How to Plan Your Meals for the Week

This is my thing over on Instagram, but wanted to share some thoughts behind my meal planning goodness.

Meal planning saves us time, money and worry.
Let’s get to it.

Meal plan 12/17/2017

Food-we-have
Usually early Saturday morning, I creep downstairs and make a really messy list of all the ingredients that we need to use up. It’s a real ugly, back of the envelope kind of list.

On this list, I take note of rotisserie chicken carcasses, wilty green onions and potatoes that might just be starting to sprout. (Those foods you really don’t want to toss quite yet.)

Then, I quickly review the pantry. Sometimes, I have a random half cup of corn meal that’s just bugging me. Sometimes, I need to use up one of the 6 giant cans of crushed tomatoes that are taking up too much room. Sometimes, I become obsessed with using up a can of evaporated milk and I take it from there.

This food-we-have list is not the meal plan, it’s the map to the meal plan. I scratch things off, circling and drawing connecting lines. I look at what leftovers we have and what leftovers we will have so that we can minimize food waste and maximize our prep time.

The calendar
Once I know what we have, I evaluate my calendar. Just like you, between social events, kid activities and a busy work schedule, we’re pretty booked. Thinking about our week ahead of time, helps prepare us for the events ahead — and more importantly, sets up a sense of happy anticipation.

(When I look at my schedule as it relates to food I look forward to my week, How refreshing.)

Lately, I’ve had more work travel than usual. This means that dinner for James and the girls needs to be ready to go without me.Prepared food is my love language. I plan meals that can either be made in the slow cooker or meals that are ready to go.

Knowing this helps me work with our calendar with a combination of convenience, pre-prep and the freezer.

60% follow rate

Our meal plans are, on average, followed 60% of the time. Some weeks (especially the broke weeks), it’s 100%. Some weeks (the busy ones) it’s 25%. All averaged out, 60% followability.

And like I says, 60% is better than 0%.
I’ll take it.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Gremolata Recipe

Remember me?

In the swirl of this year of hard stuff, I realized I missed this hobby of mine.
This web log life.

I am slowly adding back some recipes, essays and images from the archives.
Thanks for playing along.

Here’s a recipe my meat-eaters love for winter dinner. It cooks while you toil. And sister, I know you’re toiling.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Recipe: Slow Cooker Short Ribs with a Bright & Lively Gremolata

Short Rib Ingredients
6 medium beef short ribs
1 onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Gremolata Ingredients
3 tablespoons parsley
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 cloves of minced garlic

Directions
Salt and pepper short ribs. Add to slow cooker.
Add the onion and garlic to your slow cooker.

Cook on low for eight hours — or work backwards from the time you’d like to serve your short ribs. Aim for no less than 4 hours, no more than 9.
(Slow cookers are forgiving like that.)

Chop the parsley and lemon zest fine. Add the minced garlic  Stir the gremolata ingredients together in a small bowl.

You can either serve the gremolata on top of the short ribs or s put it out in a small bowl for guests to serve themselves. My kids demand the latter. Gremolata haters, I’ll win them over yet.

Serve these short ribs in a large shallow bowl atop whipped potatoes or creamy polenta and some sauteed bitter greens. Don’t forget the good red wine. If you’d like a rec, I’d serve it with Apriori Red Wine or Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect for holiday busy weeknights.