De Ma Cuisine

menu planning Archive



July 2020



Feeding Myself

Written by , Posted in Burlap & Barrel, Menu Planning, Otamot, Thoughts

I notice a difference when I’m feeding myself well. For example, a couple weekends ago I didn’t eat enough, and what I did eat was a lot of empty calories. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Julia Child quoting Oscar Wilde) has a place in my diet for sure. But, I feel a difference physically when I really feed myself. When I ate that way I felt bad all weekend. Physically poor, mentally and emotionally drained, zero energy for anything. Some of that might be unrelated (hello trauma, life, Covid, BLM, hormones, relationships, grief, work, stress…). But, the expression “garbage in, garbage out” seems fitting for my imbalanced food-life relationship of that weekend.

Since then, these last couple of weeks, I’ve been more mindful about what I’ve been eating. I ate things like Tofu with Cabbage and Crispy Rice, Brothy Beans on Toast with Creamy Coleslaw, and a Simple Garden Salad topped with tuna and seeds. And I feel great. The tricky part is the weekends. I’m going to try to make mostly good choices this weekend. It means doing some prep work ahead of time: washing and cutting fruit, making sure there are good options for meals, and picking greens from my garden and washing and drying them. And, remembering to show myself grace when I don’t follow my healthy eating plan perfectly. That’s ok too.

One of my goals for today is to plan our menu. It helps me to start the new week well when I have ideas in place. Here are some healthy-ish meal ideas to help with your menu planning for the coming week.




Happy Eating!

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November 2015



Thanksgiving Sides

Written by , Posted in Dinner, Holiday, Menu Planning, Sides


Thanksgiving is a week away. As I wrote in the post about prepping your kitchen for the holidays, now’s the time to finalize your menu. Are you going traditional? Are you mad about mashed potatoes and gravy? Serious about stuffing? Crazy for cranberry sauce? P… p… I can’t think of anything for pie… Pleased! Are you pleased about pie?!

I’ll stop now.

I love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I want a bit of each component in every bite. But, while I’m a traditionalist with this meal, I think there’s some fun to be had with the menu… if you’re willing.


Here are my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, with a non-traditional option for each. And, of course, we can’t forget about the turkey (or for a non-traditional option some Herbed Roasted Chicken Thighs).

Green Bean Casserole: Green Bean Fries

Mashed Potatoes: Twice Baked Potatoes or Crispy Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Turkey Gravy: Mushroom and Savory Gravy or Pumpkin Bechamel

Stuffing/Dressing: Bread Pudding

Rolls: Apple Rosemary Flatbread

Pumpkin Pie: Apple Bourbon Gallette 


I’ve heard that some throw the entire traditional Thanksgiving menu out the window (gasps… heart stops) and opt for something totally different. If you want to go that route, here are a few ideas.

Taco Bar with Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos or Vegetarian Soft Tacos (or both!) – Tacos are quick and easy to make, and with guests assembling their own, everyone gets to choose just what they want on their plate.

Beef Stew and Cheddar Biscuits – One of my favorite comfort foods. I’d say that if I had to be without a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I’d choose this as a substitute.

Red Choi Stir Fry with Tofu and Almonds and Spring Rolls with a Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce – You could prep many of the ingredients in advance, to make this quick and easy meal lightning fast. The spring rolls could be served as an appetizer (and could be fried or served cold), or with the meal.


Lasagne!! Two great choices are a Classic Meat and Cheese Lasagne or a Vegetarian Lasagne – I’d serve either with a big green salad (which would probably end up being a Caesar, since that’s one of my favorites).


After it’s all said and done, you’re gonna have some leftovers… More on that (and a Potato Pancake recipe that I think I could eat every day) the day after Thanksgiving.

Happy Eating!



September 2015



Grocery Shopping

Written by , Posted in How To, Thoughts


I love to plan. Making lists is fun, checking things off a to do list is satisfying, and figuring out my grocery list is rewarding. Last year I worked on a series about menu planning. There are three parts: the reason, the menu, and the staples to have on hand. Now it’s time to tackle the grocery list.


I like to have my grocery list written out in the order that I will find things in the store. I find that I miss less when I do it that way. Plus I save time in the store, as I’m not running from one side to the other, or standing in each aisle scanning the list to see if I need anything. I think I get it from my mom. I seem to remember her lists were always written out this way.


When we were first married, our budget didn’t allow for much in the grocery department. Not a lot has changed since then, so I still plan our menu and grocery trips the same way that I always have.

As I’m planning our menu I will make a list of the things that we have on hand. You know, rice, pasta, beans, veggies etc. I will combine those with what’s coming in the weekly Abundant Harvest Organics box. As the days get filled up with things to eat, I will see what’s missing from our pantry, and add it to the grocery list. As the list fills up, I will keep an eye on the week’s grocery budget. We usually have some staples (like milk, cheese, and eggs) that take priority. They’re the things that I can’t make or grow myself. After that, I’ll take things off or add them based on what’s left in the budget. Some weeks are smaller than others, and I get to be creative with what we eat.


Like I mentioned earlier, I like to organize my list based on the layout of the store I will be shopping at. Some stores are organized a little more by category than others, so I’ve got two list options for you.

You can use these lists (just download and save the photos), or you can download one of the many grocery list apps onto your smartphone. I don’t have one to recommend, sorry, I’m a pencil and paper kinda gal. I know, it’s old fashioned, but I prefer it.


I find that keeping the grocery budget balanced with the overall budget is the key for keeping from overspending. And the key to keeping the grocery list in check is to plan the menu ahead of time. This is my idea of a fun way to spend an hour or two… for real!

Happy Eating!

Hand lettering on the grocery list done by Tim Oberg.



August 2015



How to Go Vegan

Written by , Posted in How To, Thoughts, Vegan

We’ve addressed meat a few times in my Kitchen Basics posts. In Eating Well on a Budget and Eating Vegetarian I talked about how we enjoy meat, but it’s expensive. Our grocery budget is tight, so we don’t eat a lot of it. We’re fine with that. We get plenty of protein from other sources. But, as we’ve been going along on this journey, I’ve realized how often we’re not just eating vegetarian, but vegan. And I’m seeing how organically it happens.


If I were to tell Tim that we were going to eat exclusively vegan or vegetarian, there would be a revolt (ok, from both of us). We love cheese and milk and eggs. But, we will happily and regularly eat vegan food and won’t feel like anything is missing. Take this Vegan Tofu Fried Quinoa for example. The tofu is scrambled and mimics the eggs in a typical fried rice dish. The quinoa replaces rice for a bit more protein. There are tons of veggies. Et voîla, a fabulous meal, sans animal products. Easy.


These days it really is simple. There’s so much more awareness about dietary restrictions, resulting in a wide array of alternatives to animal products. I know that there are soy cheeses, but tofu can also be used, like in the Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos that I made the other week. Instead of feta, extra firm tofu can be crumbled. Same thing goes for one of my new favorite ways to enjoy cantaloupe in this Melon and Feta Salad. On the other end of the tofu spectrum, silken tofu can be used in place of yogurt in dips, for topping tacos and burritos, and as a side for Stone Fruit Chips.

Here are some other substitutions that we enjoy:

Olive Oil, Canola Oil, or Coconut Oil in Place of Butter or Bacon Grease


We’ve always got olive oil on hand, which is usually what I use for sautéeing or drizzling on a salad. But, when it comes to baking it’s a science. So, if the recipe calls for cold butter, room temperature oil will give you a different result. But, for example, coconut oil has a higher melting point than olive oil does, so it can be a good substitution. There are also vegan butter substitutes that can be found at your local market if you want to take some of the guesswork out of substituting.

Maple Syrup Instead of Honey

This one’s easy, since they’re both a liquid at room temperature. For my taste, 1/4 C of honey can be replaced with 1/4 C of maple syrup, like it is in this Vegan Fruit Crisp.

Coconut, Almond, Soy, or Hemp Milk instead of Cow’s Milk

We have friends who are dairy-free, so I’ve experimented a bit with baking with alternative milks. So far I’ve just tried coconut and almond milk and have had good results. I’ve used them in soups and have had them in smoothies too, and all have been fabulous.

Flax Seeds instead of Eggs

I read on the Joy the Baker website that you can use 1 T of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 T water to replace one large egg. Let it sit for 30 minutes, or until it’s thickened. Add a pinch of baking powder to the recipe just before adding the flaxseed and water mixture. I’ve done this once when baking, although I can’t remember what I used it in. I do remember that it turned out great. I’ve also suggested it as an option for making a vegan version of my Whole Wheat Parsnip Cookies.

All Vegan Dinner Meal Plan

Here are some of my favorite vegan meals. Some are vegan as they are, some require a bit of tweaking (see the recipes for details).



Spicy Summer Squash and Tomato Soup


Sautéed Snap Peas and Summer Squash with Mint Pesto and Brown Rice


Vegan Fruit Crisp



Crispy Tofu with Black Bean Purée and Microgreens


Succotash with Cornbread


Salted Chocolate and Roasted Fig Pudding



Eggplant and Summer Squash Tacos


Melon Salad


Whole Wheat Parsnip Cookies



Roasted Stone Fruit with Bulgur and Fennel


Fresh Herb and Dried Tomato Bruschetta

Green Salad with Cherry Tomatoes Almonds and Figs with a Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette



Spring Rolls with Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce


Pan Seared Tofu topped with Bean and Veggie Melange


Vegan Tofu Fried Quinoa


A great resource for paring vegetarian and vegan foods is The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Happy Eating!



April 2015



Substitution Guide

Written by , Posted in How To, Menu Planning, Thoughts


I remember talking to a friend about a recipe once. She wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t have the specific type of cheese needed for what she was making. This dilemma isn’t limited to cheese. It can be difficult to know what to do if a recipe calls for carrots, but all you have are parsnips. Or any other fruits and veggies for that matter. One solution is to go out to the grocery store when you’ve forgotten an ingredient. From time to time that’s essential. When you’re baking, for example, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s tough to substitute and have it turn out, because all of the ingredients are there for a specific purpose. No baking powder? Don’t just substitute with baking soda. You’ll get a very different result. But, with regular cooking, making soups, pastas, frittatas… sub away my friends!


I’m very thankful that I’m pretty good at substituting in recipes (the non-baking kind). I actually prefer to cook without a recipe. It’s much easier for me. A recipe makes me feel confined. I like to cook with what I have and am pretty good at figuring out what works well together (I also love to use The Flavor Bible and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible as tools for paring and substituting).


Whether you like to use a recipe or not, it’s always good to learn how to substitute. The more that I’ve cooked, the more that I’ve gotten to know my ingredients, and I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some of the things that I will substitute.

Original Ingredient Substitute With Substitute With Substitute With
Apples Pears Asian Pears Persimmons
Lemons Limes Oranges Kumquats
Peaches Apricots/Apriums Plums/Pluots Nectarines
Figs Grapes Cherries
Strawberries Raspberries Blueberries Blackberries
Watermelon Cantaloupe Honeydew
Beets Carrots Rutabaga
Broccoli Cauliflower Cabbage Brussels Sprouts
Celery Fennel
Carrots Parsnip Sweet Potatoes Winter Squash
Potatoes Rutabaga Kohlrabi Sweet Potatoes
Garlic Garlic Chives Green Garlic
Greens Cabbage Mâche Radicchio
Bok Choy Tokyo Bekana Red Choi Mei Qing Choi
Daikon Radish Red Radish Black Spanish Radish
Green Beans English Peas Snap Peas
Onions Shallots Leeks Green/Spring Onions
Winter Squash Sweet Potatoes Pumpkin
Arugula Dandelion Greens Arugula Flowers Mizuna
Broccoli Rabe Broccoli Broccoli Di Cicco Rapini
Turnips Rutabaga Radishes Potatoes
Fava Beans English Peas
Zucchini Pattypan Squash Crookneck Squash Scallopini
Acorn Squash Butternut Squash Delicata Squash Kabocha Squash
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti Noodles
Corn Peas
Okra Sinqua
Bell Peppers Sweet Peppers
Beefsteak Tomatoes Cherry Tomatoes Roma Tomatoes
Cilantro Parsley
Basil Parsley
Chives Green Onions Spring Onions
Rosemary Thyme
Tarragon Fennel Fronds
Chocolate Mint Mint
Marjoram Oregano
Sage Oregano
Lemon Balm Lemon Basil Lemongrass
Rice Bulgur Wheat Quinoa Orzo Pasta
Cheddar Cheese Monterey Jack
Parmesan Cheese Gruyère
Sour Cream Greek Yogurt Plain Yogurt
Cream Cheese Ricotta Cheese
Ground Beef Ground Turkey/Chicken Bulgur Wheat Tempeh
Bacon Pancetta Prosciutto Ham
Chicken Stock Vegetable Stock
Tempeh Tofu Bulgur Wheat
Salmon Tuna
Sugar* Honey Maple Syrup
Butter* Olive Oil Coconut Oil Canola Oil

(Please note that many of these original ingredients can also be substituted for the ingredients to substitute with.)

*Except when baking, unless you know how to adapt the recipe. 😉


Happy Eating!