While I enjoy the spontaneity of wandering the grocery store aisles for ingredients that inspire and making up a meal as I toss those items into my cart, I find this doesn't work well for me on a daily basis when cooking for my family. (Though it is a fun date-night:) I have planned and shopped for meals by the week since our very first grocery store trip as a married couple.
The weekly grocery trip was a mini-date for my husband Jon and me (and still is). Plus, on those first trips as a family of two, I had no idea what and how much to buy unless I had a plan. Now, I find that planning ensures my family eats healthy and well-balanced most of the time. I LOVE to cook, but I enjoy it most when I don't feel a time-crunch to get dinner on the table (in other words, weekends!) To keep some of the fun in cooking during the week, I plan easier meals (or ones that can be prepped ahead of time) and doubles. Doubles are meals that can be served two nights in a row without sacrificing quality, or those where part of the meal is for two nights and part is changed up the second night. We also freeze leftovers to pull out for a quick dinner later in the month or as lunches for Jon and me during the week. An example of a typical week's dinner plan would be three planned meals eaten two nights each and one of the following: a leftover freezer meal, a one night planned meal, or dinner out. Weekend meals tend to be ones that take a bit more time to prepare so that we can genuinely enjoy the process. When Jon and I are able to cook together, we add some music, an appetizer, and maybe a glass of wine, and suddenly, cooking turns into a date.
To help you with your meal planning this week, I've included three recipes that together make up a double meal. You can do this double in one of three ways: (1)The soup and salad for two nights, (2)soup for two nights paired the first night with the salad, and the second with the black bean cakes, or (3)soup and black bean cakes two nights. I suggest this last one for a weekend night since it requires making both the soup and the black bean cakes can be a lengthier process. If you want to turn it into a date night, add an appetizer of homemade guacamole and crank up some music.
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