This Week’s Menu: A Glimpse Into the Future

Our Hunan “chili girls” all love spicy mapo tofu

With YaYu gone to China for the next two weeks, and WenYu working almost every day (they feed her at work), it will be just Brett and I at the dinner table most evenings. This will be our first look at what it will be like to cook for just the two of us, and we’re interested in seeing not only how many leftovers there are, but how quickly they get eaten.

I have repeatedly told Brett that once the girls are out on their own that I’d like to take a break, that even though I enjoy cooking I want some time off. I’m hoping though that I’ll be able to find a happy medium between cooking some things at home and supplementing our menu with prepared foods from the market or deli, all while still staying within our budget.

My spiralizer arrived! I am eager to try it out, and there was a tasty recipe for a cold noodles salad in the little book that came with the gadget, so we’re going to try that this week. Brett told me he wants to swap out spaghetti for zoodles right along with me, but I’ll still have to fix pasta for the girls. Our egg dinner is getting switched to Monday so that we can have one of Brett’s favorites for Father’s Day: burgers and fries.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Pad Thai with chicken; cucumbers (just chicken and cucumbers for me)
  • Wednesday: Cold vegetable noodle salad with sesame-peanut sauce
  • Thursday: Grilled beef Polish sausages; sauerkraut; coleslaw
  • Friday: Mapo tofu; steamed rice; cucumbers
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday (Father’s Day): Grilled hamburgers; French fries; wilted cucumber pickles
  • Monday: Baked chili rellenos; yellow rice; grilled zucchini

We’ll be picking up lots of zucchini at the farmers’ market this week, as well as cucumbers, daikon radish, tomatoes, mint (for mojitos), mangoes and papaya. Locally grown pineapples are showing up now, so we may get one of those if we can find an affordable one.

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13 thoughts on “This Week’s Menu: A Glimpse Into the Future

  1. Erica says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting a spiralizer. Which one did you get? I’d love to hear whether you think it’s a decent one.

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    • Laura says:

      I got a small, hand-held one made by OXO – Good Grips. We wanted one that we could pack for travel as we often stay in places where we cook our own meals. I’ll have a review next week!

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  2. Snoskred says:

    We’ve just done the total opposite here – switching to almost no prepared foods at all due to the other half having a low tolerance for sodium and experiencing high blood pressure issues.

    When we discovered that back in December and then began to really look at the food labels and just how much salt was in everything we used to eat.. well, that did not leave us a lot in the way of options if we wanted to keep his sodium down to less than one gram a day. Some of our meals were double or triple that in just one meal! EG tacos were 3.6g of salt in just the seasoning mix alone!!!

    We have switched to a more standardised 7 day meal plan, eg if it is Wednesday we are having fish and chips, Friday is pizza night and the left over pizza gets eaten Saturday, it is a roast on Sunday, that kind of thing. Some of the nights are super simple meals like omelettes or soup with home made garlic bread. Nibblies can be a meal if it is too hot to cook in summer eg olives, cheese and crackers, dips, etc. I make one batch of lunches on Sunday that last the week for the other half.

    We’ve done very well in our goal of reducing salt – in fact we reduced it too much for me at one point. Now I have to make sure to add it back in for myself once the cooking is done otherwise my BP goes too low.

    So the one thing I would say to you as you prepare to make this change – read the labels because there is a heck of a lot of sodium and various other things hiding in there these days. I do not know exactly what your food labels look like – Costco covers over them with Aussie labels – ours are required to list things like sugar and salt with the exact amount I will consume per serve.

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    • Laura says:

      We were super impressed by the amount and quality of the prepared foods in Japanese markets when we were there in March, and it’s what gave me the idea. Actually, my D-I-L, like many Japanese housewives, often adds prepared items to their dinner menu (they tend to prepare several small dishes rather than a couple of large items, like we do), and that’s what got me thinking more about it. You’re correct though about the salt, etc. – we would probably avoid things from the freezer section, and from Costco as well because there are too many starches, and go for leaner meats and salads and stuff like that.

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  3. Isabella says:

    Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog and have enjoyed reading through the archives. You have made a lovely life for yourselves in retirement. Our four children have flown the nest, and it does make a difference in meal prep. I still cook a lot of family favorites (and have always been a from scratch cook) but often have extras to freeze for another meal. Also, occasionally, if I really don’t feel like cooking, I just don’t! My husband is perfectly capable of making some poached eggs on toast. It’s not like having young children, and you absolutely must cook. But that is when those frozen meals are handy too. The one thing I have given up almost for good, though, is baking. I love to bake, but we just don’t need the extra calories. Sometimes I will make tapioca pudding, a favorite with us.

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    • Laura says:

      I’m so happy you found the blog and have been enjoying it!

      It took me quite a while to downsize my cooking when our oldest daughter left for the mainland, and I don’t think I’m still getting it right with just one at home most of the year. But, the leftovers are nice and YaYu usually takes them for her lunch during the school year.

      I will probably always be a planner, but prices here make it difficult to shop more frequently than once a month – bulk buying at Costco is the way to keep costs down. So, it’s going to take some thought and time to transition to less cooking and meals for two.

      I used to love to bake too, but it’s just too darn hot here. And I can’t have the starches now either.

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  4. UnwrittenLifeBlog says:

    Noah is on his way to Oahu this morning with his Steel Drum class! They will be playing at three different venues, including outside of Pearl Harbor. They were hoping to be inside but security was recently changed.

    My daughter moved out last month, so I’m grocery shopping just for me (Jim shops for Noah and himself). I’m a pretty cheap date! Plus, I can now buy more interesting and expensive items and still stay on a budget, and my leftovers don’t disappear when I pack my lunch in the morning!

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    • Laura says:

      Congrats to Noah – you know he’s going to have a fantastic time. The weather on Oahu is always better than it is here too.

      I think our diet will be a bit more varied once YaYu moves out – she is probably our pickiest eater, and can’t have dairy. Brett and I are looking forward to being a bit more adventurous!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurel says:

    I’m also interested in your experience with a spiralizer. They look complex to me. Are they difficult to use? My SIL had one on her BD gift list last year and she loves it. I’m hesitant, though they look like they’d be great. Just wondering about the work level involved, I guess. Are they hard to clean, etc.?

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  6. MaryAnn says:

    I totally agree that I like having a day off of planning to cook, cooking and cleaning up. But we go out very rarely because of the high sodium and high fat in prepared food and most restaurant food. We have a few favorite restaurants we go to infrequently. Money is not the issue, health is the issue.

    Spiralizer is marvelous. I use pasta recipes and just substitute zucchini. I always cook the zucchini separately. Roasting the zucchini in the oven for a short time makes it a little drier. I bought a very simple hand one and used it so much, I bought a medium price one that sits on the counter with a handle.

    Love your blog

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    • Laura says:

      We rarely go out to eat these days, but enjoy ourselves when we do. I try not to think about fats, salt, etc. and only eat a small amount these days. Of course I look at the cost and always tell myself I could make it for less, but that’s not the point, is it?

      Thanks for the tip on roasting the zucchini spirals – I’ve heard to cook them a little in the microwave first, but the roasting actually sounds tastier. Anything but raw – I have just never warmed to raw zucchini. The spiralizer I bought is a hand-held one – we wanted something that could go in our suitcase when we travel because we often cook our own meals when we’re on the road.

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      • Snoskred says:

        Because I cannot have much in the way of “white foods” anymore, on Wednesdays while the other half gets piles of chunky cut potato chips parboiled and then cooked in the oven, I do sweet potato and zucchini chips for myself.

        The zucchini ones were inspired by a burger joint that makes zucchini chips though theirs are deep fried. I just slice up the zucchini, lay them on a baking tray, and then add a little parmesan. Less parmesan than I would like as I am sensitive to dairy these days. I might try adding some cornflake crumbs this week. That place has now added crumbed avocado chips so that will be my next challenge to recreate somehow.

        I am just imagining spiralised zucchini roasted with some parmesan and now I think maybe I better buy me one of those spiralisers too.. 🙂

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