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Menu Plan Monday – June 11 edition

Remember how I made a tilapia parmesan a few weeks ago? It was good – and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t eat fish. It was so good that I had two helpings at dinner and then ate the leftovers for lunch. Yum! That one is definitely going into the regular rotation, especially during the summer months.

In other dinner-related news, I’ve recently found frozen prepared meats (roast brisket, beef ribs) that taste amazing and are actually cheaper than buying the same meat raw. Weird… how do they do that? Anyhow, it’s nice to have a few of those in the freezer for days when I don’t feel like actually cooking.

I need to do a huge grocery shop this week – in a few minutes I’ll be going upstairs to inventory my pantry and fridge – so the menu planning will be fast and furious, followed by the customary Making of Lists.

Here’s what’s for dinner this week:

Monday – (Mr. December works late, no dinner for him) Picnic in the park! Falafel sandwiches (will probably pack ingredients separately and assemble when we are ready to eat), fresh fruit (watermelon?), homemade lemonade to drink.

Tuesday – Beef ribs (prepared freezer food!), mashed potatoes, green peas

Wednesday – Tilapia Parmesan (yum!) over whole-wheat linguine

Thursday – Taco night

Friday – Stuffed schnitzel roll-ups, rice, broccoli, challah, Israeli salad, fruit for dessert

Saturday – Coldcut sandwiches

Sunday – BBQ… hot dogs and burgers on (homemade?) buns

Monday – Picnic in the park!

… and that’s it. But readers, I’m curious. How do you organize your shopping list and meal planning? Tell me, do tell…

Not sure what to make for dinner? Get some ideas over at Menu Plan Monday!

Jewy goodness · parenting · what's cookin' · whine and cheese

Just Sweet and Jewy?

First my infertility cred goes down the toilet, and now this… I’ve come to the realization that I’m just not that crunchy. Either that, or I’m somehow hanging out with a very crunchy crowd.

Yes, I’m a fan of cloth diapering, and I have a compost pile in the back. I grow my own vegetables and I replace car trips with bike trips. I feed my kids “real food” (by my standards, that means “not chicken nuggets and no handi-snacks.”) And yet I’m just not crunchy enough, and I’m finally self-aware enough to understand why that bothers me.

The catalyst for all this crunchiness-related navelgazing was, oddly enough, our synagogue. We have a food committee that recently created our new food policy: that food served at synagogue should be (whenever possible) organic, local, sustainable, and healthy. Anyhow, this has drastically changed the food that gets served at our shul’s kiddush luncheon. In my opinion the food is delicious, but kid-friendly it’s not.

So I mentioned this to someone on the committee. I suggested that maybe the caterer could just make a pot of Wacky Mac (the kosher equivalent of Kraft Dinner) for the little kids. She responded flatly that it would never happen and I said, “but it’s what little kids like to eat!” It is, right? Wrong.

And here enters my defensiveness. The response that there are “lots” of children who love tofu, quinoa, and raw bok choy instantly raised my hackles. She said, “lots of kids like this kind of food,” but I heard, “lots of kids, with parents better than you, like this kind of food.”

I feel like I’m hearing that kind of thing a lot these days. “Good parents don’t let their kids drink juice [ever?]”. “Good parents don’t feed their kids white flour and refined sugar.” Really? Since when are juice and cookies the dietary equivalent of rat poison?

(In order to spare myself the inevitable lectures, yes, I understand what sugar does to insulin levels and the pancreas. And yes, I understand that whole grains are much better than refined. And yes, I know that juice, cookies, and white flour are by no means essential to human survival.)

It’s interesting to me that the comments at which I take umbrage are directly relevant to my kids. The ones about foods we don’t eat either pass me by, or I really agree with them… like not serving tuna fish because of overfishing and the entrapment of other animals. Or serving fewer eggs because eggs from truly free-range chickens are more expensive than our shul can afford. I’m fine with those. But today there was an article in our shul e-mail about why refined grains are bad and we’ll only see whole grain products at kiddush, and my first thought was, “why is it the shul’s business to police what we should or shouldn’t be putting in our bodies?”

See? I get defensive. Also a bit belligerent. I mean, I personally think that if there’s ever a time to eat sweets and rare treats like juice, it’s Shabbat. If other parents don’t want to let their kids drink juice, then don’t give them the juice. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the drink table. Just learn to say no. Parent your child!

(see? the judgment goes both ways.)

I’d like to posit that this overemphasis on feeding kids only the purest food is, for many, a parenting issue, not a health issue. Parenting is tough. Really, really, really tough. You can do your best to teach your kids values and appropriate behaviour, and they still might not demonstrate those when they grow up. But we can absolutely, completely control what we feed our children and their resulting physical health says, “see? these parents did a Good Job!”

Parents, listen up. You ARE doing a Good Job. Whether you feed your kids organic quinoa or flourescent cheese-flavoured rat poison macaroni, you’re feeding your kids. (Look, if you’re starving your kids, you’re not doing a good job. Just so you know.) They’re growing. You’re teaching them some values. You’re raising them to function in your society. You’re Good Parents. Most parents are.

I’m trying, really trying, to remember that this is my baggage, not everyone else’s. I’m trying to remember not to roll my eyes when another parent crows about not serving juice at a birthday party and how none of the kids asked for it (do you remember childhood? Most birthday parties I attended offered pop (soda for you Americans) as a once-in-a-while treat!) I’m trying, but I don’t always succeed. And sometimes I’m not sure I want to.

Because honestly, does the whole “no juice, no sugar, no refined grains” thing seem a bit… preachy… to you? As if we can’t trust parents to provide certain treats in moderation?

Please comment. I want to know what you think.

el cheapo · Jewy goodness · Menu plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday – March 12 Edition

Here we go, the four-week slide into Passover. This month is all about using up everything in the house, since my goal is a kitchen free of leavened stuff, legumes, rice, and grains. I’m hoping it’ll be a cheaper month, too (more on how I’m achieving that in a future post.)

So, what do we eat? Here goes…

Monday: Vegetarian shepherd’s pie (using up leftover mashed potatoes)

Tuesday: Vegetarian tacos with tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and guac

Wednesday: Cream of mushroom soup (using up leftover sauteed mushrooms), homemade biscuits, broccoli

Thursday: Stir-fried chicken and peppers with rice 

Friday (guests for dinner – 4 adults and 4 kids plus us):Challah, chicken soup with noodles, brisket (from the freezer), baked chicken, saffron rice, roasted carrots, broccoli, fruit, and banana bread.

Saturday: Leftovers from Friday

Sunday: Spinach quiche (from the freezer), challah buns

Monday: Pasta with meatless sauce

Wow. The only thing I’ll actually have to buy is tomatoes, and maybe some fruit if we run out.

So, what are you eating for dinner this week? Stumped? Check out some of the other Menu Plan Monday posts for inspiration!