Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of January 17, 2011

Two Bloody Marys with garnish.

When life throws tomatoes at you, relax and have a drink.

What do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men (or mice and moms in this case)? That was my week last week. In what I can only consider to be a test of my flexibility and overall resilience, I unexpectedly had to deal with:

  • A meeting that ran very late into Tuesday evening
  • Feeling like I was hit by a train on Thursday that led to my heading home early for work, a three-hour nap, and the rest of the evening spent in bed
  • A surprise business trip to Dallas on Friday that had me there and back for a total of 8 hours in the car as part of a 14 hour day

You know, because my weeks aren’t complicated enough as it is. Or I’m paying off some of my questionable karma balance. Or, life happens.

You won’t be surprised to learn that most of my menus for the week went the way of the dodo as a result. While we didn’t once resort to fast food, we did eat out one more night than I expected which isn’t the best solution, but at least everyone was fed. I’ve chosen to look at the week as an opportunity to figure out how to do better next time. My two big take-aways are:

  • I need to include some heat-and-eat meals in my freezer that simply go into the oven to cook. I have lots of component parts to make meal preparation easier, but I need some whole meals that I can add a salad to and call it good for nights when I’m sick or lose my dinner prep time. If you have favorite recipes that fit this bill, please share them in the comments.
  • My family needs to learn to cook a few dishes without me. We’re a bit on the way toward that with the purchase of a new cookbook called Recipes Every Man Should Know and to help get them started, I’m going to broach the subject of a daddy/daughter cooking night once every couple of week so they’re ready to fill in for me in a pinch.

I’ll chalk this less-than-stellar menu planning week up to life happens, get over it, and move on.

This Week’s Challenge: Week-Long Business Trip

Hot on the heels of last week’s unplanned irregularity is a semi-planned (as in I had three week’s notice) irregularity: a business trip that will take me out of town from Monday morning through Sunday evening. My job regularly includes trips of a couple or three days here and there, but it’s pretty rare that I’m gone for this long. My mom has graciously agreed to come for a visit to lend a hand with the kidlet so my husband doesn’t have to take on the full burden of my absence.

Let’s be clear, my mom is a fantastic cook (and one of the reasons I love food and cooking so much), but she’ll be visiting and in an unfamiliar routine, so I’ve worked out a simplified menu with her ahead of time to make the trip as easy for her as possible. The menus only include one take-out meal from a local BBQ joint, which is really a treat for everyone, so the focus on eat at home is still on even while I’m gone. We won’t make a big dent in the freezer overflow this week, but that’s okay because everyone will still get to have healthy dinner at home together every night, which will give me some peace of mind while I’m away.

This Week’s Simplified Plan

I’ve learned that when we’re all out of our groove due to travel or other changes in routine, sticking with family favorites like a taco bar or hearty chicken helps relax the family and make the dinner table a place to reconnect. When I get home Sunday night I know I’ll have no interest in cooking, but I’ll want to reconnect at the table as well. The lettuce wraps from the freezer will make dinner a snap so I can spend my energy focusing on the family.

  • Monday: Chicken tenders and fresh fruit for everyone (not just the kidlet)
  • Tuesday: Taco bar with cucumber and tomato salad
  • Wednesday: BBQ takeout
  • Thursday: Crockpot Lemony Herb Chicken with broccoli and oven fries
  • Friday: Frito Pies with chili from the freezer stash
  • Saturday: Zatarain’s Carnival Jambalaya with steamed carrots
  • Sunday: Chicken Lettuce Wraps from the freezer stash with edamame

1 Comment

  1. Your menu for the week looks very good. Hope to see you at Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week!