Healthy Meal Planning

Several people have asked me about my monthly meal planning, so I thought it would be a good idea to share my meal plan for June on the blog.

Since January, I have been meal planning for the month and it’s one of the best things I’ve done. This has saved me so much time and money!    It’s a big priority for me to cook for my family and eat at home.  As a working mom, we’d be eating out every night without this done up front. Along with the savings, it also important to me that the meals are healthy.  I want Sarah to eat and taste lots of different things that aren’t covered in cheese, sauces,  bread/pasta or processed canned products.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we do eat those things, but only occasionally.

As I’ve said before, I don’t meal plan for leftovers, because we eat those for lunch.  Also, in the summer, we are usually at the lake on the weekends, so I don’t meal plan for Saturdays.  Friday is our night out, so that night is out also for no meal needed.  So if you follow this, you’ll have to adjust the meals for your family.  Just to give you an idea…in May…I bought everything I need for the month other than weekly produce and spent $276.  For the WHOLE month!!  Y’all this will save your wallet and your waist line 🙂

Hope you find this helpful!! 🙂 Happy, healthy meal planning!

Each week we have fish, chicken, and some kind of red meat (steak, ground beef, etc).   For the other meal, I throw in pork, spaghetti…etc.

So for June the list of the sixteen planned meals are:

  1. Grilled chicken with two vegetable sides (see below)- 4 times
  2. Roasted shrimp with white beans and one vegetable side http://cristinaferrarecooks.com/2012/05/roasted-shrimp-with-white-beans/
  3. Steak and two vegetable sides- 2 times
  4. Grilled or baked fish with two vegetable sides – 3 times
  5. Spinach and feta quiche http://www.duchessoffork.com/2012/02/spinach-feta-quiche/
  6. Hawaiian short ribs with rice and one vegetable side http://www.marthastewart.com/863079/hawaiian-style-short-ribs?czone=f&center=854190&gallery=274310&slide=863079
  7. Spinach salad
  8. Crockpot roast with carrots, onion and potatoes
  9. Spaghetti
  10. Grilled cheese (for a night I’ll be gone, but Dan will be home)

Vegetable sides:

As I’ve said, I don’t buy processed foods like macaroni and cheese, pastas, etc except when I’m in a bind or need a quick meal.  I also try to stay away from regular baking potatoes.  Those are heavy and seem to me a lot like bread….Usually I go to the store or farmers market and just look to see what produce looks good.  Here’s my go-to list of vegetable sides.

  1. Steamed or roasted broccoli
  2. Steamed haricot verde (sometimes I do this with mushrooms) http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/01/recipe-for-roasted-green-beans-with.html
  3. Roasted squash, zucchini and cherry tomatoes http://deliciousshots.blogspot.com.br/2012/07/summer-roasted-vegetables.html
  4. Roasted brussel sprouts
  5. Baked or roasted sweet potatoes http://www.fortheloveofcooking.net/2009/03/roasted-sweet-potatoes.html
  6. Roasted carrots http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/01/honey-roasted-carrots.html
  7. Boiled or grilled corn/corn on the cob http://www.marthastewart.com/352689/grilled-corn-cob?czone=f&center=276948&gallery=274928&slide=35268
  8. Mushrooms and leaks http://www.marthastewart.com/315341/grilled-mushrooms-and-leeks?czone=f&center=276948&gallery=274928&slide=31534
  9. Edamame and chickpea salad http://www.fitsugar.com/Vegetarian-Vegan-Protein-Snacks-After-Workout-16519560?slide=2
  10. Garden salad
  11. Roasted or grilled asparagus http://www.marthastewart.com/313604/garlicky-roasted-asparagus?czone=f&center=276948&gallery=274928&slide=313604
  12. Grilled eggplant http://www.marthastewart.com/317065/hoisin-glazed-eggplant?czone=f&center=276948&gallery=274928&slide=317065
  13. Sauteed spinach http://www.marthastewart.com/274928/quick-vegetable-side-dish-recipes/@center/276948/dinner-tonight#338294
  14. Roasted cauliflower http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/balsamic_parmesan_roasted_cauliflower.html
  15. Black beans http://www.marthastewart.com/314007/black-beans-with-lime?czone=f&center=276948&gallery=274928&slide=314007
  16. White beans http://mywholefoodlife.com/2012/10/08/super-easy-bean-salad-2/
  17. Vegetable skewers http://www.ahintofhoney.com/2011/06/grilled-sweet-potato-and-vegetable.html

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Taco Pizza!

Well, today was D’s first day back at work after the holiday….sad day…. SJ woke up looking around saying “da-da?” “da-da?”  We spent the morning at home picking up.  I have done some major winter organizing over the holiday break (completely purged my closet, organized all of SJ’s first year baby clothes in tubs, cleaned out my jewelry, cleaned out drawers).  Today I finished up by organizing the store-all drawer in the kitchen, knife drawer, kitchen utensil drawer, and the miscellaneous stuff in the laundry room (pet supplies, shoe polish stuff, batteries).  So that was good.  We headed to CGM (the inner city ministry I work with) so I could work while SJ took her afternoon nap.

Before we went to CGM, I prepped for dinner, so it would be a quick fix when I got home.  One of our favorites! Taco Pizza!! Not the healthiest thing in the world, but it is quick, easy and I thought a fun dinner for D’s first day back at work. Of course he was starving when he got home, stuck in juvenile court all day, so he was very happy when he saw Taco Pizza coming out of the oven!

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Taco Pizza recipe (from Real Mom Kitchen: http://realmomkitchen.com/5301/taco-pizza/)

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
  • 2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican blend
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning to the ground beef according to the package directions.
  3. Unroll crescent rolls into rectangles. Place in ungreased 11 1/2 inch x 16 1/2 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Press dough over the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust.  Bake at 375 oven for 11 to 13 minutes or just until golden brown.
  4. Microwave beans in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute.  Carefully spread beans over warm crust creating a thin layer.
  5. Top with cooked beef mixture, sprinkle with cheese followed by tomatoes, black olives and green onion. Return to oven for 3-6 more minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately

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I made some homemade guacamole along side salsa and sour cream to top it with! YUMMMMY! Enjoy 🙂

Meal Planning 101

Since SJ was born a year ago, I’ve been dependent on meal planning.  I am on campus usually in the mornings and then head to the after school program until around 5 or 5:30.   When we get home, it’s been a long day and worrying about what to cook for dinner is the last thing I want to do.

That’s where meal planning has come in.  What I’ve been doing is planning the meals on Saturday morning and doing the shopping for the week.  But, over the Christmas break, I had a brainstorm. What if I planned for a month at a time?? This way I would only plan once, go ahead and buy all the meat and nonperishables.  I’ll still have to go to the store each week for produce, milk, etc. but those trips would be shorter and all the planning would be done.

SO….that’s exactly what I did.  I planned for the entire month of January.  Here’s how I did it….

I’m obsessed with trying new recipes.  Pinterest has been so helpful for this. 🙂  I also love using my crockpot, so that dinner is ready when we walk in the door.  I already had a big crockpot and my sweet bro-in-law got me a smaller one for Christmas, so I had two good tools at my fingertips for planning meals.

First thing I did was start with a calendar.  I wrote down what events I already knew we had for the month of January.  We usually always eat out on Fridays, so no need for a meal there.  My birthday is this month, so I planned for a few birthday celebration nights with family.

From there, I started looking at recipes. I knew the days that I had to plan for.  I took it one week at a time, trying to mix and match meats (chicken, pork, ground beef, etc) and types of food (Mexican, Italian, soups, etc) so we wouldn’t get bored with the same stuff over and over.   You’ll also notice that I didn’t plan for leftovers.  D usually takes his lunch to work when he’s not in court and SJ and I love to have leftovers for lunch.  I don’t plan on  any meals built around leftovers for this reason.

So then, I just started writing the recipes in by week.  I used my regular weekly planner to write in the recipes and the ingredients I would need by week.  After I had done this for all the weeks in January, I compiled them all into one big master list of ingredients: what I could by ahead of time and what I would need to buy each week, like produce and cheese, etc.

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I printed off all the recipes and put them in a binder by week, so that I could find it when I was ready to cook the meal.  A lot of them are crockpot or casseroles, but I did plan to actually cook dinner on Sunday nights when I’m home all day.  Most of our favorite TV shows come on Sunday nights (Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, some Food Network competition show) so we like to park it in front of the TV with dinner on Sunday nights. 🙂

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So….here’s the final product!

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We budget a certain amount each month for groceries.  A budget is a totally new thing for us, so I”m sure I’ll be blogging about that throughout the year.  I’m hoping that buying more in bulk, going to the store less, and wasting less will save me money and time.   I’m going to the store today, so I’m interested to see what my total is for all the buy ahead groceries. I’m hoping to hit some buy one get one frees! 🙂

Has anyone else tried meal planning for a month?