Menu for November 25-December 2; Planning ahead for vacation

In three weeks, I'm headed on vacation for three weeks to see blood- and chosen-family over the holidays. Mr. Moon will at that point be committing to commuting 13 miles each way by bike to work for what will presumably be 3 days a week if the schedule stays roughly the same, and so I'm anticipating he will be low on energy and definitely lower on time than we have right now. So we are spending these next three weeks planning ahead so that the meals while I'm gone are taken care of. Freezer meals that can be re-heated in the crockpot and oven as soups and casseroles, mostly. Things that even on the worst days, anyone can pull out and cook with less effort than picking up take-out. And only a couple that will require prepping sides to go with.

Rather than make it more difficult on ourselves, it means that over the next couple weeks we will also be having some of these items for dinner. But it's a switch in thinking that I'd like to get everyone else used to doing, so that beyond the two "On Your Own" nights a week we will also have at least one or two easy freezer meals a week. I feel like I've been saying this since March, but it's starting to come together.
Vacation menu plan is presumably set up as weekly menus, but it's going to be pretty much done ahead of time so that they can mix them up as desired according to Mr. Moon's work schedule.

Week 1: 

  • Broccoli Mac; pull out of freezer, bake until hot. 
  • Split pea soup; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot.
  • Meat Loaf; pull out of freezer, bake until hot, make sides to go with; should be enough for a couple leftover sandwiches for lunches. 
  • Baked Potato Soup; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot. Have some cheese grated, top with bacon bits and sour cream. 
  • Spaghetti night!--Mom doesn't mind boiling pasta and heating up sauce except her very worst days, so a little labor is OK. 

Week 2:

  • Chicken Stew; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot; maybe mix up some biscuit mix and drop in dumplings for the last two hours, maybe thaw out completely and dump in a pie crust if they feel like homemade pot pies, but also easily done as simply a stew. 
  • Mushroom barley soup; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot. 
  • Corn beef; quarter a head of cabbage, chunk some potatoes, dump in some carrots, drop the corned beef on top and cover with water, cook on low for 6-8 hours--so, a little more labor-intensive the day of, but still something Mr. Moon can throw in before work and have ready for dinner time even if he's not here. 
  • Sloppy Joe; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot. 
  • "Spaghetti" night, though they'll probably end up switching up the pasta and maybe even the sauce. I'm making sure to have an alfredo sauce available for them if desired, and there will be bags of shredded chicken available so it won't be any more work to make chicken alfredo than regular spaghetti. 

Week 3:

  • Broccoli Chicken & Rice; a make-ahead or day of, but not frozen casserole; toss in some rice, diced onion, cheese, mushroom soup, broccoli, shredded chicken, stir, top with cheese. Bake until bubbly. 
  • Cottage Pie; shepherd's pie with beef, pull from freezer and bake until hot. 
  • Meat loaf; pull from freezer and bake until hot, add sides. 
  • Clam chowder; pull out of freezer, dump in crockpot on low, eat when hot. 
  • Spaghetti night!

And then two "on your own" nights each week. All of this requires a bit of prep ahead of time, which we're doing over this week and next.
On the menu for this week:

Breakfasts: Peppered eggs, recipe to follow this week!, egg sandwiches, smoothies; we are making a hashbrown crockpot casserole for Sunday brunch, since the game is early and we're not hosting this week so we wanted something we could wake up and throw in the car and would be ready when we got there. Recipe to follow this week!

Lunches: Quesadillas, tuna melts, pasta salad, turkey sandwiches, and at least one day I'm making a kale ceasar salad because I have all the ingredients and I'm craving it.

Monday: We didn't have the menu put together because Sunday was a rough day and then I spent the day in the ER with an asthma attack, so everyone just kind of had leftovers. We finished up the rest of Thanksgiving stuff with a bowl of ramen noodles which really helped loosen my chest up.

Tuesday: Broccoli Mac & Cheese, the last one in the freezer; we will have to have this again soon so I can make an extra batch or two for the vacation plan.

  • Food prep day, postponed from Monday: chop veggies for snacks, pickle zucchini, put away a lot of dried bulk goods from stocking up, roast a chicken; pasta salad? 

Wednesday: Meatloaf; it's food prep day, so we are making three meat loafs; one for dinner, two for vacation. We may even get crazy and make a bunch of mashed potatoes to freeze, because we bought a 50 lbs box of potatoes for $4 the week of Thanksgiving. Steamed broccoli as a side.

  • Food Prep day! Extra meat loaf; orange slaw for Friday; chop tomatoes for Friday; pull chicken, make stock out of bones; chop potatoes for clam chowder on Saturday; dice a bunch of onions and freeze; soak beans for rice & beans; make kombucha; start sourdough. 

Thursday: On Your Own night; something easy, maybe ramen or the last box of mac & cheese. Mr. Moon will probably have leftovers.

Friday: Fish Tacos with beans & rice.

Saturday: Clam Chowder in the crockpot, using up salmon stock from the freezer; freeze some for vacation.
* Tip: Lots of recipes these days suggest substituting milk for the cream in traditional recipes, in an effort to cut the fat. You can just as easily use less cream and dilute with water or stock of some kind to get the same flavor as milk, but cream won't curdle if you get it too hot the way milk does. 
Sunday: On Your Own night; If there aren't leftovers to eat, there's always stuff around for chips & dip, or pork ribs.


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