Today I spent about four hours on meal preparation. It was longer than usual because of new recipes and roasting a chicken. So I wrote about it during breaks. I took a lot of breaks. If our food choices don’t interest you, please come back later!
I always wanted to be a meal planner. I became one over this summer. And I haven’t looked back.
Four things that have made meal planning successful for me:
- I write it out on pen and paper. I use my Bullet Journal and then I have past meal plans to look back on.
- I use my taste buds and our current pantry, not the ads, to plan. If it’s a really great sale, I buy it and incorporate it next week or freeze it. Planning foods I want and making sure nothing we already purchased goes to waste are my priorities.
- I do a bulk cook and prep session one day of the weekend. This helps me not forget meals during the week or omit them if I get busy.
- My husband is on board and pitches in with the extra dish load.
I don’t plan every day, just in general 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with snacks and sides.
This week’s Menu:
-Groats. (Think steel cut oats without the steel cut.) We have these every other week. I make a big batch with a little less than twice the water recommended, boil them for 10-15 minutes, then add a tablespoon of vanilla extract and put them in the fridge. They finish soaking up the water overnight. I like to add cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin puree, and grated carrot to mine. Tom likes raisins, brown sugar, and nuts.
-Eggs with vegetables. Sometimes I make a quiche or frittata. But that can get tough throughout the week. Tom loves to cook scrambled eggs so this is sautéed mushroom, onion, and zucchini to add to them. It adds some nutrients, some heft, and most important for me, some flavor.
-Not pictured “Go To” fill-in ideas – Sprouted Grain Bread for French toast or toasted peanut butter sandwiches, Hormone-free Organic bacon, and Non-Hormone-free Non-Organic turkey sausage. These will round our breakfasts depending on time and tastes. (We usually eat only one meat a week for breakfast.)
Oh, and I eat a small salad with breakfast every day. Tom declines.
I make a green smoothie for myself daily. On the weekend, I prep everything and re-use produce bags so I can dump it in my blender and go every morning.
I will use 2-3 kinds of greens, 2 kinds of fruit, and usually some cucumber and/or celery. I often add frozen blueberries or strawberries as I like, and chia seeds or hemp seeds when I remember.
This week all smoothies have parsley and spinach as the greens. Then I made four with ½ an apple and ¼ cucumber. The other three have a stalk of celery and a banana will get added when made.
Lunches are a combination of: leftovers from dinner, freezer meals leftover from other weeks, eating out once, and one day of tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo. That ensures I eat fish at least once a week.
This week I am going to thaw a batch of vegan chickpea and lentil curry from a few weeks ago to add to other leftovers.
-BBQ Chicken. Skinless thighs for me, regular drumsticks for Tom. This was to use up a bottle of sauce that turned out to be quite watery. I may have to find another sauce for slathering and dipping the day we eat.
-Chicken Stew with Dumplings. This is a new recipe for me based off of Tom’s request for chicken and dumplings. I have taken a lot of liberties with the ingredients based on what we already had in the freezer. (A bag of EAT YOUR PEAS is in there.)
-Chicken Pesto. This is a variation I created from a Rachel Ray “30 Minute Meals” show. The basics are a rotisserie chicken, roasted red peppers, olives, and pesto. I add mushrooms for “umph”. And I take significantly longer than 30 minutes by roasting the chicken and the peppers myself. I wish I had the resources to make the pesto from scratch but it is hard to find mass amounts of good basil in northern Wisconsin in February. No, really.
Once the chicken is chopped up, this meal will come together in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Not pictured: hamburgers and fish. The hamburgers will either be ground turkey breast or a local source of ground round. The fish will be tilapia. I dislike lots of fish.
I lump snacks and sides together because I mix and match a lot for my lunch. This is more than we will probably eat in one week. I like to have lots of options so I don’t buy junk.
-Fruit. Tangerines & Bananas. And apples for Tom. My TMJ makes it hard for me to eat them. That’s why I have them in smoothies a lot.
-Trail Mix. This is walnuts, roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, and raisins.
-Muffins. This week I created a new recipe for almond flour cranberry muffins because I have cranberries to use up. I used all apple sauce instead of butter or oil and they came out almost too moist. But very delicious. Less sauce, a little spice and I may have a new favorite.
Not pictured: Wild rice, yogurt and zucchini. Another vegetable you say? How about a bag of EAT YOUR PEAS?
(I have a bag and a half of green beans which will probably last the week. Otherwise I have some canned beets.)
We also might have some Baked Beans? This would be Tom’s contribution. He has a crockpot recipe for them he likes to make.
Nothing special planned this week. Those muffins are my big treat. I am trying to cut down on refined sugar. There is some vanilla ice cream in the freezer if we get desperate.
And that’s it! Now all I have to do is not eat it all before Tom gets home!