January 11, 2013

Week 2 – Prep Ahead, Economical Meals

Printable Version of Meal Plan with Recipes and Grocery List

This was a typical week – we both worked the full week and neither of us had any lunch outings planned.  My daughter is turning 4 next week and we were in party prep and planning mode so I tried to stick to some easy meals in order to free up my evenings for getting ready for that.  Another thing I was focused on this week was avoiding tomatoes… I’m a long-time eczema sufferer and I know tomatoes to be one of my triggers.  Problem is I LOVE tomatoes - so instead of cutting them out altogether I try to eat them in moderation, but if you recall I went pretty crazy with them last week.  Unfortunately that coincided with a great sale on Ricotta – one of our favorite dishes is Ricotta Stuffed Shells with what else?  Pasta sauce!   I’ll keep you in suspense with how that turned out!

Week in review

Monday – I had supper club with the girls on Sunday evening (stay tuned for restaurant reviews coming soon!) so no big batch supper to get me through Monday. 
For lunch
I opted for Cobb Salad with some leftover Christmas turkey that we had in the freezer.  I tried this recipe for homemade ranch dressing from 100daysofrealfood.com which was a hit!  I premixed the spices and made it several more times throughout the week and will never buy store-bought ranch dressing again.  Supper was another salad but they were quite different and both pretty hearty so I didn’t feel we were eating ‘rabbit food’ all day.  This one was roasted beets (yum!), goat cheese (yum!), candied walnuts (again yum!).  We had some slices of steak on the side but this salad could be served as an entrée salad on its own.  I used golden beets that I found at Costco which were easier to handle (ie. didn’t turn my hands red) and boiled them the night before so that this meal was quick and easy to throw together after work.  If you’re going to try one recipe this week I’d vote for this one.  It’s a good opportunity to make an easy, restaurant quality meal!
Tuesday – ok, I just gave you your one meal to try but now I’m going to give you your second.  Lentils and Rice.   Not because it’s so mind blowingly delicious that you’re going to rant and rave and tell all your friends it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten, but because it’s ridiculously quick, easy, cheap… and actually pretty good.   It’s basically like making rice but you throw in a cup of lentils and some seasonings.  So one pot, 2 minutes of prep, walk away for 45 minutes and you have lunches made for 2 days!  I’m talking work lunches but I think this would work well for school lunches as well – its nut free and easily packable, I usually eat it warm but it’s good cold too.  It’s also gluten and dairy free and about 7 weight watchers points!   For supper we had sole with brown butter.  Big fan of the brown butter!   I recommend reading the tips from Chatelaine.  The first time I had a brown butter sauce was in a ravioli dish at Ristorante Amano in Halifax.  It was actually a brown butter sage sauce and I’ve made it that way since, so I picked up sage forgetting I was having it with fish and not pasta.  Oh well, since I had it I added it anyway.  I have Kale chips on the menu with this meal, but sadly I could not find Kale anywhere L  We had roasted veggies but if you can find Kale I highly recommend this recipe - again from 100daysofrealfood.com.  In my house we call these “green chippies” and they are extremely popular with the young and old alike!
Snack Tip - I used the left over brown butter on my popcorn and it was really good!  I put some in baggies in for a work treat the next day.

Wednesday – Dave and I both gave the slow-cooker orange chicken a thumbs up, although I would say not an overly enthusiastic one.  It was good, but not like Mexican Chicken good.  But it’s one of those easy to assemble slow cooker recipes that you can put on low for 9hrs -- it’s a winner in my books for that reason.  We had rice for lunch so I served it will couscous for something different. 

Thursday – ok, here’s my Ricotta story.  After much debate I decided to try a new ricotta recipe that didn’t call for tomato sauce.   It was easy to assemble (I buy pre-cut squash) the night before which meant that all I had to do when I got home was turn on the oven and throw it in.  Marin is always chatty and looking for attention at this time of day so meals like this are a good thing.  However…. it was just ok.  The flavor was definitely good but it was a tad dry.  Although I realized after that I was supposed to cover it while it was cooking… hmm, that could definitely have been the problem and now I’m thinking it’s worth another try.  Another ricotta tip while we’re on the topic – Ricotta mixed with peanut butter and maple syrup is awesome on toast or as a dip with fruit… or just to eat by the spoonful.  And my friend Amy suggested making your own ricotta!  I of course thought she was crazy but I took the time to read this blog post by http://smittenkitchen.com which was both entertaining and informative.  It actually sounds pretty easy, I’m sure to try it in the not too distant future!

Friday – tonight we had goat cheese & mushroom omelettes.  Breakfast for supper, never a bad thing!

And now I'm off to decorate!

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