Friday, 15 February 2013

Menu Planning

Lots of people seem to go through the same process with menu planning and we all seem to think we're the only one. It's kind of a split personality thing, on the one hand we want to be/seem organised but then on the other hand want to come across as the rebel/bohemian type who couldn't possibly be restrained by planning. "I'm an all or nothing person" is probably the one phrase I've heard more when hearing about menu planning, weight loss and getting organised than anything else. We all are, that's why we dream but don't do. 

I think I've probably fallen into all the traps when it comes to menu planning - being too repetitive, being too idealistic, planning for a perfect week when everything will go according to Plan A, planning too much and not taking into account late nights at work, illness, large lunch, tiredness, it being Friday etc. The biggest key to success for me is flexibility, if it says stir fry but that's not what I want that's ok, as long as I use up the ingredients I have to make what I want then that's fine. Easier to do that than to stand in the pantry at 4 o'clock and have no clue what to make. 

I have a list of the meals we eat over and over, some of them we'll only eat at certain times of the year, others are tweaked to be lighter in the summer and more dense and delicious in the winter. We do have other things too, but the basic list provides more than enough variety and excitement for us. Not every meal has to be something new and fresh.

rice/spelt/quinoa/bulghur - jambalaya, risotto (various types), fried rice/nasi goreng, veg "paella", pilaf

stirfries - satay, sweet and sour, teriyaki etc, could be with noodles instead, veg and tofu or veg and nut, crispy tofu etc. 

pasta - using assorted veg and beans, whatever we have in, changes throughout the year - pasta bake, lasagne, lentil bol, "stir in" style, spicy spaghetti w garlic mushrooms/tofu

chilli - spicy/smoky chilli, fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, chilli bean bake (taco/fajita/breadcrumb topping). Served with rice, potato skins, jackets, wedges

curry - biryani, coconut based/Thai, tomato based (chickpea/veg/lentil), dhal served with rice, noodles, onion bhajis, socca, naan, flatbreads, pitta crisps

pies/bakes,stews etc - forester's pie, potato strudel, shepherdess pie (mash or rosti), Thanksgiving pot pie, chilli/curried pasties/empanadas. chestnut and sage cobbler, winter warmer casserole, winter veg crumble, mustardy leek and bean crumble, goulash, (winter veg) ratatouille, Italian bean stew, chickpeas w paprika, berbere, thick lentil stew w garlic bread topping, chickpeas stuffed squash, dhal/rice/ratatouille stuffed peppers

other - pizza, bean/veg burgers,patatas bravas, galette, bubble and squeak, roast veg, stuffing, v-pud etc. 

Keeping it simple and using a list like this makes it easy for me, I'm not naturally drawn to cooking and I certainly don't look forward to doing it every day, it's a labour saving device!

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