Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Planning

Each week I plan our dinner menus. I've been doing this for years, since long before we had children. I have a much loved green binder full of magazine tear-outs and photo copies of hit recipes from the last ten years. My green binder is not getting much play these days. Who knew how central a role both cheese and nuts played in so many of my old favorites?

In my abandoned stash I have a great slow cooker recipe for Thai peanut pork stew. I make a mean feta and spinach tarte. And I'm dying to make this gorgeous, rich flourless chocolate cake for Valentine's Day but will save it for Mufasa's birthday instead. When it rolls around the first week in March I will pour seven ounces of molten dark chocolate over eight freshly cracked eggs, a splash of amaretto, and whip it into a frenzy without the tiniest bit of guilt that Roo can't have even a taste. We'll savor it once he's in bed and throw away the sponge when the dishes are done. Don't worry - the kiddos will get their turn with dairy and egg-free cupcakes a couple of weeks later for the twins' birthday.

These days the menu planning is about necessity rather than experimentation. Instead of my old green binder, I've been relying on my own ingenuity and a couple of decent cookbooks that address Roo's allergies. Unfortunately the cookbooks leave a little to be desired in terms of creativity. What's to Eat? and it's sequel, What Else Is to Eat? both by Linda Marienhoff Coss, provide quick, generally family friendly recipes that are completely milk, egg, and nut free. These have been helpful and were a great starting point when we first received Roo's diagnosis and I was facing the grocery store with much trepidation. The recipes are largely made up of what my Indian husband affectionately refers to as "white people food" - meatloaf, roasts, sauteed chicken breasts, homemade barbecue sauce, tuna salad, you get the idea.

Now that I'm starting to get more comfortable reading labels, substituting, etc. I'm getting a little bored and while they've been kind enough not to shout and pump their fists in protest, I imagine that everyone else in the family is too.

So, I'm hereby making a commitment to experiment more. I vow not to fear the dreary box of egg replacer that is lurking in the recesses of my pantry. I'm opening my heart and my oven to lamb in all its various forms. Rice cream sundaes? Why not? Hominy? Here I come. And really, who doesn't appreciate the sheer versatility of polenta?

Admittedly, this week's menu is rather bland, but will provide a glimpse of how I've stagnated at the moment. I hope to expand our family's taste repertoire over the next several months, while continuing to increase Roo's caloric intake without poisoning him. Yikes!

Here's the week in a nutshell:

Saturday: Chicken tacos were a huge hit. The kids loved all the colors (tomatoes, avocado, black olives, lettuce, chips, salsa, etc.) and everyone ate well, including Roo. Major success!

Sunday: I took a pass on cooking due to a Superbowl party and lots of snacks. The little ones ate leftover taco meat with corn and bread and butter when we got home. Pathetic, perhaps, but it is what it is.

Still to come...

Monday: Pork chops, brocolli, and hashbrown potatos
Tuesday: Leftover pork and tofu fried rice using Trader Joe's prepackaged vegetable fried rice (love it and it's vegan!!)
Wednesday: Lemon-dill halibut, brown rice, edamame
Thursday: Chicken breasts, corn and black beans, couscous
Friday: Date night! Kids will eat leftovers or chicken nuggets and fries, or some other equally deplorable (and easy) option.

Here's hoping for healthy appetites.


  1. {{{{HUGS}}}} to you! You are doing such a great job. I have lots of kid-friendly dairy-free/nut-free/egg-free/beef-free recipes. I make great meatballs with sauce or pizza, spanish rice and mashed potatoes. If you want any recipes. let me know. It will get much easier as Ro gets older. It's so, so hard now at this age. My Son had such sensory issues with foods (on top of all the allergies) it made it almost impossible to feed him.

  2. Thanks so much! How old is your son now? Rohan has an oral sensory delay too and often gags if a texture doesn't agree with him. I would LOVE a copy of your spanish rice and meatball recipes if you don't mind! He does quite well with meatloaf/meatball type dishes and is getting better with rice too. He will eat tiny cubed potatoes but I haven't been able to get him to eat any mashed potatoes yet...

  3. Should have mentioned you can email me at Thanks again!