The most common question that I get from my friends is how do I plan our weekly dinners. Strangely, this is one of my favorite things to do, and I devote quite a bit of time to it. Often I start planning my menus early in the week for the following week. Meaning, on Tuesday night, I will start planning what we’ll be eating starting on the upcoming Saturday. My go-to resources for menu inspiration include the New York Times Cooking section and, my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. Sometimes, I’ll browse through my favorite cookbooks. Then, on Fridays, I get my groceries. Sundays, I spend about 2 hours doing some basic meal prep that will make my weeknights a lot easier. Given how much fruit my kids eat, I’ll often need to do another smaller grocery run, which is also when I’ll buy my fresh fish.
Each week you can come here to see what I am cooking for the week, but you’ll also find my basic schedule below.
My basic schedule is this:
- Tuesday-Thursday: Research & plan next week’s menu. I usually do this once the kids are in bed, and my husband and I are watching some television. I take maybe 30 minutes to browse recipes and make some decisions, trying to keep in mind what is on sale and in season.
- Friday: Buy groceries (or have Freshdirect deliver them!), based on the planning that I have done. Friday is typically pizza night for the kids and date night in for us– so something super easy for the kids and something kinda special for us, which may require a special stop at the fish store, butcher or Italian market.
- Saturdays are sometimes date night out, in which case, the kids will get an easy meal that I know they will eat without any fuss. Grilled chicken, rice and salad. Burgers and sweet potato fries. Spaghetti and meatballs. If we’re going out, I want the transition from us to the sitter to be a smooth one. And, a favorite dinner can help.
- Sundays are family dinners, often consisting of a braise or roast in the colder months and a BBQ in the warmer months.
- Generally, our weeknights go as follows:
- Mondays are meatless: Think rice and beans, veggie enchiladas, stir fries. I try to avoid pasta on Mondays. Pasta is such an easy crowd-please so I try to save it for Wednesdays (hump day!).
- Tuesdays are a chicken dish usually accompanied by a whole grain and salad.
- Wednesdays are usually a pasta dish, usually whole grain. Sometimes I swap out pasta night for rice noodle or soba noodle night if I want to do a meal with an Asian twist. Either way, there is always a salad.
- Thursdays are usually fish, again usually accompanied by a whole grain and vegetables.
- Fridays are usually “make your own pizza” nights for the kids and something special for us once the kids are in bed (an expensive cut of beef, shellfish, or fresh pasta).
- Saturdays are sometimes date night out, but if not, I like to make something that the husband can help with so it may involve the grill or sometimes a risotto because, heck, anyone can mix rice and ladle in broth.
- Sundays are family dinners. In the fall and winter, we roast whole chickens or braise short ribs or brisket or pork shoulder. In the spring and summer, we grill and make big salads.
What’s Cooking at Cooking for Friends This Week?
Monday: Memorial Day BBQ
Tuesday: Grilled shrimp over corn, tomato, and basil pasta
Wednesday: Sheet pan chicken sausage, peppers, potatoes and arugula salad.
Thursday: Soy marinated grilled chicken with a spring vegetable salad and ginger miso vinaigrette
Friday: Grilled sirloin steak with brown rice and grilled balsamic asparagus
Saturday: Grilled pizza with caramelized onions, kale, and fresh mozzarella
Sunday: Grilled balsamic orange chicken, avocado tomato salad, quinoa