Friday, September 27, 2013

A week of locavore meals in late September

The easiest month to eat local in New England might be September. This is what we ate---and shopped for---this week to feed two.

I’ve had a couple of requests for our weekly meal plan and grocery shopping list. We keep a spreadsheet where we track our appointments for the week in a condensed form, as a reminder, and columns for food we must plan to eat, as well as what we eventually plan to make and eat each day.

Sunday morning, we sit down with our coffee and update the “Considerations” column for each day of the coming week: any appointments that shifted, or other plans we have that will affect available prep time, or put extra restraints on the hour dinner is served. Are we expecting company? We’ll make a note of that.

Once we map all that out, we take a look at what’s in the fridge and freezer. Since we’re at the end of the last quarter beef and half pig we bought, we’ve been keeping a list of what’s still in the freezer that we need to incorporate into meals. Anything still left in the fridge that needs to be used goes in another column of the spreadsheet.

We plan each day’s dinner around a piece of meat or entree, decide what starch we want to eat with it, and then I plug in the vegetables after I see our farm share haul on Monday night. Here is this week’s meal plan:



Day
Considerations
Main meat
Meal




Sunday
out of food
sausage
sausages, red sauce, pasta
Monday
Farm share pickup, J chiro at 2
pork chops
pork chops, sweet and white potatoes, quick salad
Tuesday
J - Jason @2, K - Jason @7:30
tongue
tongue, potatoes, roasted vegetables and/or greens
Wednesday
J writer's group 7 - 10

leftovers
Thursday
J - chiro at 4:30, dinner with the boys
chicken
baked dk meat chicken, fresh and cooked vegetables, rice, cornbread
Friday


leftovers or cod/mac
Saturday

cod
cod and mac n cheese, vegetables incl fresh tomatoes
Sunday


leftovers


We just got back from vacation, so the fridge was particularly bare on Sunday. We always plans at least a couple of leftovers days, which I manage by cooking more than four servings at least a couple of times during the week, if not more, so there will be extra beyond lunch the next day. Right now there’s a serving of beef tongue with cabbage and carrots still in the fridge that I showed our friend Dave, mostly out of foodie pride because he’s also a foodie, and forgetting that he’s kind of squeamish about strange meats. Kevin grabbed a slice and popped it in his mouth right there, knowing it makes good cold sandwich meat, and I offered it to Dave, too, but he wasn’t even considering making a move on it. “Dave’s going to tell people I tried to slip him the tongue,” I said.
Tongue: the meat that tastes you back
Also, this is the plan we made, but I don’t always stick to it. The vegetable part of the plan is always very loose. I just let the vegetables inspire me as to what I should make from them, for the most part, while also making sure to get from the farm what I know is in season and that I’ve made particular plans for. Like right now, it’s tomato season, so I can plan to make tomato sauce. That sauce we had Monday, however, was some I’d made before we went on vacation and I still had around that we needed to use, so we bought sausages from the meat counter and I simmered them in my leftover sauce.



Day
Meal (planned)
Meal (actual)



Sunday
sausages, red sauce, pasta
Mild Italian sausage (from co-op), homemade ragu (leftover, made from farm share tomatoes and 2# beef bones from freezer) with rice pasta, ricotta, parmesan.
Monday
pork chops, sweet and white potatoes, quick salad
Pork chops (co-op), sweet & white potatoes (TJ’s), spinach (farm share)
Tuesday
tongue, potatoes, roasted vegetables and/or greens
Stewed beef tongue (freezer), braised cabbage and carrots (farm share), salt roasted potatoes (leftovers)
Wednesday
leftovers
Various leftovers: pork chops, sausage, eggs, potatoes; and freshly made pan roasted kohlrabi, carrots, and broccoli stems (farm share)
Thursday
baked dk meat chicken, fresh and cooked vegetables, rice, cornbread
Baked dark meat chicken from 2 birds (freezer), macaroni and cheese (homemade w/ quinoa pasta), roasted tomatoes and green salad (farm share), pumpkin creme brulee (farm share pumpkin)
Friday
leftovers or cod/mac
Planned: leftover chicken, etc
Saturday
cod and mac n cheese, vegetables incl fresh tomatoes
Out to dinner
Sunday
leftovers
Planned: buy sausage and roast it with eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers; polenta

We have to keep the plan flexible, of course.

In our meal plan this week, we forgot to schedule in Date Night, which is Saturday, and we’re making plans to go do things during the day, like the Big E or King Richard’s Faire, so instead of thawing cod and heating leftovers, we’ll go out somewhere, if we don’t get to the co-op first and buy sausages to roast. (Fresh sausage and eggplant is Date Night food, even if we have to make it from scratch, but leftover dry fish isn’t. Go figure.) I had the idea when yesterday I looked in the produce bins and realized we have a lot of eggplant and peppers. Making it this weekend will give us something to eat for lunch on Monday next week. 

Lunches are usually leftovers. Sometimes breakfasts, too.

We usually eat leftovers for lunch, or I’ll have eggs and toast, or eggs with leftovers. I also make leftovers part of the meal plans for dinner. Sometimes I make extra entree, and other times I make extra of some side dish that we’ll eat several times throughout the week. This week, it was salt roasted white and sweet potatoes. I made them Monday, before the farm share arrived. When Kevin got home with it, I washed up the spinach and we ate it with pork chops. Tuesday, I processed a lot of greens: I blanched and froze kale for the winter, and washed salad for the week. 


On Wednesday this week, when leftovers came to a head, Kevin packed pork chops and cabbage and potatoes for his lunch, and I had eggs over spinach with butter fried slices of baked sweet potato for lunch. I boiled four more eggs and yesterday took them and half the leftover salt roasted potatoes, minced half an onion, and made egg and potato salad, which I ate on garlic toast with a green salad for lunch. When I got back from writer’s group, I ate a big pile of pan roasted vegetables on buttered bread, a page right out of Tamar Adler’s “An Everlasting Meal,” which I brought with me on vacation and took inspiration from this week in my cooking. I ordinarily do a bit of “striding ahead” and “catching my own tail,” as she eloquently puts it, but giving these activities poetic names makes me more apt to do them.



Yesterday, which was Thursday, we had a couple of friends over for dinner, so I “monster cooked,” as someone described it. I made lots of food, of which we had some leftovers, but not so much mac and cheese that it’s going to do double duty. However, we have three eggplants and maybe half a dozen peppers, and a bag of Romas getting ripe, so I’m going to make an Italian meal again this weekend with some more sausages, roasted eggplants, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and whatever herbs and soft or hard Italian cheese I still have around by then. Eating it over polenta is half of what makes this a treat worthy of Date Night.

Because we have a farm share, freezers in which we keep meat we buy in bulk direct from farmers, and a well stocked pantry, we don’t have to buy every single food we eat each week. This is what we did buy, and made sure to pick up at the farm:



Farm
Produce
Bulk
Dairy
Middle Aisles/Household
Meat
Bakery
Freezer
Health and Beauty
Parsley (lots)
peaches, apples, grapes
ginger chews
half and half (2 qt)
chips
pork chops
bread - any good plain loaf
udi's gf bagels
fluoride toothpaste
oregano
onions
coffee
cheddar
pasta for tonight
Ital sausages

chocolate ice cream
soaps
basil
sw potatoes
sugar
milk
backup laundry soap and softener


strawberries



white rice
cottage cheese







peanut butter








raisins








dried cherries








We also keep running lists of items we want to buy the next time we go to Costco or Trader Joe’s, and will run down to the Liquors 44 and the Stop N’ Shop whenever we run out of wine or milk.

What else do we eat, besides dinner?

Kevin keeps a jar of trail mix at work that he keeps restocked with dried fruit and nuts from the bins. We both eat peanut butter as an occasional snack, breakfast, or lunch food, as well as to pill the dog. We split a pot of coffee each morning, and Kevin still drinks a fruit and yogurt smoothie each day, though I’ve fallen out of the habit. Now I’m more likely to have toast with a spread and some fresh fruit. We like to snack on potato chips, wine, and ice cream in the evenings.

Every week’s different, and our diets change over time and with the seasons. I’ll do this again soon so you can get another idea of a typical week for the two of us. Let me know what kind of information you’d find helpful, too.
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