I am back to trying to stick to more of a detailed meal plan after taking a break from it while I learned to cook differently for my new-to-me diet that is supposed to help people with MS. Now that I’ve learned some new things about food and health and have made progress with changing my eating, I am ready to get back to pre-planning.
For years I have written out a meal plan for the upcoming week, and even tried doing it monthly at one point, which I gave up when I saw we were getting off the meal plan about mid-month. So now I know 2 weeks is my max for consistently being able to stick to what I have planned.
I have found that I am better able to plan for what we need and work with what’s in season and on sale when I write out the plan to refer back to as the week progresses. Plus it’s nice to not have to rethink the wheel every single day. After doing this for a while, you can even start to reuse complete meal plans if that works for you!
My meal plan style incorporates what is on hand that needs used up and what is in the pantry and freezer. I also take into consideration what is in season and on sale in order to try sticking to our budgeted funds for food. I also try to mix up what we have so we don’t have the same thing every single week.
Sometimes I end up with a 7-day meal plan and other times, depending on what we have on hand, I stretch it out to 14 days. It really just depends on how many meals come out of what’s on hand plus what is affordable that week. This week’s plan ended up being 8 days so I feel like we got a bonus! 🙂
This week is Easter so we have a bit more special than usual meal planned for that day with lovely leftovers to incorporate into the rest of the week. In hopes of providing you inspiration for your own meal planning, here is what we plan to have for this week. (I have tried to link the recipes if I have saved them to my bookmarks.)
I have found that the best way for me to eat what I’m supposed to eat for breakfast – a protein, vegetables and a good fat – is to have leftovers from the night before and to make a smoothie. So that is my plan this week.
For the family, I am making a few items to eat throughout the week including:
Sausage Egg Muffins
Raspberry Almond Scones
My daughter always has whatever smoothie I make as well.
For lunches we always have sandwich stuff on hand because that’s what my husband usually takes to the job site each day. Sometimes my daughter will have a sandwich but often she will make a cheese quesadilla with whatever raw vegetables we have on hand.
This week I plan to focus on salads and soups, with having leftovers of either for the rest of the week.
Chinese Chicken Salad
Our grocery shopping day this week fell on a Thursday. We are fairly off our old routine of shopping on the same day of the week since the Walmart grocery pick-up service isn’t running as smoothly as it used to so we are being more flexible with when we head to town to go to Walmart, ALDI and now the produce stand as it’s open for the season.
Since we planned to grocery shop on Thursday, I sat down Wednesday and created this meal plan which left us starting off on Thursday!
Thursday: Pork Skillet
This was literally a winging it meal with leftover roasted pork tenderloin in a skillet with whatever vegetables were on hand. I used carrots, cabbage, onion and garlic.
Friday: Irish Beef Stew with Leftover French Bread and Fruit Salad
I’ve made this recipe a few times now and think I may change it up a bit the next time as it seems to be a bit too acidic for me with both the red wine vinegar and tomato paste. The fruit salad was loosely based on a recipe so I could have a base for the dressing, but I completely used what I had on hand and altered the dressing to our tastes. Everyone liked it!
Saturday: Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Salad with Baked Potatoes and Chocolate Covered Strawberry Custard
I am roasting a small organic chicken we were blessed with and decided to use it in this salad my daughter and I thought sounded good. If there is any leftover chicken, we will either use it in another salad this week or make chicken salad for my husband’s lunches. They will eat the red potatoes and I will have a sweet potato.
Sunday (Easter!): Honey Glazed Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Salad, Oat Rolls, Lemon Pie, Mango Iced Tea
This will be made for a lunch as our church service is weather permitting and at sunrise (a drive-in style service so we are keeping our safe distances). It will be plenty early enough to have our celebration meal as lunch. I will have a baked sweet potato with my ham and salad and the rest of the meal will be for the others. The mango iced tea sounded fun and I’m planning to use frozen mango from ALDI. If I don’t make it to that, then I’ll just leave it off.
We’re making our special holiday items (the fun stuff!) on Saturday as an afternoon project including:
The Easter eggs will be used for deviled eggs in a couple of days. The girls, ages 14 and 22, will be getting the Easter eggs and the homemade candy with a card in their shared Easter basket. This is a special year! Lol
Monday: Cabbage Roll Casserole with Thyme Garlic Fries and Coconut Lime Popsicles
The cabbage roll as a casserole came about because I have yet to be successful with rolling cabbage leaves without them breaking. So I”m making it into a casserole to bake instead. Since the oven will be on, I’ll put in some fries using a few red potatoes and a few sweet potatoes. The coconut lime popsicles is a compliant dessert for me and I was curious to see if we liked them. I’m looking for treats I can make to keep on hand in the freezer so when I make the family a treat I shouldn’t eat, I can more easily resist and grab one of my treats from the freezer.
Tuesday: Leftover Ham Soup with Kale, Potatoes and White Beans, Cornbread and Salad
I will not add too many beans or potatoes to this soup and will let if focus mostly on the ham, kale and broth. The cornbread will be the gluten-free/dairy-free recipe I tried before and found acceptable. Salad will help me get in the vegetables needed for the day.
Wednesday: Balsamic Thyme Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, Apples & Bacon and Chocolate Mint Cookies
This is a sheet pan meal, which I really like for its simplicity. I’ve made a variation of this in the past but this time plan to pretty much follow the recipe to see if it’s a keeper or not. If I feel energetic and like we need a treat, then we might try the cookies. Otherwise I’ll just leave that for another day.
Thursday: Asian Stir Fry with Brussels Sprouts, Cherry, & Apple Slaw
We often have some sort of a skillet meal or stir-fry as the fresh food items are nearly disappearing or coming to the end of their shelf life. I don’t have a recipe other than to chop up whatever vegetables are on hand and to cook them in the big skillet along with whatever meat, either leftover or from the freezer, might go good with it. It’s often chicken breasts, and I usually use 2 for the entire family. This normally creates leftover which I have for lunch the next day. Sometimes I make rice with it but not every time, as I’m supposed to limit how much non-gluten grains I have.
There are always “special” items I have planned to make in any given week like homemade condiments or snacks for my husband’s lunchbox. This week the special foods to make include:
Homemade Mayonnaise: I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade mayo to see if we like it and can quit buying store bought mayo so we’ll see.
Balsamic Orange Vinaigrette: I usually make a ranch dressing out of a seasoning packet for the family as I have yet to find a homemade healthy ranch seasoning they like. For me, my favorite dressing is a simple balsamic vinaigrette so when I saw this recipe on The Prudent Homemaker blog, I knew I wanted to try it.
Popcorn: I’m kicking around the idea of making some seasoned popcorn to see if my husband will like it for something crunchy in lunches. I’d really like to cut back on buying chips for lunches.
Crackers: Melissa from Pioneering Today shared a video about making easy homemade crackers that sound like they could possibly take the place of chips. I also want to try this one with a gluten-free flour to see if I like it.
Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns: This is to use up some chopped pecans I’ve on on hand for a bit and that need using up. I’m hoping these will freeze nicely so I can wrap them up individually after baking and toss into my husband’s lunches.
And that is what we have planned for this week! Let me know in the comments if you’d like any of the recipes I didn’t have a link to, and I’ll get them posted 🙂