A Return to Meal Planning


In the lead up to our long-awaited vacation, I wasn’t doing much of a good job in the kitchen or with meal planning. Basically, I was coming up with ideas on the go, depending on what things we had at home that I wanted to finish before we traveled.

This lead to some interesting dishes but we were mostly in survival mode.

Now that life has returned to normal, I’m happy to say that I’m back to using my chalkboard. Having  less time to worry about what to make for dinner means more time spent doing things I enjoy or studying for that upcoming certification.

This week’s meal plan was based on two things: 1. focusing on the simpler and much-loved dishes and 2. trying to vary what we eat. The first is because I was still feeling very tired from the trip and had no desire to stand in the kitchen for hours and prep, so I wanted to make things that were quick and easy and we could all enjoy. The second is more of a long-term goal: we eat a lot of chicken in our house and I want to break that by introducing things like seafood and vegetarian options. This is a work in progress.

So I came up with the menu below.


As you can see, things started out well enough. The first three days of the week were the classic combination of a protein, starch, and salad which we are so used to. After a week of eating from buffets, all I wanted was a single dish with all the goodness in it.

I have to admit though,  the chicken thighs were not my favorite, even though Ahmad loved them. I think it was because the quinoa I used may have gone stale, so the flavor was bitter and could not be masked by the chicken stock  sauce used. Maybe next time I’ll try it with a tomato-based sauce (and better quality of the seed).

But around Thursday, the quality of the meals started declining. Having a particularly bad day at work lead me to scrap the idea of making something Mexican with minced beef and replaced it with the true and tired Chicken Crispers, made in my trusty Actifryer. Was it the best meal possible? Of course not. Did it get us by? Sure.

One thing I would love to do is make my own pesto and store it for whenever I feel like using it. It is not difficult and I know it is a lot better than getting something store-bought, yet I can never find the time to do so. So for this week’s pasta, I relied on a jar that I combined with some cream to take out that over-processed taste. After adding some Grana Padano cheese (which I am favoring over Parmesan), the dish was devoured.

And because the weekend should always be about having your favorites, we went for two classics. Something about travelling always makes me crave a good Lebanese BBQ and hummus bi tahina. But even here, I had an issue with the marinade the chicken came in: it was too salty! I guess I have to make everything on my own?

The other classic? Pizza! How can you say no to pizza? Especially when it comes freshly baked right to your front door? I know I can’t.

Three of my meals last week were chicken, so I hope to bring that down to two this week.I think that is a realistic goal.

Here’s hoping the upcoming week is full of better food choices and well-executed meals.

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