Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Recipes/ How To, Weekly Meal Planners

How to Meal Plan Like a BOSS!

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Okay y’all, so it’s a weeknight, about 5 pm and you have no idea what’s for supper and you are in a panic. Sound familiar? Yep, we’ve all been there before!

  So let’s talk meal planning. I’m going to give you tips so you can meal plan like a BOSS! You’ll know exactly what meals you have all the ingredients for, what’s fast and easy and what you’re saving for when you have more time in the kitchen.

   To start this meal planning lesson, let’s start right in your kitchen: do a quick mental inventory (or if you’re obsessive like me, jot it down)  of what you’ve already got on hand. This will save you money, you won’t be buying extra stuff you really didn’t need. This list will be our base for the meal planner.

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 Check your freezer, fridge and pantry. Please overlook my messy-ness, apparently I need some help with organizing!

   Once you have your “inventory” list, you’re ready to start planning! Now this is where it’ll be a bit different for everyone: I plan for 6 meals for each week, we usually go out one night a week. When planning, I may jot down specific meals for specific nights, but it can always be swapped around. I try to plan for leftovers, for my lunches. I typically plan 2-3 chicken dishes, 1-2 beef dishes, 1-2 pork dishes and 1-2 “other” dishes (like pizza, hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, fish, etc).

   I keep a list of meals my family likes in a little notebook. I have them categorized by meat type: chicken/beef/pork/ other. I also have them marked with a star if they’re for the slow cooker. If I’m wanting something different/new I turn to my old pal Pinterest! How did we survive without it? I will only add one or two “new” things per week, because my bunch is picky and we tend to stick with old stand-byes. I don’t cook super fancy, we tend to like basic type foods.

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  Here’s my pretty notebook (I’m kind of a notebook geek, I have way too many!) that I keep meals we love written in. This little step makes meal planning much quicker.

  The last step is matching up meals with what you’ve got and making your grocery list. So just based on my inventory (as seen in above pics) I’ll jot down a quick plan:

1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Marinated Grilled Chicken and Grilled Asparagus

3. Pulled Pork sandwiches and Potato Wedges

4. Green Chile/Pork Nachos

5. Meaty Italian Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

6. Tuna/Egg Salad with Veggies and Dip

   Now I would look at each meal and see what components I was missing, grocery shop once for those items and be eating for the week!

   Here’s a link to a weekly meal planner template that I love! It has spots for planning breakfasts/lunches too! And a grocery list on the side. I keep one printed out and use them.

https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

 

   There you have it! No more wondering  “What’s for dinner?”. And no more looking forward to a specific meal, then not having all the ingredients for it on hand. By planning out meals, it’ll save you stress, time and money.

  I hope you all have a very blessed day! If you have questions/comments I would love to hear from y’all!

Recipes/ How To

Low Carb Meal Prepping is Key to Staying on Track!

So for the past few years I have been trying to stick with a lower carb diet, which is in my opinion, much healthier. It is not always easy, as most fast food is not anything like low carb. Even in the grocery store, most “quick” and easy to prepare stuff is just mostly junk.

So again, meal prepping and/or freezer cooking comes in handy to stick to my plan. Here I planned for the upcoming week and “prepped” many of the meals or components of the meals.

DSC_0064  * note that not all my ingredients are pictured here

First off I jotted down my planner for breakfasts/lunches/dinners and snack foods.

Breakfasts- Protein shakes, scrambled eggs, or egg in a mug

Lunches- Salads, wraps, and leftovers

Snacks- veggies with ranch, fruit cups (or fresh fruit), cheese sticks, and beef sticks

Dinners- 1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Polish Sausage/ Saurkraut and sauteed peppers/onions

3. Coconut Lime Chicken Stew with Avocados

4. Pork Roast and green beans

5. Bacon-Jack Chicken and stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

6. Cheeseburger in a Bowl

7. Balsamic Chicken and Roasted Carrots

I then made a grocery list for what I was in need of (while looking in the freezers/pantry/fridge  for items I already had). Went and bought groceries.

Then I prepped any ingredients or meals I could ahead of time. I chopped onions and peppers up. I placed all ingredients for the balsamic chicken into a freezer bag and tossed into the freezer until about Thursday, to cook on Friday or Saturday. I placed all ingredients for the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew into a freezer bag, but placed in fridge, since I will be cooking Monday. I cooked and crumbled the hamburger meat and placed in bag in the fridge.

So the game plan is: Monday night toss the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew into the slow cooker, serve with chopped avocado and fresh cilantro

Tuesday night- Chicken Fajitas- (the peppers and onions are already chopped and ready to go- making this a very quick throw together meal) I will serve with Low Carb Tortillas

Wednesday night- Cheeseburger in a Bowl (will just take a few minutes, as meat is pre-cooked)

Thursday night- Pork Roast and Green Beans (both in slow cooker, making it a breeze when getting home from work)

Friday night- Bacon-Jack Chicken and Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers (the peppers were prepped and stuffed ahead, just bake for a bit and you’re ready!)

Saturday night- Balsamic Chicken and Roasted Carrots (this takes just a few minutes work- the balsamic chicken was prepped and ready to go)

Sunday night- Polish Sausage, Saurkraut and sauteed onions and peppers (the veggies were prepped- so super speedy!)

So there you have a week of super easy dinners- with just a little time on Saturday or Sunday, and it makes my work week so much easier!

Here are recipes to above (or links)

Cheeseburger in a Bowl

1lb ground round, cooked/crumbled                    1/2c cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4c chopped dill pickle                                        1/4c ketchup

Squirt of Mustard and some season all (I used Cavanders)     4 slices American cheese

Mix all but the American cheese together, place in a square baking dish. Top with American cheese. Bake at 350* for about 15 minutes. We eat ours out of a bowl. (I think it tastes like a Big mac)

For the Bacon-Jack Chicken, I just take 4 equal sized pieces of boneless chicken breast and marinate in Italian salad dressing. Grill until cooked through. Place each piece of cooked chicken in a foil square (to make a packet), place 2 pieces cooked bacon on top and place shredded pepper jack cheese on top of bacon. Bake at 350 for a few minutes in foil packs.(you just want cheese melted good)

For Jalapeno  Poppers, slice jalapeno peppers in half, stuff with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic powder, shredded cheddar, and salt. Wrap each half with half slice bacon and bake at 350 for about 13 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

For the pork roast, I really don’t have any recipe in particular I use, I just use one off Pinterest, or just season up with whatever strikes me at the time. ( I really love the Weber seasonings, the Roasted Garlic is my fave. Also love citrus flavors with pork.)

For my green beans- I just place a few bags frozen whole green beans into slow cooker, I add some dried onion flakes, chopped ham (or bacon if you have a slice or two leftover) a dash of liquid smoke and a bit of beef or chicken broth. Cook in slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours.

For Balsamic Chicken- 1lb chicken (boneless/skinless), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 small onion chopped, 1/4c balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1tsp Italian seasoning,and 1 Tbsp chopped garlic. Place all in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 hours or so. (you can freeze this and place in slow cooker from frozen- which I do a lot)

For the Coconut Lime Chicken Stew is from a website I really love called Satisfying Eats,which can be found here: http://www.satisfyingeats.com

I use boneless skinless chicken for mine, about 1lb, 2/3c coconut milk, 1/3c fresh lime juice,,1can diced tomatoes, 1Tbsp chopped garlic, 2 chopped bell peppers, 1 small onion, chopped, and a dash of Siracha sauce.Place all n slow cooker and cook on low around 6 hours. I serve with fresh chopped cilantro and diced avocado.

Here’s to a week of great eats!! And remember, prepping ahead can make your work week much less stressful and will also help keep you on track! Have a Blessed Week!!