Menu Planning

I have a confession to make. I ate fast food last week. Not once, not twice, but three times!  It’s been a tough week for our family. On Sunday, we discovered lice in Son #1’s hair. On Tuesday, Son #2 had a fever that lasted four days. On Thursday, Son #1 got the stomach flu. On Saturday, Son #2 threw up on four sets of sheets in two hours. I have never done so much laundry in my life. We still haven’t caught up.

All these “bugs” were annoying to say the least, but not having my meals planned made it even worse. In the middle of all the laundry, I couldn’t stop to figure out a healthy meal. It cost our family money and a whole lot more calories. Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of planning our meals. When I slip and don’t plan, I feel lost. I usually plan three or four meals per week. I used to plan five, but found that we often threw out food because something always comes up and I can’t make that fifth meal. If I need to cook another meal, I will pull something from the freezer and/or pantry ingredients, or we will eat leftovers.

I go to different sources for my meal planning, but I’m realizing that cooking locally requires me to think backwards. Instead of finding the recipes and shopping for the ingredients, I’m searching for recipes that work with my ingredients. This happens more naturally in the summer with ingredients I’m accustomed to. Winter has been tougher, but I’m feeling more comfortable each week.

Sauteed vegetables, minus a full turnip.

Mixed root vegetables, from Harmony Valley Farm.

While shopping at my co-op, I found a bag of mixed local root vegetables and a recipe for soup on the back. My particular bag had carrots, parsnips, turnips, celery root and rutabagas. While I was chopping, Son #3, the 2-year old, was curious about what I was doing. He asked what the purple vegetable was. I told him it was a turnip, and he said “I love turnips!” I gave him some to eat and he proceeded to tell me “Hooray for turnips! I like licking turnips. Mommy, do you like turnips?” I couldn’t help laughing, because honestly, who loves turnips that much? He was so thrilled about it, I swear he could have talked the most reluctant eater into trying one. He ate all the pieces I gave him and I even had to fish some out of the pot so he could have more.

The soup turned out delicious but was not received well by the boys. While Son #3 loved raw turnips, he wasn’t a fan of them in pureed form. Son #2, my broth lover, thought it was okay. Son #1 barely touched it. This is where my second confession comes in. I had some chicken sausage and crescent rolls that didn’t get cooked up for our New Year’s Eve party and I made “pigs in a blanket” for the boys on the side. They weren’t local, but I had them on hand and needed to use them.

Golden Potage

  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bag soup mix, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cups stock (I used the chicken stock I made recently)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half

Saute onions in oil. Add chopped roots and garlic, sautee for 10 minutes. Add stock and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Puree until smooth. Whisk in half-and-half and return to simmer until heated thoroughly.


Golden Potage Soup

After my terrible week of sickness and bad food, I’m realizing that meal planning needs to be placed higher on my priority list. Not everyone loves perusing recipes as much as I do, but there are great tools for people who want their meals planned for them. My favorite is Saving Dinner. I started using it back in 2004 or so. The recipes are wonderful, interesting and family friendly. The grocery lists, recipes and suggested sides are easy to use and save time and money. I love it so much, I’ve started working for Saving Dinner Fundraising. Yes, this is a bit of a plug, but I absolutely believe in the company and the fundraiser is fantastic for organizations because they earn 50% of the sales and families benefit by eating healthier and having more time to eat together as a family. Let me know if your organization wants an easy, healthy and profitable fundraiser. I’d love to help!


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Emily said,

    mmm… Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  2. 2

    […] Vanilla Ice Cream! Be sure to check out her One Pot to Four Courses post and the problems of Menu Planning, something that everyone runs up against when they start to really commit to local. MNLocavore […]

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