Meatless Monday: Menus

The aspect of Project: Food Budget that has been the most revelatory for me is that creating menus really helps with shopping and saving money.

So it’s something I’ve been working on. When I see a dish I think I would like to try, I try to think about what would go well with it (soup? salad? some other type of appetizer?). Then I start a shopping list, and think about other things that I can incorporate into a meal plan with leftovers, and usually in a bit I have a plan for the week.

I’m still practicing, but I’m going in the right direction.

Last night, I made “Chinese” food for dinner — baked spring rolls with dipping sauce, steamed brown rice, and stir-fried Morning Star chik’n strips and broccoli. I used tofu instead of pork in the rolls. Dan ended up really really liking the spring rolls — I didn’t tell him they had cabbage in them — and asked me to try making other versions. Since I have lots of eggroll wraps and cabbage left over, and they aren’t too difficult to make (time consuming, but not difficult), I plan to accommodate his request. I think I’ll add baby shrimp for Dan and add bean sprouts to the cabbage and carrot mix.

Next Sunday, I’m having two other couples over for dinner, and I was completely stymied as to what to make. I solicited Twitter, and got a lot of ideas: baked pasta (which I love, but Dan is very “meh” about), lasagna (which I had toyed with as a plan, but Dan is a total fuss ass about lasagna), roasted chicken and potatoes (the roasted chicken part scares me a little) (okay, a lot).

My favorite idea came from @goob: polenta with blue cheese and beef stew. Obviously, as two of us are vegetarians, I’ll have to think of a good alternative that’s easy. I am leaning toward beef stew (done in the slow cooker), baked polenta, green salad, and creamy mushroom sauce for us vegetarians.

Now I just have to decide if I’m making the Tuscan Beef Stew or Beef and Mushroom Stew for my omnivorous guests. Which one would you pick?

6 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Menus

  1. Roasted chicken is crazy easy. Get a roaster chicken, rub her down with a mix of olive oil and herbs (anything works, really). Then cut a lemon and an onion in half, and stuff them up her crotch, with a lot of garlic cloves. Truss her legs together to keep everything in. Pop her in the oven for a while. I would check a cookbook for roasting time and temp.

    And mashed potatoes. With a lot of butter. Yum.

    It’s a ridiculously easy meal that seems like it should be a lot more work than it is.

    • That’s a lot of handling of raw chicken, which I confess I find the grossest thing to touch. Ever. But it sure does look easy. Could we say “it” instead of “her”? 😉

  2. Can I send you one without the little cans of sodium? I have one that’s super easy and doesn’t have canned soup in it. But between the two, I like the second one. Beef and mushrooms are such a natural, lots of umami.

    • I would love a recipe without the canned soup, actually. that’s my hesitation about the first recipe. Since I’m serving it over polenta, I thought something with a little more of an Italian flavor would be good. I was going to add mushrooms. 🙂

  3. One more idea, instead of roasting a chicken, it’s so easy to just stick the whole chicken in a crock pot and slow cook all day. no need to add anything, but a few carrots if you want, to the bottom of the pot.

    It also works in a cast iron dutch oven in a low & slow oven temp at about 250 degrees, if you are home.

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