Sometimes you need a new format

I've been struggling with menu planning lately. Oh, I'll plan the menus, but then during the week I just throw out the plan and make whatever's easy. Although I'm pretty good at using stuff up, I do end up with more waste when I don't follow my plan.

This week I tried a new menu planning format. I wrote down six categories and came up with two meals for each (we eat frozen pizza on Saturdays). I tried to include meals we like and that are easy to prepare. I always write the ingredients we need for a meal on my shopping list as I add it to my menu.

Here's the plan:
Ethiopian tomato salad wraps
Kale salad

Broccoli "cheese"
Kitchen sink soup (to use up whatever's left at the end of two weeks)

Cashew cabbage
Green bean stir-fry (double)

Pasta / other
Lentil loaf and baked potatoes
Lasagna soup (lots of substitutions) and storebought crunchy rolls

One pan Mexican quinoa
Texas caviar with chips

Slow cooker
Aloo gobi
Green tomato and split pea stew
I do better at making dinner when it's simple, so I will try to get things ready ahead of time. Also I have planned to use as many frozen veggies as possible which really cuts down on prep time. Here are some things I can do:
Bring in tomatoes from garage to ripen
Make and refrigerate salads ahead of time
Make lentil loaf ahead of time
Chop all veggies at once (especially jalapeƱos)
Assemble and freeze slow cooker meals
Cook and freeze brown rice
Did I ever mention that we've been eating mostly vegan since the new year? There are a few things we still enjoy, but we've cut way down: less than 1 gallon of milk (mostly for cereal) every two weeks instead of 4 gallons; 1/2–1 pound of cheese every two weeks instead of 4 pounds; 1 cup yogurt apiece for the kids as a special treat each store trip instead of a flat of 12; and of course no meat (although we've been using up what little is in the freezer). Instead we are buying a ton more veggies (fresh and frozen), frozen fruits (for smoothies), and nuts. I think that's a pretty good trade. I can't believe how much cheese we were eating!

The transition was not too painful since we've been eating mostly meatless for years. We have started to find new recipes we love, and now I'm able to pull from a list of things we have tried and liked in the past few months instead of making something new every night. I usually love making new recipes, but doing it every single night was a bit overwhelming for me with a new baby.

Speaking of Baby, want to see a picture?

Four months already


  1. Wow...so hard to believe baby is already 4 mos old.. He is adorable..

    Best wishes on the menu planning.. I do menu plans too..Really helps with dinners.. Like your idea.

  2. He's darling. 4 months is such a sweet stage.

    We need to get some of the dairy out of our diet. If you're astonished at eating 4 lbs of cheese, you'd just die if you knew how much we eat! :) But I'm leaving dietary changes and new recipes for another season of our lives. Right now I'm coping with Baby's dietary needs!

  3. I've made that lasagna soup a few times. It is so yummy!