Meatless Monday! Taco Tuesday! Pizza Friday! Pot Roast…Sunday?
Do you have a rotating set of menus you cook through? Are they connected to the days of the week or any other theme/structure?
Right now I make whatever I feel like, while trying to limit waste, and we don’t have a ton of repeats. The weekly menu leans heavily East Asian with South Asian, Italian, Mexican, American, and the odd Eastern European recipe sprinkled throughout for variety. However, I’ve noticed that our 6-yo kiddo seems to enjoy repetition and has his favorites that he could eat often without tiring of them.
Part of me thinks it would be fun and lighten the mental load to follow some type of structure. But I might just rebel against overplanning (sometimes I don’t even want to make what I had in mind for dinner and change it up at the last minute, even after all the ingredients are out).
What do you do? Have you ever followed a thematic menu, or do you have a rotating cast of favorites? Please share.
During the summer months I try to stick to a schedule but I focus mostly on trying to finish up my CSA veggies. I try to have fish once a week to get omega 3s in my diet so if I don’t have meat in the remainder of my meals I will have tofu or beans or some other way of getting protein in my diet. I have been making mostly Asian dishes which I love but I would like to learn to make a few Indian dishes.
During the winter months I have a more structured approach. I usually buy lunch on Fridays so I have a salad with whatever veggies I have left in the fridge. On Saturdays I order take out unless I am eating out during the week. (This week for example I will be going out with my dinner club one night so I will have a homemade dinner on Saturday night.) So the only nights I plan for are Sunday through Thursday. Sunday I have fish, Monday is meatless, Tuesday I have chicken, Wednesday is pork, and Thursday is pasta night. I try and squeeze beef in there at some point usually on the Saturday nights I make dinner. I don’t really have any rhyme or reason to the order of dishes - I am just trying to get a variety of food in my diet. Starting with Canadian Thanksgiving and ending at Easter I usually do a once-a-month cook off. The only thing I don’t make in bulk is fish since I don’t like re-heated fish so I usually have individual fish fillets in the freezer that I can pan fry or bake in the oven. We seem to have a long weekend most months during the winter so when we do have a long weekend coming up I will often make two or three soups to put in the freezer for future lunches and casseroles or something microwave friendly to have for weeknight dinners.
Not really. We try to buy fresh and what’s in peak season. Other than that, we choose what appeals to us most, without much repetition and no rotation.
I suppose we’re mildly cyclic in trying to use up leftovers, draw down an overfilled freezer, or do very simple dishes interspersed with splashier, more involved, or pricier fare.
We do tend to repeat new dishes we find we like, a late e.g. being a no-boil mxed sauce pasta. But not on any schedule. Then we move on…
Once football season starts back up and Sunday Night Football is back on then I’ll switch to “Halftime Mode” on Sunday night.
Which includes very simple meals or re-heating leftovers. When the 2 minute warning starts for halftime, I go into cooking mode and just listen (to the TV) for anything note worthy.
I’ve pretty much got it down pat… I can get dinner ready, plated and in front of Sunshine in time for the 3rd Quarter kickoff.
Other than that, dinner is pretty much what I can find on sale (or clearance) that week.
Example… Avocados were on sale this week, when they ripen… I’ll make sushi (California rolls). There wasn’t anything else on sale noteworthy, so I’ll dig through the freezer and see what catches my eye.
Not a repeater here, for the most part, except maybe on an every month or two schedule. I like cooking and experimenting too much. Sometimes my husband will take a week and then he does repeats because it’s too time consuming otherwise for him to brainstorm a new set of dishes. But when he makes the same x or y as last time, I just get a little sad. When I came home for the start of covid and was cooking all the dinners all the time, I started a list of the popular meals, broken down by category - soup, salad, stew etc. And if I need inspiration, I go there.
Otherwise, I typically cook what I shop which is seasonal veg when possible. And then sales the rest of the year. Meats particularly, they are so $$ that if there’s anything I like on sale, I will get 10lbs of it, portion and freeze it, and then will create around those items.
I get lots of recipe inspiration from this thread, and from various cookbooks and mags I have at home. Sometimes from other places around the web, like some tiktok about the latest and greatest. It does go wrong occasionally. The big feta with tomatoes bake was only slightly tastier imo than what the chicken in cough syrup looked it might taste like.!
And I am a champ at repurposing leftovers. I hate waste and will avoid it at all costs.
I’ve always wondered and been too turned off by the appearance to try it.
I thought it looked great. And tasted wah-wah.
I probably have a couple dozen things in my regular rotation, with a lot of things added or subtracted based on seasonal availability (eg asparagus). There are probably another dozen things that I’ll make when the mood strikes - I’m starting to get a hankering for Uyghur-style lamb skewers again, for instance. One of the most important considerations in my meal planning, though, is that three days every week I need to have something planned that can be either reheated or prepared quickly, because I don’t get home until about 8:30pm on those nights, and Mrs. ricepad prefers not to eat very late. (“Very late” seems to be currently defined as 8:45pm or later. On those nights, either Mrs. ricepad can reheat leftovers before I get home, or I plan something that will take less than 15 minutes to be on the table. Sometimes Mrs. ricepad will prepare dinner, but not very often.
Other than making pizza 2-3 times a month, and both gyros and “house” fried rice every couple of months, which I’ve done for years, I don’t have a lot of repeats.
Certainly there’s no structure to my weeks’ meal plan (no plan at all, that is), and I kind of envy those who do have more structure. But I’m too spur-of-the-moment, and I guess I’m more of a situational cook.
Pork tenderloin was BOGO and I grabbed some, so now I’m going to make pork lo mein, and then in a couple days make a roulade with the remaining pork loin. Or Middle Eastern style yogurt marinated pork chunks. Or Spanish spicy pork chunks.
Are chicken/salmon/whatever on sale? Grab some and figure out something new (or old) to do with whatever it is.
Vegetarian/GF daughter #3 coming home for a bit? Good time for a tofu or paneer butter masala, or a tofu/paneer dum biryani.
Daughter #2 the big meat eater coming home for a few days? Thaw some steaks and a pork loin. She loves steak fajitas, steaks in general, and pulled pork - plus likes to have extra to take back with her.
I did actually plan out a week+ worth of dinners a couple of months ago when a sister was visiting my MIL, and both of them planning to eat dinner with us each night. Afterwards I thought, that worked really well, keep doing it.
Did I? Nope.
I cook very seasonally so in the summer I am pretty much vegetarian/pescatarian and mostly find new recipes/ideas depending on what is at the farmer’s market. I have a few things in regular summer rotation - asparagus tart in spring, tomato sandwiches, pasta with burst cherry tomato sauce, etc. In cooler months I still stick with local veg but it’s a bit more predictable, so I have a few more standards plus braised meats and comforting casseroles. So, I guess I do have a bit of a rotating menu framework but it’s based on revolutions around the sun vs rotation on our axis : )
Nope. I’ve tried planning, but I prefer to cook according to whim. I’m also not much of a recipe user, so unless I’ve come across one that really appealing and involves ingredients I wouldn’t normally have on hand, I don’t shop with recipes or even specific meals in mind. I keep the fridge and freezer stocked with meats and produce that both of us enjoy, and wing the rest. I do try to rotate main proteins so that we don’t eat hamburger four nights in a row, but beyond that, I cook as the spirit moves me.
My mom regularly made stewed canned tomatoes with crumbled saltine crackers, and served it as a side for salmon fritters. Loved the fritters, and loved that she loved the tomatoes.
Sounds good, except that I don’t like salmon. We are waiting/not waiting for my older son to return to campus so we can start eating seafood again. It’s been a long summer.
When I was a brand new legal associate, my husband was a PhD student, and we carpooled in and out of downtown LA. We routinely got home at 730pish, and then started making dinner. And we always referred to it as T & S’s late dinners. Now, I almost always shoot for 630p or so. It causes less heartburn at night. And less snacking during the afternoon.
I’ve got one of those sons too. Damn annoying
It’s great that your child is bring introduced to a wide range of flavors. Keep it up! You don’t want to encourage pickiness. Neither to deprive him of his favorite dishes. Perhaps allow him to choose the Monday dinner menu, to make the end of the weekend freedom of childhood, literally, more palatable. And have him help, so when he’s an adult he will be able to make his favorites.
Lol. In addition to seafood, we are looking forward to eating again - cooked tomatoes, all the squashes, sweet potatoes, fruit desserts, salads where I can use a cheese besides blue cheese. He is kind of a picky beast. And I don’t like cooking meals that someone in the family won’t eat.
No rotation here. I’m absolutely obsessed with trying new foods but it can get costly so my partner has curbed me a little bit in that regard. With him being on the pickier side I know what kind of foods he’d enjoy more than others so I do cook those regularly enough like curries, chilli or anything really that packs a flavour punch. One of the most important things for me however, is seasonality so I do try and cook using ingredients that are at their peak as much as possible.
It does get costly but remember that it’s almost always cheaper than eating out. My family reminded me of that very recently, when the beef roast I bought to make a sauerbrauten was something like $57 dollars. But it was 5lbs, and fed 5 people once, 4 people a second time, and then 1 for leftovers. They asked me how much we’d pay for 9 saeurbrauten dinners out