Meal planning is generally spontaneous in my home. There are only two adults in the household, and we are very flexible about what we eat and when we eat it. For breakfast, my husband generally makes us both a cappuccino, and he makes himself a smoothie using soy milk, frozen berries or a fresh apple, and all sorts of seeds & nuts. For myself, I pack a container of greek yogurt with wheat germ, ground nuts, cut fruit, nutritional yeast, flax meal, etc. each night for the following day’s b’fast.
We both work days, usually workout on the way home from work, and then one or both of us fixes supper, once we both get home, using whatever we have on hand – making whatever we are in the mood for. If we have absolutely nothing on hand or if we want to make something particular & lack the ingredients, that becomes the day we run to the co-op for groceries.
Pantry is generally stocked with four types of oil (olive, walnut, canola, toasted sesame) 4-5 types of grain that I buy in bulk (wild & brown rice, red & white quinoa), nuts (which I refrigerate or freeze), various shapes of whole wheat & lentil pastas, dried herbs, herbal teas, canned & dried beans, canned tomatoes, cartons of stock, and frozen & dried fruits/veggies. We make a monthly trip to Costco for any organic staples we can reliably get there like peanut butter, unsalted nuts, extra virgin olive oil, brown rice, chia seeds, golden flax meal, beans, frozen fruits & veggies, and some pre-portioned food like frozen salmon, prepared soups, and black bean burgers. We shop weekly at our co-op for most of our fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, herbs/spices – anything we don’t purchase in large quantities, need to purchase frequently, or that they don’t carry at Costco (we only buy organic, so that is a built-in limitation). This system works fairly well; however, we’ve fallen into a pattern of eating many of the same meals, including more prepared food than I’d like. For example, I can easily make very good soups, but because we can reliably purchase organic varieties of soups at Costco at a pretty good price, I’ve come to rely on them. But what I make is far superior – in flavor, certainly, probably nutritionally superior, but most importantly, I derive little pleasure from heating up a can of soup – even if I doctor it up with extra ingredients! Things like lentil or split pea soup are actually very quick/easy to make, if I’d just plan ahead! So I’d really like to do more of that, like I used to! Here are photos of main areas of my pantry.
Recipe #1: Rotini w/ Veggies & Shrimp
I chose to make a recipe for Pasta with Veggies & Shrimp on Saturday evening because my husband wasn’t home (he won’t eat shrimp), I had leftover frozen shrimp from Christmas Eve that I was dying to eat, and all the other necessary ingredients (including a very nice bottle of French white wine). The prep involved starting the pasta to boil, sauteeing zucchini, onion, red & green peppers, then adding in the herbs de Provence (after using mortar & pestle to bruise), a dash of paprika, some diced blacked tomatoes, & the shrimp. This was done by the time the rotini was ready to drain. I deglazed the pan with some of the wine. Would have been perfectly delish, except I was too low on olive oil & forced to use other oil I keep for emergencies. Really missed the flavor! Need to review pantry more carefully to avoid running out!
Recipe #2: Whole Wheat Veggie & Cheese Pizza
I actually thought ahead for the second meal: pizza on Sunday evening. I used all the leftover sliced veggies that I’d prepped for the shrimp meal, plus some sliced green olives and some pine nuts & some random cheese, also left over from Christmas. I had prepared whole wheat dough (recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois) & frozen several portions in Tupperware. In the morning, I placed one cup of the frozen dough in a glass 2-cup measuring cup in a sink of hot water to thaw and rise. It was doubled in size by late afternoon, so I preheated the oven, where I keep the pizza stone. When the oven bell went off, I opened it, sprinkled corn meal on the pizza stone, pressed out the dough, then layered on the veggies & scattered the pine nuts & some grated part-skim mozzarella. Then set a timer for 20 minutes. Although browned, the dough still smelled raw, so I moved the stone lower in the oven and added a thin layer of sliced provelone. Ten minutes later, it was perfect!
When baking a pizza with so many veggies in the future, I would place pizza lower in the oven from the outset to avoid early browning, and I might also set oven temperature lower – 425 instead of 450. This should allow crust to bake thoroughly without having top brown too soon.