Meal planning and a supper of squash soup

Oh little neglected blog… how I’ve missed you.

It’s been one of those months when too many things have been crammed into too few days.  And updating the blog has fallen off my to-do list.  But, I’m back!  (More to come about my recent travels and conferences.)

I came to the realization this weekend that the only thing I had cooked in over two weeks was spaghetti.  All the other meals were in restaurants and at conferences.  Though fun for a while, I’ve definitely been missing my kitchen.  So, the theme of today’s post is getting back on the homemade local food wagon.

Friday night, in a moment of inspiration I made a meal plan for the week.  I love meal plans.  And I hadn’t done one in ages.  Here’s how I meal plan:

First, I take a peek at my schedule and my partner’s schedule and figure out how many nights we’ll actually be home for dinner.  On any given week, I generally plan 4-6 suppers.  This leaves space for nights when we have dinner with friends, go out to eat, have a sudden craving for something that’s not on the list, or simply want to make spaghetti or grilled cheese sandwiches (these are my go-to meals, for nights when I don’t feel like cooking).

On the meal plan this week:
– Squash soup with roasted vegetables
– Minestrone with either roasted vegetables or a winter salad of grated beets & cabbage
– Homemade pizza
Quinoa salad with peanut sauce

I choose meals based on what ingredients are already in the house and what’s in season.  And I cook enough so that we have leftovers for lunch the next day.  In the case of soups, I often make enough that we can freeze some for a later date.

So, last night was squash soup and roasted veggies.  I don’t have a recipe per se, but here’s the general method:

Step 1: Roast the squash.  (I did this earlier in the day using Alison’s method.)

Step 2: Peel (if necessary) and chop root veggies.  I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and turnip last night.  You could throw in onions, garlic, squash, rutabaga, carrots, or parsnips.  Whatever you like!  Drizzle with oil and roast at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Stir occasionally.

Step 3.  While the veggies are roasting, make the soup.  Chop up an onion.  Saute for 5 minutes or until soft.  I like to add carrots to my squash soup, and sometimes sweet potatoes, apples, or pears.  It’s flexible, so add in what you like.  When the onions are soft, add the veggies above, as well as a couple cloves of garlic (chopped), some ginger (a tbsp or so), a dash of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Also add salt and pepper. You may need to add some water at this point, so the veggies don’t stick to the bottom.  When the carrots have softened, add the roasted squash.  Simmer the soup and stir frequently.  It’s probably quite thick, so add some water or stock.  At this stage, it’s generally the consistency of apple sauce.

Step 4: When the vegetables are soft, blend the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender.  Return to pot and add at least a half a can of coconut milk (sometimes I’ll add a full can, if the squash was large).  Taste to adjust seasonings.  I like this soup very ginger-y.  Sometimes I add a little maple syrup to sweeten.

By this point, the roasted vegetables should be just about done.

Voila! Dinner is served.

How do you plan your meals?  What’s on the menu for this week?

2 thoughts on “Meal planning and a supper of squash soup

  1. People have been commenting over on facebook. Here’s what they are saying:
    John writes: “MMMmmmnn….squash soup rocks! And squash pies!”

    And Alison shared her tips: “Squash soup! What a lovely inspiration – I’ll going to have to make some this week.
    My favourite way make squash (or sweet potato, or carrot) soup pretty much the same method – but I like to spice it up with lime, chipotle and cilantro.”

  2. we definitely plan our meals. that makes shopping at the market on saturday morning SO much easier. and, if mid-week we decide we’d rather not have something that we had initially planned, we always have a pre-made meal from Jenna Durling (Little Red Kitsch’n at the Seaport Market) in the freezer.

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