A Seasonal Menu Plan
This week I made a departure from my usual style of menu planning.
Since we've been doing this special diet for my husband (a little over a month now), my repertoire of meals has been rather limited. Doing my menu plans each week has felt a bit discouraging, as I stare once again at my (short) list of the meals that I can make, that we all enjoy. I'm sure those of you who have been on restricted diets for any amount of time know what I'm talking about! 🙂
Rather than feel frustrated with it each week, I decided to follow Lindsay's plan of making a seasonal menu plan. It works by giving a theme to each day of the week, and then choosing 3-4 options that fit under that theme. Each meal will be made once a month, or perhaps twice if you only have 3 options on a certain day. I think it will take the brainwork and stump-ed-ness out of my planning (you know, when you sit at the table, tapping your pen and staring
alternatively at your meager meal plan, then out the window, then back
down at the meal plan for way too long)! I spent a while working on this and really digging deep to come up with recipes we could eat, and I'm happy with the results!
Here's how I've set mine up, for the next 3 months or so until we're back to our regular fare:
Monday- Main Dish Salads/Veggie Based
- Chicken Meal Salad (a really hearty salad with hard boiled eggs, avocado, lots of veggies, etc.)
- Stir-fry with beef or chicken or turkey, served over brown rice
- Taco Salad (except that right now we're skipping the tomatoes, sour cream, and he can only have gouda cheese on his)
- Avocado/Pepper/Black Bean salad (Ry and I adore this light salad, which I've recently been adding a bit of corn and cilantro to as well. The kids, not so much, so I make them rice and beans)
- Lentil Vegetable Soup with bread or biscuits
- Wrap Sandwiches (homemade tortillas with any mix of protein, veggies, cheese, etc.)
- Chowder (either this Garden Chowder, with some slight tweaks to make it diet friendly, or my favorite Salmon Broccoli Sweet Potato Chowder, also with a few changes)
- Bierocks or German Beef and Cabbage Pockets (we just tried this tonight and fell in love! I can't use a bread dough, since it would require yeast or sweetener. Instead, I just used Kimi's Ground Beef and Cabbage Filling slightly altered, and put it inside her dairy-free Biscuit recipe, making them into pockets. By doubling the biscuit recipe and making the filling recipe about 1 1/2 times as large, I was able to make 20 pockets, which made one dinner for tonight and one for my after-baby freezer stash.)
Wednesday- Italian or Ethnic Dishes
- Cold or hot rice pasta (with chicken or sausage, and any variety of veggies), and either a cashew alfredo sauce, an olive oil based pasta salad dressing, or vegan pesto.
- Curry or lentil dahl, over rice or served with homemade chapatis (flatbread, similar to tortillas)
- White Lasagna Casserole (this is a new dish I created last week, in an attempt to use up some lasagna noodles I had. It's made without tomatoes, has a white dairy-free sauce, shredded zucchinni and carrots, plus sausage, and a generous helping of feta cheese. Surprisingly good!)
- Italian Rice Salad
Thursday- Mexican or Casseroles
- Sweet Potato Burritos in homemade tortillas (wow, these really are addictive!)
- Chicken or turkey pot pie, with whatever veggies are seasonal or on hand
- Chicken or beef fajitas
- Pizza (using my tortillas as a crust, due to no yeast). I serve Ry's with vegan pesto instead of tomato sauce.
- Meat main dish (steak, ribs, roast chicken, etc.) with a grain (rice, millet, quinoa) and steamed or raw veggies.
- Feta burgers (no buns), with sweet potato fries.
Saturday/Sundays- Simple and quick!
- Sausages (fried with apples/peppers, or with a grain dish and salad, or with corn on the cob)
- Any sort of tortilla sandwich, quesadilla, wrap, etc. Whatever's in the fridge!
- Salmon Cakes (from Nourishing Traditions) or Fish Coconut Curry, with rice or other grain and a veggie
- Macaroni and Cheese (brown rice pasta, hemp milk, and gouda, Ry's main cheese indulgence these days!)
Ta-da! No stress meal planning! I'm so relieved that I did this as part of my personal retreat this weekend (which was wonderful, by the way).
It's Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie!
Have you ever tried making a seaonal menu plan like this? How did it work for you? If not, how do you organize your meal planning?
thanks so much for sharing. i am just beginning to rack my brain… we just found out our 4 year old son can no longer partake in dairy or gluten due to allergies and his very severe eczema. yikes! feeling a bit more hopeful after reading your post. thanks. any other suggestions you may have for us are welcome!
this is how i do my meal plans. i love it.
i love this idea! makes it seem so much more manageable 🙂 thanks for sharing!
I love this idea! I could totally relate to the whole tapping the pencil, looking out the window meal planning style and I think this is great! I can’t wait to make up my categories! Thanks so much for sharing!
I too can relate to the seeming hours of unproductive menu planning – – plan one meal, stand staring into the pantry for 20 minutes looking for inspiration, plan two meals, stare out the window for 10 minutes… I really think maybe I should give this a try! My only caveat… Monotony. Does anyone who does this find they get bored of the same meals over and over? We like LOTS of VARIETY! Does the one-month rotation help keep it fresh? How many months do you rotate your menu plan for?
Thanks as always, Stephanie, for your great ideas and insight. :]
Good Morning:) So glad you had some very nice personal time. It is so important and refreshing, isnt it?! You have a couple of new recipes for me which I’ll be trying – thank you for sharing!
The recipes sound fabulous! And I love the variety. Don’t you love it when you come back from retreat and you are not only energized, but you have tangible things to put into practice?
E.E., I like a lot of variety, too. That’s why I don’t normally do my meal planning like this. However, I think that the one-month rotation will help, as we won’t be repeating many meals within a one month span. Guess we’ll see what I think at the end of 3 months, but I think it will be so helpful while being on a restrictive diet!
Also, you could always decide to try a couple new recipes each month and just mix them in among the regulars, to try to keep a little more variety in there. I bet I’ll end up doing that at some point.
Good luck with the diet meal plan- we know how tricky that can be! Ryan’s diet sounds like one we did awhile back- Wild Rose Detox (it’s a candida-fighting diet). There’s a recipe book you can get (though I’m sure many recipes are online) and it has some good ones, like the risotto (using zucchini for the ‘creamy’ texture). Also the Eat Clean diet has some good ones, but probably not as accomodating to this specific diet (includes recipes with vinegar, etc).
Lindsay (Passionate Homemaking)has a great recipe called Pasta Presto (my kids hate peppers, but they eat them in this dish) that packs as much flavour as sauce, but uses sausage, peppers, feta and olives. I’ve made it without the olives or without feta and it’s still yummy.We use brown rice pasta.
I tried doing something similar to this in the past although slightly more complicated. I set up “types” or “groups” of similar recipes (6 I think with one being lunch or quick light dinner ideas with twice as many recipes as the other five), but didn’t necessarily assign them to a day and then picked out 5 recipes for each group. Then as I went along I would date my chart when I used the recipe. My goal was to have more choices than days of the month and then at the end of the month I would copy the previous months chart and then erase any I had previously used and move ones that were waiting and not yet used to the top of the chart for sooner consideration later. This worked well for me for many reasons: 1) a lot of variety 2) fluid weekly planning (with only 2 people we often eat off of a dish at least 2 days so it’s hard to say that Mondays will be this, Tuesdays will be this etc.) Instead at the begining of the week I would pick out what was sounding good (3 or 4 recipes), get what I needed to make them and then make them as needed and in order of produce that needed using quickly and/or what we feel like eating. Then if we had guests over and used up ideas more quickly I had a further back up arsenal or if we ended up going over to someone elses house for dinner or going out to meet someone I didn’t end up with too much food at home that was going bad. In the end it was a lot of time at the beginning of the month to set it all up and got pushed aside. Also, when we found a CSA to join it became increasingly difficult (which probably just means that I needed to build in more repetition). I’ve been trying to decide how to handle menu planning in the future (I’ve not been doing too badly for flying by the seat of my pants lately) and am thinking maybe a hybrid of the above style and my previous setup would work best for us. Basically instead of revising it every month I would be revising just once a season, but I would have more recipes than I could use in any one given month and not assign days to the groups for more flexibility and so that there’s even a little more variation than repeating all the recipes one time for each month…if that makes any sense 🙂
Have you posted your recipe for your tortillas? Would you be so kind to direct me to it if you have or post it if you haven’t? I’ve tried I don’t know how many recipes for tortillas and none of them are right.
I’ve actually been planning on posting my tortilla recipe with a few photos of how I do it. This is a good reminder for me- thanks! Perhaps I’ll get it up this week? 🙂
I basically have been working towards a hybrid of my old style (pick something for each day) vs. your style in your e-book, which is similar with some added ideas. Haven’t had much time but hope to soon after we go away for a week. Its been a little crazy around here but I can’t wait to finish my menu planning like how you described in your ebook! 🙂
Fabulous post! I’m going to print this one out. I am a hopeless meal-planner…but now maybe I do see a tiny glimmer of hope. 😉
Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!