Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back to Meal Planning

I usually plan our meals. It keeps life going smoothly and also helps keep our food budget down. Unfortunately, over the past few months, I didn’t do a very good job planning our meals. I still planned, but not as well as I could have. That is, I didn’t plan meals that used some of the same ingredients (to save money), I didn’t make sure the items in the pantry and freezer got used up, and, most importantly, I didn’t make any new and interesting meals. We pretty much ate the same things over and over again. It got pretty boring.

So I am getting back to planning meals on the blog. One of the things I plan on doing, is cooking beans and lentils on the weekends so that they can be easily added to lunches and dinners during the week. I don’t plan lunches because I usually eat leftovers and the guys often eat a sandwich, and this works. But having some beans and/or lentils around to bulk things up and add some protein will be nice.

I am also going to do most of the prep work on the weekend. Besides cooking beans and lentils, I’ll wash and cut up veggies and fruits and make sure everything is easy to grab. I find we eat a lot more veggies and fruits when they are ready to eat. I’ll also boil eggs for the week.

I’ll also precook some meals on the weekend. Some meals truly taste better on the second or even third day, such as Bolognese sauce. It’s easy to have a pot simmering on the stove while I do other things on the weekend and use the sauce for easy meals during the week. I have also several soup recipes that taste great throughout the week.

As stated before, I plan on using my slow cooker more. I made a couple meals in it over the last few weeks, and they turned out great and everyone loved them.

Finally, I plan to stock the freezer with some homemade frozen meals. By making just a bit more food and taking a few portions away right away and freeze them, we can have another meal to eat on busy nights and save money at the same time.

So here are the meals for this week (Note: Monday’s meal is planned for Monday as it’s leftovers. The other meals are interchangeable, depending on what we feel like.)

Monday: Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and a salad. I made the sauce on Saturday, so this will be a leftover meal. I bulked up the meat sauce with lots of veggies and used more than twice the veggies that are traditionally used in a Bolognese sauce. The sauce tastes great, and the extra veggies ensured that there is enough for two meals.

Meal 2: Veggie stir fry with over easy eggs over rice. – I used to make this a lot but haven’t in many months. I’m looking forward to this meal.

Meal 3: Grilled salmon with dill and lemon juice and a salad. – I have some frozen wild salmon in the freezer that needs to be used up.

Meal 4: Kimchi stew with chicken. There is some very ripe kimchi in the fridge. It’s a bit too ripe to eat raw, but it’ll be delicious in a stew.

Meal 5: Leftovers and refrigerator and pantry finds. There is usually plenty leftover from the week in the fridge. If not, there is always wild canned salmon and tuna in the pantry. Plus, there is pasta, pasta sauce, rice, etc. In addition, I usually go to the Farmers’ Market on Fridays, so we’ll have some fresh veggies to supplement our meal with.

Questions: Do you plan meals? What’s on your menu this week?

Be well,

Andrea

28 comments:

  1. Greta
    morgen gibt es einen fantasie Kartoffelsalat dazu hartgekochte Eier.

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  2. I haven't been really good about meal planning lately, but I've always be good at making food that can be used for more than one meal. Tonight I'm making a ham which will do dinner, many lunches this week and the bone will go towards a pot of split pea soup...

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    1. I made a ham over the holidays, and I loved how many meals I got out of it, including split pea soup, which was my favorite!

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  3. I really need to meal plan but somehow I just can't make myself do it!

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    1. I think the hardest part is to get started. Once you get used to it, it'll be easy and natural (until you stop; then you'll have to start over again...).

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  4. Good for you! I am trying to do this more, too. Today I am boiling eggs, making some brown rice, and making a big green salad!

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    1. Sounds good! Reminds to go boil some eggs right now... :)

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  5. Yes I plan meals but I often forget to use up ingredients, working on that or put the leftover veggies in the freezer for next week.

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    1. Freezing leftover veggies is a great idea!

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  6. i love your planning posts. We do better with menu too.
    Monday "smoky" chicken and broc
    Tues- fish TBD, any great family-friendly fish?
    Wed- usually we do meat/grass fed- meatloaf or chili
    thurs we're out kids have pasta pesto/veggies
    fri- en route to VT is car-dinner or we stop.

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    1. Your menu sounds good.

      We recently had some Alaskan cod that everyone enjoyed, including my husband who doesn't like "fishy fish." :)

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  7. Looks like a great plan Andrea. I wished I planned more...'cause when I do, it feels really good and in control. Have a wonderful Monday.

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    1. Yup, meal planning calms me down as I feel (at least a little) in control... :)

      Happy Monday to you, Roz!

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  8. Happy New Year Andrea! I am back to meal planning again too~some of this week's lineup includes fish tacos w/ cara cara orange salsa, chocolate brownie banana waffles {my son's pick of the week!}, and roast turkey breast, which I plan on saving leftovers for sandwiches, soups, etc. Loved the photos from your last post of you and your parents-so glad they could come visit you!!

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    1. Thanks, EA!

      Your meals sound great! I'll have to make fish tacos again!

      We are so thankful that my parents were able to visit!

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  9. I've also not been planning meals much for the last month or so - especially with the holidays, it's hard to find the time! I think your tips are great, especially the idea to precook beans and lentils on the weekend to pump up the protein - we eat a lot of leftovers for lunches and I often find myself lacking enough protein.

    Best of luck with your planning reboot - I can't wait to see what other meals are cooking in your kitchen! ;)

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    1. Yes, I hope to do some more recipe posts. Maybe some more Korean dishes...

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  10. I'm with you. I chopped veggies and pre-cooked chicken and turkey for easy meals this week. It makes life so much easier, doesn't it?

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    1. Yes, much easier and one less thing to worry about... :)

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  11. Smart! Like your ideas around hard boiled eggs, beans and prep on the weekend, that way you get fresher meals but they're on-hand/easier to make! I love meal planning and hope that once I get my appetite back (my predictable, consistent one that is) i'll be able to get back to it in a bigger way!

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    1. I'm sure you will! I think with a kid it'll be especially helpful... You must be getting very excited!!!

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  12. You are great Andrea...I can not be as disciplined as you, every time that I try to plan my weekly meals, I end up not following :(
    Happy 2013 and have a great week!

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    1. The more I plan, the easier it gets! :)

      Happy 2013 to you, Juliana!

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  13. Thought of you when I had bibimbap earlier this week. The first time I ever heard of this dish was on your blog. :) Hope you are having a great 2013 so far.

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    1. I hope you liked the bibimbap - it's for sure one of our favorites!

      Happy 2013 to you, Melinda!

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  14. What a fantastic plan. I use to meal plan when I was cooking for the family. I would post the menu on the frig so everyone would know the plan. I always planned for one night of leftovers at the end of the week. It made life so much easier. Often I would double recipes and freeze the extra one. Now that we are empty nesters and my hubby travels for work I am often eating dinner alone. Planning has been set aside since I don't make large meals for growing kids anymore! I should still do some planning as its less wasteful and helps us to eat healthier. Happy cooing!

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    1. I can imagine that meals are very different when the kids are gone... It was a big change for us when the older one went off to college. Growing boys eat a lot... :)

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