a year of weekly meal plans – week three

menu plan

Week three is here. Sharing my plan every week has been so helpful for me – I’ve not had one instance of that what the **** can we eat tonight feeling. And I know that loads of you are following along too. Please keep the pictures and comments coming. If you missed the first week plan, here it is. And here is the second week plan. Let me know how you’re getting on with the plans and if you have any questions or feedback.

How I’ll share my meal plans and recipes this year

I’ll be sharing my meal plan each week on here and on social media, so be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter  – where I’ll also share pictures most days of the dishes I make. Some of the recipes will be from my site, others will be going into my book which will be out later this year. Every two weeks I’ll share the menu plans and some recipes in my newsletter so sign up for it here if you haven’t already.

Scroll down for this week’s week menu plan and some of the recipe links.

What I was planning for this week

It is my birthday this week so we’re eating out a bit more than usual, and we have friends over for dinner on Friday night. We’re almost in the swing of being back to school and work – we’re all a bit tired and in shock at the return to routine though so I’m making food to sooth us and give us a burst of joy at the end of each day – all while minimising the stress of too much cooking time.

Week 3 meal plans and recipes

menu plan

Here’s what we’ve had this week….

Monday

Sweet potato and blackbean stew with slaw, avocado, dukkah and flatbread.

menu plan

Continuing our meat-free Monday theme and also tying in bit of batch cooking for the freezer. My sweet potato and blackbean stew recipe is one I’ve taught for years in my classes. And since putting it on my site loads of you have made it. It is so versatile. Sometimes I add minced turkey, pork or beef. Sometimes I add quinoa. This time I just used sweet potato and canned black beans. The key thing is to get the spicing right and to add the toppings to give it freshness and crunch.

It is so easy to find canned black beans in the US but they are less popular here. However I’ve found them (Epicure brand) at Waitrose. If you can’t find black beans you could use cannellini beans instead.

I made double the quantity of the stew and froze half for another night.

I served this for the boys with some of my life-saving stash of brown rice from the freezer and some spinach from the freezer. I just put the rice and spinach in the microwave to defrost, then added the stew along with some chopped up avocado. They had peppers cut into strips on the side.

Later on we had ours with extra chopped fresh chilli, alongside lime-dressed rocket (arugula). I sprinkled it with some crumbled Feta, some dukkah (that I had leftover from class), cubes of avocado and toasted flatbread.

Tuesday

Boys – swimming picnic – flasks of Julie’s lentil, carrot and tomato soup, cheese sandwiches and fruit (same as last week)

meal plans

Tuesdays are our craziest night of the week. We can’t be home for dinner for the boys so I take a picnic to their swimming class with us. These flasks are such a lifesaver for eating on the go. They are wide necked so I use them for soup, pasta or stews. They keep food hot (or cold) for hours so I usually make the boys picnic when I’m making my own lunch. You can buy them here in the UK or here in the US.

The boys had their and my favourite soup – Julie’s lentil, carrot and tomato soup. It is the easiest soup to make and is packed with veg and lentils so it keeps them full and packs in the protein. I’ve been sharing this recipe (my Mum’s recipe really) for years and love how many of you make this too. Make a big pan and freeze it in individual servings and you’ll always have an easy dinner or lunch to hand. Here’s the recipe.

Grown ups – Salmon and miso noodle bowls with raw courgetti, kale, carrots, Thai basil, ginger, lime and sesame (same as last week).

Once the boys were in bed and Pete got home I made these noodle bowls. They only take about 15 minutes, are jam packed with healthy delicious stuff, and are a great way of using up random things. Last week I shared a picture of how it looked before it was all mixed together, admittedly prettier. This week I’m showing you what it looks like when it is mixed up and ready to eat.

Salmon

I simmered barley miso (you can use any miso paste mixed with boiling water) with sliced fresh ginger and garlic, threw some buckwheat noodles in the pan and then set my steamer in top with some wild salmon fillets in. Then plonked the lid on. The salmon took about 5 minutes to steam, so once it was ready I lifted the steamer out and set it aside, leaving the noodles to cook in the miso broth.

While the salmon and noodles cooked, I spiralized a courgette (zucchini), grated a carrot, chopped some basil (I found Thai basil at the supermarket, but any basil works) and shredded and massaged some kale. I poured the hot miso broth over the veg to wilt them a bit, flaked the salmon and sprinkled it all with sesame seeds. I zested and juiced a lime over it then seasoned it with Tamari, sesame oil and some of my chili jam. Damn it was good. It sounds a lot but it was done and dusted in less time than it would take a pizza to cook.

The detailed recipe will be in my book but here’s another speedy noodle recipe of mine you can use for now.

Wednesday

Out for dinner

My Mum invited us for dinner so I had a lovely night off. I love cooking but there is nothing so like someone cook for me for a change. I do tend to go overboard at my Mum’s as she makes such lovely comforting food. I came home looking a bit like a snake that had swallowed an egg!

Thursday

Thai turkey burgers

Turkey burger

My Thai turkey burger recipe is another one I make in bulk and keep in the freezer. Although it is easy to make and they can be ready in less than half an hour from beginning to end. As the week goes on I often feel like I have less inclination or time to cook. But rather than reaching for the phone or a ready made dinner I go to the freezer. These burgers work really well because the boys have theirs in buns with sweet potato or these potato wedges and some raw veggies on the side. We have ours in buns or with salad or noodles.

If you’re worried about children being fussy about the chilli just leave it out and add extra to yours when you eat it. I usually add extra chilli to whatever I’m spreading on my burger bun – avocado or mayo. Or I make an extra spicy salad or noodles to go with them for us.

Friday

Friends for dinner

We’re having friends over for dinner on Friday night. Handily I’m in the midst of testing recipes for my upcoming stress-free entertaining cooking course so this gives me perfect chance to practice. I always like to do things that are pretty much made ahead of time so I only have to do a bit of tinkering when people are here. That way I can concentrate on the important business of draining my glass and catching up on chat.

I don’t do formal plated starters when people come over as we tend to hang out around the kitchen island while I cook. So I’m making up a board with some salami, roasted pistachios in their shell and olives. I usually do something warm on toast too – either this pea pesto crostini or something else. This time I’ll toast some grainy bread and top it with slow cooked aubergine (egg plant), garlic and peppers then sprinkle on some feta, mint and pomegranate molasses. The aubergine and peppers will be cooked the day before so I don’t have to do much.

Th main course is braised beef cheeks in red wine and herbs. This recipe is so easy and gets wheeled out so often when we’re entertaining. The brill thing is that it tastes best a couple of days after it is made, so I can get it done a day or two before. I’m serving it with cauliflower purée, roasted carrots and some crunchy rosemary, garlic and pancetta crumbs.

I’m having a bash at a Seville orange tart for dessert. I love lemon or grapefruit curd but because we’re in the small window of the year when Seville oranges are in the shops I’ll be using those this time. If you fancy making your own citrus curd follow my recipe and video here. If you don’t want to make a tart you can just serve blobs of the curd with good vanilla ice cream and crumbled shortbread.

Saturday

Spinach and mushroom lasagna (from the freezer)

lasagna

This is the sister of the lasagna we had last week. I made two and froze one. I’m anticipating a delicate head situation on Saturday which means I’ll want to eat a giant pizza all to myself with a side of fries. But that won’t make me feel great. So I’ll grab this lasagna out of the freezer before my guests arrive on Friday and then all I’ll have to do is shove it in the oven on Saturday night before retiring to the sofa.

Sunday – my birthday!

No cooking for me today (if you’re reading this Mr Tomato consider the hint dropped). We’re out for a big pub lunch with the family and then we’ll head home for a quiet evening where I hope I’ll have some delicious snacks or cake made for me by my boys.

I’ll share my next menu plan next week so watch out on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

Ask me for a personalized menu plan

If you need more help, I’m now offering a personal menu planning service wherever you are in the world. After an initial conversation to help me understand your lifestyle, I’ll create a weekly menu plan, detailed shopping list and recipes for your family to suit your dietary needs, likes and dislikes and what time you have available to cook. I’ll also be on hand to Facetime or Skype you and go through the plan each week, talking you through the recipes and answering any questions. Just drop me an email and I can run through how it works in more detail.

I’d love to see what menu plans and dinners you end up with, so remember to share on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Tag your posts #ystcook so I can see!