Friday, June 10, 2011

Succeeding with Traditional Foods...One Menu at a Time

Edited: I've added this to Simple Lives Thursday, so here's a lovely banner to look at. Also, check out GNOWFGLINS, they're pretty amazing over there.


As previously stated we're slowly transitioning to a Traditional Foods Diet. Yes, it's capitalized. All diets are in caps nowadays, doncha know. But eating in a traditional way can be very time consuming. It is slow food at its most lethargic. All grains must be soaked, sprouted, or soured before use. All beans must be soaked or sprouted. Dairy should ideally be fermented. Many vegetables should be fermented. Bone broths should be cooked for 48-72 hours.

Who has time for all this? Having been born as a Sidetrack Home Executive I just don't have the memory for anything. As the saying goes, if it weren't screwed on I would lose my head. I forget things nearly instantaneously. So how am I supposed to keep track of everything I need to do to feed my family this way?

Yesterday I sat down and wrote out a two week (plus two days to finish this week) menu. I am not a menu lady. I've always just created dishes from what's in my fridge. The hardest part for me was trying to think of what to eat. So taking a hint from the book "Simplicity Parenting" I assigned each day what would best be described as a theme. My themes were ingredients used. Some people use cuisine as their themes. So here's my week:

Sunday: Typical Sunday meal (meat, potatoes, vegetables, maybe dessert)
Monday: Pasta
Tuesday: Bread/Potatoes
Wednesday: Beans
Thursday: Rice
Friday: Soup
Saturday: Casserole

This made thinking of meals much easier for me. I can look at my theme and think of a recipe that fits that day. It also welcomes a lot of crossover. For example, we love dahl in our home. Dahl could work for my rice day or my bean day. Chicken noodle soup could be soup or pasta. Also, since we still love our vegetarian food these themes can easily accommodate both styles of eating.

I then broke down the recipe and noted what needed to be prepped ahead of time. Working with my dahl recipe I would prefer to soak my rice and sprout my lentils. If I wanted to make flat bread from scratch I would need to plan to use sprouted flour, soak my flour, or use a sourdough starter. If I wanted to use stock to cook my lentils I need to be sure to have that on hand.

I wrote out my menu on a calendar. Okay, it wasn't an actual calendar, it was just a sheet of paper split into thirds and then eighths. I wrote each meal into the appropriate day. Then I figured out what needed advanced prepping and how far in advance to start it. I noted on the correct day when to start preparations. The theory is before I go to bed I can quickly look at my plan and take care of those things that need some TLC.

This also helps with shopping. I'm able to look to my freezer, pantry, and garden and see what I have on hand. Since I'm only doing two weeks at a time I can generally predict what my garden will have ready for me. Also, I relegate a lot of our produce to side dishes, so in case things ripen sooner or later I can just move those around.

So here's my menu. Sorry for the horrible format, if I knew how to put a table in here I would.

Sunday: sliced beef tongue, mashed turnips and potatoes
Prep work: Save half the tongue for later in the week, freeze tongue simmering stock, soak black beans, soak cashews

Monday: mac 'n' cheeze with nutritional yeast/cashew cheeze sauce, steamed broccoli
Prep work: double the sauce, save half, thaw pumpkin, sprout previously soaked black beans, soak lentils

Tuesday: baked potatoes with all the fixin's, including the leftover cheeze sauce
Prep Work: sprout lentils and black beans, soak cornbread batter

Wednesday: black bean chili with roasted poblano peppers, cornbread
Prep Work: soak black beans, sprout lentils, prepare lacto-fermented salsa, soak rice

Thursday: pumpkin dahl served over rice, cumin carrots
Prep Work: sprout black beans, make sourdough bread if feeling ambitious

Friday: tongue stew using leftover stock, bread
Prep Work: continue salsa, thaw beef heart, soak rice, sprout black beans

Saturday: black bean and rice enchiladas served with LF salsa, salad
Prep Work: none!

Sunday: half a heart, stuffed, served with gravy, roasted root veggies
Prep Work: soak pinto beans, soak mung beans, save rest of heart for later

Monday: goulash made with TVP*, corn
Prep Work: sprout pinto and mung beans, soak or sour pizza dough

Tuesday: pizza, Greek-style green beans
Prep Work: sprout mung and pinto beans, soak cornbread batter, start a crock pot of bone stock

Wednesday: baked pinto beans, cornbread
Prep Work: sprout mung beans, soak rice, continue stock, thaw some liver

Thursday: heart stir fry over liver rice, miso soup with nori
Prep Work: stock, soak or sour bread if ambitious

Friday: Split pea soup with bacon, bread
Prep Work: soak rice, make yogurt

Saturday: chicken poppy seed casserole modified to keep yogurt alive, served over rice with salad or another green
Prep Work: None, haven't planned that far in advance yet.

A few more loose ends and then I'll post this mammoth. I usually don't do side dishes, I am the queen of one-pot meals. I'm trying to rectify this, so if the menu seems skimpy to you, sorry. Also, I'm not planning for lunches or breakfasts. Breakfast is easy, lunch can be leftovers or sandwiches.

I want to incorporate a baking day into all of this so that I'm not attempting to make all my bread right before the meal. I also want to start making my own Traditional Foods approved pasta, this recipe for sourdough noodles should do the trick nicely. Since I love to hoard my eggs for breakfast or smoothies I'll probably use flax meal for my eggs as outlined in this recipe.

Feel free to steal my menu, I hope it helps you out. And if my family is wondering how I'm going to modify The Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole, well, this is what I had in mind. I was thinking of poaching the chicken to keep it moist, then warming the sauce separately, using yogurt instead of sour cream. Combine the sauce with the chicken. Then I was going to add the buttery cracker/poppy seed combo sprinkled on top.

Okay! Time to put this behemoth to rest. Goodnight, Buffalo Gals.

*Disclaimer: I've noticed a lot of new traffic to this post. Welcome! I wanted to explain the presence of TVP on my menu. I know that TVP is basically a frankenfood, but I have quite a bit left over from my vegan days and I hate to waste food. Also, The Hubby rather likes it, so I feel eating it once or twice a month is perfectly fine for our family.


  1. I've been wondering where you were, since you've been posting such nice stuff on mine! I have seen two butterflies tutorial, her cardi is gorgeous, but no, mine is just a tied scarf ... I've dabbled in traditional foods some - try to soak my (gluten free) grains, always soak my beans ahead of time, etc. loads of fresh stuff. Not so good on the pastured meats. It's a budget issue for sure.

    BTW, your dream is hilarious. All I can say is you must have had a lot on your mind! wow.

    oh, my water kefir seems to be tasting weird. Any ideas? I think the grains might have gone "off" while we were in Penna for 10 days.... Poop.

  2. Well, I know on those rare occasions when I actually plan menus it sure makes my life a hold lot easier; especially the grocery shopping. It's amazing how much food you can prepare (with the help of staples in the cupboard) for not a lot of money when you actually just follow a menu.