Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu planning?

In my quest to be more organized, I'd like to be a little better about meal planning. How do you do it? Where do you get inspiration for recipes? In particular, does anyone out there have any good ideas for vegetarian meals? We don't eat a ton of meat but I'd love to eat even less. So, lay 'em on me!


Kelly and Jason said...

I have a sloppy joe recipe that uses TVP and I also use it in a great taco salad. You can basically replace anything that calls for ground beef with TVP. I also make a North African Couscous Paella that uses Tofu, kids love it! Let me know if you want them and I will e-mail them to you!

Jennifer said...

hi there! one thing I've done for the past two months is choose several nights a week that our assigned standards (Monday pasta - save leftover sauce for homemade pizza on the weekend; thursday chili, etc.). Then the other nights I have a "theme" that throws in some variety but is still easy to kind of "know" what I'm going to do - like Wednesday is soup, Tuesday is a rice based thing (usually with a light meat accompaniment in the crock pot - but this would be an easy vegetarian night obviously) - so those nights technically "change" but I know what the basic idea is going to be. I do the plan a month ahead and try to get the bulk of the items I need bought at the start of the month - so then we only need to buy fresh dairy and produce during the rest of the month...

can't wait to read other posts (if I've left any room after this ramble!). I love to get meal planning ideas!

One more great thing - a friend on my street and I alternate Wednesdays (soup night) - so one week she makes soup for both families and the next week I do it! The day she is making soup I just make dough in the bread machine (and bake it into french bread in the oven)!

Anonymous said...

Hi -- stumbled upon your blog, but thought I'd leave a message. ;) I just started using and LOVE it. The meals are healthy and with fresh ingredients.

You can customize them, then print the recipes out. AND they give you the grocery list. The whole system is easy to use... only thing is it's $20 for 3 months, so you have to pay.

I find it is VERY worth it to me because I got tired of needing to come up with them every week.

Anyway - good luck!

Jenna said...

Hi Brianna, I usually do meal planning on Sunday nights, but of course you could pick any day. I plan the whole week out using my trusty Good Housekeeping cookbook, my cherished recipe box, and the Internet. I love ethnic and exotic foods, too. There are tons of Indian dishes that are vegetarian. Also stir-fry is great and you can make that totally vegetarian and even add tofu. Fry up some extra firm tofu in oil in the wok first, then after it's nice and browned, add your veggies. My parents used to be vegetarian for the first few years of my life, and even after that rarely ate red meat. When we did have meat it was chicken or fish. I am similar with my family now. Anyways, I can come up with several more ideas if you want me to...just email me or something!

Tricia said...

I found . They have a vegetarian meal plan. It costs I think $5 a month and even gives you a shopping list with prices at Walmart so you know your expected expense.


Kristen said...

for meal planning i just make a list of meals for the week, but don't specify days so that i can be more flexible based on what i feel like. as far as ideas, i keep a long list of almost everything i make so i can just browse that, and then i also flip through recipe books or look online.

so what do you use for protein when you do vegetarian meals. i've always wondered that. can't do much soy, so tofu's not a great option for us.

Mike and Rachel said...

The weight watchers site has tons of recipes and you can search by ingredient, so I am sure it would be a great resource. I made a yummy pasta dish with a butternut squash puree mixed with ricotta for the sauce.

Obviously you and Kevin don't need "diet food" but it is a good resource when you are looking for something new that uses fresh healthy ingredients.

Mama Mote said...

I would love ideas, too. I see some good ones. Since living with my mother-in-love, I've seen a couple of things that even I can do. She stir fries veggies and puts it on rice. She doesn't eat much meat, but she's been getting some to give me my "meat fix", but I am trying to cut down. I've done a minestrone soup in the crockpot before. When we move to LA, I'm hoping to be more diligent in making meals for us. It's just the two of us and Dan will eat almost anything, so it'll be easy. We may have our daughter and her husband over and I do want to try to do a little more in the way of hospitality. We'll see how that goes. Have fun figuring things out and let me know what ideas you come up with.

Ginger said...

Been using my crockpot a lot lately for hearty lentil dishes. One was from GH magazine last month Butternut Squash Lentil Stew or something like that, was fabulous. Another I love is called Chipotle Lentil Stew, has chicken in it but a little goes a long way. Also have a yummy split pea dish I've been cooking lately. We do the tofu (cube it & toss it in a little cornstarch before frying it to give it the crispyness you get at restaurants) stir fry too w/fried rice & veggies using the Mr. Yoshida's sauce from Costco.
I need to get better at meal planning too...I do like esp. the search by ingredient option to use what's on hand. Here is a helpful link I found to organize your planning:
Email me if you want the recipes I mentioned above.

Amy Andrews said...

Alright Brianna, I'm coming out of lurkdom for this one. (I'm a missionary kid who was born in Ethiopia. I found your blog when my husband and I were thinking about international adoption. I dream about adopting a sibling group from Ethiopia.)

Anyway, menu planning...

Here's what I do:
1. Go to (There are tons of recipes, a very helpful rating system, easy menu planning tools and it's free!)
2. Type in search terms in the search box (like "vegetarian") or add more keywords to make it more specific (like "vegetarian beans").
3. Once the list comes up, click on "Rating" in the "sort by" menu. Now you've got the highest-rated recipes (i.e. the most-liked by the masses and therefore the best bets) at the top of the list. (By the way, here is their list of vegetarian recipes, sorted from the highest-rated to the lowest-rated.)
4. Once you find a recipe that sounds good, click on it.
5. Now click on "Read Reviews" and then sort that list by "most helpful." Now you'll find reviews like "This was a good recipe, but be sure to double the sauce, otherwise it's too dry."

There's so much more...sign up for a free account and add recipes to your "recipe box" or add them to your "shopping list."

So, menu planning is simple. Just browse through the recipes in your recipe box, add the ones you want to have that week to your shopping list and print. Now you're ready to go to the grocery store and you can print out the recipes you'll need too. Easy peasy.

I'm an internet geek...I live for free stuff on the internet!...hopefully I have not totally overwhelmed you. :)

By the way, I have no connection to It's just a personal favorite.

Jeannett Gibson said...

I was going to suggest too! I just lve that there are reviews...I HATE when I spend time and money making something and it turns out that recipe isn't that i really appreciate reading what others had to say. I used to (in a previous life) try to incorporate one new recipe I found on the site per week just to change things up and broaden my meals list...

Angela said...

I'm going to have to check out those sites!
I love to plan meals, and have done so for about 10 years. This last month, however, I've been BAD. I just told a friend a day or two ago that I need to get back to it!
A couple of things I've been doing recently is buying a large amount of meat at one time, (chicken or ground beef) and cooking it all at once. I let it cool and then freeze it in individual baggies. At dinner time, all I have to do is heat it up with some veggies, and/or rice and its done. This works great for spaghetti,chili or tacos, etc. Probably doesn't help you, since you don't eat a lot of meat, though! ;)
Our dietician had a few recommendations, since we are basically down to meat, veggies and fruits: She suggested making LARGE portions at dinner to reheat for lunch the next day. This weekend I did that, and our chicken and veggies with rice one night turned into 3 the end I used it in soft tacos with blue corn tortilla chips and salsa on the side.
Another recommendation she had was to make up large veggie trays in advance and stick them in the fridge, so that they are ready when you need them for meals, or snacks.
LOVE my CP for breakfasts, need to figure out some GF recipes for that!

Anonymous said...

I was about to recommend my favourite fast & cheap vegetarian cookbook ... but I looked on Amazon and it seems to be out of print. Here's the link anyway, you might score a used copy.

All the recipes have 10 ingredients or less and are quick to make.

Darin and Lara Laity said...

Our favorite vegetarian dish is stir-fry. Veggies (carrots, celery, bok choy, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, basil, garlic, ginger...) in my wok with a little broth, teriyaki sauce, coconut oil, and sesame oil. We eat it over rice. Yummy!
You can also make your chili con carne without the carne if you add extra beans. My mother-in-law will often add carrots and celery to her chili as well. It really yummy.
Yay for getting organized. I did meal planning in mississippi. It was SO helpful. I need to do that again.

Amy Andrews said...

@Angela...I've done that too with meat--cook a bunch at a time. Have you ever boiled ground beef? That's something I learned about recently and it's great! I buy a big pack of ground beef from Costco and dump the whole thing in a large pot (it's a big pot). I break it up a bit, cover with water and boil. I break it up some more with a spoon while it's boiling. It's done when it's not pink anymore. Drain (I dump the liquid down the toilet as opposed to the kitchen sink because it's quite fatty). Then I scoop about 3 cups into zipper baggies (3 cups boiled = approx. 1 lb. fresh), stick the bags in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for 1 lb. of ground beef, I'm set. I love this method because I hate browning ground beef (makes me and my kitchen feel greasy), most of the fat gets boiled off, makes daily meal prep go faster and tastes just like meat as if it was browned.

joy said...

my inspiration for new recipes comes from magazines. i like everyday food. risotto is a good vegetarian dish and you can add veggies and there a million variations as well. we eat a lot of meat, so i'm not very helpful in this department. and meal planning is how i make out my grocery list. i don't know another way. :)

Tracy Regusci said...

i love using

it is so simple, has great recipes and even makes your grocery list for you. you just have to hit the print button!

Anonymous said...

I was just about to suggest kraftfoods myself! They also send out a weekly email with ideas! Every other week or so I ask my litle one what she likes and more often than not its breakfast for dinner! So we do omelettes or scrambled eggs. Another thing we like is a big cobb salad, but you could skip the meat. I like to add eggs and avocados which are filling.

Bekah said...

we use . i think it's about $20 for 3 months too. They usually have about 15 meals each week with sides and you can pick 5 of them and put in how many people you're making it for and it gives you a shopping list and the recipes to print out.
It also has monthly freezer menus. Once a month on a Saturday I spend a couple hours cooking and freeze 4-5 extra meals for the month for days I don't have time to cook. Or sometimes I double the number of serbings and make it for friends or people with new babies/kids.
Usually about 5 of the meals are veggie and/or I can easily make changes to make them veggie. It also tells you which meals are lower cost, lower calorie, kid-friendly, etc.
I was not much of a cook at all before. It's totally changed the way I cook and shop. I love it.
Okay, advertisement over--back to your regular programming. :)


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