Menu Plan Monday

I’ve been menu planning for years and years… some of those you can find here on the archives of the blog – (Menu Plan Monday) and some are written down on index cards stashed in my desk and on various pages of my planners from over the years.  But I have always found that menu planning saves me in so many ways – it saves my sanity, it saves money, it saves food (waste) and time.  It’s a win-win for my family.

When the girls were little it helped me to get a grip on what nights I had time to cook something more involved and what nights were “grab and go” kind of nights due to dance and other extracurricular activities.  It still works that way now, even though the girls are practically grown – especially now, actually – because we ALL have busy schedules these days. SuperMan teaches two nights a week, I have a class one night a week, one girl is working, one girl has theater activities several nights a week, both girls babysit, the list goes on and on.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

So meal planning helps me because I can plan what I cook around who is doing what on what nights – for example, on the nights I have class I try to do something quick and easy I can either put in the crock pot, Instant Pot or prepare ahead of time. On the nights SuperMan is gone, the girls and I usually opt for something really quick and easy like breakfast for dinner or reinventing leftovers (or even take out).  That usually leaves us 4 nights out of 7 that we can potentially have family meals – and one of those is usually an eat out night (Friday, usually).

Lately, thanks to Big Girl’s job, we have been taking advantage of meals from Dream Dinners.  I used to use them years and years ago, when the girls were tiny, and we are loving the convenience, variety, and ease that their meals offer. It also helps me with meal planning because they’re prepped and ready to go – waiting in the freezer for us to grab, cook, and enjoy.

This month we added a few extra meals to our rotation since I am still recovering from foot surgery.  SuperMan and the girls can very easily cook these dinners – some are just heat and eat, even – and we have healthy, tasty dinners on the table in minutes.

I’m really thankful for the extra ease that Dream Dinners has afforded our family, especially in this busy season.  And I’m loving the variety we have available through our meals from there. I’m not stuck rotating the same meals over and over because I can’t think of anything else to cook.  I’ve also found the girls are more adventurous with these dinners – they’re willing to try new things they might not have tried before if Mama came up with it on her own!Here’s our plan this week-

  • Monday – takeout (we are running errands)
  • Tuesday – Taco Tuesday (using leftovers from the delicious fajitas SuperMan made Saturday. We will have fajita taco salads, I think)
  • Wednesday – OYO (On Your Own) only Little Bit and I will be home so we will probably eat leftovers or something simple like soup
  • Thursday – Mini Meatloaves (Dream Dinners)
  • Friday – eat out (probably our usual Friday Night Mexican)
  • Saturday – date night?
  • Sunday – Grilled Chicken with Honey Butter (Dream Dinners)

 

Do you meal plan? If you do, how do you approach your meal planning? Do you prep ahead, or make as you go?
If you don’t meal plan, why? Does it seem like too much work?

 

 

Menu Plan Monday

Gracious. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Menu Plan Monday post.

It’s not that I haven’t been menu planning – I just haven’t been posting. Smile with tongue out

But I thought I’d share with you what I have planned on this last week of school before the holiday break.  It’s going to be crazy here – lots going on, Big Girl has midterms, etc.  so I wanted to be prepared with good meals and a plan for when to prepare them.

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Here’s what I have so far – I generally try to plan 5 meals a week. I know we will eat out at least once during the week for takeout (it seems that way no matter how hard I try not to) and we usually go out for dinner once on the weekend (at least Disappointed smile)

I do not plan which meal to have on which day, although I have a general idea based on what is happening this week – like on Wednesday I have my Ladies’ Group at the house so I will do the Chicken Spaghetti that I can make ahead and pop in the oven while I’m in carpool.  It will be ready around 5:30 and we can eat and get the kitchen cleaned up long before everyone starts to arrive at 7:00.

Sticking with some old stand by recipes this week – and one SuperMan Special.

What are you planning this week?

Back to school means back to menu planning

Tomorrow the girls start school. With that milestone, many things will be changing in our household. Most notably, we’ll be getting back on a regular schedule. No more dinners at 8PM and bedtimes creeping closer and closer to 11PM (!). We’ll be back to eating dinner at 5:30-6:00 each evening and bedtimes closer to 9PM.

AND – I’ll be back to menu planning. I’ve sort of kept it up all summer. But I have been pretty loosey-goosey with the plans.  Thankfully, I had a lot of meals in my freezer and we were stocked up on meats there, too. I have been trying to “cook down” the freezer as much as I could. Especially since it was so hot and our poor, ancient freezer was not doing the best job keeping everything frozen. (soft serve ice cream, anyone?)

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So, I thought I’d share with you the list I brainstormed to help me when I’m stuck on my menu plan. I went through a lot of my old menu plans, picked out the favorites and the tried-and-true hits.  These are the ones that will be my go-to items this fall when life is crazy and I need inspiration as I’m planning out my week’s meals.

Menu Ideas:
Chicken Enchiladas(crockpot/oven) Potato Soup
*recipe coming soon*
Tacos Beef Stew
Chicken Stir Fry
(served with
Fried Rice)
BBQ Chicken
Fajitas Asian Chicken
Bourbon Street Chicken (crock pot) Roast Beef (crock pot)
Shredded Beef Burritos (crock pot/oven) Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Meatloaf Beef Tips with Gravy
*recipe coming soon*
Ham & Rice & Black-eyed peas Creamy Chicken & Rice (crock pot)
Chicken Chili Chili
Baked Potato with Salad Shepherd’s Pie
Sub Sandwiches Breakfast for Dinner
Homemade pizza Pizza Bread
*recipe coming soon*
Salmon Croquettes Cuban Pork with Black Beans & Rice
Beef Stroganoff Pasta Fagioli
Chicken Noodle Soup Chicken &Wild Rice Soup
 Chicken & Dumplings “ Rotisserie” Chicken (crock pot)
 Bourbon Chicken
How about you?

Do you menu plan? What are your family’s favorite meals?

Click on the links to access the recipes.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

My friend, Cindy, who makes the most wonderful meals, made this soup for our family one night not too long ago.  After that dinner the girls and I kept thinking about, and talking about that soup.  We just had to have more.  It was so good!

My first attempt at re-creating the soup was not quite as good as Cindy’s was.  She had used a specific wild rice blend and my homemade spice blend did not quite match.  The soup was good, but a little spicy (I think too much ginger) and the girls weren’t crazy about it.  It most definitely wasn’t Cindy’s soup and that was what they wanted.

So, I waited a week or two and went back to the drawing board… or cutting board, that is.

My second attempt was much better and was quickly gobbled up by the entire family.  As a matter of fact, ALL of the soup was gone, which almost never happens at my house.  The girls even asked for it in their thermoses for lunch.

Success!

This is a great, hearty and comforting soup. Perfect for a rainy or cool fall day.  Leftovers are great – the rice absorbs as lot of the broth but it is still very good and you can always add more broth or water if you want it thinner.  We liked it just fine with less broth and it was so tasty even two days later.

I have no picture because there was nothing left to take pictures of!  Try it anyway. Smile

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

1 pound chicken (I used a combination of thighs and breasts)
water for stock pot
chicken bouillon cube
1-2 stalks celery
1-2 carrots
1 small onion
~ 1 Tbsp garlic (minced)
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice (including spice packets inside)
salt/pepper
Houston House Seasoning
~1/2 – 3/4 cup half and half (or milk)

Instructions
  1. Dice celery, carrots, garlic & onion.  Add to stock pot with water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, adding chicken and seasoning generously with salt/pepper and Houston House Seasoning.
  2. Remove chicken and shred, reserving broth.
  3. Stir the rice and seasoning packets into the broth.
  4. Add chicken back to soup and bring to a boil.
  5. About 10 min before serving, add the half and half.  Bring back to a simmer.

It’s super easy and super, super good. I hope you give it a try.

Menu Plan Monday

It’s a rainy, gloomy Monday here. The weather people said it was going to be in the 70’s here today but I really think they didn’t know what they were talking about. It might get to 70 downtown with the concrete heat island, but I doubt it will get out of the low 60’s here at home.

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Rainy weather makes me want to hibernate.  And to eat warm, comfort foods. And drink tea. And sleep. Smile

I’ve been back on my meal planning routine lately. Although I have changed things up a bit to accommodate our schedule this fall.  Thursdays are always leftover days.  The girls have dance and we’re close to 3 hours at the studio on Thursday nights.  It’s also my busiest meeting day for work.  So, no cooking for me.  We eat up whatever is left in the refrigerator or we eat sandwiches.  Which is actually working out really well – less leftovers are going to the pups and more are being eaten!

I’ve also been making great use of my freezer.  We had our big cooking day back in August to kick off the new school year and I have been doing a mini version of that from time to time since.  Having those meals in the freezer ready to is such a great timesaver and STRESS saver that it is totally worth it.

What I’ve been doing is that whenever I make a casserole-type of dish, I double the recipe and put one in the freezer.  Every.single.time.  My freezer gets stocked and my family gets fed.  Twice.  Beautiful.

And, like today, when I’m fighting a head cold and feeling under the weather those faithful, frozen friends are waiting to come to my aid… so nice.

Another thing I’ve been doing is not locking myself into a specific meal on a specific day – I have been listing five or six dishes on my index cards and posting in the kitchen.  Then I can look at the list and pick whichever one suits my mood and our schedule that day.

So, here is what’s on the docket for this week –

Chicken Spaghetti (from the freezer) Bourbon Chicken & Rice
Homemade pizzas Baked Pork Chops w/ saffron rice
White Bean Chicken Chili (this will be our Halloween night dinner) Fajitas

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this week?

Check out more yummy menu ideas over on orgjunkie.com.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday!

It’s a busy week in our house this week – two birthdays and lots of other things going on.  I’m hoping to keep our dinners simple, or at least as crock-pot-based as I can. That way, I know we’re eating well even if I don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen every single afternoon.

I’ve also decided that I want to try some of the bajillion recipes I have on Pinterest. So, this week is experiment week. I’m breaking out of the “tried and true” and trying new versions of favorites and some new recipes to boot.  This will either be a rousing success or an utter failure.  My family has taught me that they really love my old standby recipes and don’t like me messing with them very much.  But I like to spice things up (so to speak) and try to cook restaurant favorites that we love at home. It’s cheaper and healthier!

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Today is SuperMan’s birthday. We’re going to enjoy some crock pot Mongolian Beef and rice tonight.  I’ll steam some broccoli to go along with the rice and beef and I’m baking an apple cake and plan to pick up an ice cream cake (his special request) for our dessert.

Crock Pot Mongolian Beef from Once a Month Meals

Tomorrow, I’m thinking I’m going to try this Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken recipe. It looks really good to me – it’s not 100% crock pot – there are parts you have to do outside the crock pot (like cooking the pasta), but it looks really good. I am thinking I may serve it with the salad and garlic bread exactly as she shows it on the website.

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken from The Country Cook

We love, love, love, fajitas.  We usually have them on Friday nights at our local favorite Mexican place. I’m thinking that maybe this Friday I’ll try this recipe for oven-baked chicken fajitas.  Of course, my girls are meatasauruses, so I may have to edit things and add some steak into that.  Just chicken would be healthier, but I think there would be squawking from the peeps if I don’t.

Oven-baked chicken fajitas from Real Mom Kitchen

One more new recipe to try – not sure if it will make it into this week or next, but it sure looks good. The girls and I love Panda Express. It’s one of our Saturday lunch treats. The only thing about it is that sometimes it’s a little bit too spicy for our delicate palates. So, when I found this recipe, I decided it was a must-try. I can adjust the heat to our preferences and still get that yummy Orange Chicken that we enjoy so much.

I can also finish up the green onions I bought for Monday’s dinner and make some fried rice to go along with it with the leftover rice from Monday. I love dinners like that!

Better-than-Panda Orange Chicken from Brown Thumb Momma

So, that’s what’s on our menu for the week! What’re you planning for your family?

Check out other Menu Plan Monday ideas at OrgJunkie.com.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!

MPM-Fall

This week I’m combining some tried and true favorites along with a few new recipes for our menu plan this week.

Monday: I’ve been craving Pasta Fagioli so I whipped up a batch – in spite of the fact that it is supposed to be 90 degrees today.  I’m also making some homemade French bread – trying a new recipe out and will have salad to go along with the soup and bread.

Tuesday: I’ll be heading out for a ladies’ Bible study Tuesday night so I wanted to do something easy for SuperMan and the girls. I’ll be using up my last frozen Chicken Spaghetti from my freezer cooking day.

Wednesday: Trying out this new recipe – a one pot Santa Fe Chicken & Rice dinner. I’m thinking I may use chicken tenders cut into bite sized pieces to make this even faster and easier.

Thursday: dance night – which means run around like crazy night. We’ll either do leftovers or sandwiches.

Friday: Mexican – thinking I may make my Colorado Beef Burritos or Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

Saturday: homemade pizza night

Sunday: kitchen is closed – Mama gets a break.

We’re also talking about doing another freezer cooking day sometime soon. I need to come up with a menu – and figure out what we will do this month for our freezer meals.  They sure have been nice to fall back on one or two nights a week.

What’re you planning for your family’s meals this week?

Check out some more ideas at orgjunkie.com.