Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meal Planning, or something close....

Dad, Jen and I took the kids to the Farmers Market this morning to pick out some fresh produce. It was a lovely morning, in the mid 70s with a slight breeze. We had gotten there early enough to sit and have a breakfast of egg biscuits and hash browns at a picnic table while the last farms put out their products. I ended up going home with some beautiful peaches, yellow squash and zucchini. Dad opted for some lesser known varieties to experiment with. I plan to use some of our peaches fresh for the kids and will probably make a crisp with the rest. The squash and zucchini will be divided between a chunky sauce (made with tomatoes from our garden) for pasta one night and sauteed with some leftover onion as a side dish another.
It's a start to a meal plan, anyway. I've got to go through and inventory our pantry and freezer to see what we have to work with, but I'd imagine we can create quite a variety of dishes with the staples we normally keep around. Today I used 7 frozen (black) bananas to make 2 loaves of banana bread for the kids. I'll freeze one loaf and the other will take us through breakfast and snacks for a week. (Did you know you can freeze bananas? In their peels, no less! No more will you have to toss black, mushy, wasted bananas! Defrost them in the microwave and they'll make super moist banana bread.)
To get a jump start on tonights dinner, I decided to go the crock pot route. I had some boneless, skinless chicken breast in the freezer so I looked around the kitchen to see what I could create. A simple chicken stroganoff seemed to be in order. I threw in the remains of a tub of sour cream (about 1 cup), a packet of mushroom gravy mix, a little flour and about a cup of water. Once those were mixed well, I tossed in the chopped chicken breast, and used up the last of our yukon gold potatoes, some baby carrots and half an onion. Its slowly simmering away now and in about 4 hours I'll add some peas and mix up a savory biscuit topping to cook for another hour. Dinner should be ready and waiting after the kids go down for the night.
We try to keep food items on hand that are often used to make many simple dishes. Besides pasta (spaghetti, rotini, and orzo), rice, potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomatoes are serious multi-taskers in this house. I just need to start getting in the habit of planning these dinners out ahead of time so at the end of the day I don't throw my hands up in the air and say, "Oh, forget it. I'm having a sandwich."


Margaret said...

I know that "I'll have a sandwich" feeling well. This summer I bought part of a CSA share with friends in the neighborhood, meaning I get a selection of fresh veggies each week, depending on what's in season, and I've started checking out local farmers' markets with Zoe. It's still all rather haphazard, though, because I see all these beautiful fruits and veggies, buy them...and then don't know what to do with them. I'd really like to be better about planning meals around these things while I can still get them!

Gran said...

I seem to remember with slow cookers you were supposed to add sour cream last, just long enough to heat it through. I would be interested in hearing about the consistency of the base when it's done.

Karen said...

The Stroganoff was wonderful! The sauce was thick and creamy, vegetables tender, and biscuits soft as clouds. :)

*an update to my meal planning effort*
I've made some good headway into the process by taking an inventory of the pantry and fridge. And as long as I was doing the inventory I cleaned the fridge out too. Two birds.... Just the freezer left! Oh and uh, then the whole "planning" part. heh.