Sunday, December 13, 2009

MENU Mon Dec 14th through Sun Dec 27th 2009

MON 12/14 - Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice with leftover ham and the bit of cooked andouille from the freezer. Serve with salad and cornbread.

TUE 12/15 - Sauteed chicken breast (season with garlic, S&P) with potato gnocchi and salad.

WED 12/16 - Poached Fish with Tomato and Basil, Mediterranean Succotash

THU 12/17 - Pasta with home-made pesto and sauteed chicken breast, salad

FRI 12/18 - Chicken & Dumplings (use prepared, frozen chicken mixture)

SAT 12/19 - May be having Christmas Party Round II... dinner TBD

SUN 12/20 - Roast Chicken with Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes, salad, bread

MON 12/21 - Bowtie pasta w/ Bolognese Sauce, salad, bread

TUE 12/22 - Pork Stirfry

WED 12/23 - Steak, Avocado, & Bean Salad (use chicken for Dinah - leftover frozen steak for Jess)

THU 12/24 - Christmas Eve - make 2 pies to bring.

FRI 12/25 - Christmas!

SAT 12/26 - Chicken with Prawns (Med/125), rice, spinach salad, bread

SUN 12/27 - Butterflied Prawns in Chocolate as appetizer, Roast Duck, mashed sweet potatoes with apple, green beans (make some fancy way - not sure what yet)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MENU Sat Nov 14th through Nov 27th

SAT 11/14 - Puerco Pibil & rice

SUN 11/15 - chili (home-canned) and cornbread

MON 11/16 - Italian Breaded Pork Chops, stuffing mix, broccoli

TUE 11/17 - Polynesian Chicken, Rice, Roasted Pineapple

WED 11/18 - Stir Fry

THU 11/19 - Ham, mashed sweet potato, peas, cooked apples

FRI 11/20 - Zatarain's Smothered Chicken (add some andouille too)

SAT 11/21 - Going out w/ Mom & Dad

SUN 11/22 - Roast Chicken, baked sweet potato (make extra for tomorrow), veggie

MON 11/23 - Salmon with Caper Relish, use chicken for Jess, sweet potato, veggie

TUE 11/24 - Chicken Pot Pie (add frozen peas too)

WED 11/25 - Pasta

THU 11/26 - Thanksgiving - going to Katy's

FRI 11/27 - leftovers?

SAT 11/28 - Steak tenderloin, baked potato, salad

SUN 11/29 - Lasagna - make one, freeze one

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MENU Sun Oct 25th through Fri Nov 13th

SUN 10/25 - Chili w/ cornbread (can the leftover chili)

MON 10/26 - Hot sandwiches

TUE 10/27 - Salmon w/ Caper Relish for Dinah, Chicken for Jess, acorn squash & veggie

WED 10/28 - Italian Breaded Pork Chops, Mashed Sweet Potato, Veggie

THU 10/29 - Polynesian Chicken, Roasted Pineapple

FRI 10/30 - Italian sausage, pasta, bread from Pillsbury can

SAT 10/31 - Steak tenderloin, baked potato, salad

SUN 11/1 - Lasagna - make one, freeze one, salad

MON 11/2 - Cashew Chicken

TUE 11/3 - dinner out w/ family

WED 11/4 - hot dogs, pasta salad, veggie

THU 11/5 - Chicken Marsala, angel hair pasta, veggie

FRI 11/6 - Shepherd's Pie with ground lamb and instant potatoes

SAT 11/7 - Chicken pot pie

SUN 11/8 - Lamb chops with Tzatsiki sauce, twice-baked potatoes, veggie

MON 11/9 - Barbecue chicken thighs, mashed sweet potato, veggie

TUE 11/10 - Stir-Fry of Chicken and Salad-Bar Fixings (Healthy Cooking for Two / 162)

WED 11/11 - Third Wedding Anniversary!

THU 11/12 - Pasta w/ Tomato Mozzarella Sausage

FRI 11/13 - Ham, mashed potatoes, peas

Friday, July 31, 2009

MENU Sat Aug 1st through Fri Aug 14th

Menu planning... where to start?

Keep mid-week meal prep time to a minimum. This is generally not the time to try a new recipe b/c they take much longer - - unless of course it's a really easy recipe.

Weekends mean you'll have more prep time available, but keep in mind that weekends can also be very active. Don't marry yourself to a weekend meal plan that means you won't have time to do the restful things you enjoy!

Plan for the most delicate produce to be used early in the week.

Plan for lunches - make something early in the week that has leftovers you can use for lunch later in the week.

Build in flexibility - make sure there's one meal a week that can drop off the menu without consequences... something from the freezer + cans + anything that keeps for a while. Allow for spontaneity!

Have a variety - a variety of ingredients, main entree meats, a variety of cooking styles, casual to involved, etc.

SAT 8/1 - Going to a friend's for dinner.
Lunch will be chicken wings - Buffalo for Jess, Barbecue for Dinah.

SUN 8/2 - Grilled tenderloin steaks, spinach for Jess, other veggie for Dinah (asparagus), baked potato

MON 8/3 - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (make enough for lunches, too - use 2 packs of gr. beef), salad (use the bit of broccoli left from last week), bread

TUE 8/4 - Poached Fish with Tomato and Basil (using fresh basil from the garden), Mediterranean Succotash, veggie (squash)

WED 8/5 - Italian Breaded Pork Chops, Rosemary Potatoes, salad

THU 8/6 - Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole, veggie. Either have it ready the night before or do it right when you walk in the door. It's super-easy, but it cooks for almost an hour.

FRI 8/7 - leftover Chicken Enchiladas from the freezer; serve with chips and salsa w/ avocado, canned corn

SAT 8/8 - Yogurt Grilled Chicken Breast with Pineapple Roasted Red Pepper Salsa - now that's a descriptive title!

SUN 8/9 - Chicken-Andouille Casserole Let's give it a shot!

MON 8/10 - Roasted Chicken Quarters (we have some breasts, some leg/thigh quarters - either works for the recipe), baked potato, salad

TUE 8/11 - Trout with Honey-Citrus Glaze (recipe was originally for salmon, but let's try trout b/c it's what's on hand), wild rice mix, veggie

WED 8/12 - Sweet and Sour Pork with rice

THU 8/13 - Sauteed Chicken Breast with Cucumber Salad, pasta salad

FRI 8/14 - Sloppy Joes, baby carrots on the side

Remember for next time: we have lamb in the freezer! May put on next menu set. Also plan a sushi night!

Grocery list:
baking potatoes x 2
salad ingredients for 2 nights
veggie x 2
Dinah veggie
fresh spinach
fresh parsley
one pepper (any color is fine)
jarred roasted red pepper
bag of frozen veggies
remember to purchase lunch-related items

Grocery list for perishables in week 2:
salad ingredients
green pepper
fresh parsley
rolls for sloppy joes
remember to purchase lunch-related items

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MENU Sat July 18th through Fri July 31st

Well, the refrigerator was rebelling in mid-July, last week, so we ate out *a* *lot*. Then it was back to our regularly scheduled programming... but I'm just now posting the menu.

I'm going to make a concerted effort toward having easier, quicker meals during the week. I enjoy cooking, but I don't want to spend hours each night preparing & cleaning up from dinner. There are so many other things I want to do!

SAT 7/18 - Grilled ribeye, Salad, Bread

SUN 7/19 - Roast Chicken, Risotto, Veggie (Broccoli)

MON 7/20 - Pork Stirfry

TUE 7/21 - Chicken Chilaquiles using leftover chicken

WED 7/22 - Walnut Crusted Trout, Baked Potato (microwaved, actually), veggie

THU 7/23 - Brandy-Orange Chicken, Rice, Carrots

FRI 7/24 - Soft Tacos (beef)

SAT 7/25 - scheduled dinner at a friend's house

SUN 7/26 - Crablegs for Jess, Catfish for Dinah, Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice, veggie

MON 7/27 - Tomato/Mozzarella Sausage with pasta and veggie

TUE 7/28 - Grilled pork tenderloin, grilled veggies (squash, mushrooms, onions, peppers), potato

WED 7/29 - Cashew Chicken

THU 7/30 - Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, veggie, polenta with marinara sauce and Fontina cheese

FRI 7/31 - Pasta w/ Chicken & Vodka Cream Sauce, bread, salad

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cheeseburger Cupcakes

How to make cheeseburger cupcakes:
Here are the instructions I followed - link


- Use the gooiest chocolate batter you can find.

- After pouring the batter into the cupcake pans, be sure to flatten it down a bit - you want your cupcake tops to come out as flat as possible, to look convincingly like bread.

- We used Starburst to emulate cheese. The orange kind looked best.

  1. Microwave one unwrapped Starburst at a time on a plastic cutting board
  2. Depending on the strength of your microwave, time will differ. We did 6 seconds.
  3. Using your thumb, squish the Starburst flat to about a 2" diameter squarish-circle
  4. Cut the disc in quarters.
  5. At time of assembly, put the corners down, peeking out from under the "bun" top
  6. Use frosting (red for ketchup, yellow for mustard) to cover up the edges of your cheese triangles, creating the illusion that there's a big slice of cheese under there.
The whole process took us about 3 hours, but was well worth it. We brought some to our neighbors and some to a friend's house that night.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

MENU Sun July 5th through Sun July 19th

We're all about variety and economy. Pay attention to what's already stocked in your pantry, to what's on sale this week. You can have great meals at a decent price - sure, it takes a bit of planning, but it can be done. It's my job to teach you how! You don't have to live on frozen pizza anymore.

SUN 7/5 - Puerco Pibil and Maque Choux (pronounced something like "mock shoe")

MON 7/6 - Favorite Shrimp of Dinah's, Snow Crab legs, Fried Okra with Remoulade Sauce, Zatarain's New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice

TUE 7/7 - Grilled pork tenderloin, stuffing (made from a mix), salad

WED 7/8 - Salmon with Caper Relish, rice, veggie

THU 7/9 - Stuffed Chicken Rolls, Pasta with Creamy Shallot Sauce, salad if we have leftover salad ingredients still

FRI 7/10 - Enchiladas (from the freezer - made them several weeks ago & froze the extras). There's nothing like an easy meal on a Friday.

SAT 7/11 - Grilled Lamb Chops, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Grilled Veggies (mushrooms, peppers, onions, squash)

SUN 7/12 - Homemade pizza

MON 7/13 - Pork Stirfry

TUE 7/14 - Brandy and Orange Chicken, rice, veggie

WED 7/15 - Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, Risotto, Glazed Carrots - use this recipe but with all carrots instead of carrots and parsnips.

THU 7/16 - Grilled Ribeye Steak, Stuffed Mushrooms, Bread with Dipping Oil & Spices, Salad

FRI 7/17 - Vodka Cream Sauce with pasta and chicken (I just cook the chicken on the stove-top after pounding it flat).

SAT 7/18 - kabobs - undecided yet what kind to do. Probably will be "Prosciutto" Chicken Kabobs. Feel free to make them with real prosciutto, as opposed to using salami. But for the money, I'll use salami. Maybe one day I'll make it back to Spain and come back with a suitcase full of Serrano Ham, though.

SUN 7/19 - Coq au Vin. Between those instructions and Joy of Cooking, I'm going to give it a try, I think. If the weather's nice, though, I may forego cooking this, go kayaking, and have cheeseburgers for dinner.

I'm realizing just how often we cook with alcohol... let's see, this two-week menu has tequila, wine, sherry, brandy, and vodka. The alcohol cooks off, and you are left with a complex, irreproducable flavor. My, but I love Vodka Cream Sauce. I have a special relationship with fresh basil.

Monday, June 29, 2009

MENU Sun May 21st through Fri July 3rd

Summer's here - share your favorite recipe on

SUN 6/21 - Happy Father's Day! A requested menu of Coconut Shrimp and Stuffed Mushrooms (scaled the recipe down), and I decided to make Tomato Pie, too. An odd mix, but it was tasty.

MON 6/22 - One-pot meal of Chicken and "Chorizo" - used leftover bits of veggies from the freezer.

TUE 6/23 - Grilled pork chops, baked potato, and veggies (eggplant for Jess, broccoli for Dinah)

WED 6/24 - Chicken Carbonara, serve with salad and bread

THU 6/25 - Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish, rice, veggie (broccoli)

FRI 6/26 - Homemade oven-toasted subs & fries (those are not homemade)

SAT 6/27 - Brandon's Birthday Party!!

SUN 6/28 - Cajun Blackened Catfish (& Blackened Chicken), Fried Okra with Remoulade Sauce, watermelon

MON 6/29 - Roasted Chicken Quarters, baked potato, corn

TUE 6/30 - Everyone's on their own for dinner tonight

WED 7/1 - Tilapia with Grapefruit Salsa (TOH2/WInter07/52), veggie, rice

THU 7/2 - Porterhouse, potato, grilled veggies

FRI 7/3 - Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Burritos (RR1/92)

SAT 7/4 - Happy Fourth of July! No plans yet.

Coming soon....
The grocery store had rainbow trout fillets and lamb chops on clearance.... we have a pork roast in the freezer that would be great for Puerco Pibil, there were small pork tenderloins on sale last week, and it's Farmer's Market season! Please share your favorite recipes on and help make the world a tastier place.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MENU Sun May 24 through Sat June 6th

It's been crazy here for the last month... I think it's actually been that long since we've eaten according to the menu. Had an unexpected trip to Buffalo, friends and family having trouble, house repairs (let's hear it for a tiled kitchen floor!), Lasik surgery, and a new job. I think that covers it.

I'll be back to posting menus now, though.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sun 5/24 - Grilled Porterhouse with Mushrooms for Steak, grilled corn, good bread

Mon 5/25 -
Stuffed Porkloin, veggie, baked potato

Tue 5/26 -
Taco Salad

Wed 5/27 -
Baked Fish with Mushrooms, veggie, wild rice mix

Thu 5/28 -
Tarragon-Crusted Chicken (TOH 2/Spring08/7), salad, Mediterranean Succotash

Fri 5/29 -
Sesame Noodles (RR1/104) with stir-fried chicken and veggies

Sat 5/30 -
Grilled Shrimp Mediterranean over Pasta, salad

Sun 5/31 -
Stuffed Mushroom appetizer, Grilled Lamb Chops using this marinade, found on Cooking for Engineers, grilled veggies, rosemary potatoes

Mon 6/1 -
Salmon with Caper Relish, wild rice mix, veggie

Tue 6/2 -
Enchiladas w/ Mole Sauce (RR1/97-8), salad

Wed 6/3 -
Grilled chicken breast, grilled veggies, baked potato

Thu 6/4 -
Pasta & Sauteed Chicken with Vodka Cream Sauce (sauce recipe from RR1/44), salad and good bread

Fri 6/5 -
Steakhouse Beef & Pepper Stir Fry

Sat 6/6 -
Baked Chicken Quarters, Twice-Baked Potatoes, veggie

Monday, March 9, 2009

Meal Planning as Part of Weight Loss

Rick has been my mother’s Weight Watchers buddy for the last several years. To date, he has lost 110 pounds.

Any amount of weight is difficult to lose, yes. But when you have hundreds you need to lose, it can be very discouraging – and very difficult. I’d like to lose ten, twenty pounds… and to do so, I can go walking, I can go running. Rick can’t do that, though. He became so overweight that he cannot do those things. He’s had to find ways to make small changes – stand when he used to sit, move around a bit more, take the stairs instead of the elevator, make better menu choices. Over time, those small changes have added up. For the first time in fifteen years, his weight now begins with a 3, not a 4.

Hopefully, his success will bring encouragement to you.

From Rick:

“Something that has helped me to lose weight is Weight Watchers (WW). WW works; there is no doubt in my mind. For those who say it doesn’t work, I say that they didn't try it, I say that they didn't give it a chance, I say that they didn't follow the program - because I know if you do, there is success. Forget about dieting - WW is not a diet. It is a way of life. WW teaches you how to eat the right things in the right portions.

“Enough of the WW commercial.

One thing I think helpful is to partner up with someone. I think you should have someone you can turn to, someone who will hold you accountable as well as support you for those times when you say 'I feel like I'm going to over eat' or 'I did over eat,' someone who knows you and has the same weight issues as you, someone that can turn to you as well.

“Something that used to drive me crazy was hearing about people who had reached their goal weight, how they had lost 15, 20, 25, or 30 pounds, and that it took them only a few weeks to do it. I had over 300 to lose, so goals like that would be just a drop in the bucket for me. Then I realized my goal was set too high. I needed to make more realistic goals. I thought, Yeah, I can do what they did - why not make my goal 15 or 20 pounds at a time? I could reach the same success they did. I was so busy looking at the total weight I had to lose, that it was overwhelming; it almost defeated me. So what I'm saying is keep it realistic so you won’t feel defeated and give up.

“I have heard some say that you need to not think about food so much, stopping thinking about it would make it easier to lose your weight. I think that is all wrong; I think you need to keep thinking about food, keep it in your face. You need to keep thinking about what to get at the store, what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and how you’re going to prepare your meals. You need to plan snacks to help you stay on track. You need to keep track of what your eating - and that means everything you eat, good or bad. Keep a journal on how you feel when eating or when overeating, because feelings can be triggers to overeating. Triggers can be even having a good day – know your triggers so you can make better choices when they come up.

“My WW partner shared this thought with me from another WW person and I have it posted by my desk so I can see it daily. I hope it will inspire you as well.

I tell people that it sometimes it feels like food is an illicit, abusive lover. I've snuck around to be with it, I've lied for it, I've suffered for it, I've sacrificed my health for it, I've struggled for each breath to be with it. I've planned my days and nights around it, I've given up opportunities for it, and I've thrown my money away in pursuit of it;
I've cried over it.

I have lived years of my life in physical pain and mental anguish over the love of it. I've spent more time, tears, money, and heartache over it for YEARS-- all for the love of something that CANNOT LOVE ME BACK.

I finally had enough.

It's been a tough breakup, and it still shows up every now and then--- but I'm getting better at not answering the door.

I hope this helps you in your weight loss journey. Good luck."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MENU Sat Mar 7th through Fri Mar 20th

SAT 3/7 - "Proscuitto" Chicken Kabobs, Shrimp and Black Bean Salad, and grilled veggies (zucchini, onions, green pepper, and mushrooms)

SUN 3/8 - Grilled ribeye steak, salad, mashed potatoes - make lots & use extras for Shepherd's pie tomorrow. Serve steak with mushrooms

MON 3/9 - Shepherd's Pie, salad

TUE 3/10 - Italian Breaded Pork Chops, broiled red potatoes, veggie (broccoli)

WED 3/11 - Baked Cod (though we're going to use Tilapia) with Stuffing on Top and White Risotto (RR2468/244) ... we never had it though it was scheduled on the last menu. Have with carrots & parsnips

THU 3/12 - Chicken and Asparagus Kabobs, homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

FRI 3/13 - Pork Stir Fry

SAT 3/14 - Probably at Josh's birthday party.

SUN 3/15 - Grilled barbecued chicken quarters, grilled veggie kabobs, red beans and rice

MON 3/16 - Cedar-planked salmon (Amer/22), wild rice mix, veggie

TUE 3/17 - cheesy rice (from leftover rice in frzr), ham steaks, veggie

WED 3/18 - vermicelli salad but w/o peanuts, chicken & broccoli stir-fry

THU 3/19 - Baked barbecue pork chops, fried apples, baked Parmesan potato fries

FRI 3/20 - Chicken & Dumplings (from frzr chicken mix)

SAT 3/21 - Go to the zoo? Pasta salad made w/ egg noodles, ham sandwiches, veggies ... hopefully, there'll be nice weather & we can go.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MENU Mon Feb 23rd through Fri Mar 6th

MON 2/23 - Baked Spaghetti. The last time I made it, I froze half - for this meal, we'll cook that frozen half.

TUE 2/24 - Chicken stir-fry served with rice

WED 2/25 - Roasted Chicken Quarters, rice w/ almonds & oranges, veggie on sale

THU 2/26 - Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish made using salmon, acorn squash (microwave to cook), veggie

FRI 2/27 - Chicken pot pie made w/ frozen dough from Debbie.

SAT 2/28 - Lasagna - use ricotta in fridge, salad

SUN 3/1 - Cornish hens, rosemary potatoes, salad

MON 3/2 - Dinah's first day at his new job!! Hooray!!
Chicken Marsala
, herbed angel hair pasta, salad

TUE 3/3 - Tuna Tataki w/ Ponzu sauce, jasmine rice, veggie

WED 3/4 - Salmon with Caper Relish, wild rice mix, veggie

THU 3/5 - Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, Fried Apples and Onions

FRI 3/6 - Pre-cooked ham steaks from frzr - just need to reheat. Serve w/ mashed potatoes & canned peas.

SAT 3/7 - Baked Cod (though we're going to use Tilapia) with Stuffing on Top and White Risotto (RR2468/244)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Purchasing Meat on Sale

Meat-Packing Time!

We pretty well never buy boneless, skinless chicken breast that's more than $1.99/lb. When it's on sale, if our freezer stock is low, we buy as much as will fit in the freezer. That day or the day after, we freeze the meat in 2-serving portions, in freezer bags. In trimming breasts down to one serving each, we end up with a lot of small pieces that were cut off. These pieces are chopped even smaller and frozen in 2-serving portions for stir-fry. Each bag is labeled with the date & contents and put in the freezer.

My husband and I work together. I trim the chicken to serving-size pieces (a.k.a. the icky job) & he labels the bags & brings them to me one at a time; I drop the chicken in, and he seals the bag. That way, I don't have to figure out how to keep one hand clean to hold the bags. The whole process takes about 45 minutes. Having a child label the bags is a great way to keep them involved & busy while you're trimming meat, too. Pick up a couple colored permanent markers & let them decorate the bags!

Is it worth the effort?

Cost of a kitchen scale: $49.99
There are cheaper ones, but let's see if it's worth it even for one this expensive.

Cost of freezer bags: a box of 40 is $4.99 at our local market - that's 12 cents a bag.

You'll need permanent markers to label the bags - let's add $8.50 for those.

Let's say 2 people have chicken about 5 times a week.
2 servings x 5 meals a week x 52 weeks in a year = 520 servings
At 4 oz per serving, that's 130 lb per year.
((Note, this is the same as a family of 4 having chicken 5 times in two weeks))

What's the cost of 520 servings at $1.99/lb?
130 lb @ 1.99/lb = $258.70

2 servings per freezer bag = 260 bags
260 x 0.12 = $32.44

Add in the cost of a scale and markers, and your yearly total is $349.61

What if you bought chicken each week, whether it was on sale or not?
If it were never on sale and you always paid $5.39/lb, one year of chicken would cost you $700.70
But in reality, it is on sale sometimes. Let's say it goes on sale once a month.
Now, your yearly spend on chicken is $590.20

You save $240.60 by buying it on sale and packing it in the freezer.
AND you only have to buy a scale once. So, the following year, you'd save almost $300.
In two years, I've only had to replace my scale's batteries once, too. We've had the same markers for a couple years, too.

We spend about 45 minutes once every two months to freeze chicken in portions.
4 1/2 hours a year saves $240 the first year and $300 every year thereafter.

And keep in mind, this is only chicken. We buy pork on sale the same way, $1.99/lb.
Worried about freezer room? Hey, all we have is a typical refrigerator w/ freezer - and we can make it work. You can, too!


1. Portion Control.
You can be sure you're eating correct portions of meat. I can guarantee that at each meal, we each only have one serving of meat.

2. Less Time in the Store.
When you have a well-stocked kitchen, your grocery trips take less time in the end. You'll only have to visit the meat section every couple of months - what you need for your meal plan is already in the freezer.

3. No Last-Minute Worries.
You're prepared for last-minute meal plan changes. Need to add servings b/c friends are coming over? No need to run to the store! Just pull out another packet of meat from the freezer. You will always have meat on hand. And packets of frozen chicken cut up for stir-fry defrost *very* quickly. I'll microwave defrost it just until I can break it apart, then into a hot pan it goes.

In the end, I find that taking the time to buy meat only when it's on sale & freeze it in serving-size portions is well worth investment in tools, time, and effort.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

MENU Sun Feb 8th through Sat Feb 21st

SUN 2/8 - ate with the neighbors

MON 2/9 -
Sicilian Sausage and Fennel Pasta, salad

TUE 2/10 -
Shrimp Toast with Cucumber Sauce (RR1/109)

WED 2/11 -
Baked Spaghetti, salad - have 1/2 spag. for dinner, freeze 1/2 unbaked

THU 2/12 -
Crunchy Oven Fried Fish, Italian-Style Broccoli

FRI 2/13 -
Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, Fried Apples and Onions

SAT 2/14 -
A Romantic Dinner! I know we want to have lamb, but I'm not sure what else yet. I'll make the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte that day, too.

SUN 2/15 -
Lasagna, salad - have 1/2 las. for dinner, freeze 1/2 unbaked. Be sure to separate out 2 TB of the ricotta for use tomorrow in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls.

MON 2/16 -
Stuffed Chicken Rolls, served with salad and rosemary potatoes instead of pasta. Rice from the freezer - was made 2 weeks ago, when we had Cashew Chicken & I made extra rice for this very purpose.

TUE 2/17 -
Salmon with Orange-Ginger Glaze, wild rice mix w/ mandarin oranges and almonds added, veggie that's on sale.

WED 2/18 -
Baked Cod (though we're going to use Tilapia) with Stuffing on Top and White Risotto (RR2468/244)

THU 2/19 -
Italian Baked Chicken, pesto potatoes, working with the idea on this site, veggie that's on sale.

FRI 2/20 -
Hamburgers - I'm going to check with our friend Brad on a good way to make them tasty. Served with a few baked chips and baby carrots, celery, cukes.

SAT 2/21 -
My sweet Dinah's birthday!! We're going to have a party w/ lots of good foods... not officially planned yet, though.

SUN 2/22 -
Going to dinner with Dinah's parents, for his birthday. They kindly offered to take us to a rib place we've not been to before. How fun!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Plan Your Meals!

Benefits of Meal Planning:

• Healthy mind – no more last-minute stress of what to make
• Healthy meals – plan healthy meals and avoid last-minute unhealthy options
• Healthy bank account – keep your grocery budget down by not buying what you aren’t going to use

Healthy Mind

Frequently, I’ve heard complaints of the mental stress that comes on the drive home, rushing to figure out what to make for dinner. Then, just when they have it figured out, they get home to find an ingredient missing. Planning meals means you don’t have to worry anymore – just drive home, decompress from your day, and then start making dinner, never having worried about what to make.

Healthy Meals

Planning meals allows for healthier choices. Unfortunately, the easiest last-minute dinner choices are not typically healthy choices. Pizza, mac and cheese, hot dogs, pre-packaged meals, frozen dinners, and take-out are easy as can be … and they will work against your weight loss plans!

You don’t have to become a chef – many healthy meals are easy to make, too. It’s really about making small changes, choosing healthier options. And having a plan enables these choices, because you’re not pressed at the last minute. Steam, broil, or bake your foods – don’t fry. Use fresh ingredients. Choose lean meat. Drain off the fat. Opt for light dressing instead of regular. But most importantly, have a plan. Take the time to choose healthy meals for the week, then stick to that plan.

Healthy Bank Account

You’ve probably heard it said, “Never go to the grocery store hungry.” Well, I’ll add another rule, “Never go to the grocery store without a plan.” We’ve all been there – slimy, scary produce in the refrigerator, bought and never used. Or meat defrosted and then forgotten. Deli meat/cheese you never used up before it went bad. If you plan your meals, these kinds of events will happen less, guaranteed.

Maybe you already use a grocery list – good for you! That’s a great step to take. Just be sure what’s on the list is really what you’ll need – and then stick to it. Don’t purchase perishable items that aren’t part of the plan. And don’t purchase unhealthy snacks! This will help you toward a healthier body and a healthier account balance.

Another Benefit of Planning

Have you ever had a recipe call for just one tablespoon of tomato paste, just a bit of cream, a single stalk of celery, or just a portion of any fresh vegetable. What do you do with the rest of it? Some items can be frozen for future use, but not all. When you make your menu plan, you can plan multiple meals using that same ingredient so none goes to waste.

What if my Plans Change?

If you frequently have to change your plans, causing you to not have dinner at home, be sure to plan at least one meal per week that can drop off the menu without repercussions.

For example, I like to have a pasta meal planned at least one night per week. I think the easiest “droppable” meal is pasta; the unused dry pasta & jar/can of sauce will keep for another week just fine. The veggie for the night is typically salad, and I always keep salad ingredients on hand anyway, so nothing is wasted. What about the meat? Well, hopefully I’ll know the night before not to even take it out of the freezer. But just in case, I’ll be sure that there’s another meal on the menu that uses the same meat.

Need Ideas?

There’s many websites dedicated to helping you find new recipes. My own site,, has a category for “easily removed from the menu” and for “healthy” recipes. Feel free to add your own recipes to the site, too!

If you have meal-planning advice to share, just leave a comment so others may benefit from your experience.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MENU Sat Jan 24th through Fri Feb 6th

SAT 1/24 - used leftover lamb from 1/22 to make Greek Gyros

SUN 1/25 - Pasta w/ Bolognese Sauce (Med/120)

MON 1/26 - Classic Chicken Marsala, pasta, salad

TUE 1/27 - Poached Fish with Tomato and Basil, Mediterranean Succotash

WED 1/28 - Teriyaki Chicken, mashed potatoes, stir fried bok choy, carrots, & pepper on the side

THU 1/29 - Using our gift certificate from Uncle Walter & Aunt Deena to go to Michael Dean's (restaurant). The restaurant even has BOGO dinners if you go between 5 & 6 in January, so it'll be a *really* good deal. I've heard nothing but good things about this place... I"m excited about our fancy date out.

FRI 1/30
- Shredded Pork Wraps

SAT 1/31 - going to visit Brad & Jen - bringing Rice with Lentils and tzatziki sauce

SUN 2/1 - Lamb shoulder chops, veggie that's on sale, Twice Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Cheddar

MON 2/2 - Brandy and Orange Chicken, potatoes au gratin, veggie that's on sale

TUE 2/3 - Cashew Chicken

WED 2/4 - Salmon with Honey-Citrus Glaze, rice, veggie (that's right, whatever's on sale)

THU 2/5 - Sushi Thai

FRI 2/6 - Polynesian Chicken, Roasted Pineapple

MENU Tue Jan 13th through Fri Jan 23rd

I never did post this menu two weeks ago, so I'll be posting two today, covering the last two weeks and the coming two weeks.

When I planned a meal for 1/9, I had not recalled that we'd be going to Dinah's parents' house that night for his mother's birthday dinner. So, Friday's meal dropped off the menu. Then, we went out to dinner with friends on 1/10, and I don't remember what we did for dinner on Sunday or Monday. That's what I get for not posting menus on time.

TUE 1/13 - Fajitas

WED 1/14 - Taco salad made with ground turkey

THU 1/15 - Onion Soup, Pollo Rosa Maria, sauteed squash

FRI 1/16 - Poached Salmon w/ Basil Vinaigrette, rice, veggie that's on sale

SAT 1/17 - Minestrone Soup w/ Ham Bone, ham sandwiches

SUN 1/18 - Salmon-Zucchini Wedge Appetizer, Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp, Spinach dip with veggies and bread

MON 1/19 - Chicken Cacciatore, salad

TUE 1/20 - Chicken Stir Fry

WED 1/21 - Leftover Chicken Cacciatore, salad

THU 1/22 - Roast Leg of Lamb, Baked Potato, steamed asparagus

FRI 1/23 - We had planned for Chicken Pot Pie, but ended up using a coupon for a free entree at Red, Hot, & Blue and going out to Comedy Worx instead. Much, much fun.