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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.

- 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!)

- leftovers

- Mushroom Soup
- Grilled Cheese
- Roasted Asparagus

- 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!)

- 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

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

              Monday dinner

              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

              Thursday dinner
              Roast chicken
              Green beans with hazelnuts and lemon

              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

              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)

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

                      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.

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

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

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

                        Onion Soup
                        Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

                        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!)

                          2. I have a "fluid" pattern, but since I work 100 yards from Whole Foods Market, I can shop daily.

                            Generally, however I do something like this:

                            Monday - Red Beans and Rice
                            Tuesday - Soup and sandwich
                            Wednesday - Cooking night (new dish each week- cooked with girlfriend)
                            Thursday - Fish / Veg
                            Friday - Alcohol and appetizers...

                            1. I tend to shop the same way you do, Katie Nell - I have quit working in the last year or so & so my priority isn't so much time-saving as it is money-saving. I need a plan to stay on track, otherwise I'm going to spend WAY too much at the store. With three kids (two teens, one 9yo) and a meat and potatoes husband, planning is crucial. And considering my closest decent grocery store is 25miles away (yes, really) it's obviously doubly important. I go so far as to check the weather for the week as well as what's on sale just to make sure the food matches the weather. (All of this takes place on spreadsheets - I've developed kind of a "retentive" side since jumping into this budgeting thing. LOL)

                              Here's our plan for the week, based largely upon stuff in my freezer as there wasn't much "good" on sale this week other than party stuff. (BTW, I have to ask - how were those little smokies things?)

                              Sunday was pure sports bar type food. Buffalo wings, fried mozzarella with a quick marinara (made from scratch - pretty good), garlic fries and lemon pie, staggered throughout the day.

                              Monday - Sweet & sour pork & rice.

                              Tuesday - Leftovers day - my son has a basketball game. Baked manicotti from the freezer (Italian sausage, mushroom & cheese stuffed) and probably garlic bread made from some leftover Brother's Bread I'd baked on Saturday. When I cook any kind of baked pasta dish, I almost always double the recipe and freeze half.

                              Wednesday - probably the tamales I bought for the SB, but we were too stuffed to go near.

                              Thursday - cold front on the way; short ribs with smashed potatoes, green beans or peas or something.

                              Friday - toss-up. Might be cajun hash with fried eggs, might be something with pork chops. (I bought several packs of pork chops on sale a few weeks ago and have been struggling to do anything with them other than sweet and sour pork. Might do a quick "mushroom baked" pork chop which involves cream of mushroom soup. Yeah, we're like that. LOL)

                              Saturday, going out to a school competition and to buy a new front door so I'm off the hook & out to dinner.

                              I try to make sure to keep tomato soup and american cheese in the house at all times if I'm not in the mood for something I've planned for, and I have to say that buying an ancient freezer from a friend has changed my life. (The thing looks like an Edsel and we're thinking of painting it turquoise.) Whenever I'm at the store I pick something up that'll go into the freezer. We have a stockpile of andouille because the cajun hash I mentioned has become a staple, hamburger meat, chicken leg quarters and those darned pork chops.

                              This works especially well for us because I tend to go through "fits and starts" of cooking, where sometimes I can spend all day in the kitchen making stuff to go into the freezer, but sometimes I'm just lazy. ;-)

                              The only weird exception to our week (well, other than the junky Super Bowl stuff) is that I almost always have something in there that uses ground beef. I will sometimes brown 5 or 6 lbs at a time and store what I don't need that night in ziplocs in the fridge or freezer.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: shanagain

                                Yes, I definitely take budget into consideration when I'm planning the week out too- having it all laid out in front of me like that really makes me concious of what I'm spending.

                                The lil' smokies were pretty good, I have to say! I actually used blackberry jelly come to think of it, because that's what I had on hand- It amazed me that in the end it actually tasted like a bbq sauce! My husband loves bar food as much as he loves "fancy" food, so he loved them!

                                1. re: Katie Nell

                                  Innnnteresting about the lil smokies. I've always wondered about them. (I can do anything from caviar to pate, but my husband is definitely more of a bar food kind of guy.) I just read your post about the bacon wrapped water chestnuts on another thread and had to laugh - I like to think I'm a really good cook but if we're going to a party, what does everyone want me to bring? Buffalo wings or "sausage balls." (I'm like, "the recipe is on the box of Bisquik, I know you've seen it, they're NOT special!" So maybe I'm not the cook I think I am. ;-)

                                  My stepdad developed a time mgmt. software program called Time & Money and has recently worked on tweaking a new version for the home called Toys & Money that will be awesome - the grocery list capability alone is amazing for those of us watching a budget. It generates a rough cost as you click & add items to your list, lets you update the pricing, sort the list by how your store is laid out or how you usually go through the store, add whatever items you buy frequently & remind you if you're getting low, etc. It's kind of what happens when a chowhound (he's a true hound, I'm just a pup) creates software for a home budget. I'll make sure to mention the idea of a menu planner to him, as well. Everytime I've downloaded any kind of grocery list program, its just a static list that you can "check" as you go.

                                  1. re: shanagain

                                    That's a great idea- I already do that (in a much more rough way) myself. If I'm *really* budgeting, I'll make my grocery list and then write in parentheses how much I think each item is going to cost, and if it ends up being more money than I want to spend that week, I start reworking the menu. My parents are extreme budget-ers, so I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know when he's finished with that program, my e-mail is in my profile!

                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                      Katie, I emailed the other day (flanaganshan@aol), but have to say it was bad timing, not only was he working on his website and some pages weren't working, but we were talking about the program, and he's working now on adding a meal planning section and a pretty nifty recipe function. He was making gumbo for friends and realized it'd be handy to click a button saying he was making gumbo for ten instead of his normal two & have the program automatically adjust the amounts necessary in the grocery list.

                                      He expects the full re-worked version to be up and running by next week.

                                      1. re: shanagain

                                        Yes, I need to sit down and look at it when I can give it my full attention- I'll wait until next week and shoot you an e-mail after!

                              2. My husband and I both work, and we have three children. So I do most of my Monday through Thursday cooking on Sunday. On a typical Sunday we will barbecue a large cut of meat and I will prepare another meat dish in some manner on the stove. In addition, I will make a baked dish, like eggplant or lasagne. These are the basics for the week. Added to them on a weeknight will be a vegetable dish, salad or perhaps a pasta or rice dish. Friday and Saturday we are eating out or taking in.

                                That gets us through the week with the least fuss, especially since we may not be sitting down before 7pm.

                                1. I agree that shopping ahead makes me much more sane. I have a long commute, and adding a store trip to that just compounds the amount of time it takes to actually get home. I'm usually home about 6:15 (without stopping for grocs), so at that point, I like to get things moving so we can have dinner by about 8.

                                  This week:
                                  Sunday - Crab-ricotta ravioli with white clam sauce

                                  Monday - galettes de sarrasin (buckwheat crêpes) with camembert and sautéeed asparagus, oyster mushrooms and red pepper

                                  Tuesday - yellow pepper-squash soup with baby arugula salad

                                  Wednesday - tandoori shrimp wraps with chipotle peppers

                                  Thursday - roast beef and potatoes in the crockpot (for my hubby)

                                  Friday - creamy spinach linguine with baby arugula salad

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                    Oh man, I want to come over for Monday and Wednesday! ;-)

                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                      But of course!

                                      If you're interested in the recipes, I'll be posting them as the week goes on here: http://definitelynotmartha.blogspot.com

                                      I'm quite excited about the tandoori shrimp....it's a rather peculiar recipe that I've not tried yet.....

                                  2. I cannot plan a full week ahead. I might anchor the week with a dish like chili and get all the ingredients ahead of time, when I know there's a day coming up that I'll have time to cook. Most times we make it up as we go every couple of days -- keeping the lentil & brown rice stock constantly full as a fallback. With the weather we've been having, we have been stocking up a bit more on things like good cheese, and a few more veggies. If we're really hard up, we can get 2-3 days of meals out of the pantries before going nuts.

                                    1. Sunday is my big cooking day.

                                      I'll try and make four or five things at once -- at least two in the oven and at least one in the LC dutch oven. Some to eat right in the next day or two, and then I freeze the rest. Later in the week, I will pull things out of my freezer stash. Yesterday's efforts -

                                      Rosemary & lemon roast chicken
                                      Oven roasted root vegetables
                                      Sauteed kale ribbons w garlic
                                      Chicken braised in red wine (to freeze)
                                      Sweet potato & almond soup (to freeze half)
                                      Turkey barley soup (to freeze half)

                                      On freezer stand-by--
                                      Spinach ricottta fillo pastry pie
                                      Spinach lasagna
                                      Beef stew
                                      Beef cabbage rolls
                                      Roast turkey
                                      Smoked turkey
                                      Chicken breast strips (raw) frozen in soy marinade
                                      Veggie dumplings
                                      Veggie burgers
                                      Banana walnut bread
                                      Chocolate brownie

                                      1. monday is leftover day so..
                                        potato-leek soup (leftover) and
                                        risotto cakes (from leftover risotto) and
                                        bruchetta (leftover tomatos and baguette)

                                        tuesday is eat all the veg before it goes bad day so...
                                        pizza (fresh, with all the veggies it can take)

                                        wednesday i'm in class, so i eat in the cafeteria and my husband makes himself an omelette

                                        salad & Gnocci (with leftover tomato sauce)

                                        not sure yet.. i shop on friday!

                                        1. How funny, I was just making my list!

                                          Lunch: Leftover Buffalo Wings, Celery
                                          Dinner: Cheeseburgers on the grill, Salad
                                          Lunch: Leftover Burgers, salad
                                          Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Coleslaw
                                          Lunch: Leftover Chicken, slaw
                                          Dinner: Shrimp Bisque, salad (I have frozen homemade shellfish stock I'm dying to use!)
                                          Lunch:Chicken Salad (made from Tues Dinner Leftovers)
                                          Dinner: Linguine with Clam Sauce and salad (I use a great recipe from Epicurious.com, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec... )

                                          1. I'm definitely a planner, too; it might be a little more crucial for me as we don't eat land-based animals and fish maybe twice a week. It's definitely harder to come up with nutritious, fabulous, non-meat meals than it is to pick up that beautiful looking steak from the butcher and a vegetable. I usually plan and shop on Sunday, though if I have the time I get 2 days worth of fish on Saturday from the fish monger and have that on Sunday and Tuesday and then do the rest of the shopping on Sunday. Leftovers are generally for Friday, pizza is a must on Saturday night. In between is soup, salad, pasta, quiche, pot pie. TVP also come in to play for things like chili and mac & beef. I think planning really helps plus, I hate having to stop at the grocery after work on a freezing cold and dark winter night!

                                            1. Like many posters I try to make something on Sunday that can carry over for more meals during the week, I don't assign specific days since our scheudle varies.

                                              Sunday: Texas beef chili with fixins
                                              Slice up carrots, bell peppers for the week
                                              Make veggie dip
                                              Hardboil eggs
                                              Normally I'd also roast a chicken

                                              Texas chili will turn into quesadillas or burritos for one meal get mixed with Mac and Cheese for another.

                                              Hard boiled eggs get deviled for a dinner of snacka along with crudite, dip, olives and salad.

                                              Hard boiled eggs also get eaten for breakfast or made into work lunch or thrown into a chef salad.

                                              I try to have fish and fresh or frozen organic veggies twice a week - that just depends on what looks good at the market closest to my office.

                                              Roast chicken will get rolled into wraps for lunch or tossed with pasta, pesto and pine nuts for dinner.

                                              1. I have been stocking up my freezer because I have 3 little ones and my husband works late and my kids are incredibly picky and my husband it a meat and potatoes guy.
                                                Tonight, the baby had meatballs, and one of the girls had spaghetti with butter/parm and broccoli while the ohter one is having cereal. My husband and I are having beef stew that I made last week and froze and am steaming veggies to go with it.

                                                Last week-
                                                Monday- leftovers
                                                Tuesday- tacos
                                                Weds- I cooked beef bourginion and a bolognese sauce but we wound up going out
                                                Thurs- roast chicken/artichoke
                                                Fri- New barefoot Contessa Minted Pea soup (yum), beef bourginion and steamed green beans with lemon zest and pine nuts
                                                Sat- breakfast- sara moulton cream scones with dried apricots. Delicious and my 4 year practically made them herself.

                                                This week
                                                Mon- stew
                                                Tues- kabobs- probaly chicken, grilled veggeis, couscous
                                                Weds- fish-- whatever looks good that day
                                                Thurs- dinner out for a friend's birthday
                                                Fri- Zuni chicken/bread salad

                                                You guys have so many great ideas. Thanks for inspiring me.

                                                I too am trying to plan ahead and keep a calendar of everything we're eating so when I run out of ideas, I can look at some of the things we're eaten recently. I have a few stews in my freezer along with squash soup, tomato soup, vegetable soup and chicken soup and the other half of the Ina Garten Veggeie pot pies veggies I made a few weeks ago.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: roxhills

                                                  the pea soup with mint, huh...i'll have to look that one up!

                                                2. I don't make up a menu for the week... I've tried a few times but it never works out as planned. What I'm trying to do now is to sit down with my husband on Friday night and make out a list of five meals that we'd like to have in the next week (figuring at least one night of leftovers, and one night of fastfood/eating out). Then I make up my grocery list and write down everything that I need to buy to make those meals... but if I decide not to use them then I'll just roll that dish over to the next week.
                                                  This week's request list was chicken strip fahitas, chicken cacciatore, shepherd's pie and roast pork loin... but when I went to the store pork was very expensive and they had a cute little baby chicken so I bought thyme and I'll make Zuni chicken minus the bread salad instead. Today we were very busy and DH was off work so I made brunch and we had a late lunch snack, and we just had soup and toasted sandwiches for dinner, so that's one night taken care of. I'll probably shelve the chicken cacciatore to make up for it (and we really don't need THREE chicken meals...)
                                                  Tomorrow we'll have the fahitas while the ingredients are nice and fresh, then I'll take the rest of the week from there.

                                                  PS. It definitely saves us money to do a little pre-planning and to make sure that there is food in the house... that cuts out one of the excuses for fast food because I can tell DH 'I'm making X tonight' or 'How about Y instead...'

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                    This is really more what ends up happening, but if I have the original guidelines in place, it helps me tremendously. For instance, last night, my husband had snacked too much for lunch on Sunday's leftover so I moved up the grilled cheese and mushroom soup to last night; we'll have the leftovers from that tonight. And I decided I didn't really need the asparagus with that meal so I moved the asparagus over to the pork tenderloin meal and the veggie is covered!

                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                      Yeah, same here. We decided to watch the varsity girls and boys play after our kids JV game so we ended up having fast food on the way home, so tonight will be the manicotti I took out of the freezer for last night.

                                                      Really what I'm planning for is having all of the ingredients on hand for a particular dish. If I have to go back to the store to pick something up I'm going to end up with a cart full of nothing. Send me to the store for a loaf of bread, I'll spend $30 on misc. stuff.

                                                      So while some people are impressed by the "planners" I'm impressed by those that can go to the store and *only* get what they need for a given night!

                                                    2. re: Kajikit

                                                      I tend to plan several meals and do the shopping for ingredients over the weekend. Then everythign gets shot to hell by Monday or Tuesday, almost without fail! Things just come up (forgot, I'm supposed to go to the gym after work 3 days a week, or husb's band is playing...) and instead of cooking something interesting, I end up just throwing something together...this is made more complicated by the fact that we try to eat fairly low fat and healthy, and very little red meat...so you can forget convenience foods.

                                                      1. re: prunefeet

                                                        Prunefeet, you sound JUST like a good friend of mine here. The two kids complicate matters further.

                                                    3. How organized I am about menu planning depends on my budget and whether I'm dieting or not. If either of those are happening then I have got to plan. I have a couple of nice forms that I can print out on the computer and work from, and actually have one I created for a grocery list tailored to my supermarket, where the stuff I buy most often is already on there and I can just check it off, and there are a few spaces to add things I don't always buy.

                                                      I try to plan for a couple of vegetarian meals and at least one night of leftovers. But the actual execution of the plan is a lot more flexible. I have a few things in the freezer or the pantry so I can improvise something if I'm not feeling like what I've planned. Did that today, as a matter of fact, after Mike woke up sick this morning.

                                                      1. I'm also trying to eat home more. I'm only quasi-successful. It's just that sometimes I get home too tired and too late to start cooking.

                                                        There are certain staples I try to have on hand all of the time. Homemade pasta sauce is number one. I also try to have salad stuff (aka mesclun), grape tomatoes, good olives, hearts of palm or artichoke hearts, multicolored peppers -- so I have the makings of a decent salad. And I try to keep a few other veggies on hand in order to have the makings of sides for a dinner.

                                                        A typical dinner will be pasta of some sort w/homemade tomato sauce and either meatless meatballs (from Trader Joe -- not too bad) or else I'll serve it with a grilled eggplant parm that I make or else I serve the pasta sauce with a nice ravioli I have in the freezer - spinach; veggies; mushroom or whatever you like. I also have gnocchi on hand and occasionally I'll indulge and make butter sage sauce to go with it. A bread (fresh or frozen) and a big tossed salad and a bottle of red and it's pretty festive and easy. I make my dressing from scratch in the bowl while the pasta cooks - anchovies/dijon/garlic whipped with some vinegar/pepper/and extra virgin olive oil.

                                                        Another standing type of dinner is a roast chicken. I either cook it over a mirepoix stuffed with a garlic thyme under the skin mixture or else I roast it in a cast iron skilled over diagonally sliced carrots. Roasted till the carrots and sometimes onions and mushrooms caramelize. Then I'll serve it with a big salad and some green beans and tomatoes and garlic as a side or spinach or asparagus.

                                                        I try to either have a homemade meatloaf in the freezer or turkey chili or else a split pea veggie soup that I make with smoked turkey. I make all of these in quantity when I cook them and keep them in the freezer. Those quartsize restaurant containers are really great for the freezer.

                                                        Other standbys are brisket/pot roast that I make in quantity and freeze when I do.

                                                        Grilled chicken breasts with a salad of romaine/red grapes/pecans/chopped apples; salmon burgers; boca burgers -- both served on whole wheat rolls I keep on hand ...the everpresent salad;a big frittata are all good in a pinch.

                                                        Veal marengo with rice and escarole and spinach.
                                                        Chicken piccata.
                                                        Chicken with rice and beans.
                                                        Chicken cacciatore with pasta and greens or yep, salad.
                                                        Hot dogs/sauerkraut and baked beans can be a treat sometimes
                                                        On a Sunday I'll sometimes make a whole turkey; whipped sweet potatoes and other veggies...and there are a lot of leftovers for the week.
                                                        Grilled steak or lamb chops are always good and very easy.
                                                        Roasted salmon....tho I'd really like to expand my repertoire of fish.

                                                        I occasionally make chicken breasts in a curry sauce with chickpeas and veggies and serve it with rice and mango chutney. And then I make a cauliflower/potato dish from epicurious to go with it. Yum!

                                                        I think that's pretty much my revolving repertoire. I'd be grateful for more stir fry ideas or fish ideas from other people!

                                                        1. I typically make my weekly grocery list around 4 planned meals and shop on Tuesday morning to last us until Friday. On week-ends I'll wait to see what we are feeling like or if we want to go out and make a separate trip to the store.

                                                          I have a file folder of all of my "want-to-try" recipes organized by subject (pasta, soups, chicken, pork, etc...) When planning my meals, I typically like to have 1 chicken dish, 1 pork, 1 pasta, maybe a beef or seafood, but I'm flexible. So I'll just peruse that file to supplement the dishes that we know and love. Once I've made the new recipes, I'll either transfer to my recipe binder if it is really good or else throw it in the trash. This is this week's menu - not sure what nights we'll have what yet.

                                                          Last night was Split Pea Soup since I had everything on hand...
                                                          *Spaghetti with Fresh Spinach and Gorgonzola, Bread
                                                          *Chicken Marbella with Swiss Chard and Couscous
                                                          *Pork Tacos with Fixings and Black Bean and Corn "Salsa"
                                                          *Moroccan Chickpea Soup with Cumin Pita Crisps

                                                          And I'm also going to make a lentil split pea dip to snack on throughout the week.

                                                          Off the top of my head, here are the recipes that we eat often (some of these are not so figure friendly, so we try to balance with healthier options the rest of the week): Sausage Pasta, Blue Cheese Burgers with Red Wine Sauce and Buttered Baguette, Island Pork Tenderloin, Steaks with moroccan spice rub and yoghurt sauce, Split Pea Soup, Roast Chicken, Mustard Dill Meatloaf, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken with Capers, Currants and Feta,

                                                          1. Meals for the week (specifically dinner) aren't planned in advance at our house. We probably shop for some aspect of a dinner (fresh fish, good crop of veggies, butcher called) and plan the meal around it on our way home from work. Our freezer is stocked with premade sides, soups but I still prefer shopping nearly every day.
                                                            Breakfast and lunch stables are purchased on Sunday for the week. I go to the farmers market every Sat morning for fruits/veggies and I bake bread every Wed.

                                                            I really admire the meal planning posted here.

                                                            1. I work at home, but am busy enough that I don't like running to the grocery often - seems like no matter what, it takes 45 minutes to an hour out of my day. I would much rather use that time to prepare a weeknight meal for guests. So I do typically plan a week's worth of menus and then buy groceries accordingly, and we have guests over for dinner on average three nights a week. Also, I find that planning a week of menus helps prod me to try new things. If I find something I want to try, put it down as a menu item, and make sure I have the ingredients on-hand, I manage to continue to add new things to my repertoire.

                                                              We're pretty good with leftovers - I try not to make too much so there won't be a ton of leftovers, I often send our guest home with some of the leftovers (especially desserts and rolls) and we use what little is left for lunches, since we both are here working all day.

                                                              A typical week:

                                                              Saturday: (guests): roasted potato slices with proscuitto and goat cheese, spiced nuts
                                                              Chicken thighs with olives, onions and tomatoes, Roasted cauliflower, Green beans with garlic and lemon zest, homemade rolls, Walnut mocha cake

                                                              Sunday: Fish Chowder and Rolls

                                                              Monday (guests): Green salad with maple vinaigrette, Grilled Pork Chops with Bourbon Mustard glaze, black-eyed peas, sorbet

                                                              Tuesday: grilled burgers, oven fries

                                                              Wednesday: Grilled salmon with hoisin sauce, steamed rice, seared bok choy

                                                              Thursday: (guests) Chili-rubbed ribeyes, whipped sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, almond cake

                                                              Friday: (guests): Shredded pork tenderloin with lime sauce over steamed rice, fresh pineapple, cinnamon squares

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Andiereid

                                                                wow, I'm copying down your menu, Andiereid, it's not necessarily what I would choose for myself, but the menfolk in my house would love it!

                                                                1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                  I'm in awe of guests 3 nights a week!!

                                                                  1. re: gridder

                                                                    Me too! I don't even have that many friends! ;-)

                                                                  2. re: Chowpatty

                                                                    Chowpatty, I am, sadly, a brown food girl. I LOVE meat and starch. Good thing for me I make it the gym a lot. Certainly I'll eat lots of other things, and I definitely lighten it up a LOT in the spring and summer, but I lean toward that if I don't make a conscious effort. Lately, though, I've been taking advantage of the fact that we've actually had some cold weather here the past month. It's a small window I have for cooking some rich, hearty fare.

                                                                    As far as the 3 nights a week of guests, I really do that for my own mental health. I work at home alone and put in a lot of hours, so it's really essential for me to get as much social contact as I can. Plus, I do very analytical work, so cooking and entertaining is my creative outlet. Does me a lot of good.

                                                                    Cinnamon squares are great! My husband requests them all the time. They're from the Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours". That cookbook just rocks.

                                                                  3. I agree with HillJ...I admire everybody's ability to come up with full menus that far in advance. I certainly couldn't do it.

                                                                    My boyfriend and I usually trade off cooking and the nights menu usually gets planned that day by email while we're both at work. We keep the freezer stocked with ground beef, chicken, fish and veggies and always have potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onions, spinach and a couple of good cheeses on hand and the pantry is stocked with pasta and rice and we just go from there. Unless there is something specific that I've been craving that I want to cook (for which we've picked up the ingrediants that saturday or sunday whenever we went shopping) we always just wing it. I'm got lucky in living with a boyfriend who is at least as good a cook as I am, if not better. Although he refuses to follow recipies; he always just throws things in the pot and sniffs all the spices to decide what smells like it would go. For instance...the dressing on last night's spinach salad consisted of mustard, cider vinegar and cinnamon. (I may be forgetting an ingredient) A little strange...but it tasted great, especially with the feta he had sprinkled on the salad. So winging it from the contents of the freezer and pantry is how we manage an entire week. It's a little different, but it works for us.

                                                                    It also works out so that if we think of something that we want and we're missing an ingredient, my office building is next door to a Trader Joe's so it's usually something I can just grab on my way to my car.

                                                                    1. This week:
                                                                      Saturday: Rotisserie chicken, baked wheat rolls, sauteed spinach with garlic
                                                                      Sunday (Super Bowl, eat whatever we feel like night): Shrimp cocktail and guacamole with blue corn chips
                                                                      Monday: Chicken enchiladas with chopped salad of green onion, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and cumin-lime dressing
                                                                      Tuesday: Chicken tikka masala and sauteed green beans
                                                                      Wednesday: Leftovers or eat out
                                                                      Thursday: Lamb and eggplant casserole (from Epicurious, first try at this recipe)
                                                                      Friday: Use up whatever veggies are left.

                                                                      1. Me too, I'm so impressed (or maybe depressed I am not more organized). The best I get is check out what meat looks good at the store, and buy a bunch of that. My standard menu would be a few pounds of ground beef, a steak, and a pound of chicken breast, along with salad fixings. The ground beef either goes into cheese stuffed burgers, burgers with bacon and cheese, or loose. The loose meat can end up as many things, as others said, it depends on the mood and the time. For the kids, unfortunately they do end up with "processed plus" a lot; like macaroni and cheese with ground beef thrown in. They also love PB&J and grilled cheese sandwiches, easy to keep ingredients for around. My current goal is to start making the macaroni and cheese myself.
                                                                        For the chicken, it's easiest to boil it and shred it for a stew or again with melted cheese. Occasionally, I'll plan meatloaf or a stir fry, but it's just not worth the time when you are working seven days a week. Hopefully I'll get some courage up and spend a "cooking day" and get some frozen stuff like meatloaf slices and meatballs in the freezer, that will help a lot.
                                                                        Vegetables tend to be string beans with garlic, fresh if we can get them, frozen minced garlic is a HUGE hit with us, and peppers with cream cheese. We also do cheese fondues, with pepperoni, sausage, turkey chunks, peppers, and/or tortilla pieces. Surprisingly (especially based on The Melting Pot's prices), it's really easy to set up the nonstick fondue pot in the living room, cut up some meat and veggies, and throw together a quick and yummy fondue. It is relaxing to sit there and dip things in the cheese and watch a good movie, we tend to do that on a Friday or Saturday.
                                                                        My cooking experience is more with desserts than main dishes (just love making cream puffs), so I'm not much for doing fancy entrees. Also I would be really upset if I planned a fancy meal, and the local store did not have what we wanted. Our pantry is cyclical; I go on a "we should have this" kick, then if it isn't used within a week, it stays in the pantry. I'm thinking of getting cathartic and clearing out the whole pantry.

                                                                        1. I generally plan 4 dinners for the week and the rest of the time (weekends) we order in, go out, or just figure something out. I get the bulk of my groceries delivered on Sunday (we live in Manhattan), so when I place the order on Friday or Saturday, I have an idea of what we will have for those dinners in the week ahead. Since I work full time and have a 2 year old and a 4 month old, it helps to keep things somewhat in order to have a game plan. It's not written in stone -- sometimes my husband will not be home for dinner at the last minute and I don't want to "waste" one of the dinners on those nights.

                                                                          This weeks menu includes:

                                                                          Monday -- marinated flank steak with roasted vegetables
                                                                          Tuesday -- smoked salmon, leek and dill frittata
                                                                          Wednesday -- chicken and cheddar quesadillas
                                                                          Thursday and Friday -- maybe some ravioli that we have in the freezer or maybe I will go to Whole Foods during my lunch hour and see what looks good or maybe we will order in food.

                                                                          I also like to cook things that will be good for leftovers so that my 2 year old daughter will have them for lunch or dinner on another night. Luckily she is a wonderful eater -- better than my husband!

                                                                          I'm always trying new recipes and when one is really a keeper, I try to add it to a listso that when I get in a rut I can come up with some fresh ideas. I like the idea of keeping a calendar!

                                                                          1. I think part of what keeps me on track for meal planning is that we have a totally different menu every week. I remember when I was younger, I used to babysit for a family that ate the SAME thing on a given night every week.

                                                                            I couldn't do that. It would kill me.

                                                                            I find that planning one week at a time keeps things fresh, I'm always trying new recipes, and if my first choice grocery store doesn't have a given ingredient, I either find a substitute, or head to another store. :)

                                                                            I like the idea of shopping whimsically, but I really just want to get home at the end of the day.....the stores are so busy it just puts me in a bad mood!

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                              Yes, yes, yes- planning it out makes me try new recipes (not that I have difficulty with that anyway) and reminds me of oldies but goodies too. I work with a lady that literally eats the same thing every day for lunch- half a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, turkey and cheddar on white bread, a red delicious apple, and 7 (I'm not kidding!) M&M's!!! I asked her once if she ever changes it up (I kidded her that I would fall over and faint if she brought in a granny smith one day!) and she said that about five years ago, she went through a vegetable soup phase where she brought that every day instead of the chicken noodle, but other than that, no!! How insane is that?!? I told her that my tongue sometimes gets bored in the middle of my meal! ;-)

                                                                              1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                This was my childhood. You could tell what day of the week it was by what Mom served for dinner. And if we went out, it was to one Italian place on Friday night. No wonder she closed the kitchen when my Dad died. She liked to cook even less than I do.

                                                                              2. The Jfoods have a basic "power rotation" for the week. Fri and Sat we normally eat out at least once by ourselves and the other night with friends. Sunday is the special nite to cook (a braise or oven stuffer or roast). So the rotation includes:

                                                                                Roasted Chicken with a different set of seasonings depending on the mood.
                                                                                Grilled Veal Chops with wild mushrooms.
                                                                                Grilled steak (filet, skirt or hangar)
                                                                                Depending on the market, one or two fishes/seafood. Salmon, shrimp (either skewered or over pasta), snapper, sole have been in play recently (I have a great recipe for sole, leeks and tomatoes from Gourmet).

                                                                                Risotto with some veggie or mushrooms
                                                                                A leafy green veggie, either broccoli, spinach brussel sprouts
                                                                                Salad (DW makes a great mixed baby greens, pear and gorganzola)
                                                                                Roasted potato wedges (sweets are the big thing now)

                                                                                Sometimes when Mrs Jfood has a late lunch and not interested in a real dinner, she'll have a salad and i'll grab something from the frozen Jfood stash in the basement freezer, which includes lasagne, sausage and peppers, some chicken cutlets for parm, short ribs, brisket, etc. The Foodsaver bag thing is a wonderful invention.

                                                                                1. Typically I am not organized enough to plan for the week, but after the SuperBowl weekend overdose (sniff, sniff da Bears) I had to make a change and eat something healthier!
                                                                                  Mon: Vegetable Moroccan Stew
                                                                                  Tues: Salmon w/ Lemon Dill sauce
                                                                                  Risotto w/Parmesean
                                                                                  Wed: Use leftover veg stew and bake into a pastry or top with mashed potatoes
                                                                                  Thurs: Dinner out with the in-laws
                                                                                  Fri: Peppered Salami, Smoked Gouda and Olives
                                                                                  Maybe a salad!

                                                                                  1. Holy #@^&!!!!. I somehow want to get an invitation to at least one meal from each of you. So much good food, such great combinations over the week, such expressions of love.

                                                                                    1. Sunday: Superbowl appetizers: mini crab cakes and coconut curry spring rolls w/apricot chili dipping sauce; dinner: Paul Prudhomme's cajun meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes & string beans

                                                                                      Mon: leftovers
                                                                                      Tues: spinach ricotta gnocchi (made earlier & frozen) w/Rao's marinara; salad
                                                                                      Wed: french onion soup (made earlier & frozen) topped with black truffle flecked cheese
                                                                                      Thurs: Indian inspired chicken in tamarind curry, sauteed spinach, roasted cauliflower, brown rice
                                                                                      Fri: Nobu's recipe for miso glazed black cod, salad, roasted vegetables (or go out)
                                                                                      Saturday: out
                                                                                      Sunday: slow cooked jerk pork shoulder w/sides to be determined.

                                                                                      1. I half plan my meals. I find it easier to not waste time after coming home in the evenings figuring out what I have, but planning takes a lot of time too! I love that during CSA season the decisions about veggies are made for me, so I can just go from there. Other than that we have to shop and I try to get an idea of what I want to make before hand, so we can go to the right market. We only eat meat once a week or so, so the rest of the meals are veggie.

                                                                                        Sunday: leftover enchiladas - what is the Superbowl :) ?
                                                                                        Monday: Quick lemon chx braise with pureed parsnips and quinoa
                                                                                        Tuesday: Veg chili (extra for the freezer), buttermilk cornbread
                                                                                        Wednesday: Sweet and sour tofu with brown rice and veggies (kids like this)
                                                                                        Thursday: Free dinner...
                                                                                        Friday: Roasted winter veggie galette in teff crust (can't have wheat)
                                                                                        Saturday: Whatever whim we have, last week I made a big batch of enchiladas. If we go cycling all day my five year old likes to go out (he sayshe earns it, but my legs say he has to peddle more up the hills : ) ).
                                                                                        Sunday: My husband's day to cook. It is a fantastic cook, but doesn't plan ahead. Whatever whim he has.

                                                                                        1. Wow.. reading thru all of this has made me a little bug eyed. Between the schedules that my husband and I share we usually never really sit down to eat until 9ish every night which pushes back on a lot of other things like exercising, sleep, etc. I think I am going to start making a ton of stuff on Sun that could be developed into other things throughout the week because we are always starting from scratch with everything. Hmm.. thanks everyone.

                                                                                          1. Exactly. I never eat before 9 or later either. Making extra and freezing really does simplifiy eating at home during the week. My schedule certainly doesn't allow me to plan this well always and eat at home consistently, but if i'm good about planning, freezing and defrosting, it works much better than I previously thought possible.

                                                                                            1. We're getting in a bit of a rut with our food options...so I'm glad for these suggestions (although, wow, I'm jealous that some of you have so much time to cook!):

                                                                                              Normally cook something a little more involved for Sunday dinner (Roast, nice fish or lasagna etc).
                                                                                              Mondays are a busy night, so left overs
                                                                                              Tuesdays chicken cous cous with mushrooms tomatoes etc
                                                                                              Wed (hockey night, so busy again..) Grilled talapia, beets, broccoli, rice
                                                                                              Thurs Pork chop with whatever veg we have left and rost potatoes
                                                                                              Fri - We're tired...so usually something quick and easy like burritos and a salad
                                                                                              Sat, more often than not, we'll go out for dinner with friends

                                                                                              1. I'm really interested in this thread. One of the things I'm forever curious about is what people eat for dinners- especially people with kids and people with full time jobs away from the house, etc. It's one of the first questions I ask new friends. I do wonder, (slightly off-topic), how different the posts in this thread are from the norm, simply because if you're here at Chowhound, you obviously like food, and if you're on the Home Cooking board, you probably like to cook and make it a priority as much as is practical.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                  Andie, I love to cook. I just tend to follow a looser meal planning routine. I find so much about the week is set and super scheduled that I prefer to let meals "happen."
                                                                                                  Picking up a fresh piece or fish or a good buy on chops at the butcher on my way home doesn't bother me and then the rest of the meal comes out of the freezer (from leftovers) or refrig from market purchases.

                                                                                                  I'm just not a meal planner--ALTHO--great ideas have come out of this thread!
                                                                                                  Thanks all!

                                                                                                2. Our list from last week included but was not limited to:
                                                                                                  (apologies, I work in advertising full time...)

                                                                                                  Cilantro Potato and Pinto Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, Red Rice

                                                                                                  African Peanut Stew

                                                                                                  Grown up Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Tomato Soup and Mustard & Basil slathered
                                                                                                  Grilled Cheeses, cookies and milk for dessert (guests)

                                                                                                  Homemade Fried Ginger and Pea pod Rice with Spring Rolls, Peanut Dipping Sauce

                                                                                                  Brown Rice and Chili Beans with Olives, Cheddar and Sour Cream, chips and guacamole.

                                                                                                  :) Now if I can just plan next week. Ugh...I don't want to go back to the grocery store.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: lollya

                                                                                                    lollya, your menu sounds AWESOME. Totally up my alley.

                                                                                                    Are you guys veg? Or just healthy. :) If you'd like to share your recipes for these, I'm all ears! Yummy!

                                                                                                    1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                                      sure thing mrbunsrocks!
                                                                                                      i've got to bust out some ad work, but i will post recipes in a bit ok?
                                                                                                      i am a vegetarian, the boy is not - but typically only eats meat out at restaurants (his choice - i'd cook it for him)..

                                                                                                      1. re: lollya

                                                                                                        African Peanut Soup
                                                                                                        *I put about 2 cups of rice in mine and I make it before the soup in a rice cooker.
                                                                                                        (the rice doesn't cook in the time allowed in the recipe


                                                                                                        Cilantro Potato and Pinto Bean Enchiladas
                                                                                                        *couple changes here as well - i use tomatillo salsa for a shortcut, i also use flour tortillas and do not fry them (no need really) i cook for like 25 mins without cheese, then pop the cheese on and back in for about 10 mins or so. (so the cheese doesn't burn).

                                                                                                        I don't have recipes for these last ones, so I will give you generalizations instead of direct recipes :


                                                                                                        Rice and Beans (major go to staple and major comfort food for us)
                                                                                                        1. Make rice (preferable brown) in rice cooker. (easy)
                                                                                                        2. Heat up your choice of beans - sometimes I make them from scratch (hard beans or canned) sometimes I add other cooked veggies like red pepper or diced cooked potatoes (go crazy) and add my own spices, sometimes I buy Joan of Arc Chili Beans or Black Beans with flavorings - always add my own spices (could be chili powders, cayenne, taco seasoning, garam marsala (yum) whatever strikes my fancy that day. I always throw a little lemon juice or lime juice in for citrus bite.
                                                                                                        3. Put beans over rice.
                                                                                                        4. Top with whatever strikes you that day...toppings that rock, but are not limited to:
                                                                                                        various cheeses (i'm a sharp cheddar geek) olives (green or black) diced tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, scallions crushed tortilla chips.

                                                                                                        Fried Rice
                                                                                                        Yikes, I'm learning how to do fried rice (I kind of suck at the moment) I mean it's always REALLY good just not fried enough.

                                                                                                        But I will give you the ingredients to play with:
                                                                                                        Peapods, diced (holy hell they are the bomb in here) water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, diced yellow onion and diced scallions, soya sauce, vegetarian 'oyster' sauce.

                                                                                                        In spring rolls:
                                                                                                        Julienne carrots, scallion, peapods.
                                                                                                        cook rice noodles, drain
                                                                                                        rip leaves from cilantro, mint, basil - dice

                                                                                                        wet wrapper, place small pile of cooked noodle, some of everything else, roll

                                                                                                        Dipping sauce:
                                                                                                        mix 1 part peanut butter (i use real pb) to 2 parts hoisin, warm it together over low heat, add warm water to thin to a consistency for dipping

                                                                                                        I did this sort of fast so if you have any questions ask away!

                                                                                                          1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                                            anytime. are you a vegetarian? care to do a swap of all time favorites? is that a lemon peel on your bunny's head?

                                                                                                  2. I, too, like to shop for most of the food for one week. I really tire of standing in line at the grocery as it keeps me from getting other things done. I also really enjoy cooking in the morning or day before so that I can just pop something in the oven that tastes really good. This past year I got involved in a cooking project where we cooked for 400 - 500 people every week. That reignited my interest in casseroles, meat loaves, etc. without feeling like I was being very 70's. Plus, I've always marinated my meats
                                                                                                    ahead of time.

                                                                                                    Here's my menu for this week:
                                                                                                    Monday: Black Bean & Cheese burritos with sour cream, salsa, green salad.
                                                                                                    Tuesday: Marinated Pork Loin, seared broccoli, bok choy, couscous.
                                                                                                    Wednesday: Tamale Pie, green beans seasoned with red pepper dressing, salad.
                                                                                                    Thursday: Usually leftover night - I take all the leftovers out of the fridge and we get to pick and choose what we want. Other times, when inspired, I use the leftovers to make a new dish. Usually when I have chicken leftover I can pull the meat from the wings, back, etc and later turn that into chicken pot pie or make and Indian marsala or soup.
                                                                                                    Friday: This is fun night - we often go out for dinner or I'll make a pizza, spaghetti or meatloaf with roasted potatoes seasoned with paprika, garlic and s&p. Haven't decided yet.
                                                                                                    Saturday: Lamb kebabs seasoned with rosemary, mustard. Cucumber, tomato salad seasoned with lemon and s&p. Rice and bread for the table - it's saturday.
                                                                                                    Sunday: Broiled Salmon with cucumber dill sauce, roasted asparagus.

                                                                                                    1. I LOVE to cook and since we remodeled our kitchen while I was pregnant with baby #3, I have just been enjoying using the kitchen (and not being queasy) the last 10 months. I have a small calendar which I note down what we're planning on eating for dinner that week plus that way I can go back to see what we had when I run out of ideas. I have a folder with recipes that I want to try along with cookbooks that I read all the time.

                                                                                                      I try to spend one day every other week cooking "for the freezer" so we have something to eat when I am out of time and energy.
                                                                                                      I have gotten some amazing tips from chowhounders about how to plan meals better. I do think that most people don't eat as well as people on Chowhound. Three of my friends with young kids really enjoy cooking, the rest only do it because they have to.

                                                                                                      1. I will shop for most of the coming week tomorrow AM. I don't have a menu plan per se it depends on what looks good and appeals to me. I will got to a butcher shop, 2 supermarkets and an international market then our dinners will evlove out of whatever I have on hand. I also have a fully stocked freezer and pantry. I also mainly work from home so it depends on day and mood. We tend to follow a pretty low carb high protein low glycemic index diet. Tonight it is going to be country ribs braised with kraut and some white wine and I will mash one small potato to split because the ribs and kraut call out for it. Last night was sauteed grreen beans and Dreamfields penne (very low carb) dressed with pancetta, sauteed mushrooms and a winy cheesy sauce which was very satisfying. I think the night before that it was a Rick Bayless recipe for chicken with chipotles and creamed spinach. Monday was shepherds pie and green salad. Shepherds pie had no "filler" in it, just the coarsely ground lamb cooked down with some onion and shredded carrot, a touch of wine and beef stock. I pureed a small potato and piped it on to the top to become brown and crusty more greens along with that.

                                                                                                        1. It changes SO much. We both love to cook and are hounds, so our slate of 'recipes to try' is HUGE!!! Further, I got to school twice durring the week and we are trying hard to eat better. So it typically goes like this..

                                                                                                          Monday - Bring home something from SGV from school (Usually an Asian or Mexican soup. Next monday it will be roasted chicken from Los Pollos)

                                                                                                          Tuesday - Experiement with a new recipe

                                                                                                          Wednesday - Class again so I try to bring something or we make sometihng quick at home

                                                                                                          Thur - Another fun kitchen experiment

                                                                                                          Friday - Go out, eat light (SO has a weight in on Saturday mornings)

                                                                                                          Saturday - Bike like mad, have a Chowish dinner out

                                                                                                          Sunday - Make something BIG and hopefully also get to bake


                                                                                                          1. Any other week I would have a menu to share - I usually do a weekly shopping/menu unless a craving hits me sometime during the day - then it's a quick trip to the store to get the essential ingredients for craving. HOWEVER, my parents were in this weekend and we cooked up a HUGE Italian Feast for a group of my friends on Saturday night. That, coupled with the Super Bowl munchies, left me incapable of cooking and/or planning another meal.

                                                                                                            Sooo...It was Chinese Delivery on Monday, Leftover Chinese on Tuesday, Out for dinner Wednesday and Book Club tonight (somebody else cooking). I might make it back in to the kitchen tomorrow night (Friday), but I'm not making any promises.

                                                                                                            1. I am trying to adjust from cooking for one which allowed me to just run to the market each time I planned to fix a meal for myself to cooking for two and having dinner ready by a reasonable hour which requires some meal planning. My bf does not appreciate meals served at 8-9pm which was always fine by me. I highly recommend this FREE website


                                                                                                              which I have found really helpful. It lets you add recipes, create a meal plan, organize your pantry and manage your shopping list. I have just planned a menu a week ahead for the first time. This isn't a typical meal per se as I haven't cooked Korean in awhile but we don't really have typical weekly menus and my bf has asked me to cook more Korean.

                                                                                                              Tonight Gumbo
                                                                                                              Monday Ddeokbokki (Fried Rice Cakes) & Dubu Doenjangjigae (Soybean Paste Soup
                                                                                                              Tuesday Korean BBQ
                                                                                                              Wednesday V-Day out
                                                                                                              Thursday Marinated Pork with Kimchi
                                                                                                              Friday Dakgalbi (Chicken in Spicy Sauce
                                                                                                              Served with banchan I'll make for the week

                                                                                                              1. This week so far:

                                                                                                                Mon: homemade pasta with leek cream sauce, shredded cabbage salad
                                                                                                                Tues: dinner out
                                                                                                                Wed: green pea rice pilaf, sweet and hot squash, shredded cabbage salad
                                                                                                                Thurs: onion and sage risotto, fennel, endive, and orange salad, vanilla ice cream with homemade gingerbread cookies (freezer)

                                                                                                                My only rule is that there is ALWAYS a salad, and in winter it's not usually a green salad. Favorite alternatives: shaved fennel, shredded cabbage, shaved carrot and radish, cucumber--essentially anything I can slice fine on the mandoline and dress with oil and vinegar or oil and lemon.

                                                                                                                1. The hardest part about becoming an empty-nester (which happened to me recently) is that I overplan the amount of food the two of us need to eat. Two teenage boys in the household really make a difference in the consumption factor!

                                                                                                                  That being said, the boys still come over for Sunday dinner every week that we are all in town. So I'll often have a roast or roast chicken of some sort, since they are kind of meat and potatoes kids. There is usually always leftovers...I enjoy them for lunch the next couple of days (although last week's beef roast did become Monday night's fajitas....). My husband prefers simple suppers; often soup and a sandwhich or salad. Soups are easy and can be quick even if made from scratch if you pick the right recipe. Among our favorites are tortilla soup, french onion soup, and turkey noodle. We always have good stock on hand as a base. One of those, a spinach salad, and bread is a meal.

                                                                                                                  On Tuesday nights I work late, so hubby cooks. Its always Indian food (he's East Indian), and usually vegetarian (He cooks a mean Indian chicken, but that's on the Sunday night standard rotation...). He'll cook usually one other dinner a week, and makes his special Indian-style potatoes for Sunday breakfast. We usually do one dinner out a week, often on Saturday night but not always. Pasta is also a staple for the nights I cook.

                                                                                                                  I almost never look at recipe books. I just think of something easy when I get home from work and go for it. We rely a lot on fresh vegetables....we are trying to be healthy in our food choices. Interestingly enough, we cut out most processed foods (especially after the kids left :-) and cut down our alcohol comsumption to one glass of red wine a night, and both lost about 10 pounds without trying. Now that's a good thing!

                                                                                                                  1. I work 12 1/2 hour shifts three days a week. I only cook on my days off, usually going to the supermarket once or twice a week to get foodstuff. Sometimes on a day off my husband and I will go out to eat or get takeout.

                                                                                                                    This is my weekend off so this week looks like this:

                                                                                                                    Saturday: Husband cooking lobster tails.

                                                                                                                    Sunday: Some sort of "Sunday dinner" Probably roast chicken, baked potatoes, vegetables and salad.

                                                                                                                    Monday: Leftovers. (I'm working)

                                                                                                                    Tuesday: London Broil, mashed potatoes, vegetables. (day off)

                                                                                                                    Wednesday: Leftovers (work)

                                                                                                                    Thursday: I will make a homemade sauce with meatballs and sausage, ravioli and salad. (off)

                                                                                                                    Friday: Maybe go out for a quick bite at our favorite pub.

                                                                                                                    Saturday/Sunday: Working. Husband will cook, or we'll have meatball sandwiches, salads, grilled cheese, or order a pizza.

                                                                                                                    I make homey food. Any kind of Italian food, roasts, stews, rice and beans, meatloaf, steaks, seafood, chicken, pork chops. I like to try a new recipe a few times a month to add to the rotation too. :)

                                                                                                                    1. Making dinners and freezing them also come in handy on work or lazy days. When I get ambitious I freeze stews, soups, chilis, meatloaf etc.