Menu making wasn't always fun for me. I spent a lot of time searching for recipes online or in magazines I subscribe to and it could take me hours to finally decide on the dishes I wanted to make for the week. It wasn't until my husband challenged me to use my cookbooks more often that the process became nearly efficient. Now, each week, my husband or my son pick a cookbook and I have to cook from it. I do have a little bit of veto power, but for the most part, I try to be a good sport and cook from whatever book they give me. It's a lot of fun to get everyone involved and it helps me narrow down the recipes I can use which keeps me on track.
I'm excited to share this part of our process with you. This is the real stuff that I do to help myself get organized, making it easier to get dinner on the table most nights. I'm a little embarrassed by the menu this week because it's a little ridiculous and it looks like I'm making it up. I'm not. This is real life here. My husband chose an adventurous book and because I'm a first born and like following the rules, I'm going for it. I know not all of you have the time for this kind of menu, and I understand. Most people don't. Just do as I say and not as I do.
Ironically, I'm going to tell you that the secret to successful menu planning is to make a menu that isn't too complicated and can be executed in a manageable amount of time. To save time on the day of, cook grains on Sunday and marinate meat in advance. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash and prep your vegetables so that they are easy to throw into a dish. No one wants to spend 20 minutes over the sink washing, stripping and drying kale after a long day at work when your stomach is about to eat itself. Don't make your menu too fancy and don't throw in too many new dishes in one week. The more you've made something, the faster you'll be so those old stand by recipes will be your BFF on the nights you have to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
menu // august 16-22 // cookbook: plenty more by yotam ottolenghi
sunday: steamed eggplant with sesame + green onion / serve with sizzling oil greens (eggplant on pg 40)
monday: tomato + roasted lemon salad with bulgur/ serve with green salad (my addition) + panfried fish (salad on pg 54)
tuesday: beet, avocado + pea salad with roasted chicken + farro (beet salad on pg 65)
wednesday: free night (I use these nights for eating out, leftovers or pantry meals)
thursday: mango and curried chickpea salad with grilled chicken thighs (mango salad on pg 93)
friday: quinoa porridge with grilled tomatoes + garlic with grilled lemon shrimp (porridge on pg 101)
saturday: left overs!