Meal-Planning Mondays

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Tomato, Sausage & Pecorino Pasta, courtesy Cooking Light.

Today we're starting a new weekly segment, titled Meal-Planning Mondays. Since I spend several hours each week scouring web sites, recipe books and my own tried-and-true favorites to come up with weekly menus that are fairly frugal and (for the most part) healthy, I thought others may want to snag some of the recipes and perhaps some of the entire meal plans. Meal plans are for dinners only; they will run every Monday, and I make a good-faith effort to use fresh and seasonal ingredients in most of my dishes. Some of these are my own concoctions, which means measurements will be approximates (I usually just eyeball it and add to taste). Others are recipes I glean from various resources. Leave a comment and let us know what you think about Meal-Planning Mondays!

So without further ado ...

MONDAY
Chicken salad
Baked sweet potatoes (use organic when possible)
Image: The Food Network.

There are several varieties of chicken salad. For the spring and summer, I like to use fresh seasonal fruit, which this one incorporates.

CHICKEN SALAD
2 chicken breasts or the meat from a rotisserie chicken, chopped.
Two celery stalks, diced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 apple, diced
1 cup grapes, halved
Mayonnaise to taste
A pinch of ground ginger, salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and serve plain, with crackers or as a sandwich.

BAKED SWEET POTATOES
Wash the outside, then use a fork to poke holes in the potato. Wrap with aluminum foil and bake at 450 for nearly 1 hour. Times vary depending on the size of the potatoes.

TUESDAY
Grilled hamburgers
Homemade buns
Potato Salad
Image: The Food Network.

Use organic, grass-fed beef when possible, and with the weather as nice as it is, grill outside. Otherwise prepare the hamburgers stovetop.

HOMEMADE BUNS
If you have a bread maker, use this recipe. You'll never go back to store bought. If not, use store-bought whole-wheat buns.

POTATO SALAD
This recipe is courtesy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It keeps well for a couple days, so you may want to make plenty to have at lunch the next couple days.
4 cups potatoes, coarsely diced and boiled until tender, about 18 minutes.
4 hard-boiled eggs
3/4 cup chopped dill pickles
2 Tbs. dill
Salt to taste
Mayonnaise to taste

Mix all ingredients.

WEDNESDAY
Tomato, Sausage & Pecorino Pasta
Fresh green beans

Image: Cooking Light.

TOMATO, SAUSAGE & PECORINO PASTA
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. Get it here.

GREEN BEANS
Wash and trim (the ends; I also typically split them in half) approx. 1 pound of fresh green beans. Cook in salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Add a little butter, salt and pepper to taste.

THURSDAY
Avocado, Strawberry Salad with Orange Balsamic Dressing
Grilled Cheese

Image: TakeHomeChef.Net

AVOCADO, STRAWBERRY SALAD
8 ounces spring greens (organic when available; lettuce is number 9 on the most-contaminated food lists, according to the Environmental Working Group. Download their list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 here)
1 or 2 avocados, chopped
1/2 pint strawberries, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, diced.

Gently mix all ingredients together and top with ORANGE BALSAMIC DRESSING (courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens):
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/4 cup orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme, oregano or basil or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, oregano or basil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid and shake to combine. Alternately, process all ingredients in a food processor to combine. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (if using fresh herbs), 1 week (if using dried herbs).

GRILLED CHEESE
We use homemade bread for all our sandwich and bread needs. This whole wheat honey bread recipe from Hallelujah Acres is a good everyday whole wheat bread. Use this if you have a bread maker.
Top with Tillamook Cheddar, which is hormone-free. Grill using a panini press or on the stovetop.

FRIDAY
Homemade pizza

Image: The Food Network.

This is a weekly staple in our home! Make your own pizza crust, and you'll never buy store-bought again.

Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Pour the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle yeast and sugar over the water. Stir and let stand until yeast swells, about 5 minutes.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Combine 3 cups of the flour and the kosher salt in the bowl of the mixer. Add the yeast mixture and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix on low for 10 seconds. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 3 minutes. Feel the dough, if it is sticky, add the remaining flour and knead.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it to cover with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

After rising, roll out the dough. Bake for 8 minutes at 500.

Remove the crust and top with your favorite toppings, then bake for another 6-8 minutes.

SATURDAY
Grilled Chicken
Broccoli
Cous Cous

Image: Grilled Garlic Chicken, Real Simple.

Since the weather is warm, grill the chicken outside. Simply season with your favorite seasonings and grill. If you have a little more time to prepare, follow this Real Simple recipe for Grilled Garlic Chicken.

Wash and trim broccoli. Line a baking sheet with broccoli and top with olive oil, salt and peper. Cook at 500, for 12 - 15 minutes. Watch to make sure it doesn't brown too much.

Cous cous is a simple grain to prepare, so we have it often. Bring 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water to a boil. Add 1 cup cous cous. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand five minutes and fluff with a fork. You can also add fresh basil, parsley or thyme to the cooked cous cous.

SUNDAY
Left overs
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5 Response to Meal-Planning Mondays

April 12, 2010 at 7:18 PM

These all look delicious! This will be a good contribution to a great blog!

April 13, 2010 at 9:27 PM

I am very impressed! I don't even know what I am going to wear to work everyday for the week, much less have an idea of what we are going to eat for dinner :) Thank you so much for these great ideas - I am looking forward to using some of them.

April 13, 2010 at 10:48 PM

Angelica, I think you give me too much credit! :-) I've found that meal planning saves me time and money in the long-run, so that's my impetus for doing it! And believe me, when it comes to knowing what I'm wearing, I'm often just throwing on the first thing I grab in the morning!

April 19, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Oh I have just decided to start doing a weekly menu plan, so this is great!
I find most the recipes I am using these days are from blogs, funnyhow that works ;)
Will look forward to Mondays!
Love the new look by the way, great template.

April 21, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Destri, glad you stopped by! I hope you can find some good meal ideas from this segment! Love your blog as always!