I do solemnly swear to start off this week with preparation and cook ahead meals to keep us on budget. Since I've been on short term disability leave and my paycheck is greatly diminished, I have to be creative with our freezer stash and pantry items to feed the family. It is far easier to prep ahead a few meals and resist the lure of the telephone dial to 727FoodNow or the local pizza delivery.
Step one of meal planning and preparation is figuring out the menu for the week.
I try to vary the protein and sides so that my loving husband does not have to endure chicken overload. He is a carnivore of the finest kind. I, however, love my veggies with a small side of meat. We are literally Jack Sprat and Wife. We shop the sales circulars and plan the meals for what is the best price.
Step two of the cooking process is read over the recipes, even those you know like the back of your hand. I can't tell you how often I've begun cooking only to find I'm missing a key ingredient. Brain fog is a terrible trait.
Step three is to process like items in bulk. If 3 of 6 items call for chopped onions, chop all the onions at once, divide and conquer! I utilize small bowls to assemble my mis en place for each recipe. The granite counter top may look like chaos, but it is my organized chaos.
Step four-fix any marinades and put your delicious dish in the refrigerator to wait for its turn in the dinner line up. (Mojo chicken thighs)
Step five-if you have items that need to salt and strain, put them in colander to do their thing. (eggplant and napa cabbage)
Step six-Assemble sauces (roasted red pepper pasta sauce, sassy Jezebel sauce). Cook the rice and portion out. Make the salad dressings, store in the refrigerator and have at the ready when a salad craving hits (strawberry vinaigrette). Fix the snacks for lunches (ham salad with horseradish pickles, pimento cheese with jalapenos)
Step eight-assemble dishes into storage containers, label and date. Group all items for a single meal together in your refrigerator. Print the menu and keep on the refrigerator. Note any fresh purchases needed. (Fruit salad night)
Step nine-assemble any batters or muffin mixes and refrigerate the batter to scoop and bake as needed in the morning. A hot bran muffin will move you out of the slumber into action.
Step ten-dial the pizza man and order in dinner, you are to tired to do anything else.......I'm kidding!!!
Menu for the week in no particular order:
Chicken thighs/sausage in white bean ragout. Roasted Ratatouille, mais oui!
Leftover ratatouille will fill a ramekin, egg added in the center and baked for an early easy morning repast.
Slow roasted pork roast, collard greens (smoked ham, onions/garlic) and Southern corn bread. Mom's Cukes/maters/slivered Vidalia onion salad in sour cream.
Roast Beef with garlic/rosemary rub, Salty Balls Maui Style, Those Blasted Tomatoes, Roasted brussel sprouts, mixed salad with strawberry balsamic vinaigrette (crumbled blue cheese and toasted slivered almonds for taste and texture).
Bibimpap using leftover pulled pork served with crispy rice cake and fresh julienned veggies (slivered cucumbers, carrot straws, sprouts, pickled red onion, daikon), poached egg and Tyler Florence's quick kimchee. Tapioca pudding with a brulee finish to gild the lily.
Smoked paprika/zatar rubbed chicken breasts grilled, rice pilaf with pistachios and cran-raisins, toasted pita bread. Shredded romaine salad with tzatziki sauce.
Eggplant Parmesan with roasted red pepper and basil tomato sauce. Sauteed Italian sausages, garlic bread. Tiramisu ice cream from the freezer, topped with homemade chocolate syrup.
Mojo marinated chicken thighs, roasted and served with Moros y Cristianos (Black beans and rice). Watermelon, pineapple, basil, green onion salad.
Eastern Carolina style slow smoked pulled pork, old fashioned pea salad, coleslaw with sassy Jezebel sauce. Dinner rolls.
Blinged out Bran Banana Blueberry Muffin mix.
Ham salad with horseradish pickles
Jalapeno Pimento Cheese spread
Leftover roast beef made into a sandwich on Chicago rolls with homemade Giardinaira
Leftover pulled pork on Cuban bread with ham/pickles/swiss cheese and mustard, pressed.