The Magical Menu Plan

Once upon a time I didn’t plan meals.  We went to the supermarket, usually together, and we picked up entrée items that we thought we’d enjoy or that we hadn’t had in a while, and then we’d throw in some carbs (gimme the noodles!) and produce to round out what we viewed as a reasonably healthful selection of foods for the week.  Since we both worked, initially outside the home, and hubby was not a breakfast person, we’d pick up deli lunchmeat for lunches on the weekend and call it a successful shopping trip.  The biggest problem we encountered was waste.  We were, back then, a family of two with one person who really did not enjoy eating leftovers because, as you know, leftovers are, in fact, left over.  They’re reheated versions of a prior meal that you finished eating only 24 hours before.  But, we bought for six entrées and, other than on weekends, we didn’t eat lunch at home.  Leftovers usually got tossed.  I would hate to have tracked the cost of all that discarded food over all those years.  YIKES! 

I’ve lost count of all the ways I’ve tried to feed us reasonably-portioned, healthy meals while reducing waste.  It’s not easy but, for us, the least wasteful way to get this done is by planning the meals and, now that we’re both home most of the time, I need to reconfigure what is left from a meal for two into something that doesn’t look anything like its original form so as to avoid leftovers.  😉 

So, early on Saturday morning, I dig through my freezer to get an idea of what’s left in there, my produce, and my pantry, and then sit down at my desk in front of my computer with the two cookbooks I use most and my internet links and make a plan.  It’s also MUCH easier for me to plan when I shop every month or two for my entrée items.  I do this shopping on line for many reasons:  (1)  my hubby and I are in our 60s and suffer with knee difficulties, making supermarket forays and waiting in line difficult (and, if I’m honest, truly annoying; I’ve never been good at waiting, ever); (2) the supermarket here is, other than our co-op the only grocery game in town – it’s seriously overpriced on most items and, frankly, if I’m going to pay outrageous prices for food, I can get it delivered, get better quality, and pay the same and frequently less; and (3) while I love our co-op because it supports local farmers, I’m finding that I’m paying roughly the same whether I shop at the co-op, the overpriced supermarket or on-line and, again, I don’t have to stand on my feet while waiting in line.  Since I can’t find delivery on good dairy items, I plan on going back to our local co-op for dairy items because, honestly, you really can’t beat fresh chicken and duck eggs and fresh raw milk.  😊 

Yes, shopping has changed a lot, especially in this last year.  I buy most of my seafood (except of course, our local lobster, crab, and scallops) through Vital Choice Seafood.  Their selection is fabulous and the quality simply can’t be beat.  Not only that but, on occasions when errors have been made in my orders they have gone above and beyond to make sure that I’m always truly delighted with their service.  All my other meats (beef, pork, lamb, poultry) is purchased through Purdue Farms.  Again, it’s about quality and service and, in this instance, the availability of a large selection of quality meats.  I order my produce bi-weekly from Misfits and, thus far, that has worked out well.  I just need to make certain that I use up the more fragile, quick-to-spoil produce at the beginning of the two-week period.  I order their bigger box option for two weeks since even their small box is too big for hubby and I for one week.  The large box for two weeks works out really well since you can now customize your box.  We can order non-perishables and paper goods on line as well.  This all has reduced our need to go to the local supermarket tremendously and has eliminated much of our waste as well. 

SATURDAYGREEK ISLAND-STYLE SPINACH-STUFFED CALAMARI WITH RICE & APPLE-PEAR CAKE
SUNDAYBIRTHDAY DINNER AT THE KIDS’ HOUSE FOR OUR OLDEST GRANDSON – 14!!  😊
MONDAYBASMATI RICE WITH MUSHROOMS, WALNUTS & KALE IN PUMPKIN SAUCE
TUESDAYSHRIMP TACOS WITH AVOCADO-MANGO SALSA & LIME CREMA IN HOMEMADE SOFT WRAPS
WEDNESDAYCHICKEN BREASTS IN ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE WITH SPINACH AND HOMEMADE GNOCCHI
THURSDAYSHAKSHUKA WITH A GREEN SALAD
FRIDAYNO-COOK FRIDAY 😊

Usually, Sunday nights are our special meal of the week.  This week, however, with a birthday to celebrate tonight next door, we made Saturday night our special meal.  I got the recipe out of one of my most-used cookbooks, The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, by Amy Riolo.  We had Greek Island-Style Stuffed Calamari with Rice and Herbs.  It was positively delicious and relatively quick to make once I got the hang of stuffing the squid bodies.  I simply sautéed up the tentacles while the stuffed squid was cooking.  Should you desire the recipe, it’s here on YouTube:

So delicious!

And, for dessert, there was a moist and delectable apple-pear cake.  This recipe indicates a Bundt pan or 9×13; however, since I could get a “two-fer,” I baked it in two 9” cake pans and wrapped one for the freezer.  😊  Like the 9×13 variation in the recipe, it did take 50 minutes to bake.  It also used up the last of my apples and pears – bonus!  You’ll find the recipe for the cake here:  https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/this-apple-and-pear-cake-recipe-was-a-family-mystery-until-i-cracked-its-delicious-code/.  Since I’m not a great fan of vegetable oil in my cakes, I will likely try to come up with a version using butter. 

By way of full disclosure, I do not have a large or stand-alone freezer.  What I purchase must fit in my refrigerator freezer and it does get tight.  😊  In addition, We conscientiously budget for what we spend monthly on food (actually, we budget for everything so we never have to have anything on credit). I’m particularly interested in items that are on special from the on-line vendors I use. I do not use affiliate links here since I feel strongly about such things.  If you have an interest in something specific, please just drop me an e-mail and I will be happy to provide you with additional information.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

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2 Responses to The Magical Menu Plan

  1. Karen says:

    I never knew calamari looked like that!! Yummmmm!

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