in the kitchen

Weekly Meal Plan

Slow-cooker on side porch

If you read our weekly meal plans, you know how often I cook with dried beans. About once a week, I cook 6-cups or 2 1/2 pounds of dried beans in our electric slow cooker that has a ceramic insert.  I love it because beans can cook whether I’m home or not or even overnight because the slow cooker has an automatic shut-off timer on it. In the summer, I use the slow cooker on our side porch, to keep the house from getting warm.

It takes longer if I cook something in the slow cooker that’s cold to begin with. Whenever I put something cold into the slow cooker, I think, how it’s really too bad I can’t pre-heat my slow cooker.

You cannot pre-heat your slow cooker if it has a ceramic liner. I learned this the hard way. I thought I’d save time and warm up the slow cooker before I placed the ceramic liner inside and guess what happened? The ceramic liner cracked. And broke.

Do you think the company makes ceramic replacement liners that fit my size slow cooker? No.

Do you think anyone in my neighborhood Google group had the same size ceramic liner? No. But one of my neighbors, bless her little reuse heart, had to get rid of her electric slow cooker because the electric part stopped working and she thought she could reuse the ceramic part. Her ceramic part did not fit my electric part but at least we tried.

So, yes, I broke down and bought a new electric slow cooker. Yes, it’s bigger – of course it is – I bought it at Costco. Costco had the best price around on electric slow cookers and I got a rebate.

Weekly Meal Plan

This meal plan is from Monday, October 8, 2012 to Sunday, October 14, 2012.

Monday: sauteed garbanzo beans with sage and roasted cauliflower

Tuesday: pan seared fish, quinoa, green salad

Wednesday: pinto bean and cheese burritos with fresh tomato salsa

Thursday: oven roasted whole chicken, quinoa, green salad

Friday: pan fried salmon patty sandwiches with fresh tomato slices

Saturday: dinner at our friend’s house

Sunday: whole wheat pasta with pesto, Italian sausages, green salad

The fresh tomatoes from our garden are slowing down. I love having fresh tomatoes in the garden. They taste so much better when they’re just picked.

Sungold tomatoes

My son made dinner on Sunday night and free-lanced on the sausages by cutting them and opening the casings and mixed the spiced-pork sausage into the pasta with pesto. I love it when my kids come up with their own ways of cooking a meal and I just get to sit back and enjoy it. My daughter did not make dinner this week. She went to Justin Bieber’s concert on Monday evening and was exhausted the entire week. She helped cook and clean-up several times this week all while humming her favorite tune by Justin, “Baby, baby…”

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Go Gingham related links:

More meal plan ideas are here
Homemade pesto – that can be made and frozen
Sour cream chipotle sauce that is an excellent dip
How we keep food waste to a minimum
Confessions of a leftover food lover – that would be me!
Take the night off and let your kids cook dinner every week

9 thoughts on “Weekly Meal Plan

  1. You are lucky to have a Costco. The bedroom community about five miles from my house was promised a Costco if they voted for beer and wine sales to be legal in their town limits. The measure passed, but still no Costco. My city does have Sam’s Club.


    1. Karen, sometimes I think my life is more complicated because of Coscto! Because I like to know if I’m getting the best price, I have to comparison shop before I buy it and then I have to go to Costco and look around – trying my best to stay out of the dreaded middle section!!
      I’ve never been to Sam’s but imagine it’s similar.
      Thanks, Karen.


  2. A helpful hint… Sprout beans before cooking them. This method not only allows them to cook much faster, it also “knocks the wind out of them”, so to speak, and they are easier to digest. I also use a Thermal Cooker (for large amounts) or a Thermos Bottle for small amounts to save on cooking energy.

    Another way to save on cooking energy is with a Wonder Oven (aka Wonder Box, Wonder Box Oven), which works on the same thermal principal as the Thermal Cooker, and I use my stock pot in it.

    You will save 80% of the cooking energy, especially for things you cook for long periods of time – soup, rice, large cuts of meat, beans/grains, etc.


    1. Karen,
      I checked out the Wonder Oven because I had never heard of it. It looks like it uses some logical and old fashioned ideas for cooking – both of which I love! I inherited a large crock from my grandfather that we have used in a similar way. Starting it on our stove top and then setting it on our wood burning stove to continue cooking although the Wonder Oven is much more passive. It’s giving me ideas for making my own!!
      The “fabric” around the oven looks similar to a product I sewed curtains out of called “Warm Window” which keep sun out in summer and cool out in winter. It would be an excellent fabric to add to a Wonder Oven….
      Thanks, Karen! I love hearing about your methods 🙂


      1. Use 100% cotton fabric for a Wonder Oven – man-made fabric could melt from the high-heat of the pans. I found much of the fabric I used for them at Wal-Mart for $1-per yard. Hubby made the pattern for me from information found on-line. That was the hard part (bless him), although he made it look easy. I was whipping them out every afternoon this summer until I finished enough for Christmas gifts. Purchased the filler in large bags at K-Mart (designed for bean bag chairs), but you could recycle packing foam and chop it into small pieces. We have a $10 gift limit for Christmas and normally try to make things, and they came in well under $10.

        I made “Window Quilts” (two layers of fabric and a layer of insulation between them, plus a moisture barrier) for a townhouse we lived in a few years ago. One move later (and a lot more windows), we use an even simpler form of window insulation by adding Bubble Wrap to the windows in the winter. Google – Bubble Wrap Window Insulation – for more information, or I’ll be happy to post the link. The more layers of insulating protection you have on windows, the better. Bubble Wrap is a great option for renters because it’s completely reversible. With utilities going up (at least around here), we need to conserve.


    1. Katie, it’s really the best way to save – both on the food budget (canned beans are expensive – for what they are!) and it’s money in the bank for meals. Every day I add beans to something. They’re hearty and full of fiber and fill up the bellies of my teenagers! Let me know how they turn out 🙂 Thanks, Katie.


  3. Hi Sara,

    Pre-heating your slow cooker is a good idea, but pre-heat the ceramic liner itself, not the base. The best way to do this is to remove the liner from the base, pour a kettle full of hot (not boiling) water into the liner, and let it sit for a few minutes before you pour out the water and replace it in the base. Then put in your beans and you’re good to go.

    You could probably even put the hot-water-filled liner into the slow cooker base and turn it on, because the water will prevent the liner from overheating and cracking. Just make sure your ceramic liner starts out at room temperature and you should be fine — it’s the dramatic change in temperature that causes the damage.

    Cheers, Sara


    1. Sara,
      Great idea! Yes, I can see how the change in temperature would do that. That’s how we warm our very large, old and cold claw-foot bathtub – by adding a pot of very hot water to it and letting it sit.
      Thanks, Sara. Can’t wait to hear more about your DIY project 🙂


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