September 24, 2010

The Weekly Rotation

Choice is a lovely thing, and spontaneity is where fun is born, but something about fall makes me long for rules and regulation. I feel like busting out charts and gold stars, turning down impromptu invitations, and settling into a routine. One way this desire is manifesting is my sudden need to tone down the variety in our weekly menus and sticking to some basics and favorites.

There has been a lot of teasing in my family about my mom’s rotation, basically because it’s not, well, varied. If you are sitting down at her kitchen table in September, you can likely count on tuna macaroni salad, stuffed zucchini, roast chicken, tomato sandwiches or a big, beautiful salad.

I am my mother’s daughter. But when one blogs, as many of you know, there is a certain amount of birdie-on-your-shoulder pressure to try new recipes all the time. Somehow, we hope, one of these recipes might just serve up the secret for ready-in-a-jiffy, easy-but-elegant, my-life-is-so-wonderfully-under-control, and my-body-is-a-temple-of-health togetherness.

Right now, though, I’m feeling that the aforementioned secrets might just be contained in some old familiar favorites. So I’m putting here, more for my reference than anything, my go-to weeknight recipes for fall. These are tried-and-true favorites, and things that can be made without having to frantically look from stove to cookbook.

Do you guys work on weekly or bi-weekly menu rotation at your house? What are your go-to recipes for fall?

Oh: and happy weekend!

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  • Sara Rose: We do a semi-rotation. There’s fall backs that I go to pretty much weekly to make life and shopping easier. There’s always a spaghetti or pasta arrabiatta night. Sandwiches are big here, grilled or cold. There’s usually some crock pot wonder of beans and roasted meat one night. A big salad with grilled meat of some kind or other. We make Spanish tortilla a lot to use left over veggies. I usually do a big batch of soup every two weeks or so. Some nights its’ breakfast for dinner and there’s always a night of roasted veggies and fish. And usually one night a week is leftovers/fend for yourself. I find new recipes often get tried on weekends, which is strange because, really, it’s not that much more time consuming. Oh and cinnamon rolls Saturday mornings and donuts on Sundays!4 years ago

  • Bethany: weekly menus: grilled cheese and tomato star soup, pasta with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, yogurt with sliced apples and granola, parmesan couscous with sauteed mushrooms… I pretty much eat the same thing all year round.

    I’m constantly looking for fresh vegetarian dishes that are seasonal. I once slaved over a thai-spiced pumpkin soup, only to find out hours later that I didn’t care for pumpkin soup.4 years ago

  • Laureen: Tacos–black bean, fish, steak, shrimp–are in my rotation pretty much every week. Seriously, I’ve been known to make them literally 4 or 5 nights in a row. But these past few weeks, with the last days of summer getting in the way, I didn’t make any! And when I made them for dinner Tuesday night it was amazing how grounded they made me feel–like an anchor to my week.

    Now I just have to add something other than tacos to my rotation…(It’s still too hot in my kitchen for roast chicken on Sunday nights) that curry up there looks mighty nice.4 years ago

  • Brook: I love fall and winter cooking because it’s finally cool enough to turn on the stove. I do lots of soups, with portions packed into the freezer for later: Potato-leek, mulligatawny, Hungarian mushroom, miso, Cuban black bean, and hot and sour.

    Then there’s the stews, slow-roasts, and braises: Chickpea, kale, and chorizo stew, Korean pork and kimchee stew with rice cakes, big pots of TVP vegetarian chile, Thai coconut curries, or rich carnitas for great tacos.

    And of course, carbs: German apple pancakes, seafood- or vegetable-filled crepes, pillow-light gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce, beans, beans, and more beans, Jim Sullivan’s no-knead bread, empanadas, potstickers, dumplings, samosas, and kasha knishes.

    I cook on Sunday afternoons, and try to make at least one tried-and-true recipe and one new one. I put on some great music or catch up on podcasts, and have a great time in the kitchen.4 years ago

  • kath: My New Year’s resolution this year was to start making up monthly menus because I’m working and everyone here has different activities on different days so while I plan I try to break it down:
    Monday – chicken
    Tuesday – Pasta/meatless meal
    Wednesday – Beef
    Thursday – chicken
    Friday – pizza or seafood
    Saturday – leftovers
    Sunday – Big family dinner (something time consuming that I don’t have time to make during the week).
    This way I can try new recipes, I know what I’m making and not have to freak out when I get in at night. So far it seems to be working, and it’s flexible enough that if I want to switch things around I can.4 years ago

  • wendy: Baked potatoes with all the toppings, hamburger stew, more things baked in the oven like sweet potato fries!4 years ago

  • Kristine: Ummm, my weekly rotation involves a lot of junk food and chocolate. I really have to step up my game. I am excited to try the kidney bean curry and the couscous. It would be quite exciting to incorporate something healthy in my fires and sweets rotation. Thanks for the recipes!4 years ago

  • Sarah J: my weekly rotation usually involves:

    a bean/grain dish like a soup or salad (depends on the season)
    maybe a pasta
    an animal protein w/ sides or in a one-pot meal
    ad hoc/fend for yourself night
    usually low-budget takeout or go out on fridays

    we rely a lot on leftovers during the week so i only cook a few meals. my husband is in law school and I have a day job plus I am a freelance writer so we don’t have a lot of time to shop or prepare meals. i typically shop once a week and plan everything out by the day. i use sundays to grind coffee, make salad dressing and granola if needed and some kind of meal that will carry is a day or two.

    i would be curious about how others out there formulate lunches to take to work. i have always struggled w/ that.4 years ago

  • Sarah Jane: I tend to whip up large pots of turkey 3 bean chili, curried pumpkin soup and make a lot of bibimbap- which incidentally is a wonderful breakfast.

    On the sweeter side I mix a can of pumpkin and a box of spice cake mix, season it up with ginger and nutmeg and enjoy some yummy pumpkin muffins this time of year.4 years ago

  • Cadi: Hmmm. I don’t have a regular rotation of things, I do my weekly shopping based on the sales circular at my favorite grocer for meats and veggies/fruits, and plan my ‘weekly meal plan’ off of that. I try to make something big on Sunday, say a roasted chicken that will then be sandwiches or pizza another night, maybe some pasta if the chicken was big enough, and the carcass made into stock at the end of the week (subsequently becoming the next Big Sunday Thing and turning in to soup).

    I’ve tried and failed to do a regular rotation of recipes and just can’t do it, I cook based on my cravings and what’s in the pantry to fulfill said craving.4 years ago

  • The AmerArab Wife: I usually try and do a weekly menu-plan, although there’s not much in the way of a regular rotation…it’s usually whatever I feel like eating that fits into my semi-conscious attempts at providing variety while keeping us balanced in what we eat. This time of year I do a lot of roasted vegetables and soups. A new thing for this fall is experimenting with bulgur pilafs, as I’ve discovered I like bulgur a lot more than rice.4 years ago

  • molly: I have always loved from-the-hip (or the market), ad hoc cooking, made up as I go, and loathed (!!) the idea of a schedule. However. I have a 10 year old who eats almost nothing, and am finally coming around to the wisdom of building a plan — with him involved — and sticking with it. I’m concluding, I think, that I’d rather have a happy dinner than a spontaneous one. Hard, but good.
    Oh, and September? Soups, salads, squash, tomatoes, cusp-ish fare for sure. And apples, apples everywhere!4 years ago

  • J: Turkey meatloaf! It’s so easy and satisfying, and meatloaf is so comforting (the making and the eating) on grey fall days.

    My plan is similar to Kath’s. I have set protein sources for the days, and the recipes change weekly: Meatless Monday, Poultry Tuesday, Beef Wednesday, Leftover Thursday, Fish Friday. I leave the weekends open for recipe and restaurant experiments, and we have salads, stir frys and other quick, light things for dinner. Fresh berries and yogurt with homemade granola, steel-cut oatmeal, whole grain muffins, and French omelets make up the fall breakfast menu.4 years ago

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