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…but luckily I’ve got a plan for next week!   I’ve had so little motivation to cook and plan for the last month, that I worried I’d lost my touch…but show me some red meat and the meal ideas start flowing like gangbusters!  I’ve been craving steak for about three weeks straight now, and was happy to have it twice while on vacation, but my steak craving has since expanding to anything and everything involving red meat.  Especially ribs.  More specifically, slow braised beef short ribs, in all their fatty delicious glory.  So, without further ado, here is the list of all my current pregnancy craving meals for the week:

1. Braised Beef Short Ribs with salad
2. Taco Salad (taco meat over greens with tomato/onion/bell pepper/avocado/sour cream) – Taco meat will also be used in omlettes
3. Wings (Adam’s non-beef request…I guess they’ll suffice as a meal)
4. Thai Grilled Beef Salad – Thin sliced rib eye steaks over seasoned cabbage salad (asian coleslaw-esque) with thai spices…if this one turns out well I’ll share it!
5. Roast Beef Wraps with Rosemary Mayonaise – Thin sliced roast beef wrapped in romaine leaves with rosemary mayonaise and red onion
6. Roasted Chicken (more specifically a large Capon – neutered rooster) with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli – Our first dinner with our friends coming in from Minneapolis next Saturday
7. Grilled Steak and Shrimp Kebabs with Assorted Grilled Vegetables – The second dinner with friends the following day

It’s quite the adventurous meal plan, and is quite possibly too much food for one week…I have a feeling I’ll be making 50-60% of these meals this week and the remainder the following week. It just feels nice to be inspired again!

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I cannot believe Spring has nearly come and gone!  I miss the mosquito free 75 degree days and the bevy of flowering trees all around…Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy summer too, I just can’t be outside in the garden for more than two minutes without acquiring an itchy collection of mosquito bites. With that said, my first-week-of-summer meal plan is not nearly as grill heavy as I’d like it to be, because Adam has had to work closing shifts quite regularly (keeping him locked up at Lowe’s until 11pm) and I’m just not the grill maven I ought to be. Add the mosquitos to the fact that I tend to take everything off the grill 5 minutes too early (Medium-rare chicken anyone? What, no takers??) and I’m better off just staying in the kitchen!

If anyone else is grill-impared like I am, or if you don’t have a grill, then boy have I got a delicious week planned:

Pulled Pork Salad
Meatballs with Marinara Sauce over Spaghetti Squash
Pulled Pork Frittata with bell peppers/onion/garlic/mushrooms/jalapeno/salt/pepper…mmm
Dijon Crusted Salmon with Asparagus
Cornish hens with roasted broccoli (I know, I keep doing roasted chicken with roasted broccoli, but it’s so dang good I can’t help it!)

I’ve been on a salmon kick lately with my salmon chowder (an adaptation of this recipe), and nothing sounds quite as good as a big piece of fish with tangy dijon mustard and fresh asparagus right now. I can still get good local asparagus at the farmer’s market, but this may be the last week for it (it is a spring vegetable afterall) so I’d better take advantage! Lastly, this picture has nothing to do with anything, but it’s seriously the cutest puppy picture ever taken. Wes used to be so precious:

Happy Summer everyone!

I said it, Hot Dogs! But not just any hot dogs, I’m talking about real hot dogs, made from actual pork with no added ingredients and a natural casing. Thanks to Kroeger Meats at my beloved Findlay Market, I can actually get natural pork products minus the industrial ingredients. This coming week’s meal plan represents quite a spectrum, from fancy-schmancy salmon wrapped scallops, to cheesy cauliflower and hot dogs. We haven’t had the latter yet, but I’m hoping for another “kid worthy” stamp of approval from Adam on that one.

So without further ado, next week we will be filling up on:

1. Salmon Wrapped Scallops with a lemon-herb butter and Grilled Asparagus (recipe and pictures to follow)
2. Roast Chicken with Roasted Broccoli…I can only leave this off the menu for so long, I do love roast chicken!
3. Asian Chicken Salad with the leftover chicken (instead of the usual cobb salad)
4. Cheesy Cauliflower with Natural Hot Dogs…which does sound like something a two-year old would love, right? And a salad.
5. Turkey Meatballs with Marinara and Spaghetti Squash (using the same spices as this recipe, just with ground turkey because I feel like doing something different!)

I’m also going to check out Tewe’s Poultry Farm tomorrow for my roasting chicken and ground turkey, a poultry farm that specializes in hormone-free, pastured, antibiotic-free turkey and chicken. They are only about 20 minutes away from my home, and have better prices than I can find just about anywhere else! What can beat that? Hopefully I’ll have a new, local source for buying chicken, supporting a family owned business to boot!

Well, the year is officially flying by, and I can hardly believe that this meal plan will take us through the first week of June!  The weather is consistently up in the 80’s, the garden is starting to take off with all the sunshine (our very first strawberry is almost ready to be picked!), and I am starting to get very unsightly tan lines from my daily walks at work.  With all the changes in the weather recently, I have been wanting to change up my cooking too, craving a wider variety of meals.  I don’t generally make multiple new meals in a week, but this meal plan includes four new meals!  Wish me luck that I won’t be stuck eating mediocre leftovers all week!

Meal Plan for May 30th to June 4th:

1. Taco Salad – Green salad (from our garden!) topped with seasoned ground beef, bell pepper, tomato, red onions, avocado, sour cream, and a spicy “ranch” dressing (which will be homemade starting with a greek yogurt base).
2. Artic Char Chowder – A recommendation from my brother
3. Parmesan Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Broccoli – Pork tenderloin cut into medallions, then pounded flat and crusted with parmesan cheese, then pan fried. We’ll see how that one turns out…
4. Piperade – No relation to Powerade…this is from my French cookbook “Je Sais Cuisiner” (I Know How to Cook) by Ginette Mathiot, which I absolutely love! Piperade is an egg dish, with bell pepper, tomato, ham, and spices. I just like the funny name.
5. Steak with Grilled Mushrooms and Asparagus – The last of our grass-finished steaks *sigh*.

The last day of the week, Saturday June 5th, is our 4th wedding anniversary! That day, instead of cooking, we’ll be going to a restaurant downtown called Local 127 that serves only seasonal and locally sourced foods. I couldn’t be more excited!

Since last week’s meal plan was such a hit, I thought people might appreciate some dinner ideas again this week! One thing I’ll be doing next week is using cooked meat on multiple days, in different meals. More batch cooking, since it’s my favorite way to plan meals that can be made quickly on weekdays. So without further ado, here are my picks:

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, made with leftover whole roast chicken (the recipe for which I will most definitely share)
Pulled Pork Salad
Stuffed Eggplant
Frittata with the already made Pulled Pork (with bell peppers/jalapenos/onion/garlic/mushrooms)
Cornish Hens with Roasted Broccoli
Cobb Salad with the leftover chicken from the Cornish Hens (always a hit!)

The cornish hens I buy from Findlay Market are no measley cornish hens, they weigh in at about a pound and a half each, which is considerably bigger than the ones I see at the grocery store. Consequently, I am generally full after eating only the leg/thigh half of my hen, and am able to save the entire breast for salad meat. If you have a bigger family, roasting a full size chicken will probably give you the amount of meat you will need to have roast chicken for dinner and cobb salad (or lettuce wraps) later in the week. Part of the fun of cornish hens is that everyone gets their own little chicken though, and who doesn’t like miniature food anyway?

I hope seeing my meal list is helpful to someone out there, I know I need some fresh ideas from time to time myself!

When Adam and I moved to Ohio we went from two decent paychecks to one very measly one (for a while). As any one else who has gone through a financial famine will relate to, spending money on frivolities like eating out became impossible. Prior to moving, we would go to the grocery store together, pick out whatever new things looked interesting, get the “staples” like Pasta Roni, shredded cheese, and a giant tub of peanut butter, and possibly think up a few meals for the week while we were there. We always had frozen chicken breast, ground turkey, cheese, and enough tortillas to wallpaper a Taco Bell, so if nothing else we could always have quesadillas. But beside the random grocery shopping, we also ate out a lot. Probably 7-10 times per week if you count meals for each of us.

Fast forward to October 2007 and nary a fast food container could be found in our refrigerator or trash can. Why? Because spending $10 on a fast food meal for two people, which does not leave any leftovers, seemed like a preposterous waste of our precious few dollars. It was around this time that I began making a weekly meal plan, and with it a comprehensive shopping list. If it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t go in the cart! Yes, I was a cart-nazi for a while, but someone had to be. Making a meal plan and list helped to lower our food bills substantially, as did making sure that any leftovers we had got eaten and not wasted.

Fast forward one more time to May 2010, and although our income is infinitely better than it was in 2007, my meal plan is still my security blanket. I always think about my meals for the next week on Thursday, make a shopping list based on the things that I’ll need that aren’t currently in my refrigerator, freezer, or pantry, and do all of my shopping on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Friday evening I hit the stores that are closer to work (which include Costco and Whole Foods), and on Saturday I hit Findlay Market (which is an amazing farmer’s market and local market that I’ll post about later) and Kroger. I do spend more money on food now than I used to at the grocery store and farmer’s market, but overall our food bills are incredibly reasonable because we eat out far less than before. It might average two meals out per week over the course of a month (that’s Adam and I combined, not each). I cannot stress enough how much easier shopping and cooking at home are when you have a game plan, especially when it comes to hectic weeknights where you only have 45 minutes to get something healthy on the table. If you already know what ingredients you have on hand and what you’re making with them, you will be much more likely to eat at home than spend extra money eating out.

With that in mind, I’ll post my meal plan for next week, which is usually structured from Sunday to Saturday:

1. Coconut Pancakes with Bacon and Eggs (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?)
2. BBQ Chicken Legs with grilled asparagus
3. Hamburgers (without the bun of course) with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and all of the usual hamburger vegetables (tomato/red onion/lettuce…probably some avocado as well)
4. Cobb Salad
5. Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard sauce and Roast Broccoli
6. Wings (Adam’s special request) with carrots and celery and a special Strawberry Crumble (which I will share with you later!)

There are only six meals here, but as I mentioned in my batch cooking post I like to cook enough food for a few meals every time I’m in the kitchen. So one night (at least) will be leftovers, and the rest of the leftovers will be eaten as lunch or breakfast.

I obviously keep fruit and extra vegetables around as well, but I don’t feel like posting my entire shopping list! If you’ve never made a meal plan before, or if you are a “buy what looks interesting” kind of person like I used to be (and a subsequent food waster, because many times I would forget to use some of my “interesting” things), try making a list and sticking to it this week. Hopefully it will encourage you to eat at home more than you eat out!