With the start of school, summer coming to a close, and fall not coming fast enough…I’m stuck between the lack of meal planning inspiration and the excitement of what Fall will bring with future meal planning. My family isn’t quite ready for hearty soups (I am), pumpkin flavored anything (I am), and all the other lovely and delicious snacks and meals that cooler weather and a new harvest of fruits and vegetables bring. So, what do you do when you’re stuck in the in between phase?
Merely asking my family for their input with weekly meal planning makes all the difference. Questions like, “Are you craving anything special this week?” “Is there something we haven’t had in a while that you’d like me to make?” “What are two fruits and two vegetables you’d like me to use in recipes this week?” Being fully responsible for meal planning is a lot. Asking for input helps you with meal planning ideas and also helps reduce the amount of complaining when dinner is served.
Spices & Pantry Inspiration
It might sound crazy, but taking inventory of your spices and what’s in your pantry might be the inspiration you need to meal plan. This is especially fun and easy when your spices are organized. If you don’t have a Cabinet Caddy or Cabinet Caddy SNAP!, it’s time. Stop reading this and order yourself one. You won’t regret it. For example, I found lasagna noodles in my pantry and got excited about making my easy, vegan lasagna recipe – I haven’t made it in months. Scanning through my spices, I started thinking about how much my husband loves cinnamon (he’s Greek and spent part of his childhood living in Greece, so he grew up with cinnamon being used to flavor many of his favorite dishes). That inspired me to pull out a few Greek-themed recipes that I know will make him excited for dinner.
Take Note of What’s in Season
A simple internet search with the month, the words vegetables and fruit and your state is a great way to see what’s in season. For example, September vegetables and fruit Texas will allow you to see a list of what should be available at your local grocery store. Browsing your local farmer’s markets is also a great way to see what’s in season (and buy fresh and local produce).
Scan Your Favorite Recipe Sites
Minimalist Baker and Nora Cooks are my go-to’s for recipes. I can literally search easy dinners, back-to-school recipes, and/or tofu recipes and I get a variety of meal planning ideas. Go to your preferred sites or just do a quick internet search and see what comes up. Don’t get trapped in the endless searching the internet suck you into. If you do an internet search, narrow it down to a few sites and search on those sites.
On my menu this week: lentil loaf and mashed potatoes, curried lentils with sautéed seasonal vegetables, black bean burgers and oven potato fries, easy spaghetti with seasonal vegetables in a cashew cream sauce, crunchy tacos and homemade guacamole. What’s on your menu this week?
Happy meal planning!
Dawn, Task Master at INSP!RED Development Group