Meal Planning around a Theme

Happy Friday my Frugal Friends!

Forgive me for delaying to post; I am finishing up some graduate courses online so my blogging time is scarce these days. Lent is also upon us Orthodox folks, and I hope you all had a very clean week!

More thoughts on meal planning:

Thriftiness is all about using what you have, as mentioned in a previous post. As I was thinking about this concept, I realized how obsessed Americans tend to be with "variety". It's kind of like choosing what you're going to wear; you can't have chicken two nights in a row, now can you? Maybe it's just me.....

But I had an epiphany. Plan "theme weeks": Mexian week, Indian week, breakfast-for-dinner week, etc. This makes perfect sense when it comes to ingredients. For example, if I'm planning to make Mexican food on Monday, I probably need cilantro, black beans, rice, spourted corn tortillas (I mean, what am I going to do with all 50 corn tortillas I get for $1.99?), tomatoes, avocados, peppers, and mexican (cotija) cheese. Why not extend the theme and get the most out of my ingredients for the whole week, rather than have half-used cilantro rotting in my produce bin? (Please tell me I'm not the only one!)

Let's see how many potential meals I could make out of the above ingredients:

Day 1: Black beans and rice with salsa, cilantro, and mexican cheese on top
Notes: Beans and rice can be purchased dry for pennies. Be sure to soak the beans overnight in a water with a TBS of vinegar or whey to deactivate enzyme inhibitors in the beans.

Day 2: Refried black beans (from last night) & Cheese taquitos
Notes: Heat lard or coconut oil in a skillet. Soften corn tortillas in oil, add beans and mexican cheese, roll or fold over and fry in oil. Flip carefully and enjoy your crispy, tasty treat.

Day 3: Mexican black bean salad
Notes: Toss romaine lettuce with mexican cheese, avocado chunks, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, etc.

Day 4: Mexican tortilla soup (or black bean chili)
Notes: "Gather up the fragments" from the week, rice, tortillas, beans, tomatoes, etc and simmer them in vegetable or chicken broth that you should have in your freezer (more on broth to come!)

Day 5: Mexcian Pizza
Notes: Soften tortillas in oil as in Day 2, spread refried beans and spices of your choice between two tortillas. Top with cheese and tomatoes and anything else you want and bake in the oven until cheese is bubbly.

I'm willing to bet that all 5 of the above meal ideas can be made for a total ingredients list of $20.00. It will be more if you have a large family, but still!

A Challenge for Yourself: Plan your own "theme week" with ingredients that overlap. Use the leftovers in creative ways to make new meals. If you come up with anything worth sharing, by all means, please do!!!

Coming soon: I'll continue with my "series" on principles of oreganic thriftiness, and we'll soon be talking about the economies of milk and all the products you'll never have to buy again because you make them yourself!


Anonymous said...

I love the "concept" of theme week, but I have my doubts my "men" would go for eating similar meals all week.
I can get away with beans and rice variations @ twice a week, max.
Great idea tho!

PS- I saw Kombusha in New Seasons today and gasped at the price. No wonder you make your own!!

Xenia Kathryn said...

Yes, if we're having beans all week, I'd better deactivate the enzymes... OR ELSE! hehehe. :)
Great idea, I think it could be done! I/we are used to variety, but this is much more economical.

Helenrr said...

And if you can cut up some of that leftover chicken and freeze it in 1-2 cup portions, it is very handy for some of those recipies. :) I freeze what I can't use one week to use in another way the next week.. As I am allergic to whey, I will try the vinegar...and baking soda to counteract the hard water. (and I'll use canola oil for the frying) Thanks for the good ideas Carrie!

Christina said...

I freeze a lot of foods and then pull them out weeks later. I don't think my family would go for one type of food a week. DH doesn't even like to eat the same food for lunch and dinner in the same day (he takes leftovers for lunch). So I do a lot of rotating of foods:)

Christina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

I had a similar epiphany, but it was more like on Mondays I will make soup (with leftovers for lunches for the week), Tuesdays add liver to a ground beef meal, Wednesdays include beans, Thursdays fish, etc. I got tired of trying to figure out how to eat all the healthy foods, so I figured a plan like this might help.

Have you checked out the yahoo group discussingNT? It is great; a whole group of folks talking all things Nourishing Traditions.


MommaofMany said...

I'm intrigued by the idea. I'll ponder the possibilities.

Icon Girl said...

My family polishes off leftovers and I am the one who gets sick of the same dish more than twice in a row :(

Before Lent I tried something along the "theme" line, similar to what Jessica (below) suggested, centered around the 'meat' course:
Monday & Thursday: Chicken or Pork
Tuesday: Red Meat
Wednesday & Friday: Lenten fare
I also varied the vegetables (salads and/or cooked veggie), and side dishes (grains, potato, pasta) throughout the week.

Saturdays we ate whatever was left and Sundays I left open for culinary freedom :)