Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Learning to Dinner Plan

Menu/Meal planning for the week ahead has never been my strong suit.  I usually prefer to go to the store and see what’s on sale or what looks extra good that week.  This doesn’t always go well for me though, and sometimes can result in wasted food….which I hate.

However, last week was actually pretty good as far as meal planning goes!!

We only really cooked 3 days (out of 5, I don’t count the weekends in this), but I knew what was on the menu from Monday to Thursday.  It really did take a little weight off my shoulders knowing exactly what we were going to cook each night!

Monday: not technically a meal but I asked Brian go cook up some chicken however he wanted (grilled, sautéed, etc...), while I was at Crossfit. I love that he’ll cook if I ask him :) 

We each made our own meal with some of the chicken. I'm actually not sure what he had but he's very resourceful in the kitchen so I don't have to worry about him not having a good meal without me there to help.

I knew I wanted to make a salad that I saw in Cooking light that had arugula, tomatoes, chicken, and some crispy cooked prosciutto. It was a nice quick meal, and the salty crispy pieces of prosciutto were the best part.

Chicken and Prosciutto Salad with Arugula and Asiago Recipe

Tuesday night I was going to make some tomato sauce. Brian requested it that weekend, so we bought some grass-fed ground beef and 2 Italian sausages to add to it for some protein and extra flavor. (side note: wasn’t a huge fan of the sausage, next time I’ll leave it at the ground beef, still tasty but not my favorite)

I don't really have a sauce recipe per say, but it almost always involves:


  • lots of garlic, minced, added to the pan with the olive oil first.
  • Then maybe some diced onion, possible carrot
  • I add my meat here if I'm using it...usually ground turkey or lean beef
  • A can of tomato paste, stirred in.
  • A splash of red wine if I have it around
  • Seasonings and herbs (whatever I feel like... dried basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper).  I don’t add much herbs though because I don’t want to take away from the tomato flavor.
  • 1 or 2 cans of ground tomatoes, preferable San Marzano (I always stock up when they are on sale at Whole Foods)
  • Bay leaf



Simmer on low, covered, 20-40 minutes, or longer if you want.
If its tasting too acidic for me, I'll add a teaspoon of sugar.
That's basically it. I'm not Italian, I don't have some secret family recipe, but this always comes out delicious.

I had a big salad at lunch that day so I was less worried about veggies tonight. I had a big bowl of sauce with some whole wheat penne.  I like less pasta and more sauce when I make a sauce like this!

Wednesday is usually dinner on your own as I go to Crossfit, and Brian has basketball.

Thursday we had Shrimp and Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce!

I saw the peanut sauce/soba noodle recipe when Tina had it a couple weeks ago and it just sounded really good to me.

The recipe was from Runner’s World.  I sent Brian the link to start it, and I’d finish it when I got home.  Somehow he ended up at a different Soba Noodle with Peanut Sauce recipe on Runner’s Word…what are the odds!?  So I just adjusted it slightly when I got home.  The final recipe for the sauce was:

Peanut Sauce:

  • 3T Peanut Butter
  • 2T Water
  • 4T low sodium soy sauce
  • 1T honey
  • 2T Chinese Rice Wine
  • 1T champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2T sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

In a large sauté pan I seared 1lb of shrimp on med/med-high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Set the shrimp aside, and cooked up 1 bag of broccoli slaw.  Once the slaw was tender I added the sauce, cooked for 1 minute, and added back in the shrimp, and the cooked soba noodles. 

Toss all together, and serve topped with chopped scallions.


BIG FAN of this!!!  SO flavorful!!  Plus pretty easy.  I can definitely see this one added to the rotation.  Plus you could add so many different veggies/proteins!

I need to figure out how to get better at this. 

Sometimes I’ll even sit down, go through cookbooks, magazines, blogs…etc, and nothing strikes me.  Or I can’t remember where I saw something.  It really depends on the week.

How do you keep track of recipes you see online that you want to try??  Everyone says “oh I flagged this”  or “bookmarked” it…what exactly do you do??  Do you just add it to your “favorites”?  Or is there some website that keeps track of these things??  Right now I even have just a Google document where I’ll copy/paste a link of a recipe I want to remember…but there’s GOT to be a better way??

We’re on the downhill side of the week!!  2 more days till the weekend!  Easter Plans??  What are you making for Easter??  Any good ideas?


  1. I generally pin recipes I see online onto my Pinterest "Recipes To Try" board. Or just save it to a folder in my bookmarks. But yeah, I rarely go back to it!

  2. Good job! I literally book mark them in firefox and then when I go to do my food list, I open up the recipes I want to make and  write down whatever ingredients I don't have on hand. Once I'm done making it, I'll usually remove it from my book marks.

  3. oh oh- brunch on easter :)

  4. FunandFearlessinBeantownApril 5, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    I have a great recipe binder (well, now there are two) that have different categories.  The category page has a folder so I print out recipes from blogs and clip recipes from magazines and put them in the folder.  I'll usually go through the clipped recipes the night before or, if I'm organized, the weekend before and plan out recipes I'd like to make.  Once we actually use the recipe, they go into clear protective sheets for me to easily find again. 

    Long answer to a short question. :-)

  5. The salad looks great! And so does the noodle dish! Not making anything for Easter this year, but my future mother-in-law has asked me to make a triple chocolate mousse cake for Passover, so I'll be doing that tonight.

  6. Great meal plan!! I bookmark my recipes but usually wind up meal planning on the fly. I actually cooked Sun-Thurs this week and was quite proud of myself. Now I'm talking a little weekend break!

  7. Looks like a good week's worth of meals to me! I am awful at meal planning myself, really need to work on that.

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