My favorite way to build a menu

Jim and the kids are out of town today and I am on my own for the weekly grocery shopping so I’m doing it my favorite way.

I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning and filled my basket with anything that caught my eye.

I bought: a free-range chicken, goat cheese, a chunk of gouda, sweet potatoes, Chinese honey tangerines, one turnip and one rutabaga, tatsoi, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, green onions, red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a calabaza.

Now I have to figure out what to cook this week! This week is going to be super-busy so we’ll need some relatively quick meals. I also have to use up what’s already in the fridge and freezer: trout fillets, a small london broil, queso fresco, sizable chunks of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, a smidge of gongonzola,some meaty lamb bones, ground turkey, blueberries, cooked small red beans, cucumbers, limes, carrots, salad greens, and lots of whole wheat tortillas.

It’s like my favorite kind of puzzle. What can I make that uses up what I already have and I don’t have to buy too much extra for?

The lamb bones, carrots, turnip and rutabaga are screaming “Make Scotch Broth out of me!” Scotch broth & bannock bread is an old favorite of ours, and all that’s lacking is some leeks and barley. I already have all the ingredients for whole-wheat bannock bread.

Usually mushrooms & chinese greens means rice cake stir-fry, but we just ate that a few nights ago. All that cheese is begging for pizza and around here pizza is a good way to use up a lot of vegetables. Also, pizza can be quick if you pre-prep the dough for the crust and cook the sausage the night before. One white pizza with mushrooms, tatsoi, and plenty of garlic, and another with sausage, tomatoes and peppers. All I need for that is some sausage!

The small London broil is not enough meat as a “main dish”, but it’s plenty for a big black & blue salad, and we need a low-carb meal this week. That’ll use up the salad greens, some more carrots, cucumber, the smidge of gorgonzola, the London broil, and I’ll add some hard-boiled eggs for extra protein.

The chicken is for making Jeweled Polow, a recipe I’m testing for Gulf Wars. I already have all the ingredients for that dinner. I won’t need the whole chicken though, I’m only using the dark meat and the carcass for broth, so I’ll have the cooked breast meat left over.

That just leaves Tuesday night, which is usually “kids fend for themselves” night. The leftover cooked red beans, queso fresco, and ground turkey will make some excellent burritos, and Alex can make burrito filling himself by just sauteeing the turkey meat and adding the cooked beans and spices. Easy, and I don’t need to buy anything!

The last meal will use up everything that’s left: broiled trout fillets, baked sweet potatoes, and leftovers.

Now I just have to worry about lunches and breakfast. They had baked ham in onion rolls last week, stir-fry noodles with squid the week before that. This week I’ll do something easy like egg salad, maybe some soba noodles with the leftover chicken and green onions, and there’s plenty of peanut butter and jam. The tangerines and cherry tomatoes will round out lunches. What to do for breakfast? Grits casserole sounds good, with a little bacon, and I’ll bake a loaf of cinnamon bread. I’ll buy a bag of frozen strawberries for emergency smoothies, too, and oatmeal.

Done! Now it’s off to the grocery store! Happy meal planning, everyone!

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