A Flexible Meal Plan

My meal plan went a bit wonky last week, and honestly, that’s how it is sometimes. I went to the grocery store to buy salmon for our dinner on Monday, and salmon was $32 for a smaller portion than I usually buy. Sometimes I splurge on an ingredient, sometimes I don’t. When our standard salmon (wild caught, frozen, medium quality) costs $12-14 for 2 lbs, it doesn’t feel right to spend $32 instead.

Instead of Monday’s plan, I decided to use meat from our freezer (previously from our yard), so it turned into venison meatballs with green beans. If the plan doesn’t quite work, there’s no need to worry about it. Cereal is always a solid substitute, too.

Wednesday’s meal got moved around, and I made it on Tuesday this week instead. Yes, that is about the limit of cucumbers in the fridge. It was Tuesday or never for those guys.

Here’s what the week more or less looked like…

Venison Meatballs with Green Beans

From: Bake it With Love

Servings: 6-8

Time: About 20 minutes of prep time, 20 minutes of cook time (in the oven)

Notes: This was a new recipe for me. I found it in a pinch, and I acknowledge that my picture doesn’t look amazing. I think the lack of browned edges on the meatballs is because I chose the baking option instead of frying them in the pan. So pan fry for better color.

The flavor of these meatballs was amazing. So I did bake them (variant in the blog post), and I used several of the optional ingredients–garlic powder, thyme, and fennel seeds. I did not use a food processor for the bacon, just a knife to dice. I didn’t want to wash the food processor.

While the meatballs were baking, I washed and trimmed the green beans, then threw them in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper on a second baking sheet. They came out after about 6 minutes. You get to decide when your green beans are done.

I think this could use some sauce next time. Marinara? But it was still a solid last-minute choice.

Grocery List (for the 6-8 serving version… double the original recipe):

1/2 lb bacon
2 lbs ground venison (ground beef would be a fine substitute if you don’t have access to venison)
2 cups breadcrumbs
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons each, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1.5 lbs fresh green beans

Beans, Sausage, and Kale

From: Damn Delicious

Servings: 6-8

Time: 50 minutes

Notes: This recipe isn’t online, which is sad. Here’s the short version…

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the sausage and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes per batch (I cooked it in two batches so there was room in the pan). Set aside.

Add onion to the skillet and stir often for about 3 minutes. Stir in the rosemary and garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the beans and broth, and simmer until reduced. Mash the beans until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir fry the kale in a separate large skillet (or place the beans in a bowl, wipe the hot skillet carefully, and use it again) with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve beans, topped with sausage and kale. Add crushed red pepper flakes if you want more spice. My kids did not want more spice.

Grocery List:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12-ish oz.) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
3 (15.5 oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2-ish cups low sodium chicken broth (more or less to make beans your desired consistency)
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped

Greek Chicken Bowls

From: Damn Delicious

Servings: 5-6

Time: 1 hour (about 30 minutes marinating time, 30 minutes active time)

Notes: The tzatziki sauce and cucumber salad make this dish so good! The chicken was low-maintenance, which is also a winner. My real note here is that it’s worth it to buy/own a good meat thermometer. I tend to overcook chicken if left to my own devices. The meat thermometer helps me avoid dry, sad chicken. You can, too.

Also, sometimes I avoid measuring things because guessing is more fun. What is life without a bit of risk? I used one bag of mini cucumbers instead of the called-for cucumbers. Guessing worked.

Grocery List:

1 cup brown rice
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 lemons
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
3 English cucumbers
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint, optional

Low FODMAP Lentil Dal with Rice

From: Fun Without FODMAPS

Servings: 8-ish

Time: 15 minutes… really!

Notes: We have a few friends who eat a low FODMAP diet, and this meal included one of those friends. I made my own garam masala at the last minute, because I realized our pre-made mix contains garlic powder (and thus is not low FODMAP). Even with making my own spice mix, this still took just about 15 minutes. And it was delicious. My kids even ate it. Oh, I also tripled the spice mix and the lentils. Ha ha. I knew one can of lentils was not going to feed two grown men, two grown women, and two children (much less make leftovers). Three cans of lentils accomplished those goals.

Grocery List:

2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil (standard olive oil if you don’t have this)
3 medium tomatoes
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
3 (15-oz.) can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
Sea or kosher salt
plain Greek yogurt

Farfalle with Corn, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Basil

From: Food 52

Servings: 8-ish

Time: 20-ish

Notes: This is honestly another instance of “I’d like to not measure.” I mostly followed this recipe, using a reckless amount of frozen corn. It was tasty. It’s extra tasty if you take some extra grilled chicken from the fridge, dice it and warm it up to serve on top of the pasta. I’ll admit it needed some additional protein. Go out there and get all of the summer garden produce you can find to pile on top of this pasta.

Grocery List:

Kosher salt to taste
1 medium red onion, sliced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 ounces tagliatelle or farfalle
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
4 cups corn kernels (from about 4 medium ears or if your garden is out of corn, a few bags of frozen corn)
3 to 3 1/2 cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes (from about 3 medium tomatoes) and their juices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped


One Comment Add yours

  1. Deborah Kiesewetter says:

    Thank you for the return of your wonderful kitchen banter. I missed you❤️

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