A Menu Plan Monday on Monday! Can you imagine it!?
As usual, my first job to get ready to do my MP is to gather my 'troops'... The various different resources I use for meal inspiration. When I first started menu planning I would find myself repeating the same 10 or so recipes. It wasn't long before this got pretty old and I either had to expand my horizons or risk a boredom induced abandonment of menu planning!
Not only did seeking out new meal ideas and recipes increase my love of cooking, it also meant that I discovered new foods I had never heard of before, let alone eaten and it made me more confident in creating my own little kitchen experiments!
Here is my go-to list of menu planning helpers that I call on each week -
About 1/4 of my collection...
An oldie but a goodie. I have developed a bit of a cook book collecting hobby over the years! I love nothing more than scanning book stores for a recipe tome I haven't seen before, buying it and bringing it home to join its book friends on my already full pantry shelf! My favourite books to buy are the ones that are vegan (obviously) but also encompass a wide range of courses and cuisines in the one volume. It will take a pretty good cook book to make me hand over the cash if it focuses on one thing ie. Desserts, Indian food etc. For that, I head to the library! Where else can you access a huge range of books, all for free, which allow you to 'try before you buy'?! I've saved many a pretty penny on books this way!
Real Living - August 2012 issue
This isn't just about those fancy looking cooking magazines that often reference things like truffle oil and caviar! In fact, I rarely even pick one of those up. I've found that everything from health & fitness and home magazines, through to the trashy weeklies and even daily newspapers can hold some real gems in their cooking and food sections! You may be able to do the sneaky 'tear and keep' or, if you want to keep the pages intact, do what I do and use your camera or phone to take a picture of the recipe and refer back to it later!
Blog-land is filled with so many talented and undiscovered home cooks sharing their wisdom and recipes! I can't even remember how I happened upon most of the food blogs I follow but I'm sure glad I did! If you have a particular food requirement/preference - gluten-free, vegetarian, low-fat - a Google search is a great way to start discovering culinary blogging superstars that suit your needs. I've found that once you discover one, you will just naturally happen across about a thousand more and before you know it you have more blogs to check and recipes to make than you can poke a stick at! The pictures tend to be pretty stunning too!
My Pinterest Food Boards!
I've only started using Pinterest in the last twelve months and for the first six of those it was mostly about pinning funny pictures and inspiring quotes! Then I discovered that it was the perfect place to hoard all of the recipes I was discovering on the interwebs while also having other people go out and find inspiration for me! I could literally get lost on Pinterest for hours pinning more recipes than I could ever hope to make in one lifetime!
(there's one in there!)
I hate to admit it but I think about food as much as a teenage boy thinks about... Well... You know! Thankfully, my preoccupation with food thoughts is a little less socially awkward than that! It also means that I find myself coming up with plans for new recipes or ideas on how to tweak old favourites. For a very long time I wasn't confident enough in my skills to actually put these thoughts into action but the more I cook and understand the exciting world of food, flavour and texture combinations, the more I am enjoying these kitchen experiments! I tend to save these meals for the weekends when I have more time to play... and more time to come up with a Plan B if things don't go so well!!
For this week's menu plan I used all of these sources and I've gone ahead a noted this on the menu plan below!
On the menu this week...
Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili - From Milk Free Mom found via Pinterest
Sesame-Baked Tofu with Cashews and Broccoli - From Ripe from Around Here
with Brown Rice and Steamed Bok Choi
Ratatouille with White Beans (1/2 Recipe) - From The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen (Library Lend)
Wholewheat Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes, Refried Beans and Spinach - Kitchen Experiment!
with Garden Salad
Faki (Greek Vegetable & Lentil Soup) - From Real Living Magazine : August 2012
Herb Garden Biscuits (1/2 Recipe) - From Ripe from Around Here
Black Eyed Pea & Mung Bean Stew - From Vegan Richa (blog)
I'd Like To Know...
Where do you get your meal ideas/inspiration?
Feel free to share the love and link to your favourites if they are online!