I'm usually sitting at my desk at work everyday wondering what in the world I'm going to be making for dinner and causing myself more stress than anything else. I also have a tendency of going to the market and buying whatever looks good and then coming home with way too much food and then not having the chance to consume all of it. That also means that I'm likely spending more money than I should be.
That being said, I typically do buy a lot more food over the summer months for canning, preserving and freezing and buy a lot less over the winter months since my freezer and pantry are filled to the brim. Plus, there isn't as much available so that really helps the budget as well. I think fall/winter is the perfect time to start planning meals.
For the next few months I'm going to really try and plan my meals on a weekly basis. The goal is to choose a cookbook every week and plan my menu around the recipes included in that book. I may not be following the recipes to the letter but at the very least, using them to get my thoughts going. This week, for instance, I chose 'The Earthbound Cook' by Myra Goodman and wrote down which recipes I was going to try along with the ingredients that I would need. Not surprisingly, I didn't need to buy too much because I already had a lot of them.
Here is what my menu looked like this week:
- Saturday: I made my French Jacques Pepin meal (see previous post), which included a salad with goat cheese and caramelized pecans, chicken in tarragon sauce, and chocolate mousse for dessert
- Sunday: Shepherd's Pie
- Monday: Leftover chicken from Saturday with Brussel Sprouts and a salad
- Tuesday: Vegetarian Chili
- Wednesday: Used more leftover chicken and chili and made enchiladas with salad
- Thursday: Mushroom Barley Soup with a side of Spring Mix salad with warm-almond crusted goat cheese and apples
- Friday: We're going out for dinner. It's my birthday soon but my husband will be away so we're celebrating a little early.
The best meal we had this week was tonight's mushroom and barley soup and salad with warm almond-crusted goat's cheese so I'm going to share these recipes with you.
Mushroom and Barley Soup
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup sliced leek
- 2 small celery ribs (out of season now but I can't have soup without celery - it's one of my exceptions)
- 1 medium diced carrot
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 8 cups beef broth
- 1 cup barley
Add the shitake mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and thyme to the pot. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, untl the mushrooms give off liquid and begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the porcini mushrooms from the soaking liquid and add them to the soup. Pour in the soaking liquid, leaving behind any grit that may have settled at the bottom. Add the beef stock and barley. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low until the barley is tender, 50 minutes or so. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Spring Mix Salad with Warm Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese
- 4 oz plain goat cheese log
- 2 tbsp finely chopped toasted unsalted almonds
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1 large crisp apple, sliced
- 1/4 cup lemon-thyme balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp minced shallot
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup raisins
Place the greens and apple slices in a large bowl and add half of the vinaigrette. Toss to coat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more vinaigrette as desired. Divide the greens onto 4 plates and place a cheese round in the middle of each salad. Sprinkle with raisins and serve.
Do you typically plan your meals? Do you have a tendency to plan more during the winter rather than the summer?