Thursday, January 27, 2011

meal planning - help!

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I don't usually make meal plans. I just don't like to do it, and while that makes me feel minorly guilty, it is something I can live with.

But. I also do not like having no idea what is for dinner.

I think that this has become more of a problem for me as we've changed our eating habits. No longer can I pop a frozen pizza in the oven on evenings when I'm stumped for ideas. Also, we're eating a lot less meat since we've chosen to switch to free-range/pastured (i.e. pricy!) So throwing together hamburgers or meatloaf or something in the crock pot isn't as much of an option either.

I am definitely open to suggestions. Here's what I have to work with (and I'm shopping on Saturday, so feel free to suggest items for the grocery list):

3 bunches of kale (yes, I'm feeling over-run!)
cauliflower head
cabbage (not sure what it is called, but it is the same as the green kind pictured above)
1 zucchini
canned pumpkin
canned tomatoes
canned pears
dried split peas
brown rice
bread (well, the ingredients for it, anyway)
shredded cheddar

What are the most interesting, yummy meals you can dream up, using those ingredients?


Jessica said...

For kale, search for something called kale and cannellini wrapinis. I can't get a good permalink for it, but it's a great recipe.

For that cabbage, what about a pho? Or a Vietnamese rice noodle salad? (You can stick any thinly-sliced veggie in that.) There's one I like.

And this curry recipe takes any kind of veggie (esp. cauliflower) really well:

allegra said...

Here are some suggested additions for your grocery list. Granted, my toddler would look down her nose at all of this, but in a perfect world you could get/make:

Celery - I'm not a big fan, but have admit it's a must for soup.

Dried lentils - they make great soups and side dishes, and are so much easier than dried beans.

Barley - nice to throw in vegetable soups or stews.

Canned beans - or dried, if you're more adventurous than I am. You could make a great vegetarian chili with the rest of your ingredients (zucchini, onions, canned tomatoes).

Hmm... can you tell I'm into soup right now?

Myrnie said...

Favorite thing with kale:
saute an onion in a fry pan with a little oil until soft (I like red), and add a pinch of red pepper flakes (or 1/4 tsp if you're daring!) Add a bunch or two of chopped kale, stir it just a bit, then pour in about a half cup of chicken broth and cover for 10-15 minutes until everything is soft, stirring occasionally. (Sometimes I like to keep an extra half cup of chicken broth on hand while I'm cooking the onion, so I can cook it on a higher heat and deglaze the pan occasionally.) When it's done, stir everything into a pound of hot pasta in the still-hot pasta pan, with a handful or two of a good cheese (feta or goat is my favorite.) Use a bit of reserved pasta water to make it all into a sauce.

Ma Torg said...

I have the opposite problem . I LOVE meal planning and spend WAY too much time on it.

spinach, brown rice and zucchini recipe:

my favorite way of using extra kale: toss it lightly with olive oil and salt, lay single layer in a rimmed baking sheet and cook until it dries out in the oven at 300. Voila! Kale chips! Kids love 'em.

I also think kale is delicious in soups. You could use basically all those vegetables in soup.

the only thing I know how to do with split peas is soup. here's a good vegetarian recipe (though I confess I prefer it with chicken broth instead of plain water) . This recipe will also use the carrots:

Anonymous said...

my quick and easy version of "Cheesey Cauliflower", a UK favorite: Steam the whole cauliflower head either on stove or in microwave until fork-tender & pour off water, then pour over it a sauce made of mayo/dijon mustard/curry powder which you have heated in a small saucepan (more mayo than mustard, obviously), sprinkle cheddar cheese on top generously and cover till melted. YUM!! Betsy

ooshela said...

I don't have any recipes to add...just thought I'd say how excited I am to try out the ones that have been mentioned!:)

Bethany said...

So funny that you have lots of suggestions for your kale! But here's one more. I love this soup and it's super easy and turns out creamy and deliciously warming. (It does make a WHOLE lot, so you'll enjoy leftovers for a few days.) I'd serve it with the canned pears you have on hand and some fresh bread for a full dinner.

Black-eyed peas and kale

After sorting and washing, boil 3 cups black-eyed peas with 10 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic granules, pepper to taste, and 2 large bay leaves. Remove stems from 1 large bunch of kale and chop. Coarsely chop one yellow onion. After peas have cooked for an hour, heat 1/4 oil or butter (I always use butter--it tastes better!) in a large fry pan and saute onions for five minutes. Add kale and stir. Cover and cook 15 minutes or so. Add onions and kale to peas, cook and cover until peas and kale are soft.

As a side benefit: Kale and beans are a great combo because the beans help your body absorb the iron in the kale.

Have fun with your menu planning!

sarah marie said...

roasted cauliflower is delish.

sarah marie said...

here are a few ideas I found for you: (white bean and kale soup) (pasta with kale and peas in a lemon cream sauce) (pasta with cauliflower and kale)

let me know if you try any of them. :)

becks said...

I am a really big fan of making large things that can double as lunch the next day (or might go good with a sandwich!). You can also "hide" a lot of vegetables in casseroles and things like that, so bump up just how much of it your family will eat!

Here are some easy, versatile meals that go together quickly, and you don't even need much of a recipe.

- enchiladas casserole: layer fried corn tortillas with salsa verde (or red enchilada sauce), shredded chicken, cottage cheese/sour cream puree, and jack cheese. Repeat. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes. Slice up veggies (zucchini, kale, onions, spinach, tomatoes etc) and add them in with the chicken.

- stuff on rice: saute onions and garlic in oil or butter. Add chicken and brown. Add veggies (carrots, asian cabbage, zucchini, kale, peppers, corn, broccoli, etc.). If you like, add a simmer sauce (we love the ones at fresh and easy, but TJ's is good too!), or just some stock or water. Let thicken, serve over white or brown rice, or rice and beans. Takes about 20 minutes.

- stews and soups: we love basque chicken stew, which has lots of veggies and potatoes to bulk up the chicken, as well as Italian wedding soup, which has ground chicken meatballs (ask the butcher to do it for you when you buy it) and noodles (I just break up spaghetti). It also has a ton of delicious veggies.

Egg dishes are also a favorite around here. Nate's favorite is this Amish dish - it's great for breakfast, but makes a hearty dinner too: 6 eggs, 4 cups frozen hash browns, 1 cup cottage cheese, 2 cups shredded cheese. Add meats, vegetables, and spices to taste. I have made french versions, mexican versions, vegeterian versions etc. I really love it with sauteed mushrooms, sausage, and spinach, with jack cheese. Great with a dollop of sour cream.

- Latkes: A vegeterian meal. Grate 3-4 lbs potatoes and 1 onion (you can substitute in sweet potatoes or zuchini, chipped spinach, etc.) and squeeze out the water. Mix with 3 eggs and 1/2 cup flour. Form into patties about 1" thick and 3" across. Fry in vegetable oil, flipping when edges are golden. When they are firm in the center, they are done. Work in batches, and keep the finished ones in a warm oven. Serve with sour cream and applesauce, and a size salad. Nate favorite meal. Takes 30-40 minutes.

Christa said...

I've enjoyed's advanced search option. This week I tried Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Barbecue Sauce and Fiesta Zucchini. If you like the flavors of mustard/dill, there's a great carrot recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (vegetarian cookbook), which you can probably get via the library.

Soups: Farmhouse Butternut Squash Soup from epicurious is quite tasty and only has a tiny bit of bacon--you could probably make it w/o. Garden Gold Soup is supper easy and the kids will probably like it. 6 carrots, 3 med potatoes, 3 celery, 2 onion, 2 bouillon (or equiv) + 4 c water. Cut in chunks and boil until veggies tender. Puree. Add 1/4t dill, 1/3t pepper, 2t salt, 2 c milk, 1/4c margarine/butter.
I also, enjoy Barefoot Contessa's Rosemary White Bean Soup: Sautee 4c yellow onions (about 3) and 2 cloves garlic in 1/4 good olive oil. Add 1 lb of white cannellini beans (I have also used other white beans) that have been soaked but not cooked + 2 quarts broth + 6-7" of a rosemary branch + 1 bay leaf. Cook for 30-40 min until beans are soft. Remove leaves. Puree all or part as you see fit.