Sunday, May 20, 2012

Menu Planning

I typically plan for 5 dinners per week, leaving 2 nights open for leftovers. I keep an extra bag of frozen veggies and either pasta or rice for a quick stir-fry in case we don't have enough leftovers. I plan our meals based on what produce and meats are on sale at the grocery store, and I try to include a variety of meal types (pasta, mexican, meatless, etc.) I typically buy meats when they are on sale and freeze them, so often my shopping list doesn't include meat b/c I use what I have in the freezer.

Here is my menu plan from last week...
Chef Salad
Sweet Potato Pizza
Pasta Delight
Venison Gyros
Fish Tacos

I usually make at least 2 batches of homemade cereal per week, 1-2 loaves of bread, and some other snack type food like granola bars or muffins. For breakfast I keep oatmeal and oat bran on hand. We typically try to have 2-3 different types of fruits on hand to snack on, depending upon what is on sale, and of course veggies like carrots and cucumbers are always good to have on hand as well. For lunch we eat leftovers, sandwiches, or whatever we can find in the house :) When all is said and done, my grocery bill typically runs between $60 and $70 per week - probably closer to $70 on average because my monthly budget for food is $280. This may seem high to some and low to others, but for us $280 is doable but definitely not extravagant. My goal is to feed my family a variety of nutrients at every meal, with as little processed food as possible.

The next 5 posts are the meals from last week's plan...

Chef Salad

How much more simple can you get?

Orange Bell Pepper
Turkey Bacon
Pecorino (or Parmesan) Cheese

Soooooo good. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pizza

Don't knock it till you've tried it. That's all I'm sayin.

Start by dicing up 2 or 3 sweet medium to large sweet potatoes. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and roast in a 425 degree oven until tender (about 20-30 minutes, stirring once).

Pizza Dough:
In a bowl, pour 1 cup warm water and 2 Tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon yeast over it. Stir to combine.
In a second bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet; mix and knead until smooth.

Roll out the dough and top with tomato sauce, italian seasoning, cheese (we use pecorino b/c of allergies but mozzarella would be fine, of course), and your roasted sweet potatoes. Bake in a 500 degree oven until crust is done and cheese is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Trust me. We eat this pizza at least 2-3 times a month. Just try it. And enjoy!

Pasta Delight

This one was a big hit and looked a lot more sophisticated than it actually was.

Brown your choice of sausage/ground meat (I used a combination of venison sausage and venison burger) in a skillet and set aside. Thinly slice 2 red or orange bell peppers until tender; add sliced mushrooms, a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, and some sliced olives to the mix and continue to cook. Add meat back into the pan and stir to combine.

Boil water and cook a box of whole wheat penne according to package directions. Drain and toss together with the meat and veggies. Top with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.


Venison Gyros

I looove flatbread, but it is so expensive! This week I was craving some kind of flatbread sandwich but I couldn't bring myself to spend over 3 dollars on a package of 6 sweet, beautiful pieces of flatbread.

So I made my own. And it was goooood.

For the filling:
Take 1 pound of cubed venison steak and cut into strips. Drop into an oiled cast iron skillet or dutch oven and brown; add a couple of Tablespoons of flour and then stir in some broth (enough to barely cover the meat), and a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Cover and transfer to a 300 degree oven for 1 hour. When the meat is halfway done, saute a thinly sliced onion. Just before serving, add some sliced mushrooms to the pan with the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes. (I think sliced bell peppers, cooked along with the onions, would be delicious in this also.)

For the bread (recipe from here):
Mix 4 cups flour, 2 Tablespoons rapid rise yeast, 2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp sugar. Stir in 1 3/4 cup hot water and 2 tsp oil. Mix and knead until smooth; cover and let rise for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into  6 pieces and roll out into 8 inch circles. Brush each side with a little oil and then cook, one at a time, in a heated cast iron skillet for 3-4 minutes per side.

Fill the bread with meat, onions, mushrooms, and cheese...

 And enjoy!

Fish Tacos

Easy peasy.

Cook 1 cup of brown rice according to package directions.
Peel and roughly chop one avocado. Add to the food processor, along with 1/2 jar of your favorite salsa. Blend until smooth.
Drop 3-4 thawed fillets of white fish (I used flounder) into a hot oiled skillet. As the fish cooks, flake into smaller pieces with spatula. This will take less than 5 minutes. Once the fish is done, turn the heat off and stir in the salsa mixture and the rice. Serve in warm tortillas.