Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meal Planning around Perishables

Last week, I looked at a few things I've learned about meal planning - a habit I find important but that I'd let go of for awhile.  With fresh resolve, I set up our week's menu...

And then promptly derailed it.  And I do mean promptly. That very night, we wound up skipping dinner to avoid having to prepare anything.

Then there was the eating out.  There was a lot of that, and it led it to leftovers, which led to not cooking.  And then there was some more eating out!

It's a little nuts how many social occasions we've had all crammed together.

My birthday was a planned night out - and we enjoyed ourselves very much down at the National Harbor and then shared a lovely meal at Rosa Mexicano.

Then we got together with one old friend on Wednesday to catch up over Indian food... and on Sunday we met over seafood up in Baltimore with another couple.

In there, I did cook a couple meals - there was some delicious pork schnitzel, and a good spicy tomato soup that carried us through lunches with the leftovers.

But nearly everything I had planned was set aside, so I was straight back to haphazardly pulling together meals without a plan..

This week, the social whirl has been even more whirly!  We had a houseguest stay overnight with us Monday evening, on his way from airport to train the next morning - and by the time we picked him up, it simply made more sense for everyone to grab a bite at the Silver Diner.

And then last night, a group of Michael's coworker's asked us to join them at the Hardtimes Cafe for dinner and Trivia Night.

And Saturday?  Saturday will be a potluck birthday party for a friend.

I am loving all the socializing!  I really am! And I enjoy eating out, but wow, this is a whole lot in a very short time span, and I rather wish it could be spread out over the month a bit more.  It's expensive, and meanwhile, my groceries are going unused.

So this is where I am right now -

So far this week, I've not cooked at ALL.  And I have a lot of produce from last Wednesday's seasonal produce box  that didn't get used yet... and another box arriving this week.

So, for this next week (Wednesday to Wednesday, since that's when my grocery delivery happens), I need to focus mainly on getting all these perishables used.

Here's the produce I've got on hand that needs to get eaten:

From last week (priority!)

- Plantains
- Spring Mix Lettuce Mix
- Green Beans
- Cauliflower
- Zucchini
- Cucumbers
- Beets & Greens
- Spaghetti Squash
- Celery
- Onions
- Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Carrots
- Collards
- Poblano Chiles (2)

Coming today:

- MORE Beets & Greens
- Snow Peas
- Curly Winterbor Kale
- Spring Mix Lettuce Mix
- Collards
- Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- Local Organic Herb Bunch (Dillweed)
- Avocados
- Tomatoes

I am intimidated!!

So this week, I'm working my plan a little backwards (and in the summer, when fresh food is readily available - only for short periods if you're eating seasonally - this is probably the more sensible way to approach planning).  I've got meat in the freezer, so I can grab whatever I need without fuss.  Instead, I am focusing on how many vegetables I can feature in any particular dinner.

While I'd intended to add planned lunches this week, I expect to have tons of leftovers, and those will be our lunch.

Some of these rework plans I didn't get to last week, and some stem straight from needing to use all this produce.  Here's what I've come up with - wish me luck getting it actually done!

Wednesday 6/11
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
(Make a meat sauce that includes some collard greens in it)

Thursday 6/12

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
Zucchini Spiral Cut 'Noodles'
Stir-Fried Mixed Veggies
(onion, celery, carrots, snow peas)

Friday 6/13

Make refrigerator pickled beets.

Bacon Wrapped Bratwurst Bites
Potatoes and Green Beans
Beet Greens

Saturday 6/14

Make a big tossed salad and homemade vinaigrette for potluck.

Sunday 6/15
Poblano Chicken
Avocado Slices
Sauteed Plantains and Coconut

Monday 6/16

Tandoori Salmon
Riced Cauliflower
Sauteed Greens

Tuesday 6/17

(pull together with protein and whatever veggies still need to be used)
(make a big pot of soup that can also serve as lunches through the week)

I think this gets me pretty close to working through all of these veggies!  And as much as I love being a social butterfly, I rather hope that nothing unexpected comes up until we've had some time to catch our breathes (and eat our greens).

Last week some of you shared your own meal plan 'lessons learned', and I found your ideas so helpful - thank you!  So, I have another question for you.

D you ever get overwhelmed by the perishables you have on hand? How do you use them up to avoid waste?  Please share your ideas in comments!

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  1. Great ideas, and your meals look delicious!

  2. I need these I will keep eating veggies! Thanks for sharing in the Thursday Blog Hop!

  3. One of the best things about this time of year is that there is so much fresh food to choose from! Looks delish! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Unfolded!


  4. Everything sounds so good! I like to make a big pot of soup or a chopped salad when I have lots of veggies to use up. Good luck:)

  5. I constantly get intimidated by fresh vegetables. We always have to throw out much of our veg loads because it just never gets used. MUST MEAL PLAN!!

  6. These all look deelish! Great post :)

  7. I love this post! I wish you had included recipes for some of your items. I too am a meal planner - not just for budget and groceries, but because I'm also a Weight Watchers member. But thanks for some awesome ideas!

  8. Hi Lynda,
    It's definitely imperative to plan meals if you want to incorporate fresh foods at this time of year. I will often do a mix vegetable grill or roast them if I've got a lots of little leftovers. This week I'm making a Summer Vegetable Thai Curry that will consist of leftovers too. Soups are easy too if you add some fresh basil pesto and chicken stock and toss in whatever veggies are hanging on.
    Great post - thanks for sharing.

  9. What a great post! Thanks so much for sharing this awesome post with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to eat healthy. I have wonderful lettuce in my garden and I need to pick it, as well as kale. If not it will just go to seed. On my to do list for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  11. I love having a garden and having all that free food, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to consume it all when it comes in huge waves!

  12. Wow gorgeous ideas! We have just moved and are cultivating fruit and vegetables along with herbs in our garden, such a joy! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  13. Thanks for sharing at The Weekend Social, I'm looking forward to seeing you again next Thursday at 9pm EST at for another installment of The Weekend Social.

  14. I often meal plan before heading to the Farmer's Market, but then end up buying extra fruits and veggies there. We have an almost weekly dinner with family, so I try to bring extra side dishes to use up my extra produce, or add the extra greens sautéed into eggs or pasta for breakfast or lunch.

  15. These are all great and healthy recipes! Thank you for sharing your post at the #WWDParty - Have a wonderful week ahead!

  16. you recipes looks great
    Thanks for sharing up at "My Favorite Things- Linky Party"
    Have fun and don’t forget to join us each week!
    Be Creative Mommy

  17. It's so much fun to eat seasonally. Especially this time of year! :-)

  18. Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti sounds wonderful to try. I am sure it is tasty and healthy for you.
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  21. It all looks very tasty! And you look beautiful. I usually order pizza and some cannabis for my birthday.