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I’ve been following 5$ dinners for a while now.

At long last, I’ve decided to try one of their cosco menu plans. Having just gone to Cosco and bought an inordinate amount of food, step one is to compare the shopping lists.

The first thing I noticed was the amounts. Since the menu is written using pounds and ounces, and I buy in grams and kilograms, I probably should have paid a lot more attention to the conversions. The prices were different, and even thought I might have found it cheaper elsewhere, I bought what I could at Cosco.

I made a few substitutions based on our tastes (1/2 the tuna, twice the chicken, no rolls, and older cheddar) and of course bought extra (* = not bought at Cosco).

1 8 pack of 16 oz cans diced tomatoes $7.79
1 6 pack of 30 oz chicken stock $10.79
1 6 pack of 6 oz light tuna in water $8.59
1 9 pack of 1 pound mixed whole wheat pasta $6.99
1 large pineapple $2.99
2 6 mixed peppers $13.98
2 1 pound bags of gold potatoes $5.00
1 5 pound bag of organic baby carrots $6.99
2 1 pound blocks of cheddar cheese $11.76 *
1 5 pound bag Vidallia onions $5.59
1 2.5 pound bag of organic frozen corn $3.97 *
1 2.5 pound bag organic frozen green beans $2.49 *
2 18 count eggs $3.69
1 20 oz container sour cream $2.77 *
1 5-count Chicken and Turkey Sausages $13.99
1 4.62089 lbs ground beef $14.02
1 3.791951 lbs package boneless, skinless chicken breast $24.19
15 9 grain tortillas $3.99
3 sandwich loaves $7.98
1 4.3849944 lbs package boneless, skinless chicken thighs $23.25 *
1 2 liters 1% milk $3.97 *
1 2 count real lemon juice (2 l) $3.89 *
1 box of 12 mini-cups rice puddings $5.89 *
1 24 ¼ lb hamburgers (preformed) $17.99 *
2 bags 598g popcorn chips $9.98 *
1 box 36 granola bars $11.79 *
1 bag 1kg cabbage sesame salad $5.99 *
1 250g cottage cheese $1.15 *
1 150g package frozen ready risotto $2.00 *
1 roast chicken $7.77 *

The plan for this week is a bit … overwhelming, with lots of cooking starting tomorrow. The menu should do me 3-4 weeks. I’ll have to buy a bit of fresh vegetables each week, but that’s par for me. I decided to try 1/2 tuna, 1/2 chicken – and rather than go with tinned, I went with chicken thighs instead.

Cross your fingers for me.

The madness starts tomorrow.


Come home late from chores & such, combine the tailings of the dark meat of a roast chicken, home-canned tomatoes, salsa, taco mix, and grated cheese. Layer the bottom with more tomatoes and a bit of salsa. Line corn tortillas with a bit of sour cream, then fill with the mix, nestling them in the pan. Cover with a bit more of the same. Bake until hot and serve with rice cooked in chicken broth and mixed with steamed corn.

Serve it, take one bite and realize that it tastes more like vinegar than anything else. Toss it and wonder where you went wrong. Fix a plate of sliced chicken, some rice and corn, and top it all with some leftover gravy.

Sometimes, leftovers really are the only option.

This is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. So naturally, when I read the review of An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, I made plans to go out and buy the book. I describe myself as a dump and run cook. I like to be creatively lazy when I cook. I want a good, hearty meal full of wonderful flavors, and on the weekends I can spend the time to make just such a thing. But it has to be good. I’m not so skilled I can save a failing experiment at every step. Nor am I good enough to know how something will taste just by looking at the recipe; or at least not always.

In the chapter entitled How to Stride Ahead, Ms. Adler speaks about roasting vegetables in advance of their use. I’ve done this from time to time, but after reading Ms. Adler’s advice, I’m now realizing it’s something I should be doing regularly. You’ve seen this video, right? It inspired me when I saw it. And I followed its advice and ate wonderful roasted vegetables for not one week, but almost two. I had great side dishes all week and wonderful colors in my lunches in the dead of winter.

Menu planning is not new to me. I’ve done it for years, often posting my weekly menus here. But a list (even a list of yummy things) is not inspiring; and more and more I’ve found it hard to actually make what I’ve planned. I don’t expect to live slavishly by my menu. There will always be a night or two a week that I don’t feel like cooking (long days, high stress, going out – whatever). I have stuff in my pantry to deal with that. And there’s always take-out.

So, this morning I shopped. I bought Butternut squash, beets, and carrots. We have sweet potatoes and white potatoes aplenty. I’ve got thawed italian sausages and thawing steak. I have two roasted chicken legs with back and won-ton wrappers. And I have about 1/2 a loaf of aging bread.

Here’s the plan:

  • Cook up the last of the bacon in the fridge. Crumble it for future use.
  • While the bacon’s cooking, dice (around 1″ pieces) and toss the squash, some carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt. Spill it out on a pan or two. Roast along with 8 potatoes & 4 sweet potatoes whole. ~40 minutes. This might take a couple of batches.
  • Scrub the beets clean, put them in a dish with some water, a drizzle of olive oil, some pepper and salt and cover tightly. Roast until done.Check at ~40 minutes, probably will take an hour.
  • Meanwhile, make Gozya filling of roasted vegetables (instead of spinach), some corn & sausage meat atop the stove. Fill the won ton wrappers and pan fire them. Store any leftovers for the twice-baked potato skins.
  • Make bread pudding with the aging rhy bread. Make a simple vanilla sauce to go overtop; but don’t cook it yet.
  • Grind down the last of the bread into crumbs. Mix them with some herbs, and set them aside.
  • Broil the steaks, make a lettuce salad with a basic vinaigrette (which this time, means more than just olive oil and red wine vinegar) and serve it with twice-baked potatoes.
  • In the hot oven, cook the bread pudding and drizzle the bread crumbs with olive oil. Put the breadcrumbs under the bread pudding and allow them to bake.
  • Store the vegetables in mason jars (beets separate with an extra drizzle of sesames seed oil). Wrap the skins well and store in the fridge.

Wish me luck.

Menu for the week:

Saturday: Roasted vegetables (Sweet, Plain, Butternut squash, carrots, beets);
Steak & mashed potatoes (roast ’em and save the skins);
Bread pudding with cranberries & vanilla sauce
Honey oat loaf bread (bread machine – prep it the night before — dry in one bowl, wet in another)
SundayMeatball Marinara & green salad,
Carrot Cake & frosting (tonight’s desert)
Maple Corn Muffins  (for breakfasts)
Hard boiled eggs (min 5) (for breakfasts)
Cornbread sugar cookies (for lunches during the week)
Set up the machine so that there’ll be fresh bread ready by dinner time.
MondayEasy Black beans and yellow rice, Salad with creamy vinaigrette
Tuesday: Chicken sticks & twice-baked potato skins with bacon & roasted root vegetables
Wednesday: Risotto with Butter Chicken (already made & frozen), green salad
Start the oat-wheat loaf
ThursdayRoasted vegetable soup, FBI-PIO
Oat-wheat loaf (not the bread machine) – start in the am; finish before guests arrive.
Friday: Hamburger helper or tacos or actual hamburgers
Menu planning monday
Menu planning monday

Menu #2. This week I’m back to work, back to the gym, and back to keeping a food diary. Ug.

The bread machine is a wonder. I’ve made two loaves so far, and while we’re not eating a lot of bread — the home made stuff is lasting quite well. So far I’ve made Cracked wheat sandwich bread and Whole wheat currant bread. I have some thick heels to use for breadcrumbs, and I’m already starting to plan which loaf to make next (probably the cheesy cheese loaf).  After a day of roasting (on Sunday) and a week of good food, I have a lot of interesting leftovers for lunches.

Day B L D S
Saturday, 7 Breakfast out PB sandwich on cracked whole wheat, tea Greek take-out Blue corn chips & hummus
Sunday, 8 Toast & tea Homemade turkey pasta soup & bread Weekend roast, baked potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette Taco chips & salsa
Monday, 9 Oatmeal, & tea Sweet potatoes (with star anis, ginger & lime), spiced pumpkin mash, and leftover HM Macaroni & Cheese; greek yogurt & diet soda Lemon herb haddoc, brown rice & salad with nuts Special K fruit crisps, apples
Tuesday, 10 Oatmeal, banana & tea Sweet potatoes, spiced pumpkin mash, roasted beets, rabbit haunch & mustard sauce, greek yogurt & diet soda Chicken Vesuvo Special K fruit crisps, apples
Wednesday,11 Oatmeal, banana & tea Sweet potatoes, spiced pumpkin mash, roasted beets, Chicken thigh & mustard sauce, greek yogurt & diet soda Sausages & polenta, with spinach salad & Special K fruit crisps, apples
Thursday, 12 Oatmeal, banana & tea Sweet potatoes, spiced pumpkin mash, roasted beets, Chicken thigh & mustard sauce, greek yogurt & diet soda Turkey soup & Cheesy cheese bread Special K fruit crisps, apples
Friday, 13 Oatmeal, banana & tea Sweet potatoes, spiced pumpkin mash, roasted beets, roasted beef & 2 slices of bread Tacos, all dressed Special K fruit crisps, apples
Menu planning monday

Menu planning monday

Hey, hi and howdy. Happy New Year to one and all. First menu of the year (thanks for the reminder Laura).

With the new year, comes the same old problem. What am I to serve for dinner. This plan will (hopefully) help me figure things out.  My goal this week is leftovers. Next week I go back to work, and I’d much rather have leftovers to take for lunch than have to rely on sandwiches and microwave meals. I will, however, make an exception for turkey sandwiches. Frankly, I might have to considering the size of the bird I’m cooking on Monday.

I got a bread machine for Christmas, and I made my first loaf over the weekend: Whole wheat currant loaf. We’re still eating it. I don’t know which is more surprising; that it’s still edible or that I like the loaf that much. I know now that a 2lb loaf is a bit much for 2 people who don’t eat much bread.

Day B L D S
Saturday, 31 Breakfast out New Year’s Eve gathering @Jack Astor’s New Year’s Eve Party
Sunday, 1 Toast & tea Light Stewed Rabbit, mashed potatoes, peas, artichokes, fried mushrooms, bean salad, roasted red peppers
Monday, 2 Toast, PB, & tea Chicken Soup & bread Roast turkey, potatoes, salad, corn & peas for 3 Greek yogurt
Tuesday, 3 Toast & tea Sandwiches Chicken Vesuvo Cheese & crackers
Wednesday,4 Toast & tea Pea Soup & bread HM Macaroni & Cheese; salad Greek yogurt
Thursday, 5 Toast & tea Sandwiches
Make hamburger buns
Turkey scallopini, Roasted potatoes 2 ways, salad Cheese & crackers
Friday, 6 Toast & tea Tomato Soup & bread Sloppy Joes & salad with ranch dressing for 4 Greek yogurt

When updating my index of soups, I realized I have a lot of recipes on Springpad. Over 1000 and counting — and that doesn’t include the bookmarks that link to interesting articles and other information about food or the delicious links that I imported into Springpad (but have not yet gotten around to copying into the recipes). Slow-cooked, hot and bubbly — they are great winter foods, and I have several variations on the theme; ragu (or ragout), stroganoff, cassoulet, goulash, chili (or chile), baked beans, ….

After making the list, I am surprised how very few I actually have in my recipes as I cook this sort of thing pretty reguarly through the colder months of the year. There must be more of these in my springpad archive; but here’s what I’ve found thus far. I’ll update it again when I have found more.


All Day Boston Baked Beans
Bulgur and chickpea Chili
Butternut Chili – Crockpot
Ethiopian Beans and Berbere
French Vegetable Stew
Italian Lentil and chestnut Stew
Just Chili – all beans, no meat
Pierce Street Vegetarain Chili
Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Two Bean Chili
Vegetable Cassoulet
Vegetarian Baked Beans


Anthony Bourdain’s Boeuf Bourguignon – Stovetop – SLOW
Basic Beef Stew – 4 variations Beef and ale, Pork and Cider, Chicken and White Wine or Lamb and Red Wine
Beef, ale and onion stew
Beef Goulash – Crockpot
Beef Stew with lots of spices
Beef Stew with Red Wine – Personal Favourite
Carbonnade Beef and Beer stew
Chili Con Carne
Chocolate and Port Beef Stew
Crockpot Beef Stew
Crockpot Hungarian Goulash
GI Diet Beef Stroganoff – See notes for the morning after report
Graisserons – Confit
Martedi – Sausage and beans; a favourite
Neapolitan-style ragu – Pork
Oven baked Stew
Polenta with Beef Ragout – Crockpot
Protein Poisoning Chili – Crockpot; very heavy
Rich and Meaty Lamb Ragù
Slow cooked Boston Baked Beans – Crockpot
Slow cooked Stew – Crockpot
Thomas Keller’s Cassoulet – Pork
Weeknight Ragu


African Peanut Stew – Turkey
Chicken A La King
Chicken Cassoulet with Crisp Breadcurmb Topping
Chicken and Mushroom Stew
Chicken with Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce
Chinese No Clay-Pot Chicken with Soy and Ginger – stew-ish
Quick Chicken Cassoulet
Santa Fe Chicken Chili
Spicy Lentil Chicken Stew
Spicy White Chicken Chili – Crockpot
Turkey Meatball Stew

My doctor says I have to (continue to) lose weight. Since my last visit in August I’ve lost a whopping 2 lbs. (No, sadly, that’s not a typo.) So the goal is to lose 40lbs by March. Lofty goals I know, but I think I’m on the right track. I need to get to the gym 4 days a week, and probably once on the weekend. My meals are balanced enough, but I need to cut down on the carbs and count the ones I do eat. Joy and bliss.

In other news – I had that conversation again. The one where I’m telling a bachelor to learn to cook five meals. They don’t have to be complicated; but they must be made from scratch. The meals should be different (not just hamburgers, cheeseburgers, …) in either the method in which they are cooked (baked, boiled, sauteed/pan fried, BBQ, braised), their primary ingredient (chicken, fish, beef, pasta, vegetarian), or all the above. My recommendation: BBQ gourmet hamburgers, fresh pasta with marinara sauce, chicken thighs baked in tomato sauce (served over polenta), baked pasta, and pan fried fish & rice.

Menu for the week following October 29th, 2011

SundayCurried Celeriac Soup with potatoes
>Monday: BBQ cheeseburgers, salad
Tuesday: BBQ Chicken, polenta, tomato sauce  & vegetables
Wednesday: BBQ fish, brown rice, steamed green beans/corn
ThursdayCurried Lentil Soup with Chickpea puree & baking soda biscuits
Breakfasts : Chocolate oatmeal with almond butter
Lunch: Leftovers, greek yogurt with rasberries, fruit
Snack: Bag of mushrooms & celery sticks
Rainy day meals
  • Spaghetti Marinara (sauce frozen, pasta pantry)
  • Chili & cornbread (chili frozen; cornbread hm)
  • Fish sticks
  • Hamburger helper (hamburger frozen)
  • Sandwiches (Turkey, cheese, pb&j, pb&h)

Hi gang.

A few folk checked in on Monday to see where my weekly menu was; sorry I’m posting it late.

The goal this week was to get myself to the gym each night; so the meals for the week are simple and rely heavily on the barbecue. That way I can fix and serve a relatively healthy meal in 30 minutes or less.

Day B L D S
Saturday  Out None Hamburgers, all dressed, tea  Popcorn, baked goods
Sunday Omelet, toast, cheese, tea Tinned beans in tomato sauce, diet soda Fish sticks & ravioli in tomato sauce, tea Popcorn chips
Monday Groat porridge, 1 pc toast & pb, tea Leftovers, greek yogurt, diet coke Fish sticks, baked potato wedges, salad with vinaigrette Apples, crackers & cheese, celery & bell pepper & pb/hummos,
Tuesday BBQ chicken breasts, salad with ranch dressing, pudding
Wednesday Marinated steak, baked potatoes, salad & ranch dressing or thousand island, frozen popsicle
Thursday Cheeseburgers, all dressed, jello
Friday Chicken and rice casserole, baked pumpkin slices, popcorn, pumpkin pie

I’m once again trying to empty my fridge before refilling it. I’ve got a ton of grains that I should be getting through; but grains can take time to cook.

B: Steel cut oatmeal with apples & cinnamon; cornmeal muffins; oatmeal muffins
S: Greek yogurt with jam, crackers & cheese

Monday (holiday)
D: Spaghetti with Vodka rose and turkey meatballs
L: Grilled cheese sandwich & pea soup

D: Tilapia fish sticks, rice and salad
L: Rice, chicken & sauce, veggies

D: BBQ chicken breasts, salad, quinoa
L: Toast, cheese & chicken soup

D: Steak sandwiches
L: Chicken pot pie, veggies

Friday (guests?)
D:  Martedi over polenta
L:  Chicken & sauce, rice, veggies

Menu Planning Monday

Menu Planning Monday

I follow Menu planning mondays.

So, I was wandering through the intertubes this morning, trying to find a quicker version of some of the meals I have planned for this week.  I stumbled over Jamie Oliver’s TED talk Teach Every Child About Food. It’s a grand idea. In the 10 posted recipes that followed, I was surprised to see a few I knew and cook fairly regularly.

And that got me to thinking: what were my 10 easy to make and quick to eat recipes. These are the recipes that I fall back on time after time. Many of these are as much methods of cooking rather than specific recipes.

  1. Pasta or polenta and tomato sauce.  This is a staple in my house. Sometimes the sauce is bottled, other times I make it fresh, and still other times I have leftover sauce (usually marinara) in the freezer. Hot. Ready in 15 minutes or less and served with an angel’s dusting of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  2. Beans and rice. This title is a bit of a mis-nomer. It’s really beans (flavored with garlic, onions, bell peppers and adobe sauce) served over rice (flavored with butter and frozen vegetables).  My recipe is very similar to this one. And I substitute frequently and regularly.
  3. Soup. There are thousands of recipes. Last night we had pea soup from a mix (cost me 79 cents). Last week I made Bittman’s Ginger Chicken soup and served it with soba noodles. I use left-over bread to make garlicy croutons and then ladle the hot broth over the croutons when serving. Leftovers come to work with me in mason jars.
  4. Potatoes. Twice baked (stuffed with cheese & chili or black beans and salsa), baked potato wedges (covered in olive oil & herbs or onion soup mix), boiled and mashed (and mixed with peas). No matter how you serve them –they are a meal unto themselves. When feeling fancy, I make a frittata. Typically I use whatever vegetables I have on hand.
  5. Eggs. Typically fried and served with toast. But when I’m feeling fancy, I love using them to make a cesar salad.
  6. Tacos. Since I flavor with cumin, I’ll call them tacos. But I make them with flatbread that’s not always pita (corn or flour). You can make your own corn tortillas if you want, or buy them and fry them as needed. But this recipe is leftovers + cheese + cumin and cilantro if you have it. Parsley if you don’t. Or just oregano if you’d rather. I make my own taco mix, but I’m not against frying a diced onion + garlic in olive oil. Adding a chopped tomato and a handful of fresh herbs. Toss in the cooked meat. Serve over sour cream and cheese in a hot piece of flatbread. Top with shredded cabbage or finely sliced lettuce.
  7. Martedi. Give it whatever name you want. It’s an excuse to pair meat + beans + tomato sauce + polenta together in a meal. Add vegetables if you like, season to taste, serve hot and save the leftovers.
  8. Hamburgers. Mix meat with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and steak spice.  Make patties. Barbecue them until done. Top with cheese, shredded lettuce, pickle and tomato slice. Serve on toasted bread or fancy buns. Mix 1/2 a teaspoon of curry or pesto with two teaspoons of yogurt or mayo for the best hamburger sauce ever.
  9. Chicken thighs. Pan fry the chicken thighs until the skin is crispy. Drain. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Pan fry them in the center with the chicken pushed off to the side. When the onions are translucent – add more butter and the rice. Toast the rice until the butter is gone. Mix liberally. Then add liquid (wine, stock, water, leftover soup, tomato sauce + water, whatever) the rice. Bake at 375 until the chicken is done and the rice  is fluffy.  Variations on this include using barley or any of the dozens of types of rice available. Adding more vegetables (or less).
  10. BBQ meat, BBQ potatoes, and salad with red wine vinaigrette. I love my barbecue. I’ll cook almost anything on it – but this meal is a classic. If the cut of meat (beef, lamb, goat, chicken or fish) is tough – marinade it in equal parts wine (or flavored vinegar or lemon juice), olive oil and water. Toss whatever seasonings you want in it. Throw it on the grill and baste liberally. Turn often. When the potatoes are fork-tender, and the meat is done; bring both inside. Allow the meat to rest and make a salad. To the salad bowl–add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, oregano and pepper to taste. Mix liberally and serve.
The menu for the week:
Monday (Vegetarian)
(with diced peppers, garlic & onions & vegetables steamed atop the rice)
Tuesday (Chicken)
Dinner*: BBQ chicken breasts, smashed potatoes & salad (with homemade BBQ sauce & red wine vinaigrette)
Wednesday (Beef)
Dinner*: Marinated butcher’s block steak, home fries (Potoato wedges)
Thursday (Beans/Sausage)
DinnerMartedi over polenta with Parmesan & salad
Friday (Leftovers)
Dinner*: BBQ Cheeseburgers, all dressed with coleslaw and pickle

* Rainy day alternates
  • Montreal Steak Sandwiches, home fries (potato wedges) – with shredded salad, russian dressing
  • Pasta and sauce (vodka rose, marinara sauce, or scratch) with  turkey meatballs and garlic bread, salad
  • Soups (tinned, mix, or leftover) & garlic & ginger croutons (hm)
  • Meat pie & salad
  • Chicken pot pie & salad
  • Chili & cornbread