I’m keeping this brief today because as my children start half term in a few minutes so I’m cramming in as much as I can before the madness kicks in! Don’t worry I’ll keep the meal plans coming while they’re off. This week’s plan once again shows the importance of a well-stocked freezer. Monday night I’m withdrawing from my stash, Sunday I’m replenishing it. If you do that each week you’ll always have one less meal to cook.
Please keep the pictures and comments coming. Here are the previous six 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.
Here’s what we’re having this week….
Puy lentil ragu, brown rice pasta, roasted broccoli salad
After a really busy day, and with book-deadlines looming, I need an easy dinner. This puy lentil ragu is from the freezer. I serve it with wholegrain shells but you can use any pasta shape. Some roasted broccoli, dressed with red wine vinegar and dotted with some plain yoghurt, salt and pepper works really well with it.
Boys – swimming picnic – flasks of Julie’s lentil, carrot and tomato soup, cheese sandwiches and fruit (same as every week)
Grown ups – Steak, celeriac and potato wedges, creamed spinach.
I’ve been teaching this steak dinner recipe in my classes to rave reviews. I’ll share the full recipe in my book, but I give a rough guide here. I hope it elevates your steak game too. If you don’t eat red meat, you could use the sides with pan-fried chicken thighs or fish. Be sure to cook extra steak and, once it is cool, wrap it in foil so that you can add it to your dinner on Thursday or Friday.
Prawns in fennel and tomato sauce with green beans and cous cous.
This prawn recipe is so easy to make and tastes like something you’d have on holiday. Just the thing at this dark and cold time of year. My crew love them stirred through pasta, with crusty bread, on rice or with cous cous. I usually steam or roast some green beans and dress them with lemon to add a bit of greenery to the proceedings.
Cous cous is a gift to anyone in a rush. The only downside is that once it sucks you in with the convenience and speed it offers, it takes that kindness right back and laughs at you. It is the biggest bugger to clean up off a floor. Clearly if you aren’t cooking for small children that isn’t a concern (unless you’re a really messy eater). I have memories of scrabbling around on the floor, dementedly trying to wipe the damned stuff up when my two were tiny. My world was vastly improved (admittedly my world was pretty small and toddler-focused at the time) when a wise friend told me to just leave it to dry until the next day and then it could be swept up. You’re welcome.
Leftover steak with noodles, basil, broccoli, grated carrot, ginger, lime and cashew.
If you follow my advice and cook extra steak on Tuesday you can bring it out again for this easy 15-20 minute dinner. You could use leftover chicken if you had it, or keep this as a vegetarian (actually it would be vegan) dinner. I just follow the recipe for my almond butter noodles but this week I’m using cashew butter – almond or peanut butter would work. Sometimes I toast a few cashew nuts and sprinkle them on top. Sometimes I’ll add sesame seeds. this is one of those recipes you can tinker with depending on what you have to hand.
Leftovers are great served at room temperature for lunch the next day too.
I know, taco night again. And not on a Tuesday. It is just the easiest, empty the fridge, all hands on deck family dinner there is. And by Friday my cooking will is diminishing. If you wanted to you could have used the leftover steak from Tuesday in these, instead of the noodles last night. Read all about how we do a taco night here.
We’ll be out for dinner. Treat!
Chicken thighs braised with tomato, red peppers and Parmesan with soft polenta and green beans.
I love this easy chicken stew – it can be thrown together and then left in a low oven for a few hours while we head out for a walk. There is nothing so comforting as coming home from a chilly walk to the smell of an almost-cooked dinner. I always make double or triple the amount so that I can freeze it in single or family-sized servings for quick dinners in future weeks. It is yummy with roast potatoes or fried gnocchi (as in the photo) and greens. Or for extra comfort, serve it on mashed potato or soft polenta.
Leftovers make a delicious pasta sauce, just shred the meat into the sauce and then stir it through pasta with a little of the pasta cooking water and some chopped watercress or rocket. A blob of pesto, if you have some lurking in the fridge would be lovely added to this too.
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.