Meal Planning (The 5 Stars of Cafe Le Shay)

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It is no secret that I love to cook. I have thousands of recipes saved to try, a not small collection of cookbooks, and my favorite gifts are more kitchen supplies. However, after a long day at work, I just can’t seem to find the energy to do more than pick up fast food or eat only chips and salsa. I’m somehow terrible at meal planning. It’s not the process that messes me up.  I make plans and shop with the best of them. But when it comes to the actual cooking, I have no energy, even if it was something that I was excited to make.

You might say “Well, get on the meal prep trend, Shay!” The one where someone spends hours on the weekend making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. And if I wasn’t trying to cram everything else into my weekend, that might be a good idea.

My husband, Andrew, came up with this idea of the “5 Stars”. He gets home at least an hour before I do, and he said, “I can cook.  Let’s plan some simple meals and then I can have dinner ready for you when you get home.” (Isn’t he the best?)

The 5 Stars are basically theme nights. Initially, we are using:

  • Taco Night
  • Sandwich Night
  • Appetizer/Snack Night
  • Sheet Pan/One Pot Night
  • Stir Fry Night

The idea is that they are specific enough to stick to, but flexible and simple enough to not get bored. They don’t align to specific days. We pick what flavors we want, shop for that on the weekend, and then make whichever one we feel like each night. We tried to pick things that don’t typically take more than 30 minutes to an hour to cook.  This also allows me to try new recipes on the weekend when I’ll have plenty of time. The picture at the top is the results of one of the Stir-Fry Nights.

After a couple of months, we’ll evaluate and maybe trade some out for other different themes. We are not applying this to breakfast or lunch. We typically take leftovers for lunch, and breakfast depends on what we have around the house.

Do any of you use something similar to the 5 Stars?  What are your favorite theme nights? Or, if you don’t use theme nights, what is your plan for dinner? How do you manage low energy days?

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2013 CSA Week 6

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One thing about getting this much fresh food straight from the farm is that it doesn’t last as long as under-ripe supermarket produce.  It’s been a challenge to eat through it all.

This week’s haul:

  • Snow peas
  • Cabbage (again!  I’m running out of ideas!)
  • 2 little cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Beets
  • Green onions
  • Asparagus
  • Eggs
  • Lettuce

I see lots of salads in my future because we still have so much lettuce!

2013 CSA Week 5

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Sorry for the week off guys.  I live in Oklahoma, so we’ve had a lot of tornadoes lately, and while the posts I had in the queue went up, I’ve run out of buffer.  I’m going to rebuild it today, as well as put up a post in the next couple days for people who want to help.  My place wasn’t hit, but the town just north of me was hit really bad (you may have seen Moore, OK on the news lately).

Our farmer was thankfully not hit either, so this week we have:

  • Eggs
  • Beets
  • Snow peas
  • Two small cucumbers
  • Green onions
  • Another (!) head of cabbage
  • Bunch of asparagus
  • A bag of lettuce
  • A bunch of strawberries (nice and fresh this time!)

We’re still working through the stashes we’ve got, so hopefully I’ll also have new recipes to post as we try to think of creative ways to use up the vegetables.  This is probably one of the healthiest moves we’ve ever made.

2013 CSA Week 4

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Week 4.  We are not quite getting through things fast enough, and this basket is huge for us!  Expect lots of new recipe posts as we try to use this.

  • Eggs
  • A whole green cabbage
  • Whole beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Sugar snap peas?
  • Strawberries (these ended up being too far gone, even by the time we got them.  Could have been the bad weather lately, or when the farmer picked them.  We’re not sure.)
  • Green onions
  • Asparagus
  • A head of lettuce

2013 CSA Week 3

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We’re still working through our previous baskets, but as of tonight, we’re almost caught up.  I’ll be having a post up soon about how I used up a bunch of the veggies all at once.

This week we have:

  • Swiss Chard
  • Green Kale
  • A head of lettuce (not sure what type, romaine, maybe?)
  • Eggs
  • Radishes
  • Asparagus
  • Green Onions
  • Strawberries (huzzah!)

2013 CSA Week 2

Ok, so there was a lot of food in that basket.  We’re still eating through it all.  The hardest thing to get through are the greens, because while we like salads, we rarely make a whole meal of them.  We have fewer leftovers to work through in the fridge, so we’ll hopefully be getting through this haul a bit better.
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This week:

  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Tiny beets!
  • Eggs
  • Baby green onions
  • Swiss chard
  • Lettuce
  • Green Kale

The challenge this week is again the greens.  I’m seeing lots of salads, and maybe a risotto in my future.

2013 CSA Week 1

This year, Andrew and I signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Basically, we pay a farmer for a season, and in return, we get a basket of some of their crop.  CSAs are great if you’re into local or real food, and can’t manage a large garden of your own.  This is our first time doing this, and we really like our farmers.  They don’t use any pesticides on their crop and also offer milk and various meats that we hope to try later in the season.  For those who haven’t tried a CSA before, I’ll be posting photos of our haul each week.

Some notes:  We signed up for the “small” share, which is supposed to feed 1-2 people.  A CSA may seem expensive for the price, but as you’ll see, you can get a lot of food.  I doubt Andrew and I will have to buy very much produce while we’re doing this.  Also, our farmer has greenhouses, so they are able to offer us things like tomatoes in early May after the weather here has been awful for tomatoes.

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In this week’s basket:

  • Swiss Chard
  • Strawberries
  • Green Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Eggs
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus

And just think, we’ll be getting another basket next week!  I’m excited to come up with ways to eat this delicious haul.