This week didn’t go quite as well as last week, but it still felt pretty good – I made 3 out of the 5 meals I had planned to make. I didn’t feel well towards the end of the week, so I just rested and ate leftovers and Amy’s for a couple of nights. It was still great to have a realistic menu for which I’d shopped in advance, something to turn to each night. I think one smart thing was building in nights with leftovers and eating out (I’ve had so many dinner plans with friends, which is great on a social level but not so great for the budget!). Another way I’ve often set myself up for failure is by planning a whole week of exciting recipes from the internet that I’ve never tried before. These days I’m focusing on having a good mix of simple recipes, recipes I’ve made many times, and new things to test and try. (Although having said that, all the main dishes on my menu this week are new to me. Hope that works out okay!)
On top of all those factors, I try to balance my proteins to make sure I’m both getting enough protein and that it comes from beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and fermented soy, rather than just tofu. I’ve also found it very helpful recently to plan using the “main dish, side dish” format that I have stayed away from most of my life. Part of vegetarian pride that I read over and over again in cookbooks is that we transcend that conventional, suburban “meat on the plate, potatoes on the plate, green beans on the plate” type of cooking. That the vegetarian plate is a little of this, a little of that, with nothing taking the main focus. Well, I can only make so many things in one night. And, when left to my own devices, if I only plan one thing, I only make one thing. So making sure I have a specific salad planned out to go with a meal – instead of just grabbing an assortment of salad stuff and saying, “I’ll have salad some nights” – leads to actual consumption of said salad, rather than eventual composting of sad, rotten salad greens.
It has been fun learning these little tricks and developing menu plans that work on all these levels. And then this week I have a new factor to add in to my new, improved, realistic menu planning. I’m restarting my CSA! I went on hiatus with it back in December when it just wasn’t fitting my lifestyle at the time. But I feel ready to get back into the swing of it, and luckily Farm Fresh to You, my current CSA, posts the box contents online ahead of time. So even though my box arrives on Wednesday, I was able to menu plan and shop for everything else I’ll need on Sunday. When the box arrives, it just slips right into the line-up – all the meals from Wednesday onwards are made to use up my CSA fruits and veggies. I’ll post more about my CSA box when it arrives.
This week Celiacs in the House is hosting the Gluten Free Menu Swap with the theme of Gluten-Free Cookbooks. I don’t tend to use GF cookbooks for planning my meals, as the stuff I eat is mostly either naturally GF or I’m using an easy substitution like rice pasta. I am much more likely to turn to vegan cookbooks, where I can make almost everything, rather than GF cookbooks, where I have to ignore the sections on Meat, Chicken, Fish, Eggs, and anything with cheese! For baking, however, it’s a whole different story. I feel clueless and overwhelmed when it comes to GF, vegan baking, and I’ve been struggling to find good resources.
I have two books on hold through library reserve that I’m really excited about, one that I’ve checked out before and another I was ogling at a friend’s house recently. Hopefully The Allergen-free Baker’s Handbook : how to bake without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame by Cybele Pascal will arrive in time for me to make some brownies this week. I’m all the way down at 10th on the list waiting for The Flying Apron’s Gluten-free & Vegan Baking Book by Jennifer Katzinger (do you remember that scene in GF Girl where Shauna goes into the bakery and has her first GF cookie?), but I’ll wait as long as I have to to try her amazing-looking recipe for vegan, GF hand-pies. (Kind of like gourmet, healthy Hot Pockets. I have a fantasy of stuffing my freezer full of them in many different flavors.) At any rate, I’ll be excited to see what my fellow GF menu planners have to say about the cookbooks they love!
For a huge compendium of Menu Plan Mondays from all over the web – and the world – check out OrgJunkie’s giant round-up!
Tuesday (very busy day planned!)
Canned lentil soup
Wednesday (CSA box arrives)
Tofu Florentine (Veganomicon 72) using box chard instead of spinach
Roasted Root Vegetables
Baja-style Grilled Tempeh Tacos (Vcon 96) with cabbage slaw, avocado, and red radishes
Leftover Taverna Zucchini
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (put a bit of soy cream cheese in each enchilada) (sweet potatoes must be steamed ahead of time, make extra for Saturday)
Vegan Caesar Salad (Vcon, p81)
“Mish-mash Bowl” with quinoa, steamed broccoli, avocado, sweet potato, grated carrots, radishes, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax oil, nori, and tahini sauce
I love breakfast burritos! This week I’ll try: GF wrap with refried beans, tempeh bacon, avocado, salsa. Grill/pan fry wrap somehow?
I found tons of inspiration at the marvelous super-healthy and delicious blog Diet, Dessert, and Dogs, one of the few blogs posting frequently about vegan, GF breakfast:
Tofu Omelette with Mushrooms and Pesto (use leeks from box?)
Caramelized Onion Quiche
Lemony Almond Pancakes
Coconut-Flour Biscuit Shortbread (use jam instead of fresh fruit and soy yogurt instead of whipped coconut cream)
Vegan sausages with almond gravy
Quinoa Oatmeal Croquettes
Baked Upside-Down Apple Pancake