Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Planning

I like planning menus. I'm not always disciplined about doing it, but when I do, I enjoy thinking about nutrition, balance, resources, flavors, texture, appearance--all those things that make a meal pleasurable and healthy. The thing that makes planning menus tricky is considering the calendar and planning how one meal will flow to another, or become leftovers for a busy day or choir night or whether I'll have an hour of prep time or several. I've tried planning a month of menus, two weeks worth, or just a week at a time. For me, I find one week at a time makes sense and works best. That way I'm not planning for a week that has unforseen events, bored taste buds, or doesn't take advantage of the ever-changing supply of produce, for instance.

The other part of menu planning that I enjoy concerns our desire to eat as sustainably as possible by eating as close to our plate as possible and within season. I like that I have to pay attention to what's left in our freezer, what canned goods I should be using, what veggies are at the market or what's ready in our own garden (or isn't). After I consider all of these things, then I get to work planning, or in my mind, designing, what our meals will be. I want my family to come together around the table and enjoy beautiful, homemade food, gathered locally, organic if possible, and experience the food, letting it nourish our spirits as well as our bodies.

Although I do have a running menu of breakfasts and lunches, these don't change all that much and don't require as much planning, so I will share only our dinner menus.
This being the first week of March in Maine, we are thinking about our dwindling root vegetables, using up frozen veggies and fruit (that we put-by from the farm market) and if we're lucky, we may be able to find baby greens or tomotoes from some local farmers with greenhouses. One more thing: our two kids were raised vegetarian, but as of the last two years, have been agreeable to trying some poultry and fish as we strive to include local (and culurally) important foods in our diet. This said, they don't always like fish or poultry, so we still eat a lot of vegetarian meals or I try to include things that will satisfy the kids if the main entree is fish or poultry. Also, I do include dessert because it's fun and tastes good, and needs no other explanation.

All items are made from scratch, local/organic, and/or from our own pantry/freezer unless otherwise noted.

Monday, March 2

Potato Leek soup w/ shredded cheddar cheese
Baby Spinach w/hard boiled egg and greenhouse tomatoes, turkey bacon and/or fake bacon.

Tuesday, March 3 (busy day/evening)

Veggie Lasagna (already prepared frozen)
Yeasted Garlic Knots
Romaine Salad

Wednesday, March 4

Use Those Roots/Tubers Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust w/Quorn Tenders
Chocolate Brownies

Thursday, March 5

Baked Salmon, marinated in olive oil, lemon and dill
Herbed red potatoes
Baby Spinach w/ red grapes and cubed Monterey Jack cheese and Walnuts
(leftover potpie for those who don't want salmon)
Strawberry & Northern Spy Apple Oatmeal Crisp

Friday, March 6

Dinner out, with friends

Saturday, March 7

Roasted chicken with carrot, potato, onion and herbs
Make Your Own Big Salad--includes various toppings: beets, carrots, egg, Maine shrimp, feta, olives, peppers, cabbage.
Leftover Crisp

Sunday, March 8

Homemade Pizza--Mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, sauteed baby spinach with olive oil and garlic, onion, Kalamata olives, feta, greenhouse tomatoes, toasted pine nuts.
Homemade chocolate pudding

Monday night: For some reason as I got baking I decided on Pineapple Upsidedown Cake instead of gingersnaps. I may make gingersnaps later in the week. Here's dinner.


  1. Oh, I need to get back on this :menu planning. I use to do it and for some reason stopped. Love your menu...all sounds yummy. :)

  2. Mmmm... now I'm hungry. It looks like your family eats in a very similar style to ours. This time of year can be a struggle for me because of the lack of local fresh produce. I'm having fantasies about the first basket I'll pick up from the CSA.
    Enjoy your tasty week!

  3. That pineapple upside down cake looks YUMMY!!

  4. I'm just getting started on eating as locally and sustainably as possible- you mentioned you have a few breakfast/lunch foods that you rotate through- would you mind sharing those? I'm finding that I struggle with those meals because I used to rely on convience/packaged/prepared foods.

  5. dongdong--thanks for reading and commenting.

    Tara--same here, same here.

    Helen, much thanks!

    Trisha--breakfast can be anything healthy and nourishing, even if that's leftovers. We love yogurt smoothies, homemade whole wheat bread and cream cheese spreads, like honey rasin walnut or green olive (I make these.) We also love a yummy egg, veggie and cheese frittata, egg and cheese sandwiches, potato salad and baked beans, even. Once in awhile I or Alex bake up a bunch of tarts or short crust pockets that we fill with cheese and sauce, veggies, egg, fruit, etc and put them in the freezer.

    For lunches, it can be similar foods, or things like herbed chevre spread on whole wheat wraps with sprouts, peppers, lettuce and cucumber--one of our favorites. Lots of hummus, or similar bean spreads are yummy on a good crusty bread with veggies. Many times I make up a batch of pasta, drizzle it in olive oil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, maybe crumbled feta and basil--yum. Bruchetta is also great for lunch--cheese, tomato, olive oil, herbs, on rustic bread, toasted in the oven. Maybe I'll post about You win. ha ha. Many thanks for reading!



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