in the kitchen

Weekly Meal Plan and Freegatarians

Free tomatoes
Tomatoes from my neighbor’s garden which I was happy to harvest!

This week in my kitchen felt like the bounty of the season had descended upon us! We had so many things cooking, roasting, and freezing it looked like a tornado had hit.

Are you wondering what a “Freegatarian” is? Well, it’s someone who is accepting of free food – even if they have to harvest it themselves. It was a “Freegatarian” love fest at our house this week – thanks to the generosity of friends and neighbors. Here’s how we benefited from accepting free food:

  • Neighbors who I drove to the airport told me to please harvest and take away all of their ripe tomatoes. Oh, alright, twist my arm, I’ll do that.
  • A friend in the neighborhood asked if our family would like their share of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the week because they would be out of town. Why, yes, I would be happy to take it, thank you very much.
  • Our other friends asked if we’d like their grapes from their “vineyard” which is really a large grape-vine over a backyard trellis. Yes, please, we’ll take all of those little green jewels.

So, we roasted 4 batches of tomatoes, roasted red peppers, baked beets for beet salad, sauteed the beet greens, roasted broccoli, and froze 24-muffin tins filled with grape juice concentrate for our smoothies.

Go Gingham: Weekly Meal PlanThank you to everyone who contributed to us being “Freegatarians” for the week. It was fabulous, delicious, and we enjoyed every morsel of it!!

I also made pesto this week – whew! My girlfriends and I got together and made pesto one morning and then I went home and harvested all of my basil from the garden and made more! We have a lot of pesto! The batch below has spinach in it, also. I just tossed it in with the basil and processed it. I don’t think you can tell a difference but my foodie-teenagers think you can. They were eating it with spoons!

Pesto with spinach
I lost track of ingredients so put all batches of my pesto in a large bowl and stirred. It all evened out in the end – I think!

Weekly Meal Plan

This meal plan is from Monday, October 1, 2012 to Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Monday: pinto beans (from the freezer) with shredded pork (from the freezer) over brown rice and fresh tomato salsa

Tuesday: Pad Thai with chicken (we made this for dinner and actually followed a recipe, but doubled the vegetables)

Wednesday: Pad Thai with chicken (leftovers), beet salad and beet greens

Thursday: fish, quinoa and oven roasted broccoli

Friday: homemade pizza! whole wheat pizza dough (from the freezer), fresh tomato pizza sauce and vegetables

Saturday: dinner at our friend’s house – we brought pumpkin spice cake and vanilla ice cream

Dinner at friend's house
Off to our friend’s house for dinner with cake, wine, and a cookbook.

Sunday: whole wheat pasta with roasted red peppers and green salad

My daughter made dinner on Friday night and confirmed that freezing homemade pizza dough works really well. She chopped up artichokes, onions, and tomatoes for her creation and topped it all with cheese. My son made dinner on Sunday night. He was hoping for some sort of meat (of course he was ~ he’s a teenage boy!) with the dinner so we promised next week he could cook some sort of animal protein. Teens!

Do you meal plan? Do you like free food?

Go Gingham related links:

Take the night off and let your kids cook dinner every week
More meal plan ideas are here
Homemade pesto – that can be made and frozen
Frugal grocery shopping and slowing down for family eating
How to roast red peppers or food you’re supposed to burn
How to roast tomatoes freshly picked from the garden – so good!
How our freezer gets used – ways to organize and optimize

All of these pictures were taken with my iPod Touch (I don’t have a smart phone) and shared on Instagram. Instagram is a photo sharing app that lets you add finishes and filters to your pictures. You can follow me on Instagram here: @gogingham

6 thoughts on “Weekly Meal Plan and Freegatarians

  1. I love how resourceful you are, Sara – and how you find ways to make tasty food from just about anything! I wish I were more like this. I guess my biggest obstacle is knowing how resistant my kids are to almost EVERY kind of food. I hate doing the work of cooking for such a thankless audience. Not sure how to change things at this stage (how did the kids get to be teens!?) but I would like to incorporate more of this kind of thing into our lives.

    Thanks for inspiration!


    1. Thank you so much, Annie! I know what you mean – I have no idea how our kids are teenagers already. What happens if you cook the food that you like and then let your kids chose what they’d like to eat? They can eat what you have so graciously cooked them or they can eat in the morning? At breakfast time, they’ll be mighty hungry and just maybe they’ll get the hang of eating your glorious meal! Just a thought….especially if you – the chef – feels like cooking that type of food 😉 Try it!


      1. Although our “nest” is empty now, when our daughter and son were home they planned and fixed one meal each week and hubby made one meal on the weekend. We were all very busy and this helped spread the tasks. They had to have a balanced meal (meat/alternative, grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy). If they forgot to prepare their meal they had to pay to take us out for dinner (and as I recall, that only happened once). All three have their own recipe and cookbook collections and the kids left home with cooking skills.


      2. Oh, Karen, you’re a good mom! I love that your grown kids had to cook and have their own recipe and cook book collections now. Those are such good skills! I remind my kids all the time how they’ll be great roommates or spouses – someday.
        We used to have our kids pick the meals they wanted to cook for their weekly turn to cook a dinner and clean up. Their idea of meal planning was not exactly a balanced dinner. I should probably go back to having them plan their meal but it seems easier for me to do it since I know what’s in the freezer and what’s on sale at the market.
        Thanks, Karen!


  2. Free food is the BEST! Free-for-the-picking apples are dehydrated and used all fall/winter for snacks, applesauce, desserts…. Make jelly from the cores and peelings, and apple butter from the less-than-perfect apples. End-of-the season produce friends offer from their gardens are also dehydrated. I dehydrate free zucchini into “chips” to replace potato chips. I often received free grain from farm friends and relatives. Black walnuts from a friends yard are used in cookies and Christmas candy.

    For meal planning I follow a guideline rather than doing specifics. I hate to be pinned down! Any day can be omitted or moved and not spoil the entire week. I work from the freezer – cook once and use for many meals. We’re primarily whole foods people – which are nature’s original “FAST FOOD” for easy preparation.

    MONDAY: Big meal.
    Includes a large cut of meat that is used for leftovers, sandwiches, stir-fry, possibly a portion in the freezer to use on another Monday, and often the base for making soup.

    TUESDAY: Leftovers.
    May or may not take on a completely different look than what it did on Monday. If your family doesn’t like leftovers, wait until Wednesday to use them. In order to save on meat, we recently changed to meatless “sandwiches” on Tuesday for an additional meat-free day.

    WEDNESDAY: Stir-fry.
    Prepare some of the vegetables while making meals on Monday and Tuesday. Meat can be almost anything – raw or cooked. Veggies can be fresh, frozen, freeze-dried, dehydrated, or a mix of those options. Rice, and other grains, are pre-cooked and frozen in user-friendly amounts.

    THURSDAY: International.
    This generally means something with pasta or a tortilla.

    FRIDAY: Vegetarian.
    A great way to save on the food $$$$. Throw in a meatless breakfast menu now and again – especially if you don’t normally have time to make pancakes/waffles and other breakfast favorites during the week. Keep a stack of homemade bean burgers and homemade burger buns in the freezer. Top baked potatoes with meatless chili.

    SATURDAY: Soup and/or Sandwiches
    We’re always busy on Saturday so these simple foods prevent us from going “out” to eat when we’re strapped for time. “Sandwiches” include wraps, pitas, arepas, and on-a-bun kind of things (burgers, hot dogs, Sloppy Joes, etc.). Soup/stew/chili is frozen in individual amounts.

    SUNDAY: Homemade Pizza or Dinner Salad (especially during hot weather when the garden is producing)
    A great way to use up the vegetables that often die from loneliness in the crisper drawer, and use up small amounts of meat.

    Meal plans are based on the old Basic-Four daily intake:
    Bread & Cereal – 4 servings
    Fruits & Vegetables – 4 servings
    Meat or Alternative – 2 servings
    Dairy or Alternative – 2 servings


    1. Karen,
      Good guideline idea! You’re right that being flexible is key when it comes to meal planning – that way you can take advantage of what’s on sale or even better – what’s free.
      I agree with you that whole foods are the way to go – they are nature’s original “fast food” and I adore the packaging! 😉
      For us, having a meal plan means that when soccer practice or games or done, or there’s an evening meeting, I know what’s happening for dinner and we’re not scrambling to come up with something. We’re also not enticed to go out to dinner or to pick-up carry-out. I like to say that if you have a plan, you’ll eat healthier at home and save money.
      Your method of using the freezer sounds like mine, too.
      Sounds like a delicious week of meals at your house!
      Thank you, Karen.


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