Meal Plan Monday: 3-7 April 2017

Welcome to Meal Plan Monday! I’ve posted meal plans and meal prep (particularly my love of meal planning and food prepping) countless times, but to be honest with you – since becoming a full time mom last year I haven’t had the same amount of free time to fully plan and prep meals as I have in the past. That said, I do still try to have a weekly plan in place for my family, particularly so I know what groceries to buy when I make my weekly trip to Wegmans. (Not that it helps, as I still somehow always end up leaving that store with $50 worth of extra stuff we don’t need!) Regardless of whether you meal prep or not, having a menu and sticking to it saves tons of time and money – and as you can see, we eat leftovers for the majority of our meals, so not sticking to the menu means a lot of last minute rushing around to find food. My only slight deviation is lunches for the young one – he’s not a huge leftover fan to begin with, and I’m not going to send him to elementary school with a lunch that requires a microwave. So as you can see I’ve added separate school lunches for him, in case you’re in the same boat! (Please note, the lunch includes an afternoon school snack as well).

I’m also only planning for Sunday night through Friday night, because weekends tend to be a free for all in my house.

In the future I’d like to start including the approximate cost of each week and a shopping plan. I did note which items can be made ahead of time in case you do want to prep on a weekend.

*Note: I’m feeding two adults and one elementary school age boy, so we try to make enough food for three, plus leftovers.*

BEAR FAMILY MEAL PLAN, WEEK ONE

Sunday DinnerHearty Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes

Monday:

B: scrambled eggs, chicken apple sausage (we prefer Aidells brand)

L: leftover pot roast/carrots/potatoes

L2: ham slice roll-ups, clementine, chips, granola bar, milk and apple juice

D: Turkey Taco Salads (turkey can be made ahead of time)

Tuesday:

B: Breakfast Fritatta over greens (Fritatta can (and should) be made ahead of time)

L: leftover taco salad

L2: little smokies sausages, apple slices, chips, granola bar, milk and apple juice

D: pan fried chicken thighs (boneless/skinless), seasoned rice, mixed vegetables (*20 minute meal!)

Wednesday:

B: Fritatta, greens, fruit

L: leftover chicken/rice/veg

L2: chicken thigh slices, mini apple, chips, granola bar, milk and apple juice

D: stuffed pepper soup (ground beef can be prepped ahead, recipe coming soon!)

Thursday:

B: overnight oats (made the night before, obviously!)

L: leftover stuffed pepper soup

L2: tuna snack, clementine, chips, granola bar, milk and apple juice

D: turkey meatballs over spaghetti squash and sauce (meatballs can be made ahead of time, bake spaghetti squash ahead of time *10 minute meal if prepped!)

Friday:

B: fritatta with greens or overnight oats

L: leftover spaghetti squash and meatballs

L2: individual plain meatballs, apple slices, chips, granola bar, fruit and milk

D: Homemade Pizza Night

 

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Sunday Food Prep

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Food Prep! As I’ve mentioned previously I like to spend a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to prepare a ton of food – usually in the form of protein – for the Husband and I to have on hand for the upcoming week. Before we got married I would use my weekends to sit down and prepare my weekly menu and shopping list so that every evening after work I knew exactly what I would be making for dinner and what I’d be taking to work for breakfast and lunch. Now that we are both working full time (usually with conflicting schedules) and because my commute is double what it was before we moved, I’ve found that creating a weekly menu and cooking a somewhat elaborate dinner each night isn’t manageable anymore. (And it usually ends up with take-out or dinner at a restaurant because we either don’t feel like cooking or don’t know what to cook.) It’s much easier for us to have pre-cooked protein options on hand to use as a base for a meal, filling in the blanks with whatever vegetables we have on hand. I do still come up with a suggested meal plan – generally a list of meals we can create with whatever meat we have – so I can buy vegetables I know we’ll use, but it’s definitely not as in depth or organized as it used to be. And that’s OK with us.

So here’s what I came up with for the upcoming week:

#sundayfoodprep | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Hard Boiled Eggs: Every week, without fail, we boil hard boiled eggs. It’s perfect for breakfasts, snacks, or a quick post-workout protein hit.

Hamburger Patties: Also one of my Husband’s favorites – I kept these simple and combined ground beef, onion, and some spicy Montreal steak seasoning before forming the beef into patties and tossing them on a hot grill.

Brined Chicken Breasts: I’m so glad the weekend was nice enough to grill, because grilled chicken tastes so much better than baked, in my opinion. I seasoned two breasts with a spicy cajun seasoning blend and left one plain.

Seasoned Ground Beef: I kept this simple as well and browned some ground beef with onion, garlic salt, parsley and cracked pepper. We’ll use this any number of ways – on eggs, on sautéed vegetables or salads; stuffed into a sweet potato or acorn squash…it’s super easy and extremely versatile.

Baked Sweet Potatoes: Since we had the grill on for the hamburgers and chicken, Kevin wrapped two sweet potatoes in foil and threw them on the grill as well. Good to have on hand for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Roast Chicken with Mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion): I planned in advance to make an oven-roast chicken for Sunday dinner so we’ll have extra chicken and vegetables to use throughout the week as well. Plus I plan on using the remains of the chicken to make bone broth – recipe coming soon!

Chipotle Aioli: Otherwise known as homemade mayonnaise with some chipotle powder mixed in – I use this as a topping for build-your-own-burgers, a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries or roasted asparagus, or added to egg or chicken salad for a quick lunch at work.

And that’s that! After only a couple hours of work I now have enough variety to create an entire week’s worth of meals for the Husband and me. Here’s an example of what our week might look like:

sample meal plan | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Enjoy!

Weekly Meal and Menu Planning

This past weekend was the first weekend I’ve had nothing scheduled for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time in PA with my family (last week was our annual reunion), or spending the weekend in California with The Man, or visiting with my sister and her husband, but I also enjoy the weekends when I have time to myself to go grocery shopping, work on some new recipes, clean, and most importantly, make a menu for the upcoming week.

menu 1

I’ve had this awesome magnetic meal planner for at least three or four years, back when I started following Tosca Rena’s “Eat Clean” diet. (Please excuse my cluttered refrigerator. I collected magnets until I ran out of space. Literally.) Before that, “grocery shopping” meant running to the nearest store several nights a week (usually while I was starving) and leaving with a cart full of junk – bread, cheese, and wine made routine appearances in my weeknight dinners, as well as pasta dishes and microwaveable meals. Suffice to say, it was seriously unhealthy and seriously expensive. Finally, I got smart and realized I needed to change the way I was eating – I felt like junk from all the junk I was eating, I would workout sporadically and halfheartedly…I just wasn’t happy in general. So, I changed my entire lifestyle. I bought a magnetic meal planner. On Friday nights or Saturday mornings, I would sit down with my cookbooks and a list of the current contents of my fridge and freezer and create a weeklong meal plan that included breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. I would work the items I already had into my menu and keep a grocery list of what I needed to buy, and also made sure that if for example, I was having a chicken dish on Monday that only used half of a head of broccoli, I would plan another meal on Wednesday or Thursday that also used broccoli.  And every Saturday morning (after breakfast, so I wouldn’t be hungry and therefore prone to impulse buys), I’d go to the grocery store, buy only what was on my list, and head home. Then, similar to my current routine, I would pack everything in my insulated lunch bag the night before, get all my stuff set up for the next day’s dinner, and be set. It was amazing how much money I was saving, the amount of food that wasn’t getting wasted, and I never had to worry about my meals because they were all planned out in advance. Brilliant!

I’ve been doing this same routine for the past several years, and the only thing that has changed is that now instead of following the “Eat Clean” diet, I now try to follow the paleo diet, which eliminated grains and legumes from my diet. This way of eating keeps me fuller longer and I no longer need to pencil in a morning or afternoon snack into my menu, although I do usually plan on one snack to bring to work each day, just in case.

So on this lovely Monday I decided to share with you my menu planning process and what I’ll be up to this week!

menu 2

As I mentioned, I start by checking out the contents of my fridge and freezer. As you can see, I’m pretty well stocked right now, because I broke my own rule and went shopping on Thursday night to get some stuff for some blog recipes and ended up buying more than I intended. So I wrote down what I had and sat down at my kitchen table with my menu planner and my list…

menu 3

… and used what I had to plan my menu for this upcoming week! Now, the only difference from my normal routine is that I purposely created meals that used what I already have because of the aforementioned impulse shopping trip. Otherwise I would have made a grocery list as I planned, making sure to incorporate my list ingredients into more than one meal to make sure everything got used up. I hate wasting food.

And after about 20 minutes of careful planning, this is what I ended up with:

menu 4

Now I don’t have to worry about coming home from work and wondering what to cook that night, because it’s already planned out. You’ll notice there are a few question marks or options (for example: fish tacos OR stir fry on Wednesday), which sometimes depends on what I have left by that late in the week or just gives me some flexibility. I also have a snack planned in for each day in case I need it.

Not only does this save me tons of time and money, but it gives me peace of mind to know what I’m packing for lunch the next day, or waking up knowing what I’m doing for dinner that night. Granted if I make plans or something comes up, I have to tweak the menu, but overall this works wonders for me.

Do you follow a weekly meal plan?

How do you plan your week of meals in advance?