It’s Sunday. The day of planning meals for the rest of the week. I know some people do Meal Planning Mondays. I have tried that in the past, but by Monday night the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking. So Sundays it is.
Using Evernote to Plan Meals
A few weeks ago I got back into working on a menu plan in Evernote that works for me. This has been a work in progress for over a year. My goal is to have meals thought out a season (three months) at a time. Right now, I am working on getting down one week at a time.
We are always experimenting with making everyday meals that we like into their healthier (which usually means lower carb) versions. Cauliflower is the low carb secret weapon. I love mashed cauliflower, and last week made a shrimp cauliflower fried rice that was really good. Couldn’t even taste the cauliflower.
My goal is to have about 10 healthy recipes that we like and are relatively easy to make to rotate throughout a month. While I am still figuring out what those recipes are, I have decided to think and plan smaller until I have a better grip on what I am doing.
My fiancé, Michael, and I have a shared Evernote notebook called “Culinary – Food” that contains tons of recipes and a note entitled “Menu”. Click here for a sample of the menu I have created in Evernote for the current week. Below I describe in more detail my rationale for organizing my weekly menu this way by column.
As much as I love to plan everything down to the letter, I have been uninspired by rigid meal plans that designate which meal will be eaten on which night of the week. Maybe I don’t feel like making or eating shrimp cauliflower fried rice on Wednesday, but leftover zucchini lasagna would be perfect.
Rather than list out what we will eat on which day of the week, I decided to divide the week into Sunday through Thursday (the more traditionally “boring” days), and Friday and Saturday (the fun ones!). I grouped Sunday with the other weekdays because I am usually okay with cooking on a Sunday, and perfectly content making a cauliflower or zucchini based meal. Friday and Saturday nights are a different story.
Dinner & Side
I also decided to only plan out the dinner meals, since breakfast and lunch require less planning. We don’t really do sides, but if I get around to it I listed a few options in the “Side” column. As expected, the Sunday through Thursday category includes more healthy, weeknight meals. I am trying to include one slow cooker meal per week, so I can cook a large portion on Sunday for the rest of the week. This Sunday was a pork shoulder for pulled pork at Michael’s request, which we used to experiment with some cauliflower taco shells tonight (turned out to be good!).
Since we are always looking for new healthy recipes, I am also trying to include one new recipe a week. This week it will be the Black Bean Cakes with Fried Eggs & Avocado Crema recipe. Will report how it went next week. The rest of the dinner recipes and items listed in this category we have made in the past and liked.
I have been talking about making almond flour pizzas and freezing them to have on hand for months now. On Friday nights we have been in the habit of ordering in pizza or calzones. While I am fine with splurging every once in a while, I would rather it be less frequent than it has been in recent months. I am hoping to get a healthy pizza recipe to the point where we can pull a healthy pizza out of the freezer on a more routine basis rather than ordering in.
This section lists ideas for breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and desserts. I don’t see a need to over-categorize these items since they are pretty interchangeable. I could see myself eating peanut butter banana ice cream for a morning snack!
I don’t always eat a traditional lunch, but eat small snacks throughout the day, and almost always have a peanut butter banana smoothie in the afternoon. On the days that Michael works, I send him with a portion of dinner leftovers.
When we do make breakfast on days off or on weekends, it’s almost always omelettes, quiches, or some other version of eggs. Occasionally we experiment with low carb pancakes or french toast. Sometimes on the weekends I run over to Starbucks and bring back breakfast. There isn’t much to the Friday – Saturday “Other” category, since everything we would make during the day on the weekend is some combination of ingredients we already have on hand for other recipes, such as eggs, cheese, onions, and tomatoes.
The idea of the “List” column is to list out all the ingredients you would need to make sure you have on hand to make the recipes and meals on this specific menu. Even if I already have a head of cauliflower in the fridge (which I do at the moment), this list will remain unchanged so I can reuse it at some point in the future. I have a separate shopping list, so when it comes time to go to the grocery store, I compare what we have in the kitchen to what I still need to get, and then add only those items and quantities to my actual shopping list.
A Note On Healthy
I am not vegan or vegetarian. I am still convinced that vegan is the healthiest diet, but have found a happy middle ground with buying, as much as possible, organic, grass-fed, cage-free, etc. when it comes to buying eggs, meat, and dairy. I also go for organic produce and other items as much as possible. I feel good about our low carb alternatives because often they are using straight vegetables in place of rice or pasta, nut or other alternative flours in place of white flour, and natural sweeteners such as stevia or Just Like Sugar for baking. The healthy alternatives are pricey, but health is still, and will always be, my number one priority, so it is worth it to me.
Healthier Bread Recipe
This bread recipe is very easy to make. In about the time it takes the oven to preheat, the dough is ready. It’s more like a cornbread consistency, although you can slice it horizontally and make sandwich bread out of the loaf. It’s also a great snack with butter and cinnamon. Yum!
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 3/4 cup hazelnut flour
- 1/2 cup Carbquik
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup water