Sunday- Butternut, Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Stew
This rich soup is one I’ve been looking forward to for months.  It doesn’t feel right in the summer, but now that the days are shorter and evenings cooler, here we go.

The recipe assumes you have an instant pot.  If you do, I’d recommend getting it going in the morning.  We use the prep day option in my house, so with the veggies already cut, starting in the morning is a breeze.

If you don’t have an instant pot, this one will take a while to cook, especially if you haven’t cut the veggies in advance.  Allow an hour or more if you’re starting from scratch on meal day.

Serve it with rice or another whole grain.

Monday- Thai Curry Vegetables and Tofu with Rice
Here’s the recipe link on this one.  The recipe calls for shrimp, but swapping out tofu is easy enough.  If you’re vegan, you can swap out the fish sauce for Bragg’s or soy sauce.

This one ended up a bit too spicy for the kids, but great for the adults.  I thought yellow was mild enough, but not so.  If kids are in the mix, you might want to use masaman curry paste.

Speaking of curry paste, that is key for these Thai curries.  Resist the urge to buy the curry in bottles or cans; they’re vile.  If you want the cheap (but delicious) version used in Thai restaurants, use Mae Ploy.  If you want something higher end, organic and delicious, go with Thai True.

Taco Tuesday! Fish Tacos with Mexican Slaw
Taco Tuesday!  We went with fish tacos this week.  Every time Lee runs into a bone, however small, he won’t touch fish for weeks.  So, we went with dover sole.  It doesn’t have as good a nutritional profile as some other kinds, but it works well in tacos.

If you’re feeling as lazy as I was on meal day, you can warm some oil in a saute pan and add the fish fillets.  Sprinkle fajita seasoning and salt on one side.  When the fish is whiteish on the top side, flip it, add a bit more fajita spice and some lime juice.  Cook until it’s flaky and white all the way through.

For the slaw, I used half a head of cabbage and grated a large carrot.  I added some lime juice, salt, cumin and garlic powder, adjusting until things tasted right.  I’d like to give measurements, but again, I was feeling lazy on Tuesday.

Warm up some tortillas, the real ones, not the super-cheap ones that come in packs of 50.  Those are made from corn bred for industrial chemical use.  The handmade ones cost more, but they’re worth it.

Serve with salsa, black olives, avocados or whatever else sounds good.  If kids are involved, let them build their own tacos.  If they’re artistic, challenge them to make their tacos pretty, with as many colors as they can.

Ratatouille with Olive Bread and Barley
I don’t have a recipe to link to on this one, but here’s a link to the book it came from.  My wife and I thought it was fantastic, but the kids were unimpressed.  Still, a little olive bread with butter bribery and most of it was eaten.

My wife and I ate ours with barley, which was great.

Even with the veggies chopped in advance, this took 30 minutes to cook.  More than I like on meal nights, but not too long.

Thursday- Black Bean Potato Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce
These enchiladas were fantastic!  Like the ratatoille, they took longer than I would have liked, even with the advance prep (a bit more than 30 minutes).  Still, not too long for something this good.

You’ll note that the recipe calls for cilantro, which I forgot to buy at the store.  I left it out of the sauce and didn’t miss it.  There was enough going on flavor-wise without it.  I also subbed green enchilada sauce for red, since I love tomatillos.

If you give this a whirl with the red sauce and cilantro, let me know what you think!

Friday- Miso-Glazed Black Cod and Autumn Mash

Black Cod has a fantastic nutritional profile and we live next to good fish market, which is where I picked up this simple but great recipe.

Mix 2 TBSP miso with 2 tsp sake (or 1.5 tsp rice vinegar) until blended.  Coat 1 lb. fish with the mix and bake at 400 for 20 minutes (longer if more than 1″ thick).

I find the glaze to be a bit overpowering, so I use a bit less than what is called for.

The autumn mash recipe is similar to parsnips and carrots, one of my favorite southern recipes.  This paleo version is free of sugar and uses coconut oil instead of butter, because apparently primitive people worshiped coconut oil as a god (sorry, paleo jokes are funny to nutritionists like me).

Feel free to use butter, ghee or avocado oil in place of coconut oil, and feel free to use any type of broth that suits you.

Saturday- Lee's choice

There’s no recipe to share here, just a concept.  If you’ve got kids, it’s a good idea to let them choose the meal here and there.  We give Lee (my six year old son) one every week.  He mostly chooses sushi, but sometimes he mixes it up.

Using a Prep Day

You don’t need to use a prep day, but if you find yourself struggling to find time to cook, it’s worth trying.  To do it, set aside 60-90 minutes on an off day.  Put on some music, a Netflix comedy show or documentary, or whatever else calls out to you

Here are the steps.

1)  Go through your recipes, looking for any that call for canned beans.  If you’re using dry beans, you’ll want to soak those and cook them on your prep day.  If you have the means, soaking your other grains and beans, then storing them in your fridge will make them quicker to cook and easier to digest.

2) Advance cook anything that will take more than 30 minutes on your meal day.  Why do it in advance?  You can cook all of these long-cook things at the same time now, then spend all that saved time during the week doing something else.  This week’s recipes don’t call for advance cooking, other than the black beans for your enchiladas.  Rice is an exception, unless you’re going to cook it again on meal day (fried rice, etc.).

3) Go through your recipes and write down all the chopped and diced veggies in them.  Bag them and put them in the fridge for use on meal days.  In this week’s plan, this is most of the prep work.

4) If you have any dishes that will do better if chilled, make those now.  The Mexican slaw is the best choice from this week’s menu.

5)  Make any sauces which are prepped separately from the main dish.  For this week’s menu, that would be the avocado sauce for the enchiladas.