Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Dinner Menus for the Week - Plus Shopping List!

This post is for my friend, Lisa, who has been begging me to give her my weekly menu and shopping list for a while now.  She lovingly tells me that she could be vegan if I cooked for her everyday.  So sweet!  Seriously though, I tell her it's not that hard.  Truth - it took me a bit to get into my stride, but now that I have an arsenal of recipes at my fingertips (I am constantly scouring my mags, cookbooks and blogs for new recipes to try every week), dinnertime is truly a joy for me - and dare I say, fun!

"How do you do it?" she asks.  I plan for success.  Read on...

Prepare ahead of time - I select all of my dinner menus for the following week every Saturday.  I write the menus in my calendar so I don't need to guess at what's for dinner, but can just open up my book and be reminded.  If I am making anything that needs to be prepped in advance, I also make those notes on my calendar so I remember to do it at the planned time and day, leaving no room for stresses such as "I forgot to defrost the beans" or "I didn't start the crock pot early enough."

VeegMama's groceries for the week
VeegMama's shopping cart
Shop once - I purchase all of of my groceries for the week (primarily at Trader Joe's) once on Sundays. I might also need to make a quickie stop at Whole Foods, but I fit that in on the way home from school drop off Monday am, usually within 15 minutes.

VeegMama's grocery list for the week at Trader Joe's
VeegMama's weekly shopping

Organize my list - I write out my shopping list by aisle.  This is a huge time saver.  While I shop, I have everything I need in the particular aisle listed together for me.  Before I leave the particular aisle, I do a double take of the group of items to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I can fill the cart above, bag the groceries and pay for it all within 45 minutes.  

Respect my boundaries - My menus are suited to my family's schedule for that particular day.  Tuesdays are always tacos.  On Thursdays, two of my kids have sports until 7, so I plan a meal that can be prepped ahead and reheated quickly.  I always choose one day where I pick one of my "mixed meals" or an easy prepared meal (like Trader Joe's vegetarian canned chili, a green salad, and homemade cornbread) to give myself a bit of a break that day.  I use Wednesdays or Fridays to try out new recipes (days that are a bit lighter and flexible, compared to the rest of the week) when I have more time during the dinner prep hour.

Here's my menu for the week based on the shopping list above.  The items on the list also include breakfasts (including green juice) and lunches for me and my family all week.

Monday: Sushi rolls, miso soup, edamame, and Asian slaw
Click here for my earlier post for what I put in my rolls, as well as my recipe for Asian slaw.  I buy Annie Chun's Miso Soup bowl (though you could certainly prepare from scratch too).  Trader Joe's sells frozen edamame in the shell that cooks in 5 minutes.

Tuesday: Tacos
Click here for my earlier post for my taco fixings.

Wednesday: Chili and simple butter lettuce salad
I use the canned vegetarian Trader Joe's chili and serve it alongside cheese and tortilla chips.  I make a simple salad using butter lettuce, avocado and chopped tomatoes.  I drizzle with brown rice vinegar and olive oil.

Thursday: Farfalle baked pasta with spinach salad and ciabatta bread
Farfalle bake:
1 bag of farfalle pasta, cooked and drained according to package directions
2 jars of marinara sauce
2 packages of vegan mozzarella, grated

Combine pasta with about 1 cup of marinara sauce to coat.  Spread a layer of marinara on the bottome of a casserole dish.  Spread a light layer of farfalle inside the dish, top with sauce to coat, and sprinkle with a third of the cheese.  Repeat two more times.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Other variations: Sometimes I like to add, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes for variety.

Spinach salad:
1 bag of pre-washed spinach
Handful of sliced strawberries
Juice of an orange or tangerine

Combine spinach and strawberries in a bowl. Toss with the fresh juice of a tangerine or orange.

Friday: Orange tofu (and orange chicken - Trader Joe's bagged, frozen version is a favorite with my kids) with sesame broccoli and peanutty soba noodles

Orange tofu - My husband and in-laws loved this recipe from Chloe Coscarelli's cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen.  I adapted a recipe from Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's for the peanutty soba noodles.

Sesame broccoli:
1 bag of organic broccoli florets
Gomasio (sesame seeds and sea salt)
2 tablespoons of shoyu (organic, natural soy sauce)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
Saute garlic in sesame oil until fragrant.  Add broccoli florets.  Saute 1-2 minutes.  Add in 1 cup water, turn down heat, cover and steam for approximately 8-10 minutes (depending on how tender you like your broccoli).  Remove cover and add shoyu.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle with gomasio.

With a little practice and planning, you can pull your menus and shopping lists together in about an hour.  It sounds like a time commitment, but I promise it is worth it.  Stress free, delicious dinners are within reach!