Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meal Plan | Mostly Vegetarian Menu #1

This week I asked Neil for some input and he suggested burrito bowls and spicy beef like he always does when I ask him. That and pizza. My brother bought us a pizza stone last Christmas, but my kitchen has been too cold to try to manipulate the dough. I've tried with not great results (so I'm guessing this was more his joke answer than an actual suggestion). So no pizza this week, sorry Neil.

What's nice about the other two meals is there is usually enough leftover to have for lunch the next day. I always bring my lunch, there is nowhere near my work to eat and I have yet to bring myself to buy anything off the catering truck that comes by. People call those roach coaches for a reason (oh I feel like such an a-hole for even typing that, I'm sure this truck is clean)... but the two main reasons I don't is: interacting with people, and it would be more expensive than just bringing my own food. 

The Game Plan

  1. Burrito Bowls: this is something I make often and is very easy to make. Most of the time is spent waiting for the rice to cook, which I utilize by prepping the veggies. This consists of: rice, refried beans, ground beef with taco seasoning, and whatever veggies strike your fancy. I went simple this time and went with iceberg and tomato... and I went with fake beef.
  2. Spicy Beef: I like that Neil's favorites also happen to be very easy to make! The sauce is easy to put together and simmer while the other components are cooking.
  3. Salmon with Butter Sauce: My brother introduced me to a YouTuber, Food Wishes, a few months ago and I've been wanting to try something from him, so this sauce was going to be my first! (really I wanted to make these pastries but that seemed frivolous for no occasion. WHY DO I THINK BAKING IS FRIVOLOUS.)
  4. Savory Veggie Pancakes: I found these via the Kitchn blog and thought the idea sounded interesting. I don't even make regular pancakes though, so let's see how this goes.
  5. Tofu and Green Beans: I've been buying tofu at Costco, which keeps awhile in the fridge but I need new ways to figure out how to cook it. Normally I just chop it into cubes and add to stir fry. Neil will also eat it plain/cold with soy sauce. I will not eat it like that.
  6. Mushroom Polenta Rounds: Typed "Meatless Mondays" into Pinterest and a few versions of this came up. I found two to try to follow/combine (you know, the worst way to try new recipes you find on Pinterest) because there were elements of both I liked and didn't like.
Four out of the six meals are vegetarian even! I was being a little ambitious though because three and a half of these I hadn't tried before. The half is the butter sauce for the fish. The rest of that meal is just my usual meal formula, so I figured it was a good dish to try a new sauce; if the sauce sucks the rest of the meal should be fine. My goal is to try to add a few more meals to the favorites list, I haven't really been so lucky in that department lately.

Also, this is actually my two-week plan, I usually only plan three meals out completely, others to be cobbled together based on the pantry/freezer, but you can make this a one week plan if you want to cook every night with one eat out day.

Grocery List

The items in bold were the items that I needed to buy, the other items I had on hand already. As you can see, I really tried to work with what I had on hand! (I'm never going to put olive oil, salt, or pepper on this list unless in some bizarro world I run out of those things)

  • refried beans
  • rice
  • taco seasoning
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa/pico
  • lime juice
  • tomatoes
  • iceberg lettuce
  • canned chilis
  • flank steak
  • french cut green beans
  • soy sauce
  • chili flakes
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • sesame oil
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • pancake mix
  • mushrooms
  • garlic
  • polenta
  • spinach
  • parsley
  • ginger
  • green onions
  • tofu
  • heavy cream
  • honey

How it actually worked out:

Sunday: Soup and bread for lunch, firehouse wings for dinner
Monday: Burrito Bowls
Tuesday: Savory pancakes, scrambled eggs, tomatoes
Wednesday: Baja Fresh
Thursday:  Taco Bell courtesy of brother
Friday:  We had a late lunch, just snacks/grazing
Saturday: California Pizza Kitchen for late lunch

Sunday: Neil was out at a friends house and I should have planned to make curry and I did not. Fail.
Monday: Mushroom Polenta
Tuesday: Five Guys
Wednesday: Gravity
Thursday: Nick the Greek
Friday: Taco Bell
Saturday: Salmon with butter sauce for a late lunch


So OF COURSE, the time I choose to start documenting my meal planning, my planning goes awry. A few things came up which totally derailed a few meals. Those meals were the more shelf stable ones so not a total loss, but we really don't eat out that much on average. At least I don't think we do.

I could have lied in this post and just shoved it all onto one week, but I'm doing this for myself as well, to see how well my meals work out and if there need to be any changes to the way I plan.

But some good news! I think I found another meal to make again!!! My husband liked it enough to say I could make it another time. I only used two carrots instead of the six(!) because after grating the garlic, zucchini then two carrots I was over it. I swear I'm the laziest cook. Next time I would add more carrots though, at least two more. The batter puffed up a lot and it seemed like it could use more veggies. I made scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes to go with this meal because I wanted there to be something else to eat in case he didn't like the pancakes, and it felt weird just serving one item.

I've been wanting to try more sauces, that was something that I really enjoyed about the Blue Apron meals. It really adds that something to a meal and my meals tend to be on the plain side. This sauce came out really salty, I was supposed to use unsalted butter but I used salted because that's what I had and really I didn't pay attention. Even accounting for that, I don't think I'd try the sauce again. I'd try it in a restaurant setting to see how it's supposed to taste because the idea still sounds delicious, but it was just okay the way I made it so not really worth the effort. 

The tofu was just okay, I may or may not make it again. I don't really have much to say about it.

The mushroom polenta was SUPER tasty, I would totally make this again. Only: it really wasn't very much food. I used about 6oz of spinach but I should have bought the larger clam-shell. Once I wilted it, it just shrunk down to nothing. Also, I didn't make any sides. The intention was to use the leftover spinach as a side salad but I used it all!!! Next time I will double the veggie portions and cut the polenta into larger slices and use less oil (they were just a little greasy) and make a better plan for a side salad. There were definitely some flaws, but this was my favorite new meal by far. I'll have to post a "recipe" of how I made it.

I have at least two more dinners to add to my rotation, so I'm very pleased with that.

What was on your dinner plate this week?

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