On the Menu: Option Overload

Meal planning this weekend reminded me of why it is that I hate meal planning: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. I mean, there’s basically a billion possible dinner options and we’re supposed to narrow it down to 5 to 7 meals at most? It’s option overload, and ironically makes me feel like there’s nothing to put on the menu because I just can’t decide on anything.

Since I’ve started this weekly habit of meal planning I’ve also reconnected with my love of Pinterest, which was on overdrive early last year but fizzled out as work got busier and busier over the second half of 2014. While Pinterest is great fun and incredibly inspiring for my meal planning mandate, the plethora of possibilities on there is equally overwhelming… to the point of insanity. OK, that’s an exaggeration… but it definitely doesn’t help that I’m indecisive and like to torture myself by piling on more options every time I binge pin.

All of this is to say, it took a lot longer to decide on the menu this week. Regardless, I’m pretty happy with the final plan and I think next week I’ll set a time limit for my planning so I force myself to make quick decisions, and to not angst as much about how repetitive the selection feels. (So much chicken! So much rice!)


Sunday Food Party: To satisfy my Pinterest crazies, I’m trying several new recipes – all Asian, all hopefully future staples. For lunch, I made this Thai Tuna Salad which I planned to eat on top of crackers, but instead scarfed straight out of the bowl before taking Lily dog for a walk. Yum. I’ll be able to eat this for lunch during the week and I’m also in the middle of making this Spicy Sriracha Ramen Noodle Soup to go with the salad. It smells amazing and will make a lovely mid-afternoon snack in about 20 minutes!

For dinner, Asian Beef with Mushrooms and Snow Peas. The recipe sounds pretty close to our favourite Beef and Broccoli, but it will be nice to have some different vegetables in the mix. As a side to the beef, we’re trying out this “Better Than Takout” Chicken Fried Rice. My plan is to roast the chicken breasts while I prep the other ingredients for dinner and/or while I’m eating my noodle soup. The rice apparently serves 8, which is perfect as the leftovers will be good the following night when we have…

Monday: Chinese Hamburgers – stir fried ground beef served in iceberg lettuce leaves with a sauce made from equal parts hoisin and honey. This is yet another meal appropriated from my childhood, and I love it for being so easy and so tasty. We cook a couple onions and garlic in a frying pan, then add ground beef, cook until browned, season with soy sauce… that’s it. Usually we’ll have some white rice on the side but the plan this week is to enjoy our leftover Chicken Fried Rice instead. 

Tuesday: Chili Spaghetti Squash. A couple weeks ago I made and froze a huge batch of my mom’s classic chili recipe. I’m going to roast a spaghetti squash (sliced in half, seeds scooped out, cut side facing down on a cooking sheet doused with a bit of olive oil, cooked in the oven at 375°F for 45 minutes) while I reheat the chili on the stovetop. Once the squash is cooked, I’ll use a fork to scrape all the stringy spaghetti in its shell and scoop some chili right on top.

Wednesday: One-Pot Chicken, Beans, and Rice. I made this recipe once and LOVED it, so I’m really excited to try it again. I like that this starts with some quick action on the stovetop and ends with a long break in the oven; when I get home from work I’ll get this into the oven right away and then I can relax while everything cooks for an hour. Mmmmm.

Thursday: Leftovers or Scavenging. I suspect that there will be lots of leftovers in the fridge from the first half of the week so I’m leaving Thursday open for improvising. Worst case I can throw together a pasta with olives, sun dried tomatoes, shallots, and whatever random goods I can find in my fridge / cupboards.

Friday: The old Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice. Whenever I ask my man what he wants to put on the menu for the week, he chooses this one about 9.9999999 times out of 10. Not surprising – he likes to make it, and I like to eat it. It’s an easy choice, and even though it feels a tad repetitive, he somehow makes it a little different each time. (He’s great in the kitchen that way – no recipes, just throwing in whatever we have, like onions and wine or a bit of beer and spiced salt.)

And now I must go – the smell of my spicy soup is calling me to the stovetop…



  1. Pingback: On the Menu: Simplified Planning | This is an adventure.
  2. Pingback: On the Menu: Penny Pinchers | This is an adventure.

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