Tonight, much to J.’s delight, was not only Halloween — it was, as he proclaimed, “The start of the entire best time of year!”  He’s right, of course.  Not only did we have a fabulous time trick-or-treating with our little Captain Hook and his Tick Tock Croc, sorting through the loot, trading the junkiest candies and the food-dyed ones for Yummy Earth lollipops and Unreal candy; not only did we watch Charlie Brown Halloween and chat with our neighbors on porches and soak up some of the atmosphere of fun; but tomorrow, it will be NOVEMBER ALREADY, and that means we’re just counting the days until Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the festivities to come.

I nearly, VERY nearly, didn’t have a meal plan ready!  This is the first time in 8 years of meal plans that I can remember actually getting right down to the wire and thinking, “Oh, God, I didn’t plan ahead!”  But of course, I pulled myself together and got something down on paper. Priorities, people.

This month there are a couple of changes to my thinking.  L.’s got an activity that will be on Wednesday evenings at 5:30, beginning in the middle of the month, so I’m going to try out the whole cook-dinner-on-the-weekend-and-heat-it-later thing — a strategy I’ve rarely had to employ before, but which seems to make a lot of sense in this case.  The other change I’m trying to make in the month of November, with an eye towards holiday budgets, is to buy only one or two types of meat for the week, buy them in larger quantities to get a bulk price, and use that same cut of protein in a few different ways throughout the week to both stretch our dollars and make my life a bit easier.  We’ll see how it goes.

Thursday, 11/1: Pumpkin carbonara with whole-wheat pasta, salad
Make it GF: Substitute Jovial brown rice pasta
Friday, 11/2: Fend night for the guys, as I’ll be at a rehearsal.
Saturday, 11/3: I’ve got a performance tonight, so we’ll eat early.  I’m making Sunday Roast Chickens and root vegetables.

The Sunday Roast Chicken, in all its glory

Sunday, 11/4: Another performance day, and I won’t get home until just before dinnertime.  I’m using the slow cooker for short ribs in red wine; if short ribs are too pricey, I’ll get pork shoulder.
Monday, 11/5: DIY Salad platters with the leftover chicken
Tuesday, 11/6: Slow cooker — sausage with apples and cabbage, rye bread
Make it GF: Omit the bread and serve with potatoes instead
Wednesday, 11/7: Panini and tomato soup
Make it GF: If you don’t want to use a gluten-free bread, make quesadillas on corn tortillas instead, or simply serve meat and cheese rollups with your soup.

We might make this one; we might not; but this is a darned good take on a tomato soup.

Thursday, 11/8: Fish fingers, using some local fish we have stashed in the freezer, with crisp potatoes and vegetables.
Friday, 11/9: Fend night
Saturday, 11/10: Classic bolognese sauce over pasta, salad
Make it GF: Substitute Jovial brown rice pasta
Sunday, 11/11: J. and I are GOING OUT TO DINNER.  No, seriously.  I know.  Let the shock sink in.
Monday, 11/12: French onion soup with Gruyere cheese, salads with bacon and poached eggs
Make it GF: Omit the croutons from the onion soup — it will still turn out great!
Tuesday, 11/13: Slow cooker — Chicken pot pie with pumpkin biscuits
Make it GF: Try this gluten-free biscuit recipe instead.
Wednesday, 11/14: Weekend Warm-Up — Meatball calzones
Make it GF: Either use gluten-free pizza dough, or serve the meatballs with quinoa, rice, or gluten-free pasta
Thursday, 11/15: Honey-mustard skillet chicken, quinoa, vegetables
Friday, 11/16: Fend night
Saturday, 11/17: Szechuan-style beef and vegetable stir-fry over brown rice
Make it GF: Make sure you use tamari rather than traditional soy sauce for stir fries.
Sunday, 11/18: Baked penne florentine, salad

Baked penne Florentine

Make it GF: Use Jovial brown rice pasta
Monday, 11/19: “No-fuss” chicken and vegetables
Tuesday, 11/20: Slow cooker — lamb stew
Wednesday, 11/21: Weekend warm-up — Squash macaroni and cheese, salad
Thursday, 11/22: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Friday, 11/23:
Fend night — I’m sure there will be plenty of leftovers!
Saturday, 11/24: I’m continuing last year’s tradition of “picture pizzas” on this day.

This was L.’s rendition of Rudolph, in pizza.

Sunday, 11/25: Roast beef supper
Monday, 11/26: Pumpkin soup and cheese toasts
Make it GF: use gluten-free biscuits or pizza dough to make the cheese toasts
Tuesday, 11/27: Slow cooker — chicken soft tacos
Wednesday, 11/28: Weekend warm-up — Stuffed peppers and salad
Thursday, 11/29: “Steak pizzaiola” sandwiches
Make it GF: Turn it into a hash served over crunchy potatoes
Friday, 11/30: Fend night