This seems like a good time to share some of the process I use to create a menu for the week. My hope is that you all will be inspired to make your own menus, so it seems like a good idea to share a little of my thinking about how I do mine. I start by taking a look at my week and seeing what nights I have more time to cook or what things we have going on that I need to plan for. This week, I’m hosting Monday Night Dinner at my house, which means I’m lucky enough to cook for about 16 people. There is a story behind this and I’ll be making a page devoted to that story and the recipes that originate from that special happening, so check in later for that! But for now, suffice it to say, I’m cooking for 10 adults and 6 smaller folks ranging from 4-14 and I work all day Monday, so I planned a big pot of soup that I can make on Sunday and just reheat when I get home from work. Add some hot bread and some canned peaches for dessert and we’re all happy. The other thing I have going this week is that I’ll be working late on Wednesday with no time to cook, so Tuesday’s dinner is going to be big enough to feed us twice. Now, I find my recipes. I’m usually on the look out through the week on other blogs or magazines for things I might like to cook. This week, I found my soup recipe mentioned above in my new issue of Cook’s Illustrated and my husband forwarded me a recipe he found in the Daily Meal that I liked but decided to do a few tweaks on. The other recipes are from my cookbooks and my own head, but use a lot of ingredients I have on hand-my friend brought me a huge butternut squash and I made chicken stock today, so I’m making one of my favorite Alice Waters’ recipes, butternut squash risotto. And so on from there…quick recap: look at your week, check your fridge and pantry for things you already have, then open the recipe books (or my blog:) ) and make your menu!
(The list in the photo above is an example of how I actually do my menu but from a different week. I write my menu on the right side, then my shopping list on the left.)
Monday-Vegetable barley soup with Columbia Bread from the Essential Bakery
Tuesday-Butternut squash risotto with fried sage leaves and Caesar salad
Wednesday-working late, so leftovers from last night
Thursday-Tagliatelle with prosciutto and tomato sauce with a persimmon and pomegranate salad
Friday-Butternut squash polenta topped with smoky paprika spinach, with sauteed cauliflower with golden raisins and hazelnuts (this side is going to be an attempt at a recreation of a dish we had at the Golden Beetle on Friday-it was deeeelicious!)-this recipe will be coming later…we ended up going out to dinner instead of cooking! But I will be making this soon and will post it then.