After a whirlwind two weeks with much fun and no menu planning, I have decided that “too busy to plan a menu” = “just plain old too busy.” Seriously! The amount of money spent on grabbing snacks out in the world and the amount of hunger experienced because of rushing somewhere and not having anything prepared to eat during my rare moments at home make a very conclusive case. If I don’t have time to plan (much less cook) my weekly menu, then I clearly need to take the kitchen scissors to my social calendar.
Fresh amaranth and new potato stir-fry from last week’s farmer’s market trip
This week is my no-box week, so I’m only able to plan through Thursday and then I run out of vegetables. I’ll have to conjure up the rest of the week once I see what the Farmer’s Market has to offer on Wednesday. (Will I ever stop being delighted with the magic of having a farmer’s market a few blocks from my house? Well, if I do, it won’t be this week – this week I’m getting my knives sharpened!!)
It wasn’t just busyness that held me back on menu planning, however. I do feel like I’m running out of steam. I need more fast and easy dishes (that don’t involve tofu) – I’m getting tired of the standards from my repertoire, but all the recipes that look tasty online and in cookbooks are complicated and time-consuming. Shelly of Musings from the Fishbowl left a sweet comment on my last menu plan saying my meals were so elaborate and that she should try to carve out some time for elaborate cooking, so this week I thought, Great! I’ll check out her blog for some nice simple meals. Um… Eggplant Parmigiana? Lemon Herb Coconut Tofu with Udon? Chickpea Patties? I think maybe I fooled Shelly by sprinkling parsley all over the food in my pictures, because when I look at her menu plans, her meals sound way more elaborate than mine!
So a general call to all the other menu planners out there: Where do you go (cookbook, blog, standards you improv off of) when you need mellow, relatively fast meal inspiration? One of my challenges is that everything has to be both vegan and gluten-free, so if I’m going to buy a cookbook, for example, it can’t be mostly meat recipes or mostly wheat recipes. (Grr… stupid V’con and Vegan with a Vengeance “sammich” obsession…)
Let’s hope I managed to keep it simple enough this week! (I know I probably didn’t, though…) For more gluten-free menu planning, check out Celiacs in the House who is hosting the GF Menu Swap with the theme of “book inspired foods.” I’m just barely making it with “refrigerator-contents inspired foods,” so sadly I’ll have to pass on the theme this time! (Although I guess you could say that everything I eat these days is “book inspired.” After 18 years of vegetarianism, and living for two years with my vegan partner but never feeling like I could make the leap myself, it was reading Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Eating Animals last Decemeber that finally facilitated my transition to vegan.)
Your Vegan Mom, Musings from the Fishbowl, Two Vegan Boys, and Homemaking on an Island usually have great vegan meal plan inspiration. And for a giant compendium of menu plans from all over the web, check out the MPM round-up at OrgJunkie.
Monday “Deli Night” (that’s my justification for a bunch of stuff that doesn’t go together flavor-wise, like piling a plate with options from one of those ritzy by-the-pound delis)
Caramelized baby bok choy with cashews and sesame seeds
Carrot, Dill, & White Bean Salad
My new favorite thing: Soft-cooked polenta, warm, mixed thoroughly with mashed avocado, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste
Indian cabbage stir-fry (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Creamy chickpea curry
Brown basmati rice