Well here we are back to normal and I hope you stuck with me through the last month’s ups and downs. Let me just give you a piece of advice that I didn’t listen to, Don’t let anyone talk you into something you are not ready for. Now I can put the last month behind me and we can start fresh.
MEAL PLANNING 101
For people who are new to meal planning it is really very simple. There are only a few steps, that will take you about half an hour to an hour to do and then just the shopping.
To start at the beginning, you get this week’s food flyers and you kind of mentally take note of the types of meats, seafood, poultry and veggies they have on sale at each place. The flyers that I get are for a group of grocery stores that are all within 6 blocks of my house, now I know that it will not work for some people who are far from their grocery stores and only shop maybe once or at the most twice a month, however you can do the same you just have to spend a little more time and effort to decide what you’ll need.
Once I have checked out the flyers, I pull out my favourite cook books and start flipping through them until I find a recipe that will work with the items from the flyers. I write down the recipe name and the page number and which book it’s in on a sheet of paper. Then I go back to flipping through the books until I come up with another and so on.
Once you have found seven recipes that you want to try, you then decide by marking down on the sheet which day you want to have what. I wouldn’t do two days of the same meat back to back, if you are having chicken on Monday, then perhaps, you can have chicken again on Thursday or Friday, but it can get quite boring having the same thing all the time, so change it up.
The same with your sides and salads, don’t stick with the same thing day after day, really switch up with the types of carbs and veggies you’re having, one day it might be potatoes and the next it is rice or noodles. They say that variety is the spice of life, so remember that when you are putting your menu together.
MY FAVOURITE COOKBOOKS
For those of you who are new to cooking and probably don’t have a lot in the way of cookbooks, you want to look for books, that have fairly straightforward recipes, none of the fancy crap that is out there. My four favourites are:
- The Betty Crocker Cookbook (mostly used for baking),
- The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski,
- Cooking for the Rushed; Life’s on Fire by Sandi Richard, and
- Cooking for the Rushed; Getting Through the Summer also by Sandi Richard.
Some of these are no longer in print, so you might have to go searching used book stores for them, great way to spend a day anyway.
Remember that recipes are a guide, you do not have to follow them faithfully, if you don’t like something in the recipe, substitute something else (for instance, I cannot stand Green Beans, so when a recipe calls for them I substitute Asparagus or Broccoli), there will always be options open to you. Another recipe may call for one clove of garlic, but you really love garlic, so use two or three, use your sense of what is good and not good to substitute things.
You can create your grocery list from the recipes that you have chosen.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE
You just want to get a healthy meal on the table for yourself and your family, and once you have tweaked a recipe to make it yours, you will be so proud of yourself for having taken the chance. Although, from time to time you may have either overestimated how much to increase something by or substituted an ingredient that just does not work (believe me it still happens to me at least a couple of times a year, haha), there is always a fast food place around the corner or if you live way out of town, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and toast can be pulled off as dinner if you do it right.
For those of you who want to only go grocery shopping once or twice a month, just do up your menu list for two or four weeks, still using the flyers from this particular week, you should be able to find enough recipes that you can use the contents of the flyers on, and like I said don’t be afraid of substitutions.
I can tell you when I make up my menus I only do it for dinners, I figure there will be enough leftovers that I can swing something for breakfast and lunch, and if I don’t have any leftovers for a breakfast idea, then there is always old-fashioned oatmeal or those scrambled eggs I talked about earlier.
Even if you only plan to shop a couple of times a month, or even just once, then make sure you check the flyers each week anyway, sometimes your staples, things like flour, sugar, beans, oils, etc. go on sale when you are not planning to shop, if they are a really good deal then make the effort to go in and get twice as much as you think you will need for a month, that way you are always ahead of the game.
Now the recipe for today:
WARM POTATO SALAD WITH SMOKED SALMON AND ASPARAGUS
- 2 lbs small potatoes (or new potatoes if its later in the season)
- 1/2 lb asparagus, prepared
- 1/2 bunch of kale, stripped and chopped
- 4-5 radishes, washed
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 6-8 ounces smoked salmon, chopped into bite size chunks
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 bunch of dill, chopped finely
- Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot
- Fill the pot with water until the potatoes are covered by about an inch
- Put the pot on the burner and turn the burner up to High (Max)
- Prepare the asparagus, kale, and radishes and set them aside on a plate beside the stove
- Prepare the onion by slicing it into thin half-moon shaped pieces and put in large salad bowl
- Prepare the Smoked Salmon by removing the skin and chunking it up into bite size pieces. Add to the salad bowl.
- Place 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small jar
- Roll the lemon on the cutting board to loosen up the juices, then zest the lemon and add the zest to the small jar
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the jar
- Take the dill and chop it very finely and also add it to the jar
- Add salt & pepper to taste, and shake up the jar
- The potatoes should be close to being done
- Take the Asparagus and the radishes and add to the pot with the potatoes
- Leave them in for about 2 minutes and them pull them out and put them on the cutting board to cool
- Take the potatoes and put them in a colander to drain properly and throw the chopped kale into the boiling water for a minute
- While the kale is in the pot, start chopping the asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces, and the radishes in half and place in bowl with the smoked salmon
- Pull the kale from the water and put it into the bowl with the smoked salmon.
- Now pull the potatoes out of the colander and cut in halves and quarters depending on how large they are, and place in the bowl with everything else.
- Pour the dressing over the whole lot and toss all together to coat everything.
- Serve with some French bread and butter.
There you have it, and it is so good.
If you try this, please let me know how it turned out for you, and even if you don’t leave a comment on what you think and I promise I will get back to you.
Oh, and while we are talking about contacting each other, remember my email address is just on the side, give me a shout and I will send you a small file of 5 recipes and the grocery list to go with them.
Chow for now, talk to you on Thursday.