I’m wishing I was back in LA today, but the closest I get is using the notepad I brought back with me. I love keeping a stash of hotel notebooks (and pens) to remind me of fun times when I’m doing more mundane tasks.
I always hear that it takes six weeks to get into a new habit and see the difference. I know I’m finding the discipline of sharing these plans each week really helpful. And I’ve not had any nights of staring into the fridge while hungry children descend into madness around me. So that’s worth sticking to. I’ve also not had any food go to waste. Even when we might have gone off-plan, I’ve just used the food I’ve bought on another night. Or made something else using the same ingredients. Let me know how you’re getting on and please share these posts with your friends – the more people who are following along the more pressure for me to keep sharing!
Please keep the pictures and comments coming. Here are the previous five weeks’ plans.
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. 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
This week is a pretty normal one. Well as normal as any week is. Work is busy, as always, but we’re not traveling around anywhere. I’m chipping away at writing my book so I’ll be recipe testing for that and I’m using Friday night as a night to test a recipe that I’m determined to crack. Other than that I’m reaching for some old favourite recipes that I can make with my eyes closed.
My newly seven your-old son was chatting to me yesterday as we planned what we’d eat this week. Bless him, without any prompting he said, ‘well Monday is the meat-free day isn’t it?’ One of those (very rare) parenting moments where I felt like punching the air. Involving my boys in the planning process is a mixed bag. Left to them we’d have pizza or burgers every day. But they know we won’t. Asking them for input as I’m making dinner is a disaster – but involving them at the start of the week means I can remind them that they bought into the menu if later in the week they’re being difficult. Having a list of family favourites that they and you can look through and pick from can be a helpful tool. Or have them look through a cookbook or magazine with you to find something they’d like to try. That’s how we’ve ended up with risotto on Monday night.
Week 6 meal plans and recipes
Here’s what we’re having this week….
Mushroom risotto with broccoli and lemon
My oldest son picked out a picture of mushroom risotto from a magazine when I was asking him to help with the menu plan. Risotto is easy to make and can go in so many flavour directions. I’ll share the recipe very soon. To get a few extra veggies into everyone, I serve the risotto with some quickly steamed tenderstem broccoli that I dress with a little butter, sea salt and lemon juice. The brightness offsets the mushroominess of the risotto.
Risotto is a great thing to make with children. I get my boys to chop the mushrooms with their round ended sharp knives, and they stir the risotto as it cooks. They have to shout out when we need to add more stock and they grate the cheese too. Of course some days I’m too done in to add the time and mess of them helping me, but when I accept the lack of perfection it is a lovely thing to do together for 20 minutes.
If you want to get ahead of yourself you can make the risotto until it is half cooked and then spread it onto a tray to cool. Then you can finish it off later by scraping it back into the pan and gradually adding hot stock.
Leftover risotto is dreamy if you make it into arancini (see the picture above). And it means you can have another dinner later in the week in a jiffy. It would be perfect for a lazy Saturday supper in front of the TV. Risotto will keep in the fridge for 4 days so it won’t feel like groundhog day having it again. Just roll cold, leftover risotto into balls, dip the balls in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and gently pan fry the balls until they are crisp. Serve them with some tomato sauce or pesto and some veggie sticks or salad. I’ll share the recipe when I post my risotto recipe.
Boys – swimming picnic – flasks of Julie’s lentil, carrot and tomato soup, cheese sandwiches and fruit (same as last week)
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 noodle bowls with kale, carrots, sesame and lime
I’m making this healthy, fast standby again. Read all about how I make it here.
Meatballs (from the freezer) with rice (from the freezer) and roasted carrots and broccoli with red wine vinegar dressing.
Keeping life simple by using some goodies from the freezer. I always have a bag of cooked brown rice that I can quickly microwave. I’ll serve it with some of the meatballs I made a couple of weeks ago that I froze raw in tomato sauce. If you missed the recipe, here it is.
I’ll pop the defrosted meatballs in the sauce in the oven to cook for half an hour. On a separate tray I’ll roast some chunks of carrot and broccoli. The broccoli takes the least time to cook so I’ll add that half way through the cooking time. I dress the roasted vegetables with a little red wine vinegar, salt and pepper while they are still warm and then pile them into bowls with the rice and meatballs. I mix everything together for my children as they prefer their rice to be saucy.
Sesame crusted tuna with kale fried rice
I love this speedy fish recipe. It has a great balance of textures and flavours as well as ticking all the nutrition boxes. The kale fried rice is so comforting and uses more of my freezer stash of cooked rice. We keep our tuna in steaks, but I sometimes cut the fish into strips before coating it with the sesame seeds for the boys. That way they get more crust which helps things along. I usually serve their cucumber in chunks with a bit of salt and leave off the dressing as they aren’t keen on the heat of the ginger. If you are making this for a kalephobe, you could use broccoli instead.
Leftovers are great served at room temperature for lunch the next day too.
Lamb and spinach curry (make double for the freezer)
One of the best bits of living back in England is the ease with which we can get an amazing curry. Get any British expat in California together and before long they’ll be asking each other if they know of a good curry place. We never found a great one, so we switched our curries for Mexican food while we were there. Now we’re back we have take out from a great place near us when we want a treat.
Me being me, I want to crack how to make my own. Here’s my recipe. Add frozen spinach to it a few minutes before serving, letting the spinach defrost in the heat of the curry, to get some extra greens in.
We’ll be out for dinner. Lovely.
End of the week veggie stew with eggs and crunchy crumbs
I like to clear my fridge out each Sunday so that I can start the new week with an empty fridge before I go shopping. My end of the week veggie stew is a mind-set rather than a recipe. I share all the tips on how to make yours taste delicious here. I often make extra stew and freeze it in individual servings so that we have easy lunches to grab and take to work during the week.
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.