Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of May 23, 2011

Menu Plan MondayI both love and dread the end of the school year. Sometimes I feel like the whole family is careening down a steep hill in a horse-drawn buggy with no driver and no way to catch the reins. While I’m confident we won’t end our two-week journey in a big equine and human heap (particularly because there aren’t actually horses involved, it’s just a metaphor folks), I’m fairly sure the next couple of weeks will be a bumpy ride to say the least. This week we’re facing a slew of end-of-school events and activities including a big choir performance, and I’m frantically preparing for the big International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference that’s coming to Austin June 1-4. As the social media chair for the host committee, I have a lot of last-minute preparations to make so the conference can be as socially interesting online as it is offline. We’re also starting the summer off with a family cruise to Alaska (can’t wait) so I have to get house and dog sitters arranged, packing lists made, and of course consider where we’ll eat when we’re in Seattle pre- and post- cruise. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m even planning a summer dinner party this coming weekend.

I don’t think the word hectic really does the situation justice.

Menu planning becomes crucial in times like these because without a dinner plan each night we’d find ourselves in drive through lanes or tossing a frozen pizza in the oven. Weeks like these prove that it’s not about fancy menus either. While I don’t have a chance to push culinary bounds much, just getting a healthy and satisfying dinner into the family each night is what’s important. There will be time this summer to relax and play with our food.

The Plan

Early in the week I’m in busy family survival mode, going with easy dishes everyone loves and raiding my freezer stash. As things settle down for the long weekend I’ll have time to devote to a couple of slightly more involved menus.

  • Monday: Chicken tacos, black beans, taco toppings
    I’ll be at an Austin Food Blogger Alliance executive board meeting but I don’t want the family to have to eat out just because I’m gone. They can easily manage the heating of the various pieces and parts of this dinner. I’ll prep the toppings in the morning before I leave for work.
  • Tuesday: Dad and kidlet on their own
    I have another Austin Food Blogger Alliance activity so it’s dad and daughter special night. I’m sure they’ll scare up all sorts of fun.
  • Wednesday: Frito pies
    The kidlet has a late appointment so dinner has to be fast this week. I’ll use chili from the freezer stash, leftover shredded cheese and onions from Monday’s tacos, and some blue corn chips from my local Central Market to make homemade frito pies everyone will enjoy.
  • Thursday: Post choir-show celebration
    Because it’s a week night and we want to be budget-conscious, we’ll enjoy a casual dinner out after the kidlet’s choir show.
  • Friday: Grilled chicken sausages, broccoli, and oven fries
    After a hectic week we’ll look forward to an easy supper and maybe an episode or two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I buy chicken and apple sausage in bulk at SAMs Club to keep on hand in the freezer for quick meals. This week I’ll grill it up quickly and serve with steamed broccoli. The kidlet knows how to make oven fries so I’ll enlist her help with those while I get the rest of dinner going.
  • Butterflied ChickenSaturday: Summer dinner party – grilled butterflied chicken, grilled corn with chipotle cilantro compound butter, stuffed squash calabacitas, and key lime tarts
    We’re having friends over for an early Memorial Day celebration and I’ll be breaking out all of my favorite summer recipes. This is what the menu looks like now but I reserve the right to tweak as I read some of my latest food magazines.
  • Sunday: Stuffed burgers, grilled artichokes, and waffle fries
    I’m going to test out a new recipe (pork & chorizo burgers stuffed with Monterey Jack) as well as a new stuffed burger making gadget for this dinner. It will be a nice twist on the standard summer burger dinner.

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