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Organizing Your Meal Plans

It’s been… lets see… almost “years” now since I’ve had a post.   Apparently I have been busy.  With 2 little ones now and one on the way I don’t know how I will find time to do everything!  So here is an update in the Meal Planning part of my life.

Since my last post I attended a women’s event.  At that event there was a speaker who discussed how to organize your family meals.  What a perfect topic!  Since then I have re-vamped my meal plans.  Instead of reinventing the wheel EVERY week I now have a list of 5-6 weeks of winter meals and 5-6 weeks of summer meals that I rotate through.  Each “set” of meals has built in “experimental” days so that I can try out new recipes. Here are my Meal Plans.  At the end of each “set” I have a list of “other meals”.  These are quick and easy meals that I tend to have supplies for on hand.  These have been moved off the rotation since my children don’t tend to eat them well, so they are just filler meals.

If you want to get more organized with your meal plan I would recommend putting the location of each recipe behind the recipe name; i.e. “BHG pg 32” (this stands for Better Homes and Garden Cookbook), or “recipe book” (this means it is in my personal recipe book).  I used to have mine organized like that but for some reason it’s not anymore.  I need to update it though, there are times I have every cookbook and magazine open and can’t remember where that recipe is!

Some tips for putting together your Rotational Meal Plan are as follows:

  1. Start by making a week of meal plans, save it, make another week, save it, once you have several, put them together and rotate
  2. Put easy meals on nights you are busy (sports games to attend, bible studies, meetings etc.)
  3. Put more challenging meals on nights you will have more time, put the extra touches on those meals–your family will think you are an amazing cook
  4. Try doing a theme: Wed night is soup night, Thursday night is Mexican night, Friday night is try a new pizza night (homemade pizza!)
  5. Try getting a variety of foods i.e. chicken on Mondays, Tuesday is fish, Wednesdays are beef etc.

My meal plan just has dinners (well just the main dishes) planned.  For breakfast and lunch we are impromptu or use leftovers.  If you are new to meal planning I would start with just dinners.  If you are an organized person and have to be completely planned out make a rotational menu for the other meals of the day too.  I would also write down any side dishes you like with the main dishes, organizing it into a complete meal.  Remember though-the key to success is starting small!

p.s. I will one day have all the recipes on my meal plan on this site… until then, if there are ones you are interested in please comment and I will get those up sooner.

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New Favorite Crock-pot Recipe

So I found a new crock-pot recipe that I love… Chicken Crock-Pot Fajitas!  This may not be new to some of you… but it is to me.  In the past I spent so much time chopping my chicken and cooking it then my veggies—then I had so many dirty dishes.  For being an easy recipe we just didn’t eat them that often.  However, the crock-pot was amazing and it tasted way better than those fajita seasoning packets you buy at the store–yuck!

The recipe is super easy, it is from this blogger: http://www.stacymakescents.com/

Crock-Pot Chicken Fajitas

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Claire’s New Favorite Cookie

So I said I was going to try this new recipe: Mini Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookie, well I did and Claire Loves them!!! I omitted the chocolate (really only because I didn’t have any), I also left the sugar out– so they are healthy and I am fine with her having as many as she can eat.  The other thing I like about them is that I can vary the recipe so much: applesauce vs. bananas, different dried fruits etc.  I also added extra oatmeal, I just felt like it needed more bulk.  The original recipe is below:

Mini Chocolate-Chip Love Bites

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • scant 1/2 cup applesauce (can sub mashed banana)
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashew butter (can sub another nut butter)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp mini chocolate chips or chunks (I used Whole Foods brand, as shown in the photo below)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries (can sub 1 tbsp dried fruit, or more chocolate chips)
  • 1 packet stevia if using applesauce (or 1 tablespoon sugar. I actually omitted this altogether. If you have no sweet tooth, you can try it that way. And if you have a big sweet tooth—or are used to “non-healthy-tasting” desserts—you can add extra sugar if desired.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mash the applesauce or banana with the nut butter, then add all other ingredients and mix until well-combined. Shape into cookies (I used a mini cookie scoop) and bake on a greased cookie sheet for around 14-16 minutes, then let cool 10 minutes before removing from sheet. This makes 18 mini cookies (as shown in the photos), or 10-12 bigger cookies.

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Weekly Meal Plan June 11, 2012

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Burgers
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Mixed Berries—Strawberries are on sale

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Egg Rolls— Probably doing beef this week
  • Fried Rice

Friday:

  • Pizza-use crust recipe and put your favorite toppings on
  • Fresh Fruit
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Two New Recipes for This Week

So now that I am done working I’m in the mood to bake and sew etc. So I’ve been browsing pinterest and I found two new recipes I’m going to try out this week!

  1. Jello Cookies: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/jello-cookies/ Mini Chocolate Chip
  2. Breakfast Cookies: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/04/16/mini-chocolate-chip-breakfast-cookies/
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Weekly Meal Plan April 2, 2012

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Chicken Salad- grilled Chicken, Salad, Peas, Feta, Tomatoes and dressing!
  • Cheese Crescents 

Wednesday:

  • Crock pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches–Use a crockpot seasoning packet and follow the recipe, serve with Kaiser rolls
  • Steamed Peas and Carrots (from the freezer)
  • Fruit Salad

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Grilling
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The Smoothie

We make smoothies ALL THE TIME!  The are healthy and easy, plus the supplies is inexpensive and easy to keep on hand.  We originally found our recipe on the Dannon Light and Fit yogurt container.  We make different variations depending on what we have.  I have thrown in Flax Seed before–couldn’t taste it.  My husband however was not a fan of the flax seed (shouldn’t have told him)… so it hasn’t happened again.  We’ve also put in fresh coconut-yum!  Here is the general recipe–adapt to your liking:

Put all the following ingredients in the blender-blend and enjoy!

  • Frozen Fruit- any blend you like!  Fill up half way for 2 med-large smoothies
  • Yogurt (about 6 oz.)–if you don’t have this on hand-just skip and make sure to add milk
  • Juice-any kind, Orange is our favorite
  • Optional: Milk–too much will kill the flavor
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