I don’t always plan menus a week at a time, but instead just usually have a folder of recipes that I’d like to try in the next couple of weeks and then will decide, day by day, which one to pull out and then thaw (and/or shop) accordingly, each morning.
The good news, though, is that when I see a recipe I know I’m going to try soon, I’ll grab the non-perishable ingredients that are necessary for it, so that I have them on hand. Yes, I do end up having to grocery-shop just about every day (and yes, I hate shopping, too), but I usually only have to grab two or three things each time. I usually do one “gigantic run” about every week to ten days, for non-perishable and staple-things.
I do find it nice, though, when I have the time, to actually plan out menus in advance. It gives me the ability to look ahead and see which nights will be busy and can prep some things in advance, as I’m cooking during the week, so that I can have less work to do on those busy nights. Sometimes, if I have one cooking-at-home night, but know that the next night will be insane, I’ll make a casserole that can be prepared ahead, so that it’s ready to go for the next night. Baked ziti is a great one for this. I won’t tell if you use bottled sauce – just use a good one – although I usually make my sauce in advance and have it ready to go in the freezer when I need it and it’s not that troublesome. Baked spaghetti casserole is another one that’s make-ahead friendly.
Anyway, to make a long story short, this week and actually am planning menus ahead and thought I would share them with you, in case you want to play along at home.
Yes, I know, this menu is a little heavy on soups, Italian greens, orange winter vegetables and Asian noodle salads, but, hey, that’s what I felt like…
Smoky-Spicy Turkey Tamale Pies (double the recipe, which specifies two servings)
Fresh Orange Sorbet
Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole
Asian Salmon and Crunchy Noodle Salad from Ina Garten’s show this morning
I may or may not make the accompanying Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberry sauce, depending upon how much time I have. We happen to have a lot of desserts already in the house right now (thanks, Girl Scouts!)
Golden Winter Soup with Gruyere toasts
(I will add a little poblano pepper, as the online reviews suggested.)
Flaky Blood Orange Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce
I already have this prepared and frozen and will bake it and make the sauce that night. I made it with Cara Cara oranges instead of the blood oranges, which I may regret. The color is not as impressive and I’m afraid that the Cara Caras will be too sweet. We’ll see.
Grilled Chicken Thighs (with very simple seasoning, maybe just some Baby Bam, because the gnocchi are VERY rich and flavorful and I want them to be the star of the show)
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
Garlic-Miso Pork Chops with Orange Bell Pepper and Arugula
and some sort of soba noodle salad that will likely be a combination of these:
Chilled Soba with Tofu and Sugar Snap Peas
Cold Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Pork (without the pork)
Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumber, Bok Choy and mixed greens
Soba Salad with Soy-Wasabi Vinaigrette
Marinated London Broil, sliced and served atop a mixed green salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Cauliflower Soup with Pecans and Rye Croutons