Menu Planning Monday with a Side of Disappointing Tomatoes

It’s Monday again.  As I try to get back into the swing of things after such a fun weekend, I’m drafting up a plan for dinners this week.  Here is my top three for this dreary Monday:

1.  Meal Plan – Dinners – Week of September 9th

  • Monday:  Stuffed Bell Peppers – similar to when I made them here, but I plan to use fresh zucchini instead of frozen veggies and salsa instead of cheese
  • Tuesday:  Jambalaya w/ Chicken Sausage from Dinner at Your Door
  • Wednesday:  Spaghetti Squash – first time cooking this, will let you know how it goes!
  • Thursday:  Pasta with veggies from the local Thursday Farmer’s Market
  • Friday:  Catch of the day from the Flying Fish Truck with a side of quinoa and veggies
  • Saturday:  Matt’s homemade pizza
  • Sunday:  TBD – if the weather is nice, we will grill.  If not, we will make something int the crock pot.

2.  Favorite Meal from last week –

Noodles + Veggies with Peanut Sauce


Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 1.5 cups of dry whole wheat pasta – I’ve used spaghetti and penne and both worked fine
  • 1 Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 green onion stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped and roasted
  • .25 cups cilantro, chopped
  • Peanut Sauce – I used a Ginger Peanut Sauce by the Ginger People and LOVED it!  Very light with a little zing from the ginger.  I eye-balled the amount – just enough to coat the noodles, but it was probably about 1/4 cup per serving.
  • Sriracha hot sauce – optional / as needed


  1. Chop up all your veggies
  2. Cook pasta according to directions
  3. While pasta is cooking, roast your broccoli:  set oven to 350 degrees, spritz broccoli lightly in olive oil and top with salt/pepper, cook for about 20-30 min until edges of broccoli is a little toasted
  4. When broccoli is done, mix it and all other veggies together (note – if you want you can probably roast or saute all your veggies, but I liked the others raw for the extra crunch)
  5. When pasta is done, lightly coat the noodles in peanut sauce.
  6. Top pasta with veggie mix
  7. If you like cold noodles (ie. in summer) this can go in the fridge for a few hours and be served cold.  Or you can eat it hot.  Top it with hot sauce and you are good to go!

I’ve only made this dish twice and I’m still tweaking it to find the best combo of veggies, but in general, this has been a great add to my regular meal planning.  It can be served hot or cold and you can add some chicken too to make it a little heartier (although it was quite filling without any meat).

3.  Eating healthy idea – Growing your own food – tomatoes.  I really want to grow vegetables, but since I live in a high-rise without a yard, I’m limited to container gardens on my balcony.  Which really shouldn’t limit me based on all the Instagram pics I’ve seen…  Many, many people have a lot of success growing veggies in container gardens.  Apparently I am not one of them.  I started my experiment last year with 2 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants (one hot pepper and one bell pepper).  The peppers became infested with aphids and my attempts at an all natural bug spray failed epically, so I ended up pulling them out mid summer.  The tomato plants did OK, especially the cherry tomato plant.  So this year I decided to double down on tomatoes and planted 4 plants, all various types of smaller/cherry tomatoes.  Things started off well as the plants grew and grew under the watchful eyes of the Greyhounds:







The first tomato harvest looked promising:


But now, I’ve only gotten a handful of tomatoes from one plant, the others are still green, and the plants seem to be withering away and dying.  I’m not sure if I just need to wait longer?  Or did I plant to late (in June)?  My balcony has a Southern exposure, so can they be getting too much sun?  I think my containers are a little too small, so maybe they are struggling – watering twice a day (morning and evening) seems to help, but lately nothing has perked them up.  Maybe there is still hope for bushels of tomatoes this year, but I won’t hold my breath and plan to buy at the Farmer’s Market in the meantime.  And I want to learn from my mistakes this year and try again next year….

Question for you:  Do you have a green thumb?  Any advice for an urban farmer wanting to grow vegetables in containers?



2 thoughts on “Menu Planning Monday with a Side of Disappointing Tomatoes

  1. I’d love to have a green thumb- bit don’t 😦
    Your meals sound great: I’ve just been out to eat, so my week hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts….. 😉


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