I love to cook, but on an average evening, I loathe the chore of making dinner. This is because I am terrible at meal planning. Far too frequently I spend much of my day with a low-grade anxiety about what in the world I’m going to make for dinner, and then by 4:30 I’m in all-out panic mode, “Aaahh! What am I going to make for dinner?? I need to feed people. Again!! Cooking is so stressful.”
I need to do meal planning. I try to do it, but I don’t usually follow through very well. I typically grocery shop on Wednesday mornings, and I never remember on Tuesday evening that I need to plan a week’s worth of meals and shop for them accordingly. I usually don’t even remember to make a list at all. So I end up with no eggs and 10 bottles of ketchup and four bags of dried dates and no coffee.
Clearly, I need to get my rear in gear on the planning and listing of food stuffs.
Enter Nell, of the Whole Parenting Family blog (and Etsy shop). Apparently meal planning was not Nell’s strong suit either, so she decided to start a weekly link up of meal plans. She posts hers. We post ours. It forces the meal plans into existence. Ideas/recipes get shared. Win/win. Brilliant, right?
This is my first attempt at joining Nell’s party, and I am far behind on joining the link up this week (it starts every Saturday), but it’s Thanksgiving week, and I am quite excited about our plans for this year, so I’m jumping in, late or not (I’m backtracking to start on Sunday).
I got this magnet dry erase thing at Target a while ago, with meal planning in mind. It has Sunday at the end, which is where I’ll be starting.
Yeah, awesome plan, huh? I know it’s a little, um, lacking in substance (does anyone else love leftovers as much as me??). But it’s better than nothing, so here I go.
Sunday – Paleo Mini-Meatloaves and Asparagus
Generally, dinner around here consists of a meat dish and a vegetable. I almost never include a starch. So Meatloaf/Asparagus is it. This meatloaf recipe is a fast prep one that I got from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Best 30-Minute Recipe. It’s one of my favorite go-to meals, because I almost always have the ingredients on hand. The original calls for cracker crumbs, and I prefer to keep processed carbs to a minimum, so I paleo-ized the recipe for my family. Here’s my revision:
Paleo Mini-Mealoaves (with Ketchup Glaze, of course)
- 2/3 cup Almond meal
- 1/4 cup whole milk (if you’re strict about non-dairy, you can use coconut or almond milk here, but the fat in the whole milk makes it better)
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (you could also use Worcestershire sauce)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Onion powder (optional, you could also use chopped onion if you happen to have some on hand)
- 1 Garlic clove, minced or pressed (optional, you could also use 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 pound Ground venison (or beef)
- 1 pound Ground breakfast sausage
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tsp Oil of choice (I use olive or coconut)
- 1/3 cup Ketchup (make your own if you want strict paleo)
- 2 Tbsp Coconut sugar
- 4 tsp cider vinegar
Place your oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Mix thoroughly all meatloaf ingredients except the oil. Form the meat mixture into five mini loaves. Heat oil in a large non-stick, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot before you put the meatloaves in it. Place all the meatloaves in the pan and let them get brown on one side, about three to five minutes.
While the loaves are browning, mix together the glaze ingredients. Flip the meatloaves over carefully. Spoon the glaze over the browned sides, and then put the whole thing in the oven. Bake at 500 degrees until the loaves register 165 on an instant-read thermometer (about 15-20 minutes). Serve.
For the asparagus, I just snapped off the woody ends and put the tops on a baking sheet. I drizzled a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled a bit of salt on them, mixed it all together, and put it in the oven. Since the meatloaves need 500 degrees, and that’s a bit too hot for the asparagus, I put the asparagus in first at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so, while I was prepping the meatloaf. Then I turned up the oven for the last few minutes before taking the asparagus out and putting the meatloaves in. This is my typical technique for cooking most veggies: oil, salt, roast. Easy.
Monday – Jambalaya
I can’t put in a link to the recipe I use, but here’s one that looks pretty good. The recipe I linked says to chop the celery, onions, peppers, and garlic. It’s easier to just put big chunks of these into the food processor and pulse them six or seven times to get them nicely chopped but not pureed. Also, I think it’s better to cook the meat (chicken, then sausage) in the hot oil until it’s mostly done (then take it out so it doesn’t get over cooked), then cook the veggies until they’re softened, then put in the rice and stir it to get it coated with the fat in the pan, then add in all the liquids and seasonings and cook until the rice is done, adding the chicken and sausage back in and then the shrimp right at the end so it gets cooked just enough. Just my two cents.
Tuesday – Leftovers!
I love leftovers. Tonight we’re having leftover meatloaf and jambalaya. I might throw some baby carrots into the oven to roast because the asparagus is gone.
Wednesday – Date Night
My husband and I have a meeting with our priest tomorrow night, so I have a sitter and we’re going to go out for dinner afterwards. I usually have a few things on hand to make for the girls on nights like these: Annie’s mac-n-cheese, frozen mini-meatballs, chicken tenders, peas, etc.
Thursday – Thanksgiving!
I don’t like turkey, and we never ate it for Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My husband doesn’t like turkey. So we don’t ever make it in our home on Thanksgiving either. Last year my husband cooked one of the hams from our pig in his smoker. But this year it hasn’t quite had enough time to cure, so we’re going with prime rib. Here’s our menu:
- Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Crust - Recipe here
- Savory Bread Pudding with Caramelized Onions and Gruyere - Recipe in this cookbook
- Celery Root Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar
- Biscuits (from a can, thank you Pillsbury)
- Green Salad
- Pumpkin Pie – Recipe here
- Pecan Pie – This one is pre-made this year, from a fundraiser at Miss’s school.
- Cranberry Bread (because we are reading this book from FIAR, and the bread features prominently in the story, which comes with the recipe)
We are having the Super Family over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I can’t wait!
Friday – Leftovers again. Of course.
It is a criminal offense to eat anything other than leftovers on the day after Thanksgiving if you spent all day cooking on Thanksgiving Day.
Saturday – I don’t know yet. Either more leftovers or BLTs or something easy.
I have to go get my kids up from naps and run to the grocery store to pick up all the ingredients I need for our feast. Go check out Nell’s blog for more meal plans and recipes!