Weekly Meal Plan – Daddy’s away

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Having a husband that works away can be a real challenge at times and dinners are for sure a part of the struggle. Keeping the kids out from under my feet for longer then 15 minutes is unrealistic plus you never know when you’re going to get called away from supper just to have it all go up in smoke. Last week I did a little planning ahead and froze a few ingredients to use this week. If you want to see that post click HERE. Please keep in mind this meal plan is only feeding me and my son so the recipes included here may need to be adapted for your family

All in all I’ve kept it really simple without it being a menu only my two year old will like. You may notice I’m relying heavily on the tortilla, but nothing is better for making a quick meal. There was some interest in meals for the entire day so I’m including lunches this week too. Breakfasts are usually cereal or frozen waffles from the weekend, but I have some more creative options in the works and I’m looking forward to sharing them soon.

Monday

Lunch – Bagel sandwiches
Toasted whole grain bagels with a spread of cream cheese, mustard, deli ham and all the normal sandwich fixings. Especially pickles.

Dinner – Chicken Pesto Quesadillas
This uses chicken that I made last week and froze in portions. Spread one side of a whole grain tortilla with about a tbsp of pesto, layer with shredded chicken, slices of red pepper and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with a second tortilla. In a non stick pan over medium heat place the quesadilla and let it sit until golden brown, flip it over and brown the other side. Remove from heat and cut into wedges. One of these will feed both me and my son. Serve with guacamole, salsa and plain yogurt for dipping.

Tuesday

Lunch – Peanut butter and Jam Paninis
A peanut butter and jam sangie on whole grain bread that I toast in the sandwich press, served with slices of banana.

Dinner – Chicken Fingers and Veggie Fries
I’m using whole grain crusted chicken fingers and am serving them with the root veggie fries from this POST.

Wednesday

Lunch – BLT sandwiches
Bacon, lettuce and tomato on whole grain bread. I bought some cool veggie chips, Terra Chips, that I’m going to try with them.

Dinner – Spaghetti and Meatballs
I’ll be using the meatballs I made last week and a half home-made, half store bought sauce with whole grain pasta. I hate it when I don’t have the recipe ready before the meal plan but I’ll have it up right away!

Thursday

Lunch – Quesadilla
Same as the pesto quesadilla but I’ll leave out the pesto and serve with salsa.

Dinner – Fish Tacos
I’m using about 8 whole grain fish sticks. While cooking the fish sticks according to direction, prepare the following. Chop 1/2 cup of red cabbage and 1/4 cup cilantro. Mix together 2 tbsp mayo with 2 tbsp plain yogurt and the juice from half a lime, season with a bit of salt. Warm 4 flour tortillas. Layer in the fish, cilantro and cabbage and top with the lime yogurt sauce. I also like a little hot sauce on mine.

Friday

Lunch – Leftovers
Even though my dinners aren’t meant this week for leftovers there is always something in the fridge that needs to get eaten.

Dinner -Ham and Pineapple Pizza
I like to use whole wheat Naan for a crust. Spread a layer of sauce on the crusts then top with slices of deli ham, diced pineapple and a layer of mozza cheese. Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes and serve. We might have carrot and celery sticks too. I use jarred spaghetti sauce for my pizza, I’ll be using some for the spaghetti and meatballs so it seems a great way to use the rest.

Saturday

Lunch – Ham Sandwiches and Cut Veggies

Dinner – Greek Wraps
I’m using my Greekish salad and Tzatziki, topping it with some shredded chicken and wrapping it in a warm tortilla. Healthy and really easy.

Sunday

Lunch – Picky Plates
This totally caters to my two year old but I love it too. I got the idea from a friend and basically just go through my fridge and cut up bits of everything: veggies, cheese, meats, pickles and serve with some crackers.

Dinner – Smokies and Coleslaw
I found some great looking preservative free, local smokies and I’m super excited to try them. The little just likes ketchup, mustard and maybe a little diced tomato on his but I love sauerkraut, diced onion, diced tomato and all the condiments. For the coleslaw, grate one carrot into a bowl, add about 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (sliced as fine as you can do it). In a small jar mix together 1 tbsp of mayo with 1 tsp vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and sugar. Mix the dressing with the slaw at least a few minutes before serving.

That’s my week for food. Hope this helps your family eat a little easier too. To see how I plan my meals click HERE. I’d love to hear how your family gets through the busy weeks, so please leave me a note.

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Weekly Meal Plan – Meals that bring a little love to the table

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This last week has been dreary and rainy. We’ve been stuck inside for awhile and, I think, are all going a little squirrelly Add to that a non sleeping baby and I’m pulling every easy card I have for the next week. It’s going to be all about food that makes me feel good, wraps me in a warm blanket and tucks me in, plus that I can make with my eyes closed if I have to.

Isn’t it interesting that food can reflect and impact our emotions and feelings. Certain meals transport me back to childhood and hug me with the warmth of my own mom taking care of me. Others are nurturing to my spirit, either with warming flavours or with hearty ingredients. Both are what we need this week and I hope these meals can be there for you too when you need that little bit of extra food love in your life

 

Monday Night

Fried Egg SandwichesI could honestly eat fried egg sandwiches everyday and have sometimes. I like to use a lovely whole grain bread toasted with mayo, a perfectly fried egg, layers of tomato, avocado, lettuce and cheese. Doesn’t that sound like love between two pieces of bread? My mom is also a huge fan and has been known to serve them to company.

Tuesday Night

Chard, Bacon and Tomato Pasta Easy to make and delicious. I love the green flavour that chard has and I feel like I’m eating something that is both healthy and decadent at the same time.

Wednesday Night

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs, tzatziki and Greekish SaladEasy fast and makes me think of family. Funny, we’re Dutch, Scottish and English but we seem to gravitate to Greek restaurants for family dinners. I can picture a blue and white checked table cloth and time with family as I think about making this dinner.

Thursday Night

Green Bean and Ham CasseroleFrom an old Cooking Light recipe that I’ve adapted. It reminds me of a chicken and broccoli casserole my mom made, (only because it’s a casserole, all similarities end there).

Friday Night

Italian Chicken Meatball and Pepper PizzaThis has become a staple and regular in my rotation lately. I’ve switched to making my own meatballs from ground chicken and it’s amazing. This dinner just makes me smile with its deliciousness. Definitely a spirit lifting dinner

Saturday Night

Going out nightWe haven’t been out for a single meal since I started this blog, which has been great for our budget and makes it so I don’t feel a bit bad about treating myself to an easy dinner elsewhere.

Sunday Night

CurryI’m going to experiment with a fish curry. I have a general idea in my head and if it works I’ll have the recipe up soon. Even thought experimenting sounds a little out of the comfort food, easy theme of the week, stretching my creative cooking muscles brings me joy and is almost meditative. If you are using this meal plan this week I’d suggest using the Indian spiced sloppy joes until I have it done:)

That’s what comfort food looks like for me. I’m sure your family and friends have their own dishes that bring a little love to the table and I’d love to hear what they are, so please share. If you are wondering how I do my meal plans here’s how: Meal Planning Basics

Family Meal Plan – 30 minute weeknight meals

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Life has returned to as normal as it gets around here. The hubster is back to work and the kids and I are settling into our own little groove.

It’s been a month since I started this blog and I’m moving into the fifth week of meal plans. So far it’s been a great experience. It’s re inspired me to cook and try new things, and it’s been an interesting process to try to bring my thoughts into a coherent focus to share with everyone. I’ve made a few updates to posts over the last month to reflect some of this refocusing and I hope what I’ve shared so far has been helpful in feeding your friends and families in way you can feel good about.

So…here’s this week’s plan. No plans for the evenings but with the way timing is working out I have only about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. This week’s plan is all quick, healthy and yummy dinners for 30 minutes or less, except for Sundays.

Weekly Meal Plan

Monday Night

Vegetarian breakfast burritosNo recipe required, just scrambled eggs with bell peppers, mushrooms and green onions, served in warm tortillas and topped with shredded cheese, lettuce, avocado and salsa. Served with sliced apples

Tuesday Night

Indian Spiced Sloppy Joes We eat a lot of chicken so I’m going to use extra lean ground beef in replace of the ground chicken. It works just as well in the recipe and it gives us a little chicken break

Wednesday Night

Chicken Tikka Masala PastaI made my Roast Chicken earlier in the day while the kids napped if you are shorter on time a rotisserie chicken could work just as well. This is an Indian inspired pasta that has all the yummy flavours of Tikka Masala in 25 minutes.

Thursday Night

Chicken Caesar wraps In a large bowl toss together: chopped romaine lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, diced red pepper, green onion and your favourite Caesar dressing. Place in wraps, with sliced chicken layered on top. Serve with oven fries. Cut a baking potato into wedges and lightly coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes.

Friday Night

Bacon, Leek and a fried egg pizzaI made this the other day for photos and to get the recipe down and it was probably one of the best things I have eaten in a long time. The creamy leeks and the egg add a rich, luxuriousness to this dinner.

Saturday Night

Leftover NightI know I need to clean out the fridge so we’ll use what’s there and make a feast of it. I’ll probably make a salad too.

Sunday Dinner

Creamy vegetable, chicken and tortilla casseroleThis is a favourite of my dad’s so I’ll make him happy with this yummy casserole. It’s easy to put together and can use precooked chicken for a busy Sunday. I’ll serve this with a green salad and a lime dressing. In a small container with a lid combine the juice of half a lime, 2 tbsps olive oil, 1 tsp honey, a smooshed clove of garlic and salt to taste. Shake it up and dress your salad.

One more week of meals with six under 30 minutes. If you would like to create your own meal plan or are looking for more information check out my meal planning guide.

Family Meal Plan Week 3

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Daddy and Maddie

It’s another quite week coming up for us. My husband has taken a leave until March so our lives are exceptionally peaceful right now. Although our savings are quickly dwindling, having him home for the last two months has been amazing. He had to leave for work in Alberta when our daughter was only 6 days old so I never felt like they had the same chance to bond he did with our son. But they’ve made up for lost time and now that little girl only has eyes for her daddy. I’m her meal ticket but once she’s done with me, right back to the love of her life.

Mostly we walk and explore around where we live. So my meal plans don’t have the normal chaotic, life stuff influencing them right now. However, because we are out so much I’ve had to make sure dinners can be made quickly. So, most dinners I post can get on the table from start to finish in under an hour. Many closer to 30 minutes.

Monday Night

Vegetarian Paninis – Sure, I’ll jump on the meatless Monday bandwagon. It’s been a plan to cut back on our meat intake anyway, so why not? Toss strips of zuchini, sliced mushrooms, sliced red onion and strips of red pepper in a splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast for about 20 minutes at 400F. I use foccacia cut in four. Spread each side with a thin layer of mayo and lots of pesto, sprinkle on goat cheese or your favourite cheese and top with layers of the roasted veg. Cook in your sandwich press until crisp and brown and serve with tomato soup. If you don’t have a press, place your sangie in a skillet and squish it with a large heavy pot on top. It works just as well. I’ll post a recipe for an easy tomato soup as soon as I can.

Tuesday Night

BBQ Chicken Pizza – Easy, fast and delicious. My husband’s favourite pizza hands down! I’m shopping this day so using a rotisserie chicken will save me some time when I get home and I can use the rest for dinner on Thursday.

Wednesday Night

Breakfast Night – Banana Pancakes with walnuts. I use the basic pancake recipe from the Joy of Cooking and slice in one banana and stir in a handful of chopped walnuts. Top with plain or vanilla yogurt and a touch of maple syrup. Serve with breakfast sausages and some fruit salad. I keep mine basic with apples, pears, banana and orange. If you leave out the sausages you have another meatless meal:)

Thursday Night

Chicken Tortilla Bake – A creamy, cheesy, vegetable filled casserole that is where I’m using the rest of the rotisserie chicken. It’s one of my dad’s favourites and I can almost guarantee he’ll find a good reason to come for dinner if he knows I’m making it.

Friday Night

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs, with Tzatziki and Greekish Salad – Ground turkey or chicken make these super flavourful meatballs leaner and delicious. Served with warmed pita this is my version of a Greek dinner in just over half an hour. I’ll be posting this recipe later this week.

Saturday Night

Home Made Burgers with Ceaser Salad – I like to use half and half beef and bison. It’s leaner and I find the bison has a lot more flavour. We like to top our burgers with sautéed onions, tomatoes, lettuce and my home made HP sauce. I’m addicted to the stuff and made the recipe from Canadian Crafter.

Sunday Night

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks with Coleslaw and Mashed Potato – Drumsticks are inexpensive and delicious. I place the chicken on a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Bake at 375F and baste with your favourite BBQ sauce every 10 minutes. They take about 30-45 minutes, but always go by temperature, chicken is cooked at 165F.

I hope you find this meal plan helps make your week a little easier. If you haven’t checked it out yet here are my meal planning basics. I’d also love to hear any feedback you have or any questions.

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Family Meal Plan Week 2

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I have my sister and her baby girl in town for a visit this week and we want to experiment with making some new baby foods. So I know I want at least two dinners that we can throw together in under 20 minutes. With my own new eater I’m finding evenings are getting a bit crazy. Dinner for me and hubby, a toddler portion and something for the tiny eater with a big appetite. I’m a firm believer in babies eating real food with flavour, so this of course means I create twice as much work for myself.

Other than that, our week is pretty quite and with my husband still home I have some time to make dinners we all enjoy

Monday Night

Vegetarian Chickpea Tacos – I’m doing my grocery shopping on a Monday this week. This is my families favourite vegetarian (vegan if you don’t top it with cheese) recipe and it comes together quickly so I’ll be able to whip it up when I get home. I served this to my vegetarian sister and brother in-law when they were up visiting me from Florida and it was absolutely devoured.

Tuesday Night

Breakfast for Dinner, Pumpkin Waffles with Chicken Sausage – A weekend experiment that translated into a fun, delicious dinner. I used the basic waffle recipe from the Joy of Cooking and added a 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger), about 1/2 tsp of each. The sausage came from our wonderful, local grocery, the 49th Parallel, that makes them fresh in store. Served with some fruit salad, my son and I declared it a solid hit!

Wednesday Night

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetable Fries – With a colder forecast this week I thought this would be a nice late winter warmer. I love that my son’s ideas about what fries are includes carrots and parsnips along with potatoes. I’m also throwing in an extra chicken breast for use later in the week.

Thursday Night

Toasted Tuna and Cut Veggies – I’m giving myself a midweek easy. Whole grain bread and some cut veggies make this a healthy and 10 minute dinner.

Friday Night

Pesto and Chicken Quesadillas – Here’s where I’m using the leftover chicken. Using a whole grain tortilla, spread a layer of pesto. Top with diced chicken, diced bell peppers, diced tomato, some cilantro leaves and a layer of cheese. If your family likes a little spice a diced jalapeño adds that bit of heat. Cap it off with another tortilla and cook over medium until cheese is melty and the tortilla is a golden brown. Serve with some fresh guacamole and salsa.

Saturday Night

Hot dogs/Chili Dogs and Coleslaw – Yup, I eat hot dogs Who woulda thought, me being so mostly healthy and all. I buy the Maple Leaf Naturals. I never want to be that mom that cuts my kids off from everything because it’s not healthy, plus I really love chili dogs. So…I try to find the least processed, best option and have it occasionally. I also confess I use canned chili. I don’t like it enough to make it often and its hot dogs so it should take only a minute, right? The hot dogs are topped with a layer of chili and cheese and baked in the oven. My no fail coleslaw recipe is a grated carrot and 2 cups of shredded cabbage. For the dressing mix together about 2 spoons mayo, 1 spoon of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and sugar. You’ll know by taste when you have the balance right.

Sunday Night

Pork Roast, Mashedo Potatoes, Chard and Pan-fried Apples – I’m pretty basic when it comes to seasoning my roasts and use salt and pepper with a little grainy mustard. I find most roasts take about 1-1.5 hours depending on their size, but always go by temperature. A pork roast is cooked when it reaches 170F. You can usually pull out a roast around 165F and cover with tin foil. It will sit and continue to cook while it rests, making sure the pork is up to temp but also moist and not over cooked. Potatoes are mashed with butter, milk and a grated clove of garlic. I love sautéed chard with a little butter and salt and pepper. Yogurt on top after its cooked adds a great tang. My Opa always served pork with apple sauce and I feel like it’s not a pork dinner without it. Because I love to play with my food my version is a little different. In a skillet sauté about a half a sliced onion over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter. Once the onions are translucent add thin slices of apple. I find a crunchy apple like granny smith works best. Season with salt and pepper, a sprinkle of allspice, nutmeg, ginger and a sprinkle of sugar. Add a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and simmer until apples are tender and cooked through.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s my post on how I create our families meal plan. Enjoy your week and as always I love hearing how your family gets its weekly meals on the table and ways I can improve this blog.

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How to Meal Plan for Your Busy Life

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My best friend got me into meal planning. She started because she doesn’t care about food and hated having to think about what to make each night. This was a completely bizarre concept to me. First, I don’t think there is anything other then my hubby and my kids that I love more then food. Second, it seemed like a lot of work that would ruin my creative mojo when it came to cooking. But grocery shopping each night, eating out when I got lazy or busy and throwing tonnes of food away really started to add up and I decided to give it a try.

I now feel like I have a pretty good handle on it and I am hoping I can share enough that you can use my experience to make your life a little easier. Please feel free to riff off of these ideas and I’d love to hear how it all works for you and your family. If however, after you have read this you realize this is never going to happen, don’t despair. I will be posting my weekly menu with linked recipes (as I write them) so you can just use mine.

Here are my tips for making meal planning a part of your weekly adventures:

1) What does your week look like?
First, I try and think about my week ahead. If there are days that are going to be rushed or busy I want to make sure I have quick and easy meals. I look for days I might not have to cook or have to cook more. We usually have dinner with my parents once a week so I need to either plan for a crowd or I get a night off. The day I do our grocery shopping can be a long one (or feel like it) if I have both kids with me so I always try to make sure I have an easy dinner that night.

2)Lunches and leftovers
My husband does not like sandwiches. He’ll eat them out of necessity but he would rather have leftovers any day. I try to take this into consideration and plan on a dinner that gives us guaranteed leftovers every second night. This way he can rotate between what he loves and sandwiches if he runs out, but we never get a leftover backlog. I can also use leftovers in other dinners or freeze them for another night. I love opening my freezer to leftovers I can pull out for an easy dinner. It feels like I just won an hour of free time!

3)What do you already have?
When I first started meal planning I was so gung-ho I would look to cookbooks and the internet before my pantry and fridge. This meant stuff didn’t get used and I was spending more on new, fun ingredients rather then using ones I already had. Trying new things is awesome but having a fridge full of condiments, expensive cheeses and random vegetables is only good if you are planning on cooking with them more then one night. Instead, now I try to use anything from the fridge that didn’t somehow get used up and check the pantry for that forgotten treasure hiding in the back.

4)Mix it up
I find a combo of new recipes, family faves and mindless meals works best. We all have recipes that we can make without a second thought and I use cookbooks, blogs, Pinterest and friends to find inspiration for new meals. Life is just easier with the occasional pancake dinner or fried egg sandwich thrown in too. So far only my hubby contributes suggestions but I’d like to think the kids will want to participate when they’re older. I’ve also seen some deadly looking meal planning organizers on Pinterest and one day I’ll make one…maybe… probably not.

5)Reuse ingredients
If I can I try to find dinners throughout the week that use similar things. It cuts down costs and time too. A roast chicken early in the week can be made into soup or a chicken pizza for another night. Cabbage for tacos can be tossed into a salad. This has been something I figured out later then sooner, but I now always try to keep it in mind. Funny how easy this sounds and yet it took me years to get this one figured out.

6)Have a backup plan and be flexible
No matter how well I plan or organize my meals, life happens and it doesn’t always work. Sometimes a grocery store doesn’t have what I need or something else is on sale for a way better deal. “Talia, you can’t control the world”, has been a message that the universe and my mom keep telling me. So I accept that things happen and then roll with it. I either try to alter my recipe a bit or go with a backup plan. These are usually easy and made from ingredients that I keep on hand. Home made or frozen pizzas, sandwiches with veggies and breakfast can all be made quickly . If you know you have a quick backup plan at home it eliminates the need for an emergency fast food stop and gets you off the hook.

7)Have a Theme, Formula or Template
It’s hard coming up with new ideas all the time. Some weeks you’re tired, the weather sucks and the last thing you want to do is try to be super creative. I use a rotation of sorts to help me stay inspired and get new ideas on the table. Here’s a what the inside of my head kind of looks like:

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Pick a theme, chose your protein and then add your flavours. If you’re not someone who loves to cook or feels inspired, using the themes alone and then finding recipes that fit works just as well.

Once you get the hang of meal planning it becomes a natural part of the week. It takes me only a bit to do and it saves moolah. We rarely eat out and when we do its for a treat or special occasion, I almost never throw food away because its gone bad and I love knowing what’s for dinner without having to stress last minute.