Meals This Week

Inspired by these colors | Photo by Scott and Ashlee of O'Malley Photographers | 100 layer cake

(image)

Monday – We’re starting the week with leftovers from the weekend because I’m out late.

Tuesday – Trying out a pesto and prosciutto chicken recipe I found online. If it’s good, you will, of course, be the first to know, and I’ll bring it to a group of people next week for a meeting I have.

Wednesday – Leftovers. Again. Because all that chicken (and this chicken) isn’t going to eat itself, and I’m out late. Again.

Thursday – My go-to, “I didn’t really cook, but it sort of feels like I did,” meal. Tortellini and pesto.

Friday – Chinese food before I dash out to a Christmas party. Cheers!

Saturday – The best meatball subs ever. (Not an exaggeration.)

Sunday – Trying out a new, homemade Sunday gravy. Wish me luck.

***If my son recovers from this illness that causes him to be attached to me at all times, I will make time to enjoy this oatmeal one morning for breakfast, or, “brekka,” as it’s now known in our house.

Meals This Week

Dear readers, this week is a doozy. Let’s all take a deep breath, and do the best we can, okay? This meal plan is not glamorous in the slightest, but it will do the job.

Monday – Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti

Tuesday – Boboli pizza (I’d love to feel ashamed, but I can’t! It’s my husband’s favorite. I think it’s gross.)

Wednesday – Fettucine similar to this with some leftover grilled chicken, and arugula if it lasts that long without wilting.

Thursday – I’m out with Ali for a fun night, and my husband can fend for himself!

Friday – Burgers and tater tots (We have so many burgers in the freezer. Why?)

Meals This Week

my dream.

(image)

Monday – I don’t know! And I’m out till late, so we’ll see if we have any good options from Trader Joes in the freezer.

Tuesday – My husband is at a meeting till late, which likely means avocado toast and Everything But the Bagel seasoning for me. But it’s absolutely worth mentioning that for him, this particular meeting requires he prepare a meal for about 15 people beforehand. I’m so excited for him. He practiced the dish on Saturday night, and it was amazing. (And I just searched my blog looking for a link, only to find I haven’t posted it? Not sure how that’s possible, and I wonder if I can get him to snap a picture of it so I can share.)

Wednesday – Thanks to a bit of advanced prep this past weekend, I’ve got some beef stew ready to reheat.

Thursday – We don’t have a friendsgiving on the calendar, so I’m getting in the Thanksgiving spirit by using up a loaf of bread in this stuffing I’ve never made, and I’ll make a green bean casserole too, because there’s never a bad time for green bean casserole. Why do we only eat green bean casserole on Thanksgiving?

Friday – Classic Tater Tot Hotdish – If you didn’t grow up knowing that tater tot casserole is a food (or, perhaps, a food group), then I bet you learned about it from the Duggars.*  That’s where I was first introduced, and in fact, I made it myself many years ago. Though that one was underwhelming, I knew when I saw Molly post a tater tot hotdish recipe, it couldn’t be bad. We’re trying it out Wednesday night.**

Saturday – We’ve got plans in the evening, so if we’re still hungry, we’ll graze when we get home.

Sunday – Sunday dinner! Hopefully whatever I make is blog-worthy, and you’ll see more soon.

*Also, I know you’ve watched the Duggars because one time I clicked on one of their Instagram accounts to see who else I knew followed them, and Instagram told me it was this person, that person, and about 50 other friends. Not even joking. It’s okay, we don’t have to acknowledge it in public or anything.

**I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point you toward this all-star tater tot recipe, which I make frequently.

Meals this Week

(image)

Monday: Just stocked up on chicken at Costco, and we’ve got half a bottle of Wishbone left from all of our summer grilling. One more round of Wishbone chicken before the weather turns frigid and it doesn’t seem seasonally appropriate anymore.

Tuesday: We are down to the very end of a bag of corn chips. When it gets to just the crumbly bits that means it’s time for Parmesan Ranch chicken.

Wednesday: Two nights in a row with no pasta on the menu means we’re due. We’ve got some tomatoes to use up, so I’ll probably just make a simple sauce with tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms.

Thursday: Leftovers!

Friday: Something meaty will go in the slow cooker. We didn’t love the short ribs we had a couple weeks ago, so I may call for a re-do with red wine instead of beer.

Saturday: I’m eyeing this pasta with brussels sprouts and bacon, but it doesn’t have the greatest reviews. (3 stars?!?!) We’ll see.

Sunday: I don’t know what’s on the menu, but we haven’t hosted anyone for a Sunday Dinner in way, way too long, so let’s hope we can have friends over that night.

 

Meals This Week

mixed floral melamine plate set ii

(Gave you seen these melamine plates from Caitlin Wilson? They’re sold out. I don’t want to talk about it.)

Monday: Trying something new in the slow cooker; Parmesan and Herb Roasted Chicken and Orzo.

Tuesday: That lasagna I talked about last week never happened, so I’m trying again this week. The meat is defrosted, and if I prep it after bedtime on Monday night, I won’t have anything to do on Tuesday.

Wednesday: The slow cooker is back on rotation for a short ribs dish. This in no way aligns with the summer weather we’re having, but I can only hold off on cooking hearty meat dishes for so long.

Thursday: Three nights of cooking in a row? Leftover time

Friday: Eek, I don’t know yet. I’m supposed to head out of town the next day, and so we’ll get creative with whatever is left in the fridge.

Saturday: Cooking up some risotto with Sous Chef Lauren! The most excited. It will likely be a hybrid of this one and this one, but with rice, not barley.

Meals This Week

Dear readers, I can’t promise I’ll share my meal plan every week, but I’m hoping that I can pop in now and again when I have it together to have one. This series was my fave, and I think a lot of you liked it too. Hopefully, seeing some real life solutions to the “What’s for dinner?” conundrum that strikes all of us from time to time will be a continued help.

https://cdn.gearpatrol.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/pottery-barn-daily-system-weekly-calendar.jpg

(RIP my beloved Pottery Barn meal organizer. You lived on our wall till we realized there was just no perfect spot for you anymore. I’ll miss you dearly.)

Monday – No time for grocery shopping this weekend. Thank heavens I’ve got two pot pies still in the freezer from a local market I visit every time I am in Pennsylvania. Pot pie for dinner! Meat, veggies and starch all in one dish. Pre-made food that only needs reheating. What could be better?

Tuesday – My husband is out at a meeting and I’ve got leftover pepperoni gravy to use up.

Wednesday – My husband is at a work event, which likely means avocado toast with Everything But the Bagel seasoning because it is the best, and enough of a dinner for me.

Thursday – We will be gone for the weekend, so Thursday dinner was a tricky one. We’re both home, but I don’t want to create too much mess or too many leftovers. I looked in the pantry and discovered some no-boil lasagna noodles. With some ground beef defrosted, I’ll make a quick lasagna that will feed us Thursday, and upon our return later in the weekend.

That’s it for this short week, dear readers! Thanks for playing along with our week in meals. More soon!

Meal Planning – for a Month (ish)

Dear readers,

Dear readers!

I am SO SO SO SO excited about today. We’re still talking all things meal planning, but today it’s not me rambling at you, it’s CARI FAYE! Cari Faye, of not-cooking fame! She’s sharing some insight on her own meal planning process, which is vastly different from mine. Because, again, say it with me now, there is no right way to meal plan! I plan every week. Cari Faye plans by the month.

IMG_1601.JPG

 

As someone who is a picky eater (scratch that – I have a discriminating palate), meal planning is an easy task.  There are only so many things I’m willing to eat, and  even fewer things I’m willing to spend time in the kitchen preparing/cooking/etc.  Our weeks usually go as follows – Sunday night through Wednesday night is home cooked meals.  Thursday night is some grab bag assortment of stuff from the freezer (I’m talking frozen ravioli, bagel bites, chicken nuggets – total kid food) and the Friday night and Saturday night are reserved for carry out.  Home cooked meals for 4 nights equates to 2 different meals with leftovers for 2 nights.  As someone who finds cooking to be a total chore, this makes it more manageable by only cooking every other night.

2 different meals = 1 meal of chicken and 1 meal of beef.  My beef recipes include meatloaf and meatballs.  My chicken recipes include gourmet things like shake and bake and corn flake chicken.  There’s 2 weeks worth of dinners right there.  The third week is usually baked ziti week – a meal that lasts for 3 nights instead of 2 (score!!) and my husband’s favorite.  That week we have an extra night of carry out (my favorite).  And then we start back over again in week 4.

In the summer, we get to rotate in things like hamburgers and grilled chicken, which I love because it’s tasty AND I don’t do the grilling (although this means I’m the one cleaning dishes; everything in life is a trade off). In the winter, the slow cooker is used ALL. THE. TIME.  BBQ chicken, coke chicken, any chicken recipe I can find.  Yes, the only thing I cook in my slow cooker is chicken (told you I had a discriminating palate).

After giving birth to our daughter and going back to work full time, I decided I really did not even want to spend 2 nights a week cooking dinner.  I now take 1 weekend a month and spend a day preparing enough meals to put in the freezer to last for a month.  This seems to be working well.  While defrosting meatballs and microwaving them isn’t quite as tasty as the freshly cooked version, it’s so much easier for us right now.  And easy = winning.

Don’t even ask me about sides.  I suck at those.  For many reasons, but the main one being I only eat foods that are beige.  So we rotate between tater tots, mashed potatoes, rice and macaroni and cheese as our sides. No joke.  In the summer, we eat corn on the cob!  And sometimes I’m feeling adventurous and will heat up some string beans out of the can, because those are the only vegetable I like.
Lessons you can take away from this?
1. Being a picky eater makes meal planning so much easier
2. As long as you don’t mind eating the same 6-8 meals on repeat, meal planning is a win
3. Tell your husband whenever you go out to eat to order the thing on the menu he loves but you will never cook for him.  this way he still gets to eat what he likes too! (For my husband, this ends up being a lot of pork and seafood.)

Meal Planning – For a Week

Let me walk you through the story of this week, dear readers. Tomorrow, we’re talking to Cari Faye, who plans out a month at a time.

img_1595.jpg

Monday was a leftover night. We fed people in some capacity for both lunch and dinner on Sunday, and thus, our refrigerator runneth over. I had some tomatoes and mozzarella mixed with pesto, so for dinner, I added cooked pasta, corn, and a little chicken for my husband, and we called it dinner. If we hadn’t had anything in the fridge, it would have been a “frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s” night, because Gooplet and I had plans with friends, and then I was out for the hour before dinner.

On Tuesday (today), I’m re-purposing our leftover sausage, onions, and peppers from Sunday Dinner, adding some cheese, and making an egg-bake. I rarely look at recipes for them anymore, but this is a good starting place. Since it’s just a matter of throwing food we already have together, I can make this on the spot right before it needs to go in the oven.

And then on Wednesday, which is always my busiest evening, we’re eating leftovers again. Yep! If I’m truly on my a-game I’ll roast some veggies to keep working on over lunches and dinners for the rest of the week, but that only happens about half the time.

On Thursday, I have a pretty quiet day, so I’m using some of naptime to make spaghetti pie. My favorite dinner!

On Friday, with any luck, I’ll get to make salad for lunch, and get something in the slow cooker for dinner. I didn’t make cassoulet like I planned last week, because I couldn’t find good kielbasa. So that’s an option (which still requires some grocery store searching), or I can pull the chicken thighs out of the freezer, and put them to use in another capacity.

Saturday is a grill night for my husband, with any number of my family members joining us for dinner.

And on Sunday, we’ll be going to our friends’ for Sunday Dinner, so no planning on my part! The timing on that works out beautifully, as we will have just said goodbye to our guests.

Meal Planning – For a Week

Welcome back to my series on meal planning, dear readers. No need to have been following along from the beginning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least point you toward my original meal planning post, if you’re so inclined.

I’m going to say something completely crazy. There is no right way to meal plan. There is no one way to meal plan. If there was, we wouldn’t all feel the need to write zillions of blog posts and make oodles of cute printables about it. But rather than give you a bunch of vague guidelines and tell you to adapt them, I want to get specific in terms of some different approaches to planning ahead.  First up, me! I plan a week at a time.

I have a pretty set weekly schedule. Gooplet and I do more or less the same activities on the same days. And I have a similar evening schedule from week to week as well. I used to make one weekend stop at the grocery store to cover us for 7 whole days, but now that there are 3 of us eating, instead of just 2, I’m there all the time. I’m not in a groove yet, and I doubt I will be as the little one keeps growing and eating more.

Let me walk you through this week, a totally crazy one in terms of life-happenings. Stay tuned for more weeks’ plans, and a closer look at how I figure out what to fill in each dinner slot.

IMG_1427.JPG

Most Mondays, I’m home for dinner, but I’m not home right beforehand to prep it. I was going to ask my husband to grill some pork (pre-marinated) from Trader Joes, but we scrapped that idea when we realized how late he’d have to grill because of his own schedule, so he ate leftovers from a slow cooker meal last week, and I grazed on whatever I could find before heading out the door again.

This Tuesday I’m gone before dinner even happens, so my husband is left to fend for himself again. He’ll likely have more leftovers. All this eating what’s already there is working in my favor, as I hope to wipe down our fridge this week – it needs it! But I am nervous that after today we won’t have much of anything left.

Wednesday I’m gone before dinner, but will be home to eat it. During naptime, I’ll prep Parmesan Ranch Chicken, and stick it in the fridge for my husband to bake later. He’ll probably cook rice to go with it, and we’ll steam some broccoli.

The fate of my Thursday evening is still up in the air. I know I have a couple of possible plans, but haven’t quite worked out the kinks to know my schedule. This is a perfect slow cooker day. I’ll make cassoulet, but probably sub out the pork ribs and add carrots instead.

By Friday, we’re almost always exhausted from the rest of the week, and we’ve got a kids’ baseball game to go to right around dinner time. This means one of us will put Gooplet to bed, and another will stick something from the Trader Joe’s freezer section in the oven. Potstickers are sounding good. I could do a whole post on what Trader Joe’s frozen foods that are always on hand in this house.

Saturday feels so far away right now! I’m pulled in 3 directions this week and will likely be out from 9-6 that day. I need something that will be ready when I walk in the door. Another slow cooker day! Looking at this slow cooker chicken barbecue, which is a recipe Cari Faye shared.

Sunday. Ahhhhh, Sunday.  I don’t know. It’s my husband’s job to grill something, and I will gladly purchase whatever meat he wants.

If that seems complicated, it’s because life is complicated and we have a lot going on this week. They secret to this week, though, is that almost everything is make ahead. And the two slow-cooker nights are practically no prep nights. Make meal planning work for you!

Meal Planning – Baby Steps

Welcome back to my series on meal planning, dear readers. No need to have been following along from the beginning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least point you toward my original meal planning post, if you’re so inclined.

Gretchen Rubin is one of my all-time favorite authors. I read The Happiness Project when it came out, and have loved watching her work evolve into some seriously intense studies on both happiness and habits. She would explain it far better than I, but the two go hand in hand beautifully. May I point you toward her newest book and her podcast? Both are worth your time.

IMG_1187.JPG

(Not my kitchen! This is from Homearama, and you’ve still got time to go!)

I mention Gretchen Rubin not only because of her general awesomeness, but also because if you’re seriously serious about getting in the habit of meal planning, then you’re looking to form some new habits. Those take time. Just start, but start small. Give yourself some easy victories.

What I’m suggesting is that if you currently plan 0 meals per week, month, or season, you resolve to plan one. Maybe two. And once you’ve got that under your belt, up the ante and plan three. Maybe four.

And whatever your choice is, CELEBRATE (!) when you succeed. Maybe the reward is take out one night because you successful cooked another. Seriously! Do something that feels over the top to celebrate your wins.