Thursday, January 26, 2012

Document: menu planning

Menu planning. It really works.

I used to have a very flexible biweekly menu plan because I liked the freedom to try new recipes, new techniques, and fun ingredients. Cooking was my creative outlet. But as I got more sick and tired, all that flew out the window. Now, I try to make sure my artistic self can be expressed while I'm sitting or lying down (not kidding--but maybe that's another blog post).

This is how I do menu planning now. 

I read this article by Dr. Thomas Cowan about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and suddenly everything clicked. Since reading this (and with lots of help from his book Fourfold Path to Healing), I've been concentrating on a diet that is:
  • easy to digest
  • has enough iron to address my anemia
  • lots of broth and leafy greens to restore bone density
  • focuses on my specific vitamin deficiencies like B-12 and zinc
  • and will hopefully increase general health for not just me, but my husband and our two little girls, too.
If you don't have an autoimmune issue like I do, it's still a very healthy way to eat, and can be easily modified to be GAPS- or Paleo-friendly. I've been tweaking it since about September, and it's become my masterpiece. It works great... when I'm not too tired to cook, that is. (Oh Irony, you get me every time!)

My mom asked me if I would blog this, and ever the obliging daughter, here it is in its entirety. If this is too weird for you, or you have different nutritional needs, I highly recommend susbscribing to KerryAnn's menu plans at Cooking Traditional Foods. I also like the "Everyday Gourmet" menu plan from Eat Fat, Lose Fat (bad title, great book).

Okay, so here's what our family is eating....

Breakfast: Sauteed Veggies and Pastured Pork Sausage
Dinner: Crockpot Chicken, Ginger Carrots, Kale, Baked Potatoes

 (making yogurt in the crockpot)

Breakfast: Egg Muffins (with leftovers from Monday's breakfast) and fruit
Dinner: Chinese Chicken Salad (leftovers from Monday's dinner) over shredded Napa cabbage and Egg Drop Soup (made from broth from Monday)
or Chicken Tacos (leftovers from Monday's dinner) with Cortido and Tomato Soup (made with broth from Monday)

(making kimchi)

Breakfast: Baked Apples and Meatballs
Dinner: Salad Nicoise (with very rare grilled tuna steaks) and Carrot Soup (made with broth from Monday)
or Grilled Tuna Steaks (again, very rare) with Napa Cabbage Slaw and kimchi

(the finished kimchi)

Breakfast: Pork Jowls and Cabbage, Applesauce
Dinner: Miso Chicken Soup, Stir Fried Veggies, Asian Steak Tartare (Recipe from Nourishing Traditions, see explanation here)

 (a vat of chicken stock)

Breakfast: Sauteed Chicken Livers and Applesauce
Dinner: Corned Beef with cabbage and carrots, Homemade Saurkraut

Breakfast: Soaked Oatmeal or Gluten-Free Pancakes
Dinner: free night
or Curried Lentils and some sort of curry with a protein and Homemade Chutney (Recipe from Nourishing Traditions)

Sunday (our busiest day)
Breakfast: leftovers
Dinner: leftovers

Our lunches are the same every day to give me a break from all that food prep. The girls get gluten-free PBJ's, fruit, and yogurt. I have a smoothie or leftovers. My hubby makes his lunches on Sunday, usually grilled chicken and something green like salad or sauteed kale. This is my master list, but it's very flexible week to week. Some days, we just have scrambled eggs and yogurt for dinner, and that's okay. But having a guideline helps me get back on track faster, keep grocery costs lower, makes shopping easier, and generally helps life go smoother--for all of us.

What about you? Do you menu plan? Let me know in the comments!


Barbara said...

Oh, yummy! I'm very hungry now. :-) And, scurrying off to find a Chinese Chicken Salad recipe...
PS You are a very good, obedient daughter.

Corrie said...

This is so cool, Rachel! I love seeing other people's meal plans, to get more ideas! I've been doing a little planning lately, but mostly I'm just trying to buy more veggies and more fish and see what happens. I made some clam/flounder chowder the other day that was really interesting! :-) Mostly I'm stuck in the tacos/gf pizza/pot roast rut. Your plan gives me lots of ideas.

Corrie said...

That is so cool, Rachel! I love seeing other people's plans, to get more ideas. I've been doing a little planning lately, not a ton. Mostly I'm trying to buy more veggies and fish and see where that takes me. I made some fresh flounder/clam chowder the other day that was very interesting! :-) But mostly i'm stuck in the tacos/gf pizza/pot roast rut. This gives me lots of ideas, thanks!