Meal Planning with Comfort Food

I’m feeling energized for meal planning with the New Year, and I’ve tried setting some weekly goals to get motivated. We’re still eating lots of veggies, but last week’s plan to use dinner prep time to make food for the freezer was only half successful. I got lazy at the end of the week and was just pleased to get dinner on the table, not taking the time to double up. I may be better off trying to freeze 1-2 meals a week than try to do it all at once like that (I’ll try that this week with my soup recipe). We have crummy weather this week, lots of rain and chilly temps, which makes me want comfort foods like soup, homemade bread, and mac & cheese.


Sunday–Crockpot Beef & Broccoli, brown rice noodles
Meatless Monday–Crustless Italian Spinach Pie, salad, and homemade bread
Tuesday–Baked Pesto Chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes (I’ll make double)
Wednesday–Chicken Sausage & Lentil Soup and cornbread
Thursday–Balsamic Mushroom Pork and leftover mashed potatoes
Friday–Macaroni & Cheese Casserole and salad
Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, tortillas, brown rice, black beans

I did do better on my goal to shop less–just one trip to the grocery store and one trip to Costco (and I won’t have to do that again for several weeks).  I’m trying to stick to my monthly budget for groceries while going out less, and I’m considering going back to drugstore shopping (either CVS or Rite Aid). I haven’t done it in ages and need to decide whether the time & effort is worth the savings and extra trips.

How are you doing on your meal planning so far in 2013?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Plan for the Freezer

Last week’s goal of eating lots of veggies was successful, and this week I’ve set a new short-term goal: to use my dinner prep time to make food for the freezer. With all the families we know sick with the flu or whathaveyou, it’s inevitable that we’ll end up with something. I like to have some soup and other simple meals ready to go in case I’m incapacitated. If it doesn’t happen, great! We’ll just have dinners ready for busy nights.

I have a few meals I regularly freeze (like ground beef with onions/peppers that I use for tacos, sloppy joes, pasta dishes, etc.), but I need some new ones for the rotation. I picked up a few freezer cookbooks from the library and have some recipes to try out. I got a few my family with like from Once a Month Cooking Family Favorites and will read Don’t Panic–Dinner’s in the Freezer tonight.

Mini Broccoli Quiches

With my freezer goal in mind, each meal we’re having this week is being made as a double-batch so I can freeze the second portion:

Sunday–We had lasagna and salad with neighbors while the Redskins lost :(
Meatless Monday–Mini Broccoli Quiches and salad. Will double the recipe and freeze half.
Tuesday–Slow cooker Chicken, spinach and tomatoes served over angel hair pasta. Will make a zipper bag with same ingredients.
Wednesday–Cashew Chicken (from OAMC Family Favorites) and brown rice. Will make two, bake one and freeze one in a zipper bag.
Thursday–Meatball Sub-Bake and salad. Will make two, bake one and freeze one.
Friday–Super Easy Chicken Soup with cornbread. Will double the recipe and freeze half.
Stuffed Shells (I mix ricotta with pesto), then freeze them on cookie sheets individually. Once frozen, you can store them in a zipper bag, then place in a pan with spaghetti sauce to bake.

Another goal I mentioned last week was only shopping once a week. That was a huge fail–I went four times! I’m aiming to do it this week and the rest of the month. Wish me luck!


Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

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Meal Planning in the New Year

Dinner Every Night
As we head into the New Year, I’m personally dealing with some meal planning challenges–maybe you are, too? My ultimate goal is to feed my family healthy meals within our budget ($550/month for our family of five). I’m feeling a little burnt out, however, with coupon shopping, multiple stores, trying to fit cooking around evening activities, cooking when I’m tired or sick, etc. So I’ve spent a little time this week thinking how I want to approach my goal in the New Year. My three big strategies will be:

  1. Utilizing freezer and crockpot cooking to avoid stress between 5-7pm.
  2. Keeping up with what I have on hand in the pantry/freezer so I can shop for groceries only once per week.
  3. Set limits on couponing/multiple stores (I think I’ll set a time limit and only shop once per week, since I’m not willing to give it up completely).

On the short-term, my goal this week is to fill us up with vegetables to counter all the sweets we ate over the holidays, so I chose simple recipes off my Master Meal List that are veggie-heavy:

Tortilla Soup

Sunday–Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup and cornbread
Meatless Monday–Greek Pita Pizzas on whole wheat pita bread
Tuesday–Chicken Sausage sauteed with veggies over angel hair pasta
Wednesday–Slow Cooker Beef Stew and homemade bread
Thursday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, wheat tortillas, black beans and brown rice
Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and salad
Pork Roast, baked potatoes and green beans

What are your meal planning challenges as we head into the New Year?


Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Plan Monday: Back to Cooking

In early November I took some time when cooking to prep a second meal for the freezer and was able to stock up for busy weeks. Well, we ate all of that, so I’m back to the drawing board! It was a great reminder that it’s worth taking time when you have it to plan ahead. I will think of that a lot while I’m cooking this week…

Here’s my plan for this busy week:

Sunday–Turkey Parmesan Pasta, salad (we didn’t get to it last week)
Meatless Monday–
Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and cornbread
Tuesday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, brown rice and black beans
Wednesday–Spinach & Feta Pasta Salad
Thursday–Chicken breasts, broccoli and quinoa
Friday & Saturday–
Heading out of town! Will be eating out both nights.

If you’re looking for simple, family-friendly recipes, check out my Recipe Index. The meals we eat most are on my family’s Master Meal List.

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.


Meal Plan Monday: Early December

Welcome to December–are you feeling a little more pressure? You can help yourself out a lot by taking some time each week to make a meal plan if you’re not regularly using one. Just sit down with your calendar, figure out which nights are holiday parties/potlucks (so what will you bring?), late nights at sports and other activities, and which nights allow for some home cooking. That’s what my weeks are like all this month! By planning the week’s meals, I can make just one trip to the store and know I have everything we need. That saves both time and money–since you often spend more than you plan each time to run to the store for “just one thing.”

What other ways do you make December a little easier at your house?


Here’s my plan for this busy week:

Sunday–Beef Tacos with fixings, black beans
Leftovers from the weekend–pulled pork or chicken soup (we have a late night at TKD)
Tuesday–Meatball subs on whole wheat hot dog buns, salad
Wednesday–Cornmeal Parmesan Chicken (I just dip tenders in milk, then a mixture of cornmeal, Parmesan, and pepper), baked potatoes and broccoli
Thursday–Chicken Caesar Casserole (from the freezer), salad
Out to a holiday party, we’re bringing Pizza Pinwheels (recipe will post tomorrow)
Saturday–Turkey Parmesan Pasta, salad

If you’re looking for simple, family-friendly recipes, check out my Recipe Index. The meals we eat most are on my family’s Master Meal List.

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.


Meal Plan Monday: Holiday Season

Happy Monday! I’m having a hard time getting back on routine after four days of traveling, eating, kids, visiting, fun, and naps. And it’s a five-day week, so my kids were very hard to get up and out this morning! Yours, too? It feels so funny to me that there’s a whole week of November left after Thanksgiving, and there’s already holiday decoration up all over our neighborhood. I’m definitely not ready!

I am thinking about holiday food, though. I like to keep up with simple, healthy weeknight meals to allow for entertaining, potlucks, parties, and other fun food on the weekends. I’m still using some of the freezer food I prepped in early November; it sure was nice to have meals ready all weekend after our trip to Philly. Budget-wise, I’m using up what’s in the freezer and pantry this week, just buying dairy and fruit.

Here’s the plan:

Sunday–Broccoli Pie (the Mini Broccoli Quiches recipe in a pie plate) and cornbread
Meatball Subs (on whole wheat hot dog buns), salad
Tuesday–Greek Chicken (tomatoes, olives, peppers, onions) over quinoa
Wednesday–Pineapple Pork Chops with brown rice and green beans
Thursday–Savory Omelets (spinach & feta cheese) with rosemary potatoes and fruit
Super Easy Chicken Soup (I’m going to throw it all in the slow cooker) with leftover rice from Wed.
Saturday–Pulled Pork Sandwiches, sweet potato fries and corn

If you’re looking for simple, family-friendly recipes, check out my Recipe Index. The meals we eat most are on my family’s Master Meal List.

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.


Meal Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Week

Oh, it’s Thanksgiving week, and I’ve been very neglectful of Thanksgiving here on the blog. I haven’t thought too much about it and haven’t done any decorating (not like me!). This year, we’re not hosting dinner, and we’re not hosting visitors. All we have to do is drive somewhere and be guests. I’m really looking forward to it. I need things at a slower pace right now, so this is perfect.

Since I spent so much time in the kitchen the past two weeks doubling up on meals for the freezer, I’m taking advantage of it this week to give myself a break:

Sunday–Pork Loin Roast with Herbed Pepper Rub, garlic mashed red potatoes (from the freezer), asparagus
Tortilla Soup (from the freezer), corn muffins
Tuesday–Hamburgers with mushrooms & onions, sweet potato fries, corn
Wednesday–Meatballs and spaghetti, salad, green beans
Thursday & Friday–Turkey (of course!) at my sister’s house, plus birthday cake. We’re celebrating my nephew’s 2nd birthday!
Saturday–We’ll be back home, so I’ll pull some Pesto Stuffed Shells from the freezer and serve them with salad.

Hope you’re staying relaxed this week and looking forward to celebrating with friends and family! Find more meal plans, recipes, and inspiration at Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.


Meal Plan Monday: More Freezer Cooking

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been planning meals that allow me to double-up or make extra so I can freeze them for the busy holiday weeks ahead. This week, I’m doing the same thing–using up what I’ve bought on sale (in this case, chicken breasts at $1.99/lb and red potatoes at $5.99 for a 10lb bag)–and taking a little time while cooking to make extra. I’ll appreciate that effort later! I also made a quadruple batch of Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and froze it in balls. There are several zipper bags full in the freezer, perfect for later days when we need lunchbox goodies or an afterschool snack in no time.

Using what I bought on sale last week (chicken breasts, red potatoes, etc.), here’s my meal plan for this week:

Sunday–Chicken Caesar Casserole (I’m making two and freezing one in a zipper bag for later), green beans
Breakfast for Dinner: scrambled eggs, rosemary red potatoes, grapes
Tuesday–Hamburgers with mushrooms, garlic mashed red potatoes (plus extra to freeze), salad
Wednesday–Chicken Rice Casserole (plus an extra for the freezer), salad
Thursday–Spaghetti with meat sauce, broccoli, Caesar salad
Friday–Homemade Pizza with lots of veggies
Saturday–Pulled Pork Sandwiches, sweet potato fries, corn

Find more meal plans, recipes, and inspiration at Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Plan Monday: Plan for the Busy-ness Ahead

I set aside some time this weekend to plan out 3-4 weeks’ worth of meals and set up some short freezer cooking sessions to make things easier for later. As quickly as November arrived, it will soon be holiday season, and one of the ways I make it more fun and less stressful is by not thinking about dinner. With a few prepared meals in the freezer, it’s easy to feed everyone and avoid ordering takeout, fast food, and other crutches we rely on during busy times. It also helps me stick to my monthly grocery budget. There are also nights where I just don’t want to stand at the stove; this way, I can do something else while dinner is cooking. Four of the meals on this week’s plan are easy to double-up; I’ll make a second pan or double-batch of soup and freeze it for a later week.

What are some ways you make busy seasons easier?


Using what’s on sale at my store (chicken breasts, chicken sausage, and pasta), here’s my plan for this week:

Sunday–Grilled chicken and veggies with neighbors (it’s gotten too dark to grill!), pitas, broccoli
Pesto Stuffed Shells (using this manicotti filling, but with a different pasta), Caesar Salad
Tuesday–Sausage & Lentil Soup, cornbread
Wednesday–Baked Pesto Chicken, brown rice, green beans
Thursday–Macaroni & Cheese Casserole and broccoli (I just put chopped broccoli in before baking), salad
Friday–Super Easy Chicken Soup (I’m going to put it all in the slow cooker), Dill Ricotta Rolls
Saturday–Leftovers Festival–there should be plenty

Find more meal plans, recipes, and inspiration at Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.