick up whatever looks great. Then on Sunday night, we plan the week's menu, using all the ingredients we picked up at the market, and creating a shopping list for the rest. Tuesday is shopping day. Some things I'll pick up on the way home, for example tonight I picked up a whole fish I'm glad not to have had in the fridge since Monday! But it's just a few things and I'm on foot, so it's no big hassle.

          Sample menu? This week...

          Tuesday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots
          Wednesday: Butternut sqash risotto, chicory salad
          Thursday: Chicken marsala with wild mushrooms
          Friday: Striped bass baked in salt crust, butternut squash puree (other half of Tuesday's squash), purple cauliflower
          Saturday: Out
          Sunday: Tapas with friends! Ham croquetas, tortilla de patata, manchego, meatballs with romesco, gambas a la plancha, sauteed mushrooms, and lots of vino tinto
          Monday: Spaghetti carbonara, winter salad

        4. This weekend was a little different because of the Super Bowl, typically I make a large meal on Sunday night, but with the game, I made it On Saturday night.

          Saturday: Chicken and Dumplings from scratch
          baby peas
          green salad
          Mashed potatos

          Sunday: Went to the bar to watch the game, ate bar food... Go Colts

          Monday: Leftover chicken and dumplings, or whatever I cooked Sunday(typically a roast pork/beef/chicken, and the other items from that meal

          Tuesday: Johnsonville Brats soaked in Budweiser, and since it is below zero here I will cook them in the oven, basting them with the beer they soaked in that has been simmered with a little butter
          Baked Beans

          Wednesday: Frozen Pizza

          Thursday: by Thursday, I only have quick items in the freezer left, since I only go to the grocery store 1x a week. Something simple, grilled cheese, hotdogs, etc..

          Friday: I go out to the local watering holes for a few rounds, and then get carry-out, either fast food( taco bell, arbys, jimmy johns, etc..) Or I go to one of the many mom & pop local fried chicken spots and get carryout

          Saturday: Typically go out for an early dinner with my wife and baby. I try to go early to avoid the crowds, and avoid having the baby inconvenience other diners. Anything from cajun food out by where I live, to dining in Chicago.

          4 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              for which night sam? ;)

              my wife pulled a fast one, and took the chicken and dumplings to work.

            2. re: swsidejim

              Chicken and dumplings sounds so yummy! You convinced me. I'm gonna make a batch this weekend. Perfect for the rainy weather we're having.

              1. re: Food Smith

                Since it was freezing this past week here in the Chicago area(below zero), and other parts of the country, I needed some hearty "comfort food".

                This time I made "traditional" dumplings(round balls), But I also have rolled out the dumpling dough, and cut them into small squares.

            3. I'm dieting and trying to cut back on expenses so my eating habits have changed drastically. I usually try to make dinner double as lunch and have little time in the evening if I want to go to the gym, so nowadays it looks like:

              Sunday Lunch
              Rye crisps with liverwurst
              Tea

              Sunday Dinner
              Pork roast with crackling
              Sauteed green beans
              Orange panna cotta

              Monday dinner
              Leftovers

              Tuesday dinner
              Linguine with a quick sausage gravy
              Broccoli with lemon-garlic crumbs

              Wednesday dinner
              Parmesan-sage crusted pork chops
              Brussel sprouts seared with garlic, thyme and bacon
              Yogurt

              Thursday dinner
              Roast chicken
              Green beans with hazelnuts and lemon
              Yogurt

              Friday dinner
              Skate wing with beurre meunieure
              Wilted escarole with gaetano olives and and garlic

              Saturday breakfast
              Bacon, sausage, eggs, fried bread, pate, cheeses and tea

              Saturday dinner
              Charcuterie

              Every now and then I eat out, but don't like losing control over my calories, fat and carbs so tend to make my own meals almost religiously. The weekdays tend to be meals that are flavorful yet painless. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be splurge days when I see nothing wrong with cooking for 3 hours for one person.

              8 Replies
              1. re: JungMann

                JM, do you loose weight on this diet?

                1. re: jfood

                  I was going to say!!!!! Everything here sound fabulous, but man, I would GAIN weight on this diet, no doubt about it! But hey, whatever works for you!!

                  1. re: jfood

                    Actually I lost 20 lbs. on this diet. Although now that I'm eating English breakfast again, I've started to gain weight. Stupid rashers. But if you think about it, most of these meals are high-protein, low-fat and low-carb. Pork is lean and I roast my chicken, which burns off a lot of fat. This type of cooking also uses healthier fats like olive oil and butter, no transfat. And the vegetables provide plenty of fiber so I feel satisfied after eating without gorging on sugars and fats. Panna cotta and yogurt are my only treats, but I use splenda to sweeten and substitute milk for cream. Yogurt is the healthy Dannon option.

                    These recipes are actually much healthier than you can imagine. You should've seen what I was eating earlier this winter. Goulash (made with lard), paprikash (made with butter and schmaltz), and whipped cream desserts every five seconds. Certainly made for a nice layer of insulation before it got cold!

                    1. re: JungMann

                      JM, I feel like the crab in the budweiser commercial bowing to the ice chest.

                      Anyone who can loose weight eating this "high-protein, low-fat and low-carb" diet of liverwurst, crackling, sausage gravy, butter sauce, and bacon is very lucky and probably very young. Good thing you gave up all the bad stuff like lard, schmaltz and whipped cream desseert. And the kicker is blaming the "rasher" for the reversal, very cute; like blaming the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae.

                      I will give you high protein, but, OMG, low fat and low carbs? To that I can only use two words, "fried bread." :-))

                  2. re: JungMann

                    oh my gosh....this is the richest "diet" plan i have ever seen. do you just eat really small portions--adhering to the "french women dont get fat" mantra? do you not eat breakfast or snack at all? i guess if you just eat what you posted above you would lose weight. shoot, if you just had one big mac a day you would lose weight. lol i hate to imagine what your non-diet menu is...

                    1. re: JungMann

                      I'm really impressed you're cooking like this for one person. I live alone and I thought I cooked a lot. How do you deal with leftovers? Even when I halve a recipe, have friends over, and eat leftovers for lunch, I still end up with gazillion containers of leftovers. I also love big weekend breakfasts--pretty similar to yours, except for me it's bacon OR sausage :)

                      For me, this past week was fairly typical:

                      Saturday night:
                      pasta with Marcella's bolognese sauce
                      fennel-asian pear-watercress salad
                      the remainders of a pint of Ciao Bella chocolate gelato

                      Sunday night:
                      Korean short rib soup with rice and banchan (Korean pickled anchovies, sauteed dried squid, veggies, seaweed)

                      Monday night:
                      chicken and chickpea tagine
                      roasted brussel sprouts
                      polenta (no couscous in the pantry, and I'm trying to eat up my cupboard's contents)

                      Tuesday:
                      work shift at food coop, vegan maki from the coop while working and hummus and pita afterwards

                      Wednesday:
                      either lamb rogan josh or spicy stir-fried squid (Korean-style) with rice, or chickpeas and chard, not sure yet

                      Thursday: late meeting, leftovers

                      Friday: dinner out

                      Saturday: something more elaborate, haven't decided yet

                      1. re: AppleSister

                        Gee, I didn't realize my diet sounded that unhealthy to people! I still don't see what sounds fattening about it (except breakfast: that one meal is in excess of 2000 calories!). Pretty much that menu is all I eat. Half my dinner usually becomes lunch the next day, otherwise I get a salad from the deli. From watching others eat, I know I don't have a small appetite. I buy meat pretty much daily in packages weighing 1-2 lbs. But that includes water and bone weight and I eat more vegetables.

                        That said, I don't snack, except for coffee and tea and the occasional yogurt or low-carb cookie or fiber cracker. Because I have satisfying meals, I feel good to go to the gym, never loagie or weary from starving, and go 5x a week. I actually think my diet is much healthier than most of the starvation, unnatural diets out there. Just control what you add to your food, keep portions sensible and make sure you enjoy what you eat and you'll lose weight. Right?

                        1. re: JungMann

                          Mystery maybe solved! Perhaps your level of physical activity (do most of us go to the gym 5X a week?) is to explain for your wait loss?

                    2. Sunday is usually a complicated "food" day...something big like beef bourgignon. During the week, it's more simpler meals such as pasta or something.

                      I do make my menu for the entire week and do all grocery shopping during the weekend. I hate having a full fridge though.

                      1. So glad to see this topic today because I had sketched out the week's menus yesterday. I go back and forth between wanting our meals to be completely, spontaneously inspired by what's in the market/garden, as FlavorsGal does, and the reality of my life with three jobs and a family and needing to plan ahead.

                        But I really don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I was reading Chez Panisse Cooking last night (lazily in bed after taking Benadryl for the acacia allergies and two Superbowl beers - quite happy), in which Paul Bertolli describes pre-planning on one day every week, his menus that change(d) nightly. So if you think about what you can reasonably expect to be in the market and looking great right now - in my case, Dungeness crab, lemons, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, oranges, etc - you can plan ahead and then simply adjust based on what's on sale, what looks better or worse than you expected, and so on.

                        Monday:
                        Crab cakes
                        Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup - from the freezer
                        Red Sails Lettuce Salad - lettuce from the garden

                        Tuesday:
                        Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce - I'll make the gnocchi tomorrow and defrost last summer's sauce
                        Asparagus

                        Wednesday:
                        Planning on fish, thinking Sanddabs with Orange-Shallot Sauce but depending on what's good......

                        Thursday:
                        Onion Soup
                        Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

                        Friday:
                        Beef with Broccoli
                        Steamed Rice

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Junie D

                          Junie D, I choose to plan my meals the way that I do not only based on what looks good at the market on a given day, but because it's very probable that I will not be in the mood for a certain dish on the day that I'm supposed to make it. I may be different from other people in this respect, but my food cravings and wants change by the hour and, to me anyway, it's not worth going to the trouble of cooking something I don't really want to eat.

                          1. re: FlavoursGal

                            Amen. I couldn't agree more. If I get to Thursday and don't feel like onion soup, it's out the window.

                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              Oh, yes, definitely- If I don't feel like something I planned (or my husband doesn't) then I just move it to another night or plan something differently. Like I said, it's more of a guideline than a rigid schedule. (That's why I just asked for a typical week- you could still add what your last week "typical" menu was or something!)