Welcome to the Minimalist Foodie Challenge – January! If you’ve just found me, you can read more about the challenge here.
Let’s dive in, shall we? Below you’ll find my 50 food ingredients and 5 beverage selections for January, February and March. Yes, most of my drinks are alcoholic. No, I’m not sorry. (I swear we’re not alcoholics. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll know that Cameron and I
like need to celebrate surviving another week of parenthood with cocktails on Friday nights.)
The Ingredients: Winter 2017 (January – March)
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Minimalist Foodie Challenge – January Meal Plan
Here are my menus for the coming week. Sunday has always been a “kitchen sink” type of day for us, eating leftovers for both breakfast and lunch. So while technically the challenge does run Sunday-Saturday, recipes don’t start until Sunday night.
Meal Plan Notes
Adults vs. Kids Meals are listed as Adult/Kid when I’m serving something different for my big little picky eater. I always swore that I’d never make separate meals for my kids. And all I have to say about that is…hahahahahahaha. Welcome to real life. I often have homemade Tomato Soup for him in the freezer, so you’ll see that listed for him somewhat regularly. It’s quick, easy, and nutritious and he loves it. When he’s really being ornery, he’ll make himself a PBJ and that’s that.
Smoothies I make a green smoothie most days with breakfast, and the Kid has a blueberry spinach smoothie Monday-Friday. It’s a great way to get a vegetable in him first thing in the day, and he (usually) doesn’t complain. They’re not listed below, but they’re always there.
Kid’s School Snack I also don’t list the Kid’s afternoon snack for school, which is always the same – dried fruit and Annie’s Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers. He is a creatute of habit (and of comfort).
Recipes I’ll Blog About
Spinach and Caramelized Onion Quiche
Salmon Grain Bowl
Whole Grain Waffles
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Lunch Leftovers from the week / Mac n’ cheese with Fruit
Dinner Whole Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans with Butter
Notes After dinner, I’ll pick the chicken clean and save the meat for leftovers. Then, I’ll toss the bones into the slow cooker with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and enough filtered water to fill to the top. I set the time to 8 hours, and then repeat that process twice, slow cooking to a gorgeous tender broth for 24 hours. I get about 16 cups of broth. I’ll then strain it through fine mesh sieve, and save into three 4-cup portions and four 1-cup portions and stick in in the freezer.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Breakfast Sweet Potato & Brussels Hash with a Fried Egg / Scrambled Egg
Lunch Leftover Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans / Leftover Mac, Fruit
Dinner Black Bean Soup, Bread / Tomato Soup, Bread
Notes I’ll make a double batch of the Sweet Potato and Brussels hash. This is a bit of a time investment (about 30 minutes total) but can easily be done Sunday night as prep.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Breakfast Oatmeal with Honey and Cream
Lunch Leftover Black Bean Soup, Cheese Quesadilla / Cheese Quesadilla, Fruit
Dinner Spinach and Caramelized Onion Quiche, Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts / Scrambled Eggs, Green Beans
Notes I’ll make about 1.5 lb brussels sprouts, or the equivalent of 6 servings. The Kid doesn’t eat ’em, but the extras will come in handy later in the week.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Breakfast Eggs in a Hole, Leftover Brussels / Scrambled Eggs
Lunch Leftover Quiche / PBJ, Fruit, Cheese
Dinner Keema Beef Curry, Roasted Cauliflower
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Breakfast Sweet Potato & Brussels Hash, Fried Egg / Scrambled Eggs
Lunch Leftover Curry / Hummus, Pita, Fruit, Cheese
Dinner Salmon Quinoa Bowls with Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts and Tahini Dressing / Salmon, Leftover Roasted Potatoes, Fruit
Notes Use your extra brussels from Tuesday night to make this dish just a bit faster.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Breakfast Oatmeal with Honey and Cream
Lunch Leftover Quiche / PBJ, Fruit and Cheese
Dinner Classic American Ground Beef Tacos
Notes The taco filling freezes exceptionally well. Make a double batch and tuck it away for later for a super fast weeknight dinner.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Breakfast Whole Grain Waffles
Lunch Leftover Tacos
Dinner Pasta with Modified Sunday Sauce, Green Beans
Notes The Sunday Sauce recipe is enough for two dinners including leftovers. Freeze half.
Sunday Sauce recipe modifications – don’t make the meatballs. After you’ve cooked the onions and garlic, add 2 lb. ground beef to the pot and cook until browned. Continue onto the deglazing step. To make this even easier, after you’ve deglazed, add the onions, garlic, beef, red wine and all other ingredients to the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours. You can also skip caramelizing the onion and instead cook until they’re soft. It will make the sauce a bit less sweet, but still super yummy.
Cheese, Clementines, Nuts, Hummus and Pita
Most Sundays I’ll roast a whole chicken and use every last bit of it. In future weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes for using the meat, but this week we’re just going to use it for leftovers. Once that bad boy is picked dry, I’ll use the bones to make stock in the slow cooker.
Over the weekend I’ll also prepare homemade bread (bake 1 full loaf, prep one to bake mid-week), pita (enough to last the week, plus a freezer stash), and a pot of Tomato Soup. Lastly, I’ll soak, cook, and freeze a very large batch of black beans, cannellini beans, and chickpeas. The chickpeas will go into homemade hummus for snacking, and the black beans and cannellini beans will go into various meals over the next month.
Notes and Tips for Participants
I’m sharing a few notes and tips to get you started. I’ll have more as the challenge progresses and I “live with it” for awhile. Got questions? I’ll do my best to have answers! Send me a note.
Getting Started. You have your list ready, and you have some recipes you want to try. But you still have some stuff in your fridge or pantry that aren’t challenge-compliant or are about to go bad. What to do? Pause right there. The last thing I want you to do is dump your fridge into the trash and waste perfectly good food. Perhaps wait a week. Or, make smaller dinner portions and use up your current stash for lunch and/or breakfast – most leftovers make a perfectly good breakfast, and when in doubt, slap an egg on it. Whatever you do, don’t throw away food. If you need ideas for using up some ingredients you have laying around, feel free to get in touch and we can brainstorm!
Time, Time, Time, Work, Work, Work. I have the luxury of working from home and some of my recipes reflect that I have a bit more flexibility in my day for scratch cooking. As we move forward, I’ll point out recipes that require more than an hour’s time (from start to finish), and I’ll also make notes of where you can reasonably expect to save time (i.e., using the crockpot instead of the stovetop, prepping the night before, using canned beans instead of dry, etc.). But the beauty of this challenge as it unfolds is that you’ll be able to swap meals out at your convenience because you’re turning to the same basic ingredients time and again. And hey – just because I don’t want to repeat recipes doesn’t mean you can’t.
I will be honest here – the first week of the month will always require just a little bit of extra time. It’s the week I’ll do tasks like soak and cook beans, make extra pastry crusts, or cook a big batch of caramelized onions. It’s a little extra sweat equity up front that pays off big time down the road.
On Making Bread. I’m making my own bread this year. I hear you groaning, and I get it. Look – if baking bread isn’t your thing, you can do one of two things: (1) get with the program, or (2) buy your own bread. I, too, was convinced that baking one’s own bread was onerous drudgery that we washed our hands of thanks to the modern convenience of the grocery store bakery. But I’ve been playing around with some recipes and I gotta say – it can be done, and it can be done without it being a complete time-sucking pain-in-the-ass. The total hands-on time I devote to weekly bread making (2 loaves) is less than an hour, spread into bits and pieces of time throughout the week (even less when I use the “no knead” method).
I recently switched to instant yeast, instead of active, and OMG – it’s the best thing ever. Instant yeast doesn’t require proofing in warm water. You just dump everything into your mixing vessel of choice and get to it. Brilliant. Bread also freezes beautifully, so there’s the option of baking several loaves over a weekend and enjoying them throughout the next month or two. I do just that when I make pita or naan. Bread-making is made infinitely easier with the aid of a food processor (my preference) or stand mixer. Worth their weight in gold, those two.
Here’s my weekly bread-making schedule for a very standard half white/half wheat boule:
Sunday Morning Prepare a double batch of dough using either the food processor or the stand mixer. Divide the dough in half. Leave one half out to rise in the kitchen. Put the other half into a tupperware container with a lid (large enough that the dough can double in size) and put that into the fridge for a slow rise. Total hands on time: about 20 minutes.
Sunday Afternoon Preheat the oven, prepare room temperature dough for a second rise; rise, rest, and bake. Total hands on time: about 15 minutes.
Wednesday Afternoon (or Tuesday night) Preheat the oven, prepare fridge dough for a second rise; rise, rest, and bake. Total hands on time: about 15 minutes.
If you still don’t want to give it a try, I get it. But be a conscientious consumer (and adjust your list accordingly). Head to the bakery section for a fresh loaf or two and pay attention to the ingredients. Be sure you’re only buying bread made with wheat, salt, water, and yeast. Even the “100% Whole Wheat” stuff in the bags has loads of additives and ingredients (especially sugar!).
Pastry Crust. You’ll see the need for savory pastry crust fairly regularly this season. I turn to quiches, tarts and galettes fairly often because they do an excellent job of making winter produce shine. These dishes are also fabulous for leftovers – I can get at least three meals from one quiche. Do yourself a favor and make a huge batch (like, 6 crusts’ worth) then freeze into individual portions. They’ll last about 2 months in the fridge and the next time you need a pastry crust it will be stupid easy to make that happen.
Save Those Scraps! Keep the peels and tops from your carrots, the ends of your celery and leeks, and the bits of onion you would otherwise discard. Scrape ’em into a gallon freezer bag and throw it all into the freezer. In a few weeks, I’m going to experiment with homemade veggie broth and these will be an essential component.
What are your plans for the Minimalist Foodie Challenge this January?!?
LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED! xoxo