Saturday, 14 January 2017

Menu Planning - First Week Over

Well, one week into menu planning.

It has made life easier in some ways.  We know what will be cooked several days ahead, so grocery shopping is more targeted for starters.

As evening meals Sunday through Thursday are all cooked from scratch, it has meant a bit more prep work, which is why I've factored in two easy nights on the days we don't have to considered Howard's packed lunch for the next day.

So we had:

Breakfast - Croissant & coffee (that is chocolate filled hazelnut topped croissants from our excellent local bakers, Holtwhites Bakers, which Howards cycles over to on a Sunday morning to buy bread for the week).  It's become a tradition that we have croissant or Pain au Chocolat from there on a Sunday morning, while watching a gardening or nature programme to set us in a good mood for the day.

Lunch - Bacon sandwich.  Why not?

Supper - Breast of Lamb casserole.  A favourite cheap cut of meat.  People say it's fatty, but I cut most of that off (some was used to brown the onions & celery).  If you get the butcher to remove the bones, it's also a large amount of lean meat too, and tender if you cook it slowly in liquid.  I added carrots, kale, pearl barley and green lentils to the dish, which we served with mashed potatoes, to which we added what was leftover of the previous night's cauliflower cheese (home made cheese sauce)

Breakfast - Pain au Chocolat.  Hardest day of the week to get going, so why not start with something quick and comforting?

Lunch - Chunky Scotch Broth.  The casserole from last night, having had the larger pieces of meat used already, and the remaining mash stirred in to thicken the mixture.  Plus a slice of toast.

Supper - Scotch Broth with sourdough croutons.  Added some frozen broad beans to brighten it up.

Breakfast - Toast & yeast extract.  Quick & extra B vitamins.  Also, the cat goes mad for the melted butter and trace of savoury goodness left on the plate after.

Lunch - Scotch Broth (Yes, again)  There was still more left, which had the hand blend put through it briefly, then put in portion sized bags and frozen.

Supper - Leek and Potato Soup.  Had one massive leek, a few sticks of celery and three potatoes left from Sunday.  Fried the chopped leek and celery in rapeseed oil, cut the potatoes into tiny cubes, added a vegetable stock cube and enough water to just cover and cooked until the potatoes were soft, then put the hand blender through until smooth.  Served topped with grated cheese (a firm cheese with flakes of truffle we bought at a French cheese stall that was in Enfield shopping centre in the run-up to Christmas)

Breakfast - Porridge.  A bit more time, and the need to feel warm.  And a dollop of blueberry jam on top.

Lunch - Leek & Potato soup, plus a toasted cheese sandwich. (Again, remaining soup frozen)

Supper - Pea & Ham Soup.  Really & truly this should be made with dried split peas, but I did a quicker version.  Chopped and softened a mix of leeks & celery, then cubed a pack of what Sainsbury's call "cooking bacon" - basically mis-shapes and ends of bacon that are left from cutting into rashers. Once this was mixed and cooked down, I added half a pack of basics frozen peas and water to just below the top of the mixture, then set it on a long, low cook.  Served it as it was - whole peas - for supper, then used the hand blender once it had cooled down.

Breakfast - Granola. Dorset Cereals Granola to be precise - one scoop each of chocolate & nuts.

Lunch - pea & ham soup & toast

Supper - Gnocchi in cheese sauce with peas.  Howard is starting to dislike how highly seasoned ready made sauces are, so I made a roux based cheese sauce just as I had for the cauliflower cheese I had made previously.  The one downside of this is you do realise that you need a third hand - one to hold the pan, one to add the milk, and a third to keep stirring the sauce.  Fortunately, Howard was able to add the milk while I stirred the sauce.  Used long life gnocchi from Lidl, and did two packs so we had enough for lunch.

Breakfast - Crumpets with yeast extract.  To give the cat a treat (licking the plate after) and we'd run out of bread)

Lunch - Gnocchi.  Have found that I hate the texture of reheated pasta, so thought this was worth a try.  OK, but had to add more milk to the sauce as if was solid once cooled down.

Supper - Fish fingers in buns.  Comfort food Friday!!  A slightly more sophisticated version of the fish finger sandwich.  In brioche burger buns, watercress and garlic mayonnaise.

Breakfast - Crumpets.  Because we overslept and didn't have time to make buckwheat pancakes

Lunch - Oatcakes with cheese.  A couple with a strong cheddar, and a couple more with Gjetost - a Norwegian goats milk (whey) cheese the colour and texture of fudge.  Some say an acquired taste, but it's one I definitely have.

Supper - Penne pasta with beans in a tomato sauce.  Not so long back, this is the kind of thing we'd have for supper every night.  Pleasant, fairly wholesome (wholemeal pasta), but predictable.  Once a week or so, it doesn't seem as depressing.

So - a week of meals, with the exception of midweek breakfasts, all planned well ahead.  Have a ham hock and the vegetables ready to start next week's plan, and Howard is going to make the batter for buckwheat pancakes tonight, so it will be ready to use in the morning.

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