Planning out all your meals for the week may be the most challenging to consistently pull off, but can make the biggest difference in your weekly meal budget. It can save you a boat load of time and prevent you from having to shop numerous times a week. More than ever, we need to stay out of stores as much as possible, while we are riding-out this pandemic. So meal planning has become even more important to weekly survival.
Here’s some simple strategies for money saving-time saving meal planning:
- Sit down once a week and plan all the meals for that week ~ first checking the Pepper & Salt weekly menu mailer so you can build around offerings. (the menu comes out on Thursday mornings in plenty of time for weekend shopping)
- Then shop only for the items you need to prepare those meals
- Hit the winter farmer’s markets for the best fresh local produce
- If you’re a carnivore, consider whole chickens or whole cuts of meat that you can roast and use for multiple recipes
- If you’re vegan or vegetarian, consider roasting whole squash, cauliflower or sweet potatoes to use for multiple recipes ~ or sheet pan roast cut-up seasoned vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, peppers, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, fennel, onions) that you can develop into soups, curries, salads, rice dishes, or even blend for sauces (this is really tasty!)
- Cooking a pot of farro, beans, rice, lentils, pasta or potatoes and having it on hand to reinvent into other dishes is a wise move. Any of these can serve as a side or base or incorporated into a quick dish you enhance with other on-hand ingredients.
- Really take a look at how many nights you can actually get in the kitchen. Consider those nights when you’ll have busier days and not want to cook. Having nutritious, delicious ready-to-enjoy foods on hand, like soups, can help tremendously.
- Be sure to allow for leftovers so you can stretch meals into other dishes that get you through another day or two
- Not only do these strategies give you more time in your week, but it cuts down on the amount of food you buy at the grocery store and decreases the amount of food you waste.
Seasonal transitions can be made simpler with soups and can make meal planning pretty easy. We offer freezer friendly soups every week! Many of these soups can be reinvented into other meals by simply adding an ingredient or two, serving as a sauce for pasta or roasted vegetables or even used as a base for roasting. We love reinventing our soups into easy midweek or weekend meals. It’s a great way to stretch your soup dollars and most of the flavors are already in the soup you purchased. If you should happen to have a cup or two of your Pepper & Salt soups left over, use what you have on hand for a completely different dish. For example, this coming week we have Shorbat Adas ~ a Middle-eastern soup made with lentils, greens and lots of good earthy spice. This is practically screaming rice dish, which would be incredibly easy to knock out, but what if, just what if you made your left over soup into a wrap?! With 1 to 2 cups left over, you could prepare something so fantastic, everyone in your family will applaud you. Here’s the thinking on this stretching your soup dollars idea:
Shorbat Adas Wrap!
What you’ll need to make four wraps:
- Choose your favorite wrap ~ flour tortilla, flatbread, naan
- 1 to 1-1/2 C Shorbat Adas, warm or cold
- 1 C diced organic cucumber
- 1 C diced tomato
- 1 C diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 C diced red onion
- 1/4 C fresh herbs~a combination of dill, cilantro, mint or parsley
- 2 C shredded lettuce
- 1/2 C Greek yogurt
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- za’atar (optional)
- hot sauce (optional)
- cooked basmati rice (optional)
Chop first five ingredients and mix together in a bowl. Chiffonade lettuce and set aside for assembly. In a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon, garlic and black pepper. To assemble, spread a few tablespoons of warm or cold Shorbat Adas on your wrap, spoon 1/4 of the mixed chopped vegetables on top, add 1/2 cup of lettuce and then about 2 T of the yogurt mixture can be dolloped on top of the lettuce. (if your yogurt is too thick to dollop on, you can spread it on the wrap before spreading on the Shorbat Adas or thin it out with a little milk so you can drizzle it on) Roll up like a burrito or a taco and enjoy! We like to sprinkle za’atar on the wrap and a little good hot sauce and basmati, as well.
HOW TO STRETCH YOUR SOUP DOLLARS
Periodically we post ideas for creative meals using the left over Pepper & Salt soups. Some of those soup stretching ideas have been shared by creative customers who have used our soups for sauces for pastas and rice dishes, to roast chicken breast, to spread on pizza dough or to stuff into baked potatoes. The most commonly used soups used have been Broccoli Cheddar Chive, Potato Leek, Ginger Coconut Curry Lentil, Sicilian Vegetable Soup, Sweet Potato Peanut, Minestrone soups, Red and Yellow Curry Soups, our Cuban Black Bean with Chili Roasted Pulled Pork AND Smoky Black Bean with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes. One of the most popular ideas with our soupers thus far was a soup-stretching-reinventing-recipe we offered for our black bean soups. Making then into Cuban Black Bean Nachos and Smoky Black Bean Tacos with Southwestern Coleslaw. The flavors were already there – all soupers had to do was add their favorite nacho or taco ingredients (chips, cheese, avocado, onion, etc.) and watch their family and friends dig in. Simple, easy, affordable.