I get a lot of questions about food, mainly what I’m having for dinner; what I like to cook; how I stay out of a food rut, etc. I thought that it might be fun to start a weekly list of what I’m cooking/plan on cooking during the week. I am hoping that this will give you some inspiration to get excited about cooking as well as provide another view point on meal planning and healthy eating. The focus for these meal plans will be weeknight meals, since we either travel or cook more elaborate meals on the weekends.
Eating out, picking up take out or having pizza delivered is incredibly convenient and accessible, but it cost money, and can hurt your waistline. I’ve mentioned this a bunch, but Chuck and I are trying to save money right now so we are doing our best to avoid spending extra money on food. The obvious way to do this is to cook at home. I’ve already talked about how I meal plan to help save money, but I’m human and a meal plan doesn’t ensure I won’t want that super greasy takeout pizza on Friday after a long work week. Here is what I’m doing to avoid the pesky temptation troll.
- Try to come up with recipes similar to my favorite takeout food. Some great examples are 15 Minute Lo Mein, Wonton Soup, Homemade Pizza, Linguine with Clam Sauce, and One Pan Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.
- Keep a list of easy and quickrecipes on hand with all the ingredients. 15 and 20 minute meals are totally more appealing than a 40 minute, multi-dish recipe (hello clean up after?).
- Meal plan. I already discussed this above, see here for more info.
- Keep ready prepared meals accessible – Precooked chicken breasts, frozen homemade soups, ravioli, frozen meatballs, frozen taco meat and other things that I can prepare in 10 minutes or less is ideal.
- Use the crockpot. If I start the crock pot before work I pretty much then have to eat whatever it is when I get home or it goes to waste. Also coming home to a wonderful smelling house does wonders to change your cravings. Check out my list of 100 Slow Cooker Recipesfor Winter.
- Keep salad stuff in the house. – Those frozen chicken breasts heat up in the microwave and go great on a big salad. The same goes for taco meat (or beans), leftover roast veggies, leftover steak, and a ton of other stuff. Also it doesn’t last long so if I know its going to go bad soon then I am more likely to eat it instead of ordering out.
- Set a dining out budget for the month. Once you hit that limit don’t go out until the beginning of the next month. If it’s the social aspects that you are missing try hosting a potluck, or inviting friends over instead of going out.
Do you have anything that you do to help curb the take out monster? I’ll take all the tips I can get!
There are a few basic steps to how I meal plan:
- Check the fridge, freezer and pantry – what do we already have in the house?What needs to be eaten right away? etc.
- Check the sales – I keep track of the basic prices of things like meat, produce and bread. If there is nothing good I might try to use up our freezer & pantry stock. I make a habit of buying things when they are “super-sale” and storing them for times when there are no sales or I have a special craving. Those items are typically whole chickens, turkey, and lamb. We haven’t been buying beef lately because we have a large back stock of venison.
- Plan the meals – what do we want to eat (based on 1 & 2) for breakfast lunch and dinner this week?
- Check the recipes – I need to know all of the ingredients necessary to make each meal. It also helps to know how in depth the recipe is. If there is a lot involved I know not to plan it on a day that’s going to be tough at work. Being kind to yourself is incredibly important.
- Compile the ingredient list – I usually skip this step now, but if you are new to meal planning write down every single item with the quantity of what you need for all of your meals.
- Compile the Grocery List – Now I compare the ingredients that are on the ingredient list to what we have on hand. I cross those off and am left with just the groceries that we need for that week.
cousins whose kiddies are getting ready to pack themselves up and head back.
That first week can be stressful, everyone is trying to adjust to the new
schedule, and it’s hard, that part I remember.
thrown head first into it by putting together a super easy 7 day dinner meal
plan. This post tells you what to cook and when, with links to all the recipes.. Everything can be cooked in under 30 minutes
and feeds a family of four.
sure to read through those before you get started.
that you can just unwrap and place on top. Also you can swap the celery, and
carrot for frozen mixed vegetables that you can stir in when you add the frozen peas,
less chopping and lots of time saving.
etc.) for a premade sauce or marinade like hoisin sauce or teryiaki if you would like, but this one is already pretty easy. Also make some extra rice for Wednesday’s recipe.
taco or fajita seasoning instead. Super easy.
for this recipe, instead of the instant rice.
Cooking steak only takes a few minutes, and you can buy a couple bags of salad, and serve this with a baked potato or side of crusty bread for a complete meal, then serve the leftover bread on Friday with the soup.
This recipe is super versatile so here you can use frozen vegetables instead of chopping the celery and carrot. Just add it in with the spinach and you are all set.
There’s really no corners to cut with this one, it’s already so easy.
work, so I don’t want to dive into them if you guys don’t find them useful.