day of week

Weekly Meal Plans

27 March 2008

Cooking is definitely one of my passions. I love cooking simple, healthy, delicious, everyday meals, that are quick and easy to make, using fresh ingredients.

I thought I would share some of the concepts behind my weekly meal planning and collect some of my daily recipes.

This is what I made last week –

Pan fried salmon with soy sauce, mixed vegetables and rice Pasta salad, with sun dried tomato pesto, spinach, feta, tomatoes, capsicum and a sprinkle of pine nuts Eggplant and potato Thai red curry with rice Tuna and brown rice salad, with assorted chopped vegetables Meat Balls

Mon – Pan fried salmon with soy sauce, mixed vegetables and rice.
Tue – Pasta salad, with sun dried tomato pesto, spinach, feta, tomatoes, capsicum and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Wed – Eggplant and potato Thai red curry with rice.
Thu – Left over curry and rice
Fri – Tuna and brown rice salad, with assorted chopped vegetables.
Sat – Meatballs and pasta with homemade tomato sauce.
Sun – Dinner with my parents.

(More examples of my meal plans at the end of this post)

When I create a weekly meal plan, I always try to consider the following things:

Fresh and Natural
I like to use fresh ingredients that are preferably organic, no msg, no additives, colours or artificial flavours. I stay away from instant powders, mixes, sauces, soups and dressings. I’d say the only instant stuff I use are Indian curry pastes and the occasional stock cube (but even then I’m really picky with my brands).

I try to use less oil, salt, butter, cream, and sugar where possible.

It doesn’t mean I use more lo-fat / lo-sugar stuff, because manufacturers usually put in other stuff to compensate. I just go without.

Lots of Vegetables
I always try to keep vegetables raw. If not, I steam, or boil, or bake, or lastly fry. In that order of preference.

I always try to have vegetables at the table at every meal. I like my dark green and red vegetables.

Time and Convenience
I am really short on time. Each meal has to take me 30 minutes to actually cook and put together. 45 minutes at the most. I very rarely make a meal that requires time during the day to prepare (eg. prepping and baking a lasagne, folding dumplings, skewering kebabs.)

Cost Concern
I go shopping once a week. I buy lots of things in bulk. I grow my own herbs and some vegetables.

When I buy a “feature” ingredient for one meal, I create other meals in the week that can also use it. Eg. If I buy a tub of bocconcini, I’ll use it on pizza, a side salad, and in a pasta. So there’s no waste.

The “feature” ingredient is usually more expensive, so I tend to only buy 2-3 per week.

“Staple” ingredients are the things I usually buy every week – eg. tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, fresh fish and meat.

“On-going” ingredients are stuff I buy in bulk – rice, lentils, canned vegetables, olive oil.

Eat Out Once a Week
I believe in breaking the routine once in a while. Hanging out as a family and doing something a little special. We usually go to my parent’s place for dinner, or we go to the beach and eat fish and chips. Sometimes I pack a picnic dinner and we’ll sit by the river.

We very rarely go out to a restaurant and eat out as a family. Mostly because of cost. Partly because I can’t bring myself to eat crappy, mass-produced, badly-made, over-processed food.
So fast food places, cheap pizzas, and local Chinese takeaway is out of the question.

More Fish. Less Meat.
Each week I try to make 3 vegetarian meals + 3 fish meals + 1 red meat meal. I don’t believe there’s much nutritional benefit from pork or chicken. But I think I need a boost of iron from red meat.

Fish meals – one meal with an oily fish (salmon, cod), one tuna, one white flesh fish (snapper, barramundi).

Other examples:

Mon – Asian styled steamed snapper, vegetables and rice.
Tue – Vegetarian pizzas (recipe here)
Wed – Crumbed fish, roast potatoes, salad
Thu – Malaysian style fish curry, with rice
Fri – Left over curry and rice
Sat – Pasta salad with tuna
Sun – Lamb and vegetable casserole with brown rice (similar to this recipe)

Mon – Fish pallea with brown rice
Tue – Roasted vegetable pasta salad (similar to this recipe)
Wed – Crumbed fish, with vegetables and mashed potato
Thu – Vegetarian fried noodles
Fri – Mushroom risotto with green beans
Sat – Eat out
Sun – Tuna rice salad

Mon – Udon noodles with chicken soup and vegetables
Tue – Steamed fish with potatoes and salad
Wed – Assorted roasted vegetables with beef sausages
Thu – Bruschetta with garlic bread, french beans and hummous
Fri – Indian style vegetable curry with rice and papodums
Sat – Left over curry and rice
Sun – Dinner with my parents.