Making (And Sticking With) A Meal Plan

By Trish on September 12, 2011

Ty and I are terrible at planning meals. We’re both so indecisive that it usually means that we end up having to go the store before we’ve made up our minds on what to make for the week, which inevitably ends up with more impulse purchases, frozen items, and other “center of the store” items. Thus, we spend more money, don’t really have anything to cook from scratch, and are fairly dissatisfied.

One of the main things that I usually fail at with my diet is consistently making good, wholesome meals. I try here and there, but I need to improve on that, and that’s something that I’ve been aware of for a long time. One of my issues is that Ty will sometimes try a bite of what I cook, but usually will end up making his own meal. (I’m still trying to find meals that he likes, but he’s not very forthcoming with ideas.) So, most of the time I’m left with large amounts of leftovers which last me for days (lunches and dinners), so the whole cooking-every-day thing isn’t very practical.

Documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” and “Food Matters” have left me with a renewed sense of resolve to keep expanding my catalog of favorite meals, which I can refer to when I’m out of ideas. (And I really need to get around to designing and putting together my own notebook of “absolute favorites” and “Ty will eat this” recipes, which I keep telling myself I’ll do…)

In any case, I’ve decided on a few dishes that I’d like to cook this week (or maybe next, depending on our schedule and how leftovers get eaten):

  • Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto:¬†One of my all-time favorites! I actually prefer this pesto over the “normal” oily stuff. This pasta is so hearty and delicious and good for you, all at once. You really can’t go wrong…
  • Pineapple and Potato Curry: My friend Sarah brought this to last week’s Wednesday Night Dinner (a weekly potluck with some friends), and I totally fell in love with it! Some comments on the recipe mention adding a can of chickpeas, and I plan on adding some of those, along with some fresh peas from the garden. I figure I’ll have this over some basmati rice that my dad brought us a couple weeks ago (he bought too much at Costco — oops!).
  • Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple Barbecue Sauce: I saw this on the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog today, and just went, “Oh, yum!” Even being sick today and not thinking ANYTHING could possibly taste good, my brain said, “Oh yes, you will like this.” So now this is on my menu.
  • Macaroni and “cheese”!: I don’t have a link to this recipe, but my friend Christina brought this to one of the first Wednesday Night Dinners that Ty and I went to (we made it a vegetarian theme), and Ty actually liked it so much that he had seconds! Win! The recipe uses a non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast-based sauce, and you can throw in whatever veggies and other add-ins as you feel inclined. I plan on tossing in some broccoli, at the very least.
  • Potatoes Gratin: Ty picked out this recipe from one of my cookbooks. It’s not a creamy dish, and actually seems more like a variation on roasted red potatoes. But looks good, nonetheless!

So, that’s what I’m hoping to create. I’m really excited about the linguine (it’s been so long!) and the macaroni (since Ty will eat it). I’ll probably look forward to the others more once my stomach starts behaving and I get my desire to eat back. Right now, I’m just trying to get enough calories and nutrients into my body so it can heal and start feeling better. (Food poisoning is the culprit, I believe. Yesterday was miserable, but today I’ve been able to eat more than just saltines, which is an improvement.)

So what about you? Do you have a hard time making and sticking to a meal plan? And what are your favorite go-to meals to cook at home? (Shamelessly trying to boost my inventory, here!)


CM says:

I agree that menu planning is one of the keys to eating healthy. I am lucky that as time has gone by, Doug has transitioned into eating primarily vegan–it makes meals and cooking a lot easier. I have some standard go-to fall back recipes that I really like, one of them being the cabbage salad from Ali Sergersten’s cookbook. We have been eating that as a “side” for a couple of dinners now. (I find that I do increase the cilantro and decrease the olive oil in the dressing though).

I love veggie-based casseroles–quick and easy and versatile. And we tend to always have something fresh and green with every dinner, whether it’s just steamed veggies, mixed greens, or something more creative, like sauteed green beans or asparagus. I like a lot of color on my plate! When we are tired and it’s a work night, sometimes we’ll make falafel pita pockets (using TJS pita bread and frozen falafel) crammed with tomatoes, cucumber, arugula, and the Goddess dressing. Yum! And my husband is a sucker for Gardein “crispy tenders” and tater tots, when he is craving “comfort food,” but we don’t eat that too often and always add a lot of greenery to the side when we eat it.

I am a sucker for using my favorite veggies as the key ingredients for a main course, and I find myself buying cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, spinach, kale, and carrots at least every weekend. I also stock up on frozen organic veggies for easy cooking, usually green beans and broccoli. I make sure to always have a bag of lemons on hand because you never know when you will need them, and also garlic, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. And I rely heavily on canned beans, (mainly chickpeas–you can do so much with chickpeas!) because they are convenient. One of my other fave things to use is my slowcooker–that is a great way to make a healthy tasty veggie packed meal that is pretty easy. The “Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker Cookbook” is my go-to book for ideas.

This is a fun topic now that you have me thinking about it!

Trish Haveman says:

Ty has transitioned to mostly vegetarian, and meat rarely makes an appearance in our house. Mostly, he doesn’t feel like cooking it, and I refuse to. He does have milk every morning on cereal, and a small amount of cheese, on occasion — but other than that, we’re pretty good. He now loves Earth Balance as much as I do! Our weakness is getting enough veggies. Growing up, the only real veggies I ate were broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and frozen corn/peas. Not very adventurous, and Ty won’t eat anything but the corn and peas.

I just discovered sweet potatoes, though! I’ve been roasting them, and oh my goodness — so good! I think I need to make an effort to try one new veggie each month, and cook it in different ways so that I find something I like. (Lima beans will be very last on my list.) I’ve been seeing some gorgeous kale salads over at Oh She Glows which I’ve been meaning to try…

Trish Haveman says:

Oh, and the macaroni and “cheese” was a huge success! We enjoyed it with some organic corn on the cob from Hopewell Farm, and Ty went back for a heaping mound of seconds of the macaroni. We’re not lacking in B12, today!

CM says:

Oooh can you share your mac and cheese recipe? I am always on the hunt for a good one. I have found some that I like a lot, but none that I really absolutely love. And yum about your organic corn on the cob! That sounds really good. I haven’t had fresh corn on the cob in awhile.

Trish Haveman says:

I plan on sharing the recipe soon, once I can take a good photo of the macaroni. I just hope I’ll have a chance before our leftovers run out! If not, Ty’s more than happy to help me make it again!

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