Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Fall LogoIt’s amazing the sort of havock evacuating your home for two days will play on a menu plan and freezer stash. There we were two Sundays ago just minding our own business, having fun family game day, when our phones, Facebook pages, and even Twitter accounts erupted with messages from concerned friends who’d heard we were evacuating. At the time they knew more than they did. That will teach us to take a break from our screens and break out the board games.

The long and short of it is our subdivision was on fire and due to a lengthy drought and high winds, there was significant enough concern that the authorities told thousands of people to get out of Dodge. So get out we did. Thanks to the valiant efforts of fire fighters from around the state, the fire did much less damage than it might have. 24 of our neighbors lost their homes and the community is rallying around them. We only lost the contents of our refrigerators and freezers after they’d been without power for two days. All things considered, it’s a loss I can live with. It could have been so much worse. However, as a result of our evacuation my trusty freezer stash is gone. I’ll be building it up again over the next few weeks and will share my recipes and tips along the way. Look for “Filling the Freezer” posts in our collective near future.

Other communities around Central Texas have been ravaged by wildfires and have fared much worse than ours. Out in Bastrop the number of houses lost is over 1,000 and that fire is still burning. If you’d like to help, a monetary donation to the United Way is quick and easy. If you want to help a specific family, consider donating the the Chumly’s, the extended family of Austin food blogger and Edible Austin contributor Kristi Willis. I will never forget how lost I felt as I ¬†stood in my house trying to decide what precious possessions to take and what would have to stay behind. I was lucky enough to return to find my home standing. Many others were not and they need all of the help they can get.

This Week’s Plan

After being displaced for a few days it took me a surprising while to get back into the menu planning groove. I’m also struggling some with mid-week menu planning because the kiddo’s after school activities have us out an about until 7:30 or 8:00 on some nights. We’ve been eating out more than I’d like, so this week I’m falling back on quick-and-easy meals like hot dogs and ravioli. While not particularly creative they are much more budget and calorie friendly when I make them myself.

  • Monday: Beef satay, steamed rice, roasted broccolini
    I’ll pick up pre-prepped skewers from the Whole Foods meat counter on my way home and grill them up for an easy dinner. I’ll make a few extras for lunches later in the week.
  • Tuesday: At the kiddo’s football game
    The cheerleaders eat at school before games so we’re on our own for dinner but often don’t get home until the later evening. Luckily, along with the usual concession stand fare, our middle school has Chick-Fil-A delivered for games which is a reasonable option for dinner. I’ll grab a quick salad on my way out of the office to be sure we get a few veggies along with our chicken sandwiches.
  • Wednesday: Hot dogs with fixin’s, tater tots, crisp raw veggies
    I can have this meal on the table in 20 minutes which is great given that we’re all starving after school, work, and after school activities. Organic uncured hot dogs from Applegate Farms make me feel good about putting this family favorite dinner on the table.
  • Thursday: Cheese-stuffed rigatoni with marinara sauce and italian sausage, garlic bread
    The store cheese case has some great hand-made fresh pastas that are ready in 8 minutes or so after the pot of water comes to a boil. I typically have homemade marinara in my freezer (and will again) but this week I’ll rely on good quality jarred sauce and will toss in some sliced Italian sausage to round out the dish. The kiddo can make the garlic bread so we’ll have this easy dish on the table about 30 minutes after we get home from her theater class.
  • Friday: Chicken toastadas with avocado dressing, Spanish rice
    I’ve been wanting to try this recipe from the September Cooking Light for a couple of weeks. I love that it’s made with a rotisserie chicken because leftovers will be great in chicken salad for the weekend.
  • Saturday: Girls’ Night Out
    I’m taking the kiddo out for dinner and a movie on Saturday night at Alamo Drafthouse, our local theater/restaurant combination. After a hectic week when we’re worried about schedules, games, and homework it will be a fun evening for us.
  • Sunday: Pork chops stuffed with fall fruit, thyme-roasted carrots, long grain and wild rice
    I’m working on the menu for a dinner party and will be testing an idea I have for pork chops stuffed with pears and dried fruit. Roasted carrots and hearty rice will round out this fall menu.

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins in a basketFilling the Freezer

I’ll be doing some extra cooking this week to help refill my freezer stash. This week’s plan includes:

I’m always on the hunt for great freezer-friendly recipes. Please share your favorites in the comments.

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