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I’m trying to organise our cooking adventures so that there is a healthy meal for us to eat every day. With both Joe and me working full-time, we only get Shane from school around 6 and we aim to eat at 6:15, so there really isn’t much time to prepare anything. At least not anything healthy.
I’m lucky in that I can work from home for a few days a week so that helps, but being super-organised is still a must right now.
So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been menu planning like crazy. We know exactly what we’ll be eating for all our meals a week in advance. How do I go about this? I start with a loose plan to have each of the following once per week: chicken , fish , maybe meat, lentils/beans and vegetables only. I also always plan in a ‘leftovers’ night and an (optional) going out or takeaway night.
Then I look through my millions of cookbooks and scrapbooked recipes for ideas. That’s the funnest part!
As for actually making the food, knowing what we’re having the next day makes it possible for me to make parts of it the night before.
Oh and I also try to use whatever we have in the house as ingredients, at least as much as possible, to keep grocery costs down.
Sounds obsessive, I know, but it’s really been working for us and I feel so much better about the food that’s available at our house!
Do you plan meals in advance?
So for the recipe – for last week’s lentil/bean meal, I made a fabulous lentil dal, based on this recipe, but tweaked. All of us, including Shane who is two-and-a-half, liked it a lot and I will certainly be making it again. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s super-easy, I promise!
1 cup red lentils
fresh (or frozen) ginger, however much you like
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic (or less if you don’t love it as much as I do)
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 can tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor
mango chutney, to taste
curry paste, optional and to taste
1. Place lentils, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon in a large pan with 3 cups cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a another pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Stir in the turmeric, cumin and garam masala and cook until fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.
3. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the lentil and mix well. Add the spinach leaves and mix well. Cook until spinach is wilted.
4. Stir in the mango chutney, the curry paste (if using) and the coriander. Reduce heat to low and let the flavors combine.
5. Eat whenever you’re ready! I served it with plain basmati rice, but it would be just as good with naan bread or pitta bread or a grain of some sort.