5 Days of Dinners

I'm never going to be a super organized homemaker, like Keeper of the Home or Organizing Junkie (who does Menu Plan Mondays). For one thing, I typically work 42.5 hours a week, so "homemaking" is done in short, random bursts. But when it comes to food, I do have a modest program that works pretty well. Basically, every Saturday I try to figure out dinners Sunday through Thursday. Then I try to shop once a week, usually Sunday morning.

This has two main advantages. First, it helps me keep grocery spending down. I figure out our budget first, then make the list fit. Second, because I have a hard time coming up with meal ideas on short notice, this lets me set my course in advance--then I just follow it during the week. (Do you wonder about Friday and Saturday? I let fate dictate those days. Sometimes leftovers accumulate and need to be eaten. Or we raid the cans in the cupboard, or have breakfast-for-dinner, or MAYBE dine out once in a while.)

Here's what I'm thinking for this week, including my fascinating thought processes.

Sunday: Baked chicken with rice and broccoli. I just learned about the classical way to portion chicken into four pieces. There are two breasts with wing "drumette" attached, and two thigh & drumstick pieces. Then I bake the breasts with skin on and lots of butter. They come out super tender and yummy. I might attempt a shiitake mushroom gravy. I figure a chicken is about $13, but I'll use half on another day so it's more like $7 here. We already have brown rice at home, and got broccoli at the farmer's market yesterday.

Monday: Spaghetti with red sauce. Originally I was going to add sausage, but it's expensive and we've got plenty of cheese that can be our protein. Also I like the idea of meatless Mondays. I make my own tomato sauce and will use a scratch & dent can in the cupboard. I'll also buy some tomato paste ($2?) to make it thicker.

Tuesday: Chicken curry crockpot. I'll use the other half of the chicken. I adapt the Vij Family's Chicken Curry recipe from Eat Drink Think for crockpot use. I need to get some ginger and sour cream and maybe garam masala. I'd love to make my own Naan, maybe using Jugalbandi's recipe, but if I don't get it together I'll just make rice.

Wednesday: Hamburgers with sweet potato fries. I've still got the too-big buns from August (I froze them but am sick of them taking up so much freezer space!). I was hesitant about this meal because grass-fed ground beef (which I vowed is the only kind I'll buy) is expensive and burgers shrink up pretty small. But I really want to eat those blasted buns, so I'll splurge.

Thursday: Macrobiotic casserole. Described in my Trying to Eat Cheap series from November 2008, this healthy mix of brown rice, lentils, seaweed and root vegetables is made by my spouse, NOT ME. Hooray!

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