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Your week of easy dinner meals please

  • m

I'm trying to go to the grocery store once a week, no more. I'd love to hear suggestions about how to make this manageable. I've also been a little dry on easy (1/2 hour prep & cooking goal) meals to make after work.

Things we've been making recently include:
baked fish, garden salads, fresh pasta with mushroom sauce, pasta with ground beef and veggie sauce, veggie & noodles with spicy peanut sauce.

Our meals are usually heavier on the veggies and lighter on the meats & fish.
Thanks for any input you can give!

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  1. my husband and i always keep a few things on hand, cooked and then refrigerated for use anytime during the week

    rice, turkey sausages (good for sandwiches, in frittata, in pasta), and big batch of soup (split pea, kale/chicken, pureed zucchini)

    we also keep a lot of more complicated meals in the freezer as a go-to anytime

    but even so, i find myself going to the grocery store 3+ times per week - i just like to!

    1. I used to go to the grocery store 3-4 times a week and finally gave up. My husband and I now sit down and plan our menu for the week and do all of our shopping on the weekend. It has made such a huge difference! Sometimes I make a mid-week trip for fish or something else that I can't really buy ahead, but it's a huge relief to come home from work and know that I have everything I need for dinner. Here is our menu for this week...
      Monday - bbq chicken, couscous, roasted green beans
      Tuesday - roasted halibut with pecan crust, sauteed spinach, salad
      Wednesday - chicken marsala with whole wheat pasta and sauteed peas
      Thursday - broiled salmon with mustard brown sugar glaze, wild rice, roasted asparagas with parmesan.

      We don't cook anything fancy during the week, but I think our dinners are pretty good, healthy and quick. Can't beat that!

      5 Replies
      1. re: elc515

        Beautiful This is exactly the type of reply I was hoping for. There are some great ideas here that I will take. How often are ithers going to the grocery store? Any others with weekly menus that are similarly doable?

        1. re: manga

          ok, let me try again with a proper dish list...

          flank steak, marinated overnight with garlic, chopped parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar - broiled, sliced and served with black beans and rice

          frittata with turkey sausage, asparagus and cheddar cheese with toasty baguette, tomato salad drizzled with olive oil, salt pepper

          quick chicken stew with legs + thighs in tomato sauce, peppers, onions, carrots, spices, served with rice

          shrimp sauteed with garlic and tomato paste, doused with chicken broth, served with white beans and spinach

          tilapia baked/steamed in tin foil with white wine, tomatoes, onions, served on bed of spinach and rice on side

          1. re: manga

            We have been going to the grocery store once every two weeks for nineteen years now. Until recently that's all we went, but our dietitian chided us about fresh produce, so we've added a small trip between big shopping trips just to buy produce (and nothing else). We have a standard list of everything we buy, sorted by aisle and by store (we sat down and figured out which items would be least expensive at which store, and that's where we buy them). Then the night before we go through the list and check off what we need. Throughout the two weeks before shopping, if I run out of something I'll tell my husband about it and he adds it to the list. We usually stick very closely to the list, skipping aisles that we don't need anything in. We also drive up to Costco once a month (using the same sort of list and generally sticking to it).

            I have a huge pantry and two freezers (one large, one small) that make it possible for me to take advantage of the sales on meats (among other things). I also have a food saver, so I can repackage my meats more effectively and they keep a whole lot better in the freezer.

            That being said, I don't tend to plan meals out too much. During the week, I'm often very tired when we get home from work, and I just want something simple. That can range from chili to steaks and salad. On the weekends I tend to be a lot more elaborate in my meal prep.

          2. re: elc515

            Elc I would love your halibut recipe...thx so much.

            1. re: elc515

              Wow, that sounds like the perfect dinner menu for the week. All of the simple but delicious ingredients we love...I will definetaly add these meals into our weekly rotation! thanks!

            2. I too make my list on the weekend and shop for most of the week then - some weeks I make two lists, one for Sunday and one for Wed./Thurs. if I need fish or something like a pre-roasted chicken.

              This week:

              Tonight: Cod with white beans, white wine, tomatoes, EVOO and rosemary and arugula salad w/a bit of lemon juice and EVOO and a bit of asiago cheese.

              Tomorrow: Easy egg dish of some kind w/whatever's in the fridge - husband is traveling and it's just me and our daughter.

              Wed.: Pre-roasted chicken, salad w/dried cranberries, walnuts, bleu cheese and raspberry dressing - for husband and daughter - I'm going out w/friends.

              Thurs.: Pasta w/roasted peppers, Italian sausage, asiago, and lots of garlic. Broccoli on side.

              Friday: Pork chops w/spicy mango chutney, peas and potatoes.

              I'm doing less cooking this week but in no case do any of our meals take more than 40 minutes from the time I step in the kitchen to the time we sit down - it's completely possible to cook from fresh, whole ingredients and still eat this way!

              Resources - Cooking Light magazine has some decent ideas to riff off of, Martha Stewart's Every Day Food magazine does too. Eating Well magazine is great - as is their Healthy in a Hurry cookbook.

              Good luck!

              4 Replies
              1. re: gansu girl

                These are wonderful ideas. I'm going to be several weeks ahead on my weekly plan at this point! Thank you. I really appreciate how healthy these menus are.

                1. re: manga

                  our week is a lot like gansu girl's above. i always try & think of making a colorful plate of easy stuff.. keeps me on my toes.

                  today was potato volcano: little red potatos pan fried w.cheese, eggs & salsa on top

                  later this week is pork w. green beans and an already made plum sauce

                  pre-roasted chicken (made a whole chicken a while back & frozen extras in smaller serving containers) w. mushrooms and rice

                  usually have some sort of pasta w.veggies

                  also have found corn (or wheat flour) tortillas wrap pretty much any meat/veggie combo quite nicely quesadilla style. (not just fish tacos or cheese+beans, but think really fast lasagna by melting mozz & tomatoes & basil, green pseudo-pitas w. feta & olives... stuff like that). once you get comfy with the topping combos you can start to make your own tortillas of just flour & water and put them on a flat pan over the stove.. quick open-faced pizzas, etc..

                  if you want real recipes, there's a nice cookbook by eating well called 'healthy in a hurry' which specializes in < 30min meals (even soups in < 30min!). their cookbook eatingwell serves 2 also specializes in < 40 min meals. if you go to www.eatingwell.com there's a search bar at the top. type in any ingredient in your fridge you're bound to come up with something that's quick.

                  1. re: manga

                    You are so welcome - I'm a huge health nut but also LOVE food of all sorts - so try to stick "w/the program" thru the week so I can indulge on the weekends. Must work - have maintained a 40 lb. weight loss for over 16 years!

                    Another resource for you - a friend just sent me the link for "What's Cooking Weekly" - a weekly recipe resource (fee-based, but not too expensive) that includes recipes along w/their nutritional info. and shopping lists. For those w/kids it includes ways to get them involved in creating every recipe. Here is a link to a sample issue at their site:


                    1. re: gansu girl

                      Some of my favorite free sources for recipes are





                      Also, (no flaming please!), but Rachael Rays site has some very good recipes.

                2. Here is my menu for the week:

                  Sun: fish tacos with homemade salsa
                  Mon: Piri-piri cooked fish with roasted cauliflower in Momofuku sauce
                  Tues: Zaatar chicken and roasted green beans
                  Wed: Grilled halloumi burgers
                  Thurs: pasta with whatever vegetables are in the fridge and roasted broccoli on the side
                  Fri: out to eat (guests coming to town)

                  I always have 1 night of fish and at least 2 nights that are completely vegetarian. I also make a lot of roasted vegetables because that is the easiest way to feed vegetables to my 4 year old ;-)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: brooklynmasala

                    I'm terrible about planning for the week. On Saturday mornings we shop for the weekend, when I'm usually cooking from the cookbook of the month. I never quite know when we might have dinners out b/c of my husband's work and b/c of where we live (NYC) it's very easy to pick up supplies for dinner. That said, I do usually have proteins in my freezer that I'll pull out the day before (no microwave). Our cheap and easy dinner consists of chicken sausages from Whole Foods, sliced into rounds and sauteed, then combined with sauteed onions, eggplant, tomato, other things that might be around, and served with a green salad and some cheese for dessert.

                    Edit - I do just cook for the two of us - and we have three markets and a butcher within about 3 blocks, so, except for seafood, it's not a big deal for us to do last minute shopping.

                  2. I'm not very good at planning menus but do make relatively simple things during the week, expecially on the days I'm working. Here's something we've had in the last couple weeks:

                    Butternut squash risotto, mixed greens with walnut vinaigrette and shaved parmesan

                    Red snapper en papillote, green beans, roasted potatoes with smoked paprika

                    Gruyere omelettes with mixed green salad

                    Roast chicken, hummus, tomato cucumber salad

                    Lentil soup

                    Bolognese over grilled polenta(I had some in the freezer...I try to make enough for two dinners when I make this so I can pull one out for a fast dinner later).

                    waffles(our favorite quick and easy dinner actually! don't like them for breakfast but love them for dinner!)

                    How often I go to teh store varies. Today I had to go to Trader joe's to stock up on a few things so I won't go again this week. Other weeks I don't do a big shop and instead run out for a few ingredients I might need each day for what I'm making. Also depends on how much I'm working a particularly week. I try and keep our grocery bill under $100/week as well so that affects how often I run out. The pantry and fridge usually have the basics so I can always toss together a tuna salad over mixed greens or some sort of quick pasta when I haven't thought ahead.

                    1. I haven't done this since my children are out of the house, and now it's just me and my husband, but for many years I had a general weekly food plan (I am not so well organized as to plan exact meals for a week). I would plan one night of a chicken entree, one night fish, one night dairy, one night meat, and one night pasta.
                      So, I might have roast chicken on Monday, grilled salmon on Tuesday, quiche on Wednesday, etc. We always had salad and a vegetable, or two vegetables, or salad or vegetable and a starch (rice, potatoes, pasta). This gave me a general sense of what to make, and then I could mix-and- match and vary the menu from week to week. It worked very well for me.
                      I know you wanted actual, specific meal plans, but for me, just having a general plan to follow was useful.Hope this helps.

                      1. This week

                        Monday: ordered pizza in, tough day at the office

                        Tuesday: Leftover london broil from the weekend already chopped up and ready for steak tacos tonight. Serving with refried beans & corn tortillas.

                        Wednesday: BLT, chicken noodle soup, salad

                        Thursday: Chicken salad that I will make on Wednesday night

                        Friday: Go out, the weekend is here....

                        Weeknight meals are always very basic, or leftovers from the weekend. When you leave the house at 6 a.m., and do not get home until 6 p.m. Mon-Fri, there is no time/desire to cook. There is a baby to see/play with, etc. I leave my cooking for Saturday, and Sunday's.

                        1. I live on an island and have a really long commute. I built a database of recipes I use for quick and easy dinner planning, that creates my grocery list based on what I choose. I eventually made that into a website, but that is another story. I shop once a week, and mostly stick to what I have planned, but I do leave myself some room to change things up if I want.

                          I usually start by deciding on a list of proteins I want then do a quick search for a recipe, then add side dishes. I like to cook two longer cooking dishes on the weekend; one which will have leftovers I can reinvent like roasted turkey or chickens or a ham. Then on the other weekend day I make a large casserole item that I divide into 2 or 3 portions to freeze that will each feed my family for a night.
                          Also, this time of year I like to make a crockpot soup or stew about once a week. My favorite recipe inspiration is the weight watcher's cookbook Slow Good.

                          Sunday: Roast Chicken, Turkey or Ham
                          Monday: A thawed casserole frozen previously, serve with a salad - aka Dad cooks
                          Tuesday: Sunday's Protein reused: in tacos, a wrap, panini, quesadillas, enchiladas, a casserole, baked potatoes or ...
                          Wednesday: An easy crockpot dish I assembled the night before, with some fresh bread - cornbread, biscuits, refrigerator crescents, or garlic cheese biscuits ala red lobster
                          Thursday - I let a kid pick what we'll have on Thursday, but they choose on Saturday when I am about to shop, because I shop once a week. Burgers, pizza and chicken teriyaki over rice are favorites. Also tilapia (fantastic from the costco freezer section!)
                          Friday is special treat day, steaks usually - something really good to look forward to. Sometimes I make a lemon cream pasta that is to die for.
                          Saturday - I make a longer cooking casserole and freeze some for later - Chicken enchiladas, chicken divan, macaroni and cheese. Any family favorite casserole.

                          That's it! Oh - one other thing, if you are shopping once a week you have to stage your produce to use the most perishable first (lettuce, tomatoes) and use the most stable last (carrots, potatoes, cauliflower).

                          Dinners In A Flash

                          1. In an ideal world, I stick to planning...but not lately. It's bad.

                            However, I try to do as much double duty as possible with foods. This is largely because I'm just cooking for myself so there is always more than 1 meal's worth of food. Examples would be:

                            Sunday: make veggie and black bean chili. I also usually use Sundays to make a large pot of brown rice so I don't need to spend 45min waiting for it to cook during the week, and stop buying the pre-frozen box at Trader Joes that's $4. I bring it with some veggies and tofu for lunch.

                            Monday: use veggie chili to make enchilladas.

                            Tuesday: green/red curry with tofu and veggies over brown rice

                            Wednesday: turn leftover curry into a thai curry-like soup

                            Thursday: chicken with some brown rice and veggies, or pasta with homemade tomato sauce (veggies, 1 can of muir glen fire roasted diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili flakes, simmer).

                            I also like buying the already roasted chicken at Wegmans and turning it into salad/pasta throughout the week.

                            1. Ah.. aside from my tortilla adventures, I realized a new food wrapper for my lunches yesterday. Found some CREPES I made one sat/am a while back in the freezer that I"d separated w.wax paper (which is again, flour, water, egg.. in a different ratio). Threw the leftover lunch meat from my fridge inside w.whatever fruit/veggies were left in small qtys. Turned out awesome.

                              Ended up with: ham/apple/cheddar/onion folded into one of 'em, and mushroom/mozz/bellpepper w. the dregs of our pasta sauce in another. If you cook them at home they reheat kind of nicely on paper towels in the mic. Bring whatever sauce or cream cheese you want to put on top when they're hot and you're golden. At home this would be even better as you wouldn't be reheating!

                              1. My regular practice is to do my grocery shopping once/ week, typically on the weekend. I never plan recipes in advance, but I do have a very standard set of foods that I keep on hand. I stock up on various kinds of meat, typically when they are on sale, and freeze them in small meal-size, or portion-size packages -- e..g, one lb. of ground chuck, 2 boneless 1/2 chicken breasts, or 2 pork chops to a bag in the freezer. Once/ week I also buy fresh vegetables and fruits, although in the summer I may make a mid-week stop at the farmers market near my office. The goal is always to have potatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, other salad ingredients, assorted green vegetables, lemons, limes, and garlic on hand at the beginning of the week, and replenish at week's end. I also keep a wide variety of standard staples on hand -- canned tomatoes, various dry pastas, rice, dried herbs and spices, as well as a variety of cheeses, etc.

                                Each morning, before we leave for work, my husband & I agree on something to take out of the freezer -- chicken breasts, pork chops, etc -- but not necessarily how it will be prepared. We typically commute home together and somewhere along the way, agree on what exactly we will eat and who will cook it. Sometimes we get home late or we don't feel like cooking, and the meat is put in the fridge for use the next day (in which case we might instead order pizza, or just make grilled cheese sandwiches with carrot sticks on the side). But, generally we eat a home-cooked meal every day.

                                1. For a given week, I usually plan 5 dinners. At least one of those dinners use more "pantry" items than fresh items so that if I decide not to cook it during the current week, I can cook it the following week. I can be assured that we will have leftovers at least one night of the week and there is one night left for a splurge meal (i.e. 4-course with wine) that I plan all week long before making it.
                                  This week's meal plan is:
                                  Roast chicken (I bought this pre-roasted from the grocery store) with sweet potatoes and squash (I made lots of extra squash to freeze)
                                  Split pea soup with smoked ham hock (slow cooker meal)
                                  Chili (this can be slow cooker, or not - I made lots extra to freeze as increasing the quantity does not require any more effort)
                                  French onion soup with roast beef sandwich
                                  Clam chowder with salad
                                  I find that going to the grocery store with list in hand has really made a difference to our food bill as there is less impulsive buying.

                                  1. this week's dinners:

                                    M- cauliflower+chickpea curry w/brown basmati
                                    T- fresh mozz, tomato, arugula w/basil aioli on focaccia; beet+cucumber salad
                                    W- mediterranean platter (falafel balls, feta, pita, stuffed grape leaves, olives, leftover beet salad)
                                    T- veggie quesadillas (w/salsa+guac, both are quick), black beans, corn on the cob
                                    F- gnocchi w/butternut squash and pecans in sage butter, green salad

                                    1. I do a lot of eating out and eating cereal for dinner and making more complicated things. But I do have some easy dinners that I keep coming back to. Chicken tortilla soup, teriyaki salmon with stir-fried vegetables and jasmine rice, pasta with pink vodka sauce and a salad, chicken marinated in garlic, lemon juice, and oregano, on a platter with warm pita, tomatoes, lettuce, tzatziki saice, and fruit salad. I also make bake chicken that's been marinated in Dijon mustard and orange marmalade, and serve it with green beans and parmesan mashed potatoes.

                                      1. We have been really busy and bad about planning lately, but here's this week so far:
                                        Wednesday - whole wheat pasta with jarred bolognese sauce and diced tomatoes mixed in
                                        Tuesday - pot roast (crock pot) with steamed snow peas
                                        Monday - baked mahi-mahi with soy and ginger, sauteed mixed frozen vegetables, salad
                                        Sunday - beet, lettuce, walnut, tomato, goat cheese salad; fake "chicken souvlaki" (TJ's chile-lime chicken burger + pita + tzatziki)
                                        Saturday - wraps with various veggies and leftover rotisserie chicken; frittata with turkey sausage and misc. veggies for lunch.

                                        1. Erm, I actually go to the shops every day. Mainly because I work from home, and going to the grocery store lets me escape my house for a bit, and because I get specific items from different stores/box schemes/markets. But I still find I need to have a rough idea of the week, in order to recycle leftovers effectively.

                                          So, last week:

                                          Monday: Spinach soup, peanutty Asian noodles with chicken tenders (includes carrots and green beans and scallions as veg)

                                          Tuesday: Cooked rice in the leftover spinach soup, made risotto cakes with the rice. Made big antipasto of all the veg in the fridge: steamed spinach with lemon and pine nuts, leek vinaigrette, roasted fresh fava beans.

                                          Wednesday: Egg fried rice with pancetta, peas, scallions, carrots, left over fava beans.

                                          Thursday: Seared steak with mashed potatoes, steamed peas and creamed New Zealand spinach

                                          Friday: Leftover seared steak with Asian dressing, mixed with arugula and egg noodles

                                          Saturday:black beans on a baked potato with cream cheese, salsa & salad

                                          Sunday: takeout!

                                          I find the biggest challenge to shopping in advance isn't meat (we don't eat a lot of meat, and keep things like sausages, bolognese, chicken breasts and mince in the freezer), but having fresh appealing veggies throughout the week. My emergency standbys are butternut squash (lasts forever!), frozen petit pois, and carrots. I love grated carrot salads, add grated carrots to almost everything (egg fried rice, salads, pasta dishes, soup) and enjoy steamed carrots with different dressings (miso and orange juice, butter and chives, olive oil and lemon, sesame oil and sesame seeds, etc).

                                          1. We have two little ones at home (3 years and 9 months), so our meals need to be kid friendly and easy enough to make with kidlets under your feet. I try to only go to the grocery store once a week, while one of them is at preschool... I usually end up having to go one more time though, to grab something I forgot or to pick something up for an inpromptu BBQ or get together. You said you were looking for some easy meals, so Ive written up a week of my easy go-to meals when I am in need of yummy, healthy, quick food.

                                            Monday- Slowcooker Quesadillas
                                            -Throw chicken breasts (can be frozen), can of black beans, can of corn, can of diced tomatoes, lots of cumin, and salsa seasoning (if you have it) or a splash of salsa in slowcooker in the morning. At dinner time, scoop onto tortillas, top with cheese, and put under the broiler. Very very yummy.

                                            Tuesday - Morrocan Chicken and couscous
                                            Cook chicken, can of diced tomatoes, chopped zuchinni, chick peas, with morrocan spices (I like cumin and cinnamon). Stir in some raisons when almost done. Serve with couscous.

                                            Wednesday- Marinated Steak Sandwiches with yam fries
                                            -Marinate steak strips in olive oil, lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, salt and pepper and oregano. Cook in a pan with a sliced white onion. Place on ciabatta bread with swiss cheese and dill pickle. Yummy yummy yummy.

                                            Thursday- Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with salad and brushetta. I sometimes make the sauce on the stove, and sometimes in the slowcooker. If you make it in the slowcooker, you just need to brown the meat first. You can also add a bit of bacon to the slowcooker as well, which makes it really tasty.

                                            Friday- Burritos, homemade guacamole and salsa and chips
                                            -I cook up a big thing of hamburger meat on Wednesday. Then I use half for that nights meat sauce, and the other half I save for burritos the next night. Saves a lot of work.

                                            Saturday- Monteray Chicken, steamed dill carrots, steamed green beans with bacon.
                                            -Marinate chicken in olive oil, red wine vinagar, soy sauce, garlic, and oregano. Cook on BBQ, or in pan on stove. When done, top with Monteray Jack, tomato slice, avocado slice, purple onion slice, and slice of cooked bacon. Also good served on buns as a chicken burger.

                                            Sunday- Pizza and Movie Night
                                            We always have dinner and a movie together on Sunday, to wind up the weekend. I make my own dough my throwing on the bread machine in the morning, and then we can all make our own (well maybe not the 9 month old...) before the movie on Sunday night.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Finsmom


                                              How do you make Yam Fries?

                                              Does your family like them?

                                              1. re: susanlorelei

                                                The family loves them!
                                                I started by using 1/2 white potatoes, and half yams. Then I slowly used less and less white potato each time I made them, until I now use straight yams. This way they got used to the "new" food slowly (hubby included :)).

                                                I chop up the yams into sticks, toss them with olive oil, coarse salt, minced garlic, and rosemary, and put them on a silicone mat on a cookie sheet. Then I pop them in the oven, and toss them every 10 minutes or so until they are done. I don't use a silicone mat for any other cooking, but for this it really seems to make a difference.

                                              2. re: Finsmom

                                                Great menu. Do you leave the chicken in the slow cooker all day? How many hours? also, I assume you use the low setting...


                                                1. re: kmills9408

                                                  I do use the low setting. I put it in in the morning (around 9ish), and take it out around 3. Seems to work good for me :)

                                              3. I just read through that and found about a million spelling mistakes. Serves me right for not re-reading before posting. :)

                                                1. With the cost of everything being so high lately, I sit down on Thursday ea week to do menu planning. That's the day the grocery store ads come out. I view online the 2-3 stores near me and try to figure out which one has the best sales. Then I figure out rough meals to use with sale ingredients. I make out a menu, then a grocery list and usually go Sat or Sun to do marketing.

                                                  What's been interesting me lately is that rib steak has been on sale for $5.99 or $6.99/lb, pretty cheap, but the produce has been through the roof.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                    I highly recommend signing up for a CSA in your area. It can seem like some heavy-duty upfront costs, but when you weigh the benefits of fresh, locally-grown organic produce against the increasingly expensive, flavorless, trucked-across-the-country stuff in the grocery store, it more than balances out. it also helps guide the menu planning for the week and guarantees that you'll eat enough veg!

                                                    1. re: dingey

                                                      Thanks for the suggestion. Have looked into CSA, the issue is that family is not very adventerous on new veggies and self limiting. The growing season here in Central Ohio is about 5 months and the CSA I investigated all had tons of veggies no one would eat. My compromise in the spring/summer months is to shop at local farmer's markets. I am very lucky, I work 5 min from the Columbus, OH North Market, which has tons of fresh, local produce available, as does the Italian meat/grocery store I frequent. Not into canning, however, I have learned how to dry pack and freeze fresh veggies for use in the winter months.

                                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                        I would love to do csa but there are none in my area.

                                                  2. We shop once a week to pick up fresh produce and staples that are on sale. Our menu this week has been:

                                                    -Grilled balsamic chicken cutlets with couscous and a garden salad topped with feta cheese and baby tomatoes.
                                                    -Grilled bratwursts, grilled potatoes and garden salad
                                                    - Baked scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and whole wheat toast
                                                    -Cut up cheese, watermelon and whole wheat crackers

                                                    It's been hot here, so I haven't felt like cooking much.

                                                    What I do, is track the sales at the grocery store and use that to stock up things like pasta, crackers, frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, etc. You know, the stuff I will always use and won't go bad. I buy that stuff only when it's on sale and I buy more than I know I need. I have a roomy pantry. I also buy meat on sale and freeze it, but it goes on sale less and my freezer isn't all that big.

                                                    Every Sunday morning, I check the sale ads and clip my coupons. Then I make a menu plan for the week. I base my menu off what I know I have stockpiled and what I know I'm going to buy.

                                                    The only thing we don't buy only when it's on sale is fresh produce, but even then we try to pay attention to what's in season and isn't as expensive.

                                                    1. lately 90% of our dinners are meaty thing on bbq + salad, because who wants to cook indoors when it is sweltering? but in cooler months i do a massive amount of cooking on the weekends & during the week it's heat-and-eat, with the odd quick-from-scratch meal thrown in. if we did not do it this way, we'd be eating popcorn for dinner every night while lovely produce went off in the fridge. also, when i'm doing a big weekend cookfest, i do multiple recipes so that if we have a busy weekend and don't get the cooking done, we don't starve. we have a very well-stocked chest-freezer (although our quarter of beef is nearly gone - sigh). usually i do groceries online for delivery, and then pick up extras at the markets & health food store.

                                                      regular meals include:

                                                      white vegetarian lasagna
                                                      meatloaf (why i always shunned this as a child, i'll never know)
                                                      chicken cacciatore with spinach polenta
                                                      various homemade pasta sauces (bolognese, mushrooms with chicken & bacon)
                                                      risotto (made fresh for dinner, but i will slice & sautee the onions ahead of time because that always seems to take me forever)
                                                      my husband's famous coconut chicken with rice & broccoli
                                                      baked lemon chicken with artichokes and mushrooms, rapini, egg noodles
                                                      braised porkchops
                                                      classic irish stew with colcannon
                                                      mac and cheese, served with some sort of green thing

                                                      in summer (all of these can be done on the barbecue):
                                                      rainbow trout with lemon dill butter & potato salad with asparagus
                                                      ribs, corn on the cob, green salad
                                                      pork souvlaki with tabboulleh, hummus, pita, (pre-fab) dolmathes
                                                      steak and salad of spinach, tomatoes, green onions, and miso-sesame dressing
                                                      chicken with salad of spinach, frisee, sliced pears, vidalia onions, and pecans

                                                      when i'm feeling fancy i make tortellini from scratch. my husband is a picky eater; that's cut into my repertoire a bit.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: smartygirl

                                                        I would love the recipe for the coconut chicken if you have it...thanks for all of the great ideas!

                                                      2. Last night I think I did the fastest dinner ever. I made tacos that were made with thinnly sliced beef seasoned with chilis and salt and pepper, Cut up a bunch of cilantro and white onion (small dice) grated white cheese, salsa. Heated small fresh white corn tortillas, took two, and filled them with the aforementioned and squeeze a lime over. I got the ultimate compliment from my son. "Mom these are as good as the grub trucks, man!"
                                                        Took me about 15 minutes. The funny part was I had about 1/3 lb of meat, I sliced it thin and barely cooked it, -pink. The flavor was so good.. Between 4 people there was enought left over for another taco (someone ate it this morning). Just goes to show you. Every night doesn't have to be an expensive dinner, this quick meal was filling in fact, my son said "don't eat two... you'll be full!" I did and I was. But oh so satisfying.

                                                        Between Chinese and Mexican food I can whip up the quickest tastiest meals. Just prepare your mis en place in the morning or the night before, and your dinner will fly.
                                                        I only prepare enough for that meal, because yes I do think freshness is key, any longer and it degrades.

                                                        Saturdays and Sundays are days that you can make breakfasts for the week or, soups and sauces, they keep well in the freezer. Even bread, freeze garlic bread and it will be ready to go with your pasta dish.

                                                        1. Made a great, easy Sunday night supper last night we will have to use again mid week. Defrosted 2 chicken breast, sliced up some red onion, red and green peppers. Sauteed veggies till crisp, sauteed chix. Threw 1/2 cup white wine over with a tsp of chicken soup base, loads of garlic, paprika, a little s&p. Let it simmer 10-15 min while I cooked orzo. Plated orzo on nice big, heated platter. Added 3/4 cup light sour cream to chicken & veggies, voila quick chicken Paprikash. Served on top of orzo with cesar salad.

                                                          1. I've been shopping once/week for as long as I can remember. Plan for the week on one side of paper and list for grocery store on the back. I also can not go without a list. I end up with all sorts of crazy wonderful impulse ingredients and missing half of what is needed to follow through with my plan.

                                                            Shopping weekly just seems to be the most effecient way to so it. Cooking dinner after a long day is my therapy and standing in line at the store with everyone else getting the fixin's for dinner is not very relaxing. And running thru my dinner plans in the car on the way home is a way of transitioning between the world of home and work. Although it does aggrivate the mister that planning for the week means spreading piles of recipes all over the kitchen. And, ya know, they just don't pick themselves up and hop back into the cupboard on thier own. Humph! What's up with that?

                                                            This weeks menu, with temps expected in the mid 80's in mind...
                                                            Sunday - Warm Potato & Beef Salad with Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Fondue
                                                            Monday - Twice Baked Mock Tandoori, Roasted Potatoes w. North Indian Spices and Thai Green Beans
                                                            Tuesday - Maple Pepper Salmon Bites on a Green Salad and Garlic Bread
                                                            Wednesday - Dzik
                                                            Thursday - Shrinp and Broccoli in Chilie Sauce with basmati rice

                                                            BTW, I've been noticing mentions of CSA's for awhile now. What are they and how can I find more specifics about them?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: ajcraig

                                                              ajcraig - you can learn more about CSA's and find one near you at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/. The type of offerings vary from farm to farm, but last year (before we had our own vegetable garden), we got a "Summer 1/2 Share", which provided us with enough veggies to split among 2 families. Our CSA allowed substitutions, so we could opt out of certain things we didn't like, but a lot of the fun came from seeing what you'd get each week. Also, our CSA grew a lot of unique varieties of veggies - things you'd never see in a grocery store. Our CSA also offered beef and pork shares, so we got 1/2 pig, stuck the meat in our chest freezer, and ate it all year long.

                                                            2. I love doing the big shopping trip once a week. Just did our yesterday! My strategy is to load up on tons of veggies that can be thrown into stews, make up various sides or can go into a salad or onto a homemade pizza. Then pick up 3 or 4 types of protein. I find that even without a specific menu I have enough components to put together quick, healthy, veggie heavy meals. This week's loose plan is:

                                                              Yesterday - Pan roasted tilapia with a warm shallot tomato vinaigrette, curry roasted cauliflower and collard greens with roasted garlic and red pepper flakes

                                                              Tonight: Home made pizza. One four cheese and one veggie (roasted red peppers, artichokes, broccoli. Caeser salad.

                                                              Tuesday: (I have class until 10 and husband normally works late) I will toss chicken breasts or skirt steak in a chimmi chuuri ish marinade (cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinager, salt & pepper) in the morning. Who ever gets home first can put them on the grill with asparagus, finish the curried cauliflower. The extra protein from this meal is used to make salads or sandwiches for lunch.

                                                              Wednesday: Lamb meatballs with a spicy tomato sauce and broccoli rabe with garlic and red pepper.

                                                              Thursday - Fisherman Stew (seafood I pick up at the fish place on my way home from class all other ingredients at home) A combo of some of the following - clams, mussels, langostine, shrimp, little lobster tail (for company :) fillet of sturdy fresh fish with chorizo tomatoes, white wine, garlic. Crusty bread for dipping.

                                                              Friday - Fish "Cayman Style" Snapper, covered with onions & bell peppers steamed in a spicy liquid made from tomato paste & the vinegar from pickled scotch bonnet peppers. Usually done in a foil packet on the grill - no clean up! Sauteed kale and garden salad with lots of veggies.

                                                              Sat: Date Night!

                                                              I also try to bake once a week, so we do have something sweet to have after dinner and to practice - (I am in pastry school :)
                                                              This week was oatmeal cookies with almonds and dark chocolate chunks. Yum Yum.