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Menu Plan Monday: New School Year, New Menu Plan

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We're starting school tomorrow, so I though this would be a good time for me to engage in a new endeavor: Meal Plan Mondays.

I've been planning menus for some time now. Before I began planning meals for my own family, I was planning meals for other families as a personal chef. My menu emphasis has shifted several times in this, as I figured out what was important to me in feeding my family (and others). I experimented with extravagant (ok, that was before the kids), super low-fat, super low-carb, super inexpensive, etc.

Still, I was never really passionate about any of those plans, so I usually gave them up quickly and returned to the world of too many options where menu planning would take me the better part of a day. Finally, I found two things that are currently driving my weekly cooking, and they're keeping my quick AND passionate. What are they?

1 - a weekly menu outline
2 - focusing on cooking local, seasonal, sustainable food

A weekly menu outline is mostly helpful with the "quick" part of my planning. It helps me wade through the endless possibilities in the sea of ideas that is my culinary brain. It gives me paramaters to plan within. So here is my weekly outline, which varies every homeschool semester, depending on activities, etc.

Monday = Spaghetti Night (the fam gets one recurring meal a week, and this is what they want)
Tuesday = Crockpot Night (we're gone most of the day on Tuesday)
Wednesday = Seafood Night
Thursday = Vegetarian Night (usually beans or eggs - no tofu for dh)
Friday = Homemade Pizza Night
Saturday = Sandwich and/or Soup Night
Sunday = Sunday Dinner (feasty or fancy)

So that's what I plan around, and it makes so many decisions for me!

The second thing that has altered my planning and cooking is a new interest in local, sustainable foods. I want to post some other time about why this has become so important to me, but the summary it this: I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I want that time to be as worshipful and glorifying to God as possible. You can explore this more at Kitchen Stewardship.

Since my meal planning is frequently hampered by the abundance of choices available to me, focusing only on what's local, seasonal, and responsibly produced cuts down on the decision making. Should we have asparagus or spinach salad with our chicken? Neither one; it's August in Georgia - how do pole beans grab you?

Good gracious - am I ever going to get to my menu?

Monday -Spaghetti Night (homemade sauce and local, grass-fed beef)

Tuesday - Crock-pot Enchiladas (sauce with garden tomatoes & local peppers)

Wednesday - Crowder Peas, Corn Bread w/Cheese and Jalapenos & Tomato Salad

Thursday - Tahini Shrimp, Grilled Peppers and Squash w/ Feta & Homemade Pitas w/ Hummus

Friday - Grilled Pizza Margherita (if you've never grilled pizza, you've got to try it!)

Saturday - Huevos Rancheros on Romaine

Sunday - Grilled Pepper Jelly Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad of Baby Lettuces*, Bleu Cheese and Early Pears w/ Balsamic - Mustard Dressing

* I can't believe I found baby lettuce at the farmer's market in August!! You can get a second planting and grow lettuce in summer, but it's been so hot, I assumed lettuce was done. She said she's been "babying" them all the way.

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