August will be Delicious

One of the things that has kept me going through the dullness of exams (especially now that the garden outside my window is full of people who have finished and are sunbathing, picnicking, reading and laughing in the sunshine) is the thought of a full six weeks of freedom before I start my next degree. My main plan for that freedom? Cooking.

Today I bought myself a copy of Laurel’s Kitchen. My mum certainly has a copy already, and  I think there’s one lurking on the shelves of my dad and Gill’s house, so I have flicked through it in the past. The recipes I’ve seen are somewhat alien to me, but that’s part of the point. I want to try out new things, to discover what works and what doesn’t, and to have the wonderful introduction to that book as an inspiration and a reminder.

I’ve also discovered a wholefood shop nearish to my new flat which delivers small organic fruit and veg boxes for a very reasonable price. This is something I’ve wanted to sign up to for a while, but the way my meals work at the moment it hasn’t been feasible – when you cook once every two months, it’s hard to use up an entire box of vegetables before they go off. But from August, I will be living a much more cooking-friendly life, even once my course starts, especially as I won’t be taking on a mountain of evening commitments.

I’m really looking forward to trying out making my own bread, and to having all my food, utensils, implements and crockery in the same room. If I forget to get something out of the fridge, I won’t have to traipse back along the corridor through three heavy, hard-to-open doors and across my room to fetch it, and then back again through three even-harder-to-open-with-your-hands-full doors. The fridge will be right there. When I’m meal planning, my food will be in a cupboard in the same room as me – I won’t have to try and remember what I’ve got, or trek to the kitchen to check. It’s not exactly far, but it’s a hassle. It will be nice to have that convenience.

I head off to collect the keys to the flat tomorrow, and I’ll be there for a few days. My original meal plan spiralled off a little this week as I had a fairly unpleasant IBS flareup which drove me to a not particularly sympathetic GP who gave me a prescription for co-codamol and told me to suck it up, the NHS can’t help. So the planned curry was scrapped as being too risky, and the spaghetti bolognese was kicked to the curb when I realised I didn’t have any tomatoes. Instead I had reheated pie – once with vegetables, once straight out of the microwavable tub. There is still a lot of pie in my freezer.

The plan for the weekend, however, remains the same: mushroom risotto tomorrow (I bought a 1kg vaccuum pack bag of risotto rice, I’m not quite sure how to open it without causing a volcanic explosion of rice) and pasta bake on Sunday, or possibly the other way round depending whether or not I can face going out to buy a saucepan and some mushrooms after a three hour exam followed by a three hour train journey. Monday will almost certainly be take-away pizza, because a) it’s easy and b) it’s tasty and c) I couldn’t think of any other meal ideas that wouldn’t require me to buy more food than I can use up on this trip.

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Meal Planning Monday – June 3rd 2013

 

If you feel like you’ve read this post before, you probably have – I got myself in a muddle and posted it on my other blog by mistake! Meal Planning Monday
This week and next week present something of a conundrum, meal-planning-wise. On Saturday I am heading off to collect the keys for my new flat and spend a couple of nights there, but since I will still need most of my stuff here for the next month, I won’t be taking a lot in the way of food or utensils with me. The flat doesn’t yet have a microwave (it’s the absolute top of my list of essentials, I don’t think I can function without a way to easily reheat leftovers) and I don’t want to buy anything perishable that would require refridgeration or need to be brought back with me on the train. So I’ve been carefully collecting mini packets of things (jam, Marmite, porridge – although that will need a microwave) and planning what I can take and leave, and what I can buy and store there.

The rest of the week was fairly straightforward though. I just opened the freezer, looked at what I had, and realised that I’ll be eating pie and mac & cheese every week until I leave, and possibly twice a week. No problem in my book!

Saturday and Sunday’s meals are planned around the idea that pasta and rice can both be easily stored in the flat until I go back, and I can spare a casserole dish. I need a new saucepan anyway, after burning out the bottom of my largest pan, so I shall simply buy one and leave that there too.

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Meal Planning Monday 27th May 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I have an exciting new way to meal plan! Well, exciting and new to me at any rate. A few days ago I was idly browsing the shelves of Paperchase, pondering the possibility of purchasing a pen, and I came across a magnetic combination meal planner and shopping list on an adorable cupcake-patterned backdrop.

Recently I have been dithering over the type of new diary to buy for next academic year: my current diary doesn’t have space for a shopping list, a to do list AND a meal plan each week, but the options which did were a) more expensive and b) less optimal in other ways. I quickly decided that the solution was to buy the magnetic planner, thereby eliminating the need for a more complicated diary system and more than halving the cost of replacing my diary (yes, these are the things I think about each day).

So, this week’s meal plan is brought to you by the power of Paperchase! And the power of Paint Shop Pro, because I simply could not take a decent photograph of the actual planner, so I have constructed a simple way of posting the closest possible approximation here, whilst ensuring that I don’t have to turn on my laptop every time I want to check what’s for dinner.

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All of this week’s meals are out of the freezer, because my exams start on Wednesday. I’ve tried to make sure I’m not having the same type of food two days in a row: I’ve separated the pasta dishes from each other, and put the spinach meals at different ends of the week. Thursday’s meal is a celebration of sorts: I will be half way through my Finals! Not temporally, sadly, because I have three bunched up together this week and then two in the second week of June, but numerically 50% done.

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Menu Planning Monday 20th May 2013

Well, Monday is close to over but I’ve just got in on time!

Meal Planning Monday

This week, as regular readers can’t help but be aware, is National Vegetarian Week and I’ve set myself a challenge to try out and blog about a new recipe each day. I have cheated a little, in that I cooked one of the recipes last week (the plan was to make two things last week, but I didn’t feel like cooking on Saturday so shifted things around a little), and four of them will be cooked on the same day, but it’s still got me cooking!

Monday – Jerry’s Curry, carried over from last week. The recipe will be up tomorrow, but here’s a spoiler: it was amazing.

Tuesday – tomato soup. It is hard to believe that I have never made tomato soup before, but there we have it! This will be Wednesday’s post. I was trying to think of what on earth I could make that was new to me, and didn’t require any ingredients I don’t already have. The inspiration, oddly enough, was the small amount of single cream sitting in the fridge. Thanks to the cream, this won’t be vegan (unless the cream’s gone off, I guess).

Wednesday – vegan dinner party! The menu has been decided: two types of salad (one with red peppers, one with pine nuts. The guests include one person with a pepper allergy, one with a nut allergy, so we thought we’d cater for both!), vegan spinach and asparagus cannelloni, and rhubarb filo roll. I’m very glad to have a friend who has far more cooking experience than me helping out, because it sounds quite elaborate.

Thursday – Quorn, leek and mushroom pie with spinach and new potatoes (I’m hoping to have some left-over veg after Wednesday’s dinner).

Friday – spinach and mushroom lasagne

Saturday – pea and mushroom omlette, plus whatever other vegetables I have around.

Next week, I’m planning a no-shopping week. I have exams on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday so I’ll pull most meals out of the freezer, and I’ve got enough bread, milk and cereal to last (I hope).

After exams are over, I am planning on taking part in the Live Below The Line challenge. I’m sure everyone has already heard of this but the challenge is to live on £1 per day for five days, with the total budget of £5 covering the full packets of food (so you can’t simply buy a £2 bag of pasta but claim to only have used 5p worth).

The challenge ends on June 30th and for a few horrible minutes I didn’t think that I had five consecutive days on which I was not attending a ball, a wedding, a garden party or some other form of decidedly-more-than-£1-a-day meal. I have managed to find five days, from June 23rd – 27th, sandwiched between a friend’s wedding and my graduation dinner. Realising just how much money will be spent on feeding me next month made me twice as determined to participate, and also made me feel slightly guilty.

Meal Planning Monday – May 13th 2013

Meal Planning Monday

This week I’m getting started on my new recipes challenge for National Vegetarian Week, so I’ve popped a couple of those into the plan. Planning lunch didn’t really do a lot of good last week; it was useful to have a reminder of all the different things I had, but I didn’t feel like sticking to the schedule.

Lunch options: English muffins, omelette, soup in a cup, mixed salad, cous cous, pasta bake

Monday – Eggs, beans and chips

Tuesday – Spinach tortilla pie

Wednesday – Quorn cheese and broccoli escalope with potatoes and seasonal green veg

Thursday – Pasta bake with side salad

Friday – Jerry’s Curry

Saturday – Gail’s Butter Bean Pie

Meal Planning Monday – 29th April 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I don’t have to deal with many meals this week: I have three dinners planned. One is with the other law students at my college and our supervisors, one is for a pair of choir birthdays, and the final one is the regular Sunday night chapel supper. I think the choir are also going for curry one day, but as I’m no longer on Facebook I often get left out of these plans. I could email someone and ask, but honestly I think this week is expensive enough already!

For the other four days, the plan is:

Macaroni and cheese
Spaghetti bolognese
Baked potato with cheese, beans and salad
Sausage casserole

Lunches will be a combination of salad, cous cous, soup in a cup, and various things on toast (ravioli, peanut butter, honey…). At the weekend I’m going on a National Trust adventure with a friend and Sunday morning is the University Confirmation Service, so I will hopefully be joining the post-service trip for curry – I might be too late to eat though, as I have to work until 2pm.