At the end of 2016 The Other Half had a health scare which led to us completely re-vamping how we eat. Most everything is made from scratch in our house now and this is due to the large amount of sodium found in processed foods, whether it is tinned, frozen, jar sauces of most kinds or even things like bread can be incredibly salty.
Rather than draw up a meal plan each week, for the last year or so we have been sticking to a fairly regular 7 day rotation. It goes like this –
Monday – Cottage Pie
I make a very large tray of this – it is essentially my savory beef mince recipe doubled with low-sodium gravy instead of soy sauce and then topped with sweet potato mash and cheese. We now have massive stainless steel trays from IKEA. The 6 remaining serves become lunches for The Other Half for the remaining 4 days of the week.
Tuesday – Rotating Random Day
This will usually be some form of chicken with vegetables. It might be garlic parmesan chicken (pictured above) or sweet and sour chicken. It could be pepper steaks – chicken for me, beef for The Other Half – with vegetables. It could be chicken kievs with cheesy potatoes. It could be chicken and bacon pasta – though that is fairly rare for us these days.
Wednesday – Fish and Chips
We buy fish fillets already crumbed and frozen. We like Aldi crumbed fillets.. I do make the chips from scratch – sweet potato for me, normal potato for The Other Half – and I have created my own spice mix to go on them now without any salt but my chips get a generous coating of salt once they are cooked. I sometimes have a big bowl of baby peas with parmesan sprinkled over the top with mine, and the other half has carrots, corn and peas.
Thursday – Muffin Tin Meatballs
This is one of our most favourite meals of the week and it is incredibly simple to make. You just put carrots, a leek, baby spinach or brussel sprouts into a food processor, add in your meat, a couple of eggs, put it into a muffin tray, sprinkle some cheese on top and cook.
We also have made this into “Meatza” and we now alternate between the two because Meatza is even easier – just cut the mix in half, and then spread it out onto a baking tray with a spatula into a flat shape – square or circular, like you would a pizza sauce on your pizza base or even like if you were making a meringue. Top with a little pizza sauce and cheese. Cook it for 35 minutes and you are done.
Friday – Homemade Pizza Night
My pizza is awesome. I usually pre-cook my mushrooms in the oven for 12 minutes to take some of the moisture out otherwise you end up with a soggy pizza. Some of you may know I have been on a quest to try freezing mushrooms and I will tell you all about that on Wednesday.
My pizza has mushrooms, capsicum, ham, bacon, olives, feta cheese, pineapple, pepperoni, and right before it goes in the oven I pour an egg onto it smack bang in the middle of the pizza. If you have never had egg on a pizza, you need to try this the next time you make one. It slowly oozes through all the other toppings while the pizza cooks in the oven in a deliciously eggy way, fluffing up and holding everything together beautifully. In pizza houses they call this the “Australian” pizza but it usually just has ham, cheese, tomato sauce and egg.
This is the one night of the week where The Other Half might get close to his sodium limit because he likes everything meat on his pizza. But because we’ve done so well for the rest of the week, it does not cause many issues.
Saturday – Leftover Homemade Pizza Or Out
Our pizza makes 6 slices so we usually eat 3 the first night and 3 the second.
Sunday – Roast Or Random Things.
It might be a roast of some kind if we found one we like on special. It might be Hayden’s pies from the freezer heated up. It might be Vili’s pasties. If we went out on Saturday night, we might eat our leftover pizza.
Breakfast & Lunch
For breakfast The Other Half likes crumpets with cheese. I used to have a small bowl of cereal or a mini quiche but these days I am having a protein coffee for breakfast which lasts me until 2-3pm. Lunches for me before protein coffee were always my protein shake – it is gorgeously cool in summer – but now I just have a small snack, usually ham and avocado and/or egg on a cruskit.
In winter last year I did experiment with adding protein to our vegetable soups and I loved that just as much as the shakes, however since I found protein coffee that would just be too much for me. The Other Half has cottage pie, tuna pasta bake, fake lasagne or healthy chicken strips.
The Plan For 2018
This year I will be trying to add in even more vegetables to our meals. The big problem I have is – the other half has an allergy to cellulose. Certain vegetables and almost all fruits he cannot eat, and this is a great shame as he loves apples and watermelon but cannot have them. He can have pineapple cooked on a pizza or in sweet and sour chicken but usually not raw.
Some vegetables he can eat as long as they are cooked – these include carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, spinach, capsicum, tomatoes, swedes, turnips, parsnips, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, leeks and onion. We do pretty well when winter vegetables are in season and he gets a big serving of at least two usually three or four vegetables in his cottage pie lunches. In autumn, winter and spring I often make a big pot of vegetable soup each fortnight from whatever is left in the fridge.
I also want to try and mix in some new recipes on our random Tuesdays, and I also want to focus in on making the meals I bulk prepare for lunches of The Other Half the best they can be. I will be looking for some new recipes to try out here, too.
One of our biggest problems has been finding oven baking trays which are reliable long term. Sure, they all start out nice, but before you know it the non-stick coating is peeling off and then the tray underneath begins to rust. Ceramic ones have never been that great for us, they eventually crack and break and they are not always easily available in Holy Sheeyit! Are You Really Cooking This Much At Once size. :)
I’m going to look into this some more, in particular the kinds of pans used in commercial cookery because that is essentially what this is, just on a slightly smaller scale, but if anyone has ideas I would love to hear them.
Updated Thursday 2nd August – Just to add in some other small changes we have made. We did find great stainless steel baking trays at IKEA for a very reasonable price. I will try to add a post about protein coffee next week on the blog and link to it here when I have done it.
Bread – we have found an excellent bread mix from Laucke that we can make ourselves and the sodium level is not too high. The Other Half could have a couple of slices of this but he usually just has one and cuts it in half if he wants a sandwich.
8 thoughts on “Meal Planning Presently”
Your meals sound and look delicious. I love eggs in and on everything, so the pizza sounds wonderful. Regular crust?
It’s a dream of mine to be able to do meal planning, but that would require actual planning and then sticking to the plan. I’m not very good at that.
Baking pans….yes it’s really hard to find ones that don’t get all nasty looking. Not sure if the equivalent here is cookie sheets or casserole dishes. Cookie sheets get so gross. I just use parchment paper now or I line them with foil. Casserole pans, I tend to use glass. I have the most luck with those. I also like Corning Ware.
I love shopping in hospitality supply shops (I used to have a cafe, years and years ago) – you will most likely be able to find something big enough and designed to be long lasting. Just make sure it can fit in your oven! I also like the big stirring/serving spoons, ladles and plain glasses.
Our ovens came with oven trays which I think you call vitreous enamel. They last a very long time. I’ve just sent the muffin tin meatballs details to household management.
I think you’re on the right track to look for commercial cooking pans. I have a quarter-sheet size, which fits nicely into my oven.
Like they all said before me, commercial grade baking trays are your best bet. Or the old fashioned baked enamel style, you know those black or blue ones with the little white specks? Those. Lining with baking paper helps to preserve the surface on non stick bakeware too. I have a couple of baking trays that had “Baker’s Secret” on the label, they’ve done me well for several years now. From General Trader shops, now called Minimax.
I have a large family (8 children) and we purchased pans from Costco. I really like them and have lasted our very heavy use:)
Wow. I’m going to share this with Jerry. The hardest part for him is deciding what to cook.