Weekly Menu Plan {January 26, 2015}

Weekly Menu Plan {January 26, 2015} Ideas from MealPlanningMagic.com

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen the picture I posted of my friend and I after a Dream Dinners session. That means our freezers are full and ready for busy weeknights (or weekends–I like to make them on Sundays often actually)! This week I cooking from the freezer with my Dream Dinners meals and some new recipes I’m trying so that I can use up some some ingredients that are already in the freezer. One of those is the Seafood Cioppino Stew which I had prepared by someone else a few months ago and we really liked it! I’ve got some fish leftover from another activity and I think this will be a perfect recipe to try and use some of that up. Better yet, it’s made in the slowcooker so meal prep is a lot easier!

We’ve also got some special activities this week and weekend so that means someone else is doing the cooking and I get a night off! Love it when that happens!

Weekly Menu Plan

Here’s what’s on our dinner menu this week:

Monday: Meatball Marinara Stuffed bread (from freezer-Dream Dinners) and a garden salad
Tuesday: Greek Chicken with Lemon Feta (from Dream Dinners), rice pilaf and sugar snap peas
Wednesday: Special outing–no cooking for me!
Thursday: Slowcooker Seafood Cioppino Stew with homemade bread (in bread machine–trying a new recipe) and a garden salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Special outing–no cooking for me!
Sunday: Grilled Maple Ginger Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and some sort of veggie

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Tailgating & Football Themed Recipe Ideas

The Super Bowl is on Sunday and if you’re planning a get together with friends, need to bring something or just enjoying the game at home, my Tailgatin’ Pinterest board is full of inspiration! Check it out by clicking the link or picture below!

Tailgating and Football Themed foods on Pinterest from MealPlanningMagic.com

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Make it a great week!

3 Ways To Preserve Lemons For the Freezer

How to Preserve Lemons for the Freezer--3 Ways! | Tips from MealPlanningMagic.comWhen we moved last summer, we were lucky enough to inherit a mature Meyer lemon tree in our backyard and I was SO excited! In our part of southeast Texas, the lemons start ripening in late November and go through about January, so the kids and I have been busy juicing and zesting away! Even if you don’t have an abundance of lemons (or limes or oranges for that matter) and you’re buying yours at the grocery store, sometimes a recipe may call for just a little bit of juice or zest and it seems like a waste to have to toss the rest before you can use it all up. Or maybe because your recipe only calls for a little bit, you don’t want to have to buy a whole lemon just to use a little bit of it.

So today, I want to share with you three ways to preserve lemons for the freezer so that you can preserve the WHOLE lemon so you get you’re money’s (and time’s) worth. (Is time’s a word? I hope you know what I mean!)

Preserving lemons tools

These are all the tools and equipment that you’ll need to preserve your lemons for the freezer.

Juice It

This is pretty simple. I don’t have a fancy juicer. Just a small, manual one I got from Tupperware many, many years ago. There are tons of styles and prices to choose from when it comes to manual juicers. You can check out some options by clicking here. The kids have been helping me and my son actually likes to juice the lemons for me so that is a big bonus for me! We juice as many as we can then pour the juice into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen solid, I remove them and store in a labeled, gallon-size freezer bag. Then I can thaw out just what I need for my recipes. (p.s. did you notice I forgot to get a picture of us actually juicing? Whoops! I know you probably get the idea!)

Juicing lemons

You’ll want to use something to strain out the seeds (there were a lot of them!) I haven’t been able to find my mesh strainer since the move so used this colander lid instead. Worked great!

Zest It

I have told some friends that I zest and freeze the peel and they have been so surprised to hear this! Did you know you can freeze the zest? You bet! I have a Microplane zester/grater but any will do. Click here for some zester options to help you find one that is right for you!  After I’ve got all my zest, I spread it out on a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet and freeze it for a few hours in the freezer. When I’m ready (you can keep it in there for a day or two–if you forget about it that’s ok–it will make your freezer smell fresh and lemony too), I scoop up all the zest and put it into a labeled and dated freezer safe ziptop bag. Then when a recipe calls for some lemon zest, I can just pinch off what I need and keep the rest in the freezer. It’s SO easy!

Tip: I have been known to skip the freeze on a baking sheet step before and just put the zest in a freezer bag, flatten it all out and let it freeze that way. Shhhh…I won’t tell if you don’t!

A microplane zester helps zesting go quickly!

The zester tool makes it SO easy to get the zest from the peel!

Freezing the zest from a lemon is a great way to have the zest to use in recipes!

This amount of zest is from about a dozen large lemons. It adds up quickly!

Freeze It.

Ok, so realize I have a large deep freeze so I know that not everyone has the space to do this, but if you do, it’s a great way to preserve the zested peels but still put them to good use. I spread them out on a baking sheet and let them freeze. Then, you guessed it, I put them in a labeled  ziptop bag and keep them in the freezer. What do I use them for you ask? They are great for freshening up my garbage disposal! I’ve read before that ice and lemon (or other citrus) work naturally to clean all the gunk that builds up in your garbage disposal, so why not freeze the lemons and get a similar benefit I wondered? Just throw in two or three a week to keep your disposal working well and your kitchen smelling fresh! Easy, right? If you don’t have the space to keep frozen lemon peels in the freezer, just compost them on the day you juice and zest. They’ll still be good for the earth!

Hopefully some of these tips will help you preserve your lemons and any other citrus to use in your recipes and kitchen. Do you have any other ways you like to preserve lemons? Happy juicing & zesting!

Freeze the juice in ice cube trays and zest on a baking sheet. Once frozen, keep both in separate zip top bags for use in all kinds of recipes.

Freeze the juice in ice cube trays and zest on a baking sheet. Once frozen, keep both in separate zip top bags for use in all kinds of recipes.

Freezing lemon peels for garbage disposal cleaner.

Freeze the lemon peels for use in your garbage disposal!

Frozen lemon peels make a great, natural cleaner for your garbage disposal.

Toss two or three frozen lemon peels in your garbage disposal to clean and freshen it!

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Weekly Menu Plan {January 19, 2015}

Weekly Menu Plan {January 19, 2015} Ideas from MealPlanningMagic.com

One nice thing about having an extra freezer is that I can make ahead a lot of meals and have them ready to thaw out for busy weeknights. This is nothing new if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now. But the downside is that it’s also really easy just to throw leftovers in […]

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Budget Friendly Tuna Rollups with Creamy Gravy

Whole Wheat Tuna Rollups with Creamy Gravy | A family favorite of ours and so easy to make! | Recipe at www.mealplanningmagic.com

I can remember my mom making this recipe long ago when I was a child and it’s something I’ve held onto and made many times over the years. It’s actually one of my husband’s favorites! My kids like them too. These Budget Friendly Tuna Rollups with Creamy Gravy not only taste delicious, they are so […]

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Weekly Menu Plan {January 12, 2015}

Weekly Menu Plan | January 12, 2015 | MealPlanningMagic.com

I did this week’s Weekly Menu Plan a bit on the fly. I had several ideas in mind and knew I had some things in the freezer I wanted to use up. But we had a relaxing weekend and I focused on some other projects so saved my menu planning until Monday morning before I headed […]

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The Best of 2014 – A Little Bit of Everything

I’m not sure about you, but my brain just hasn’t gotten used to the idea that it’s a new year. How does it always sneak up on me? It’s not like the date on the calendar changes, right? Well, I’m finally sitting down to do a little reflection about this blog of mine and thought […]

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Weekly Menu Plan {January 5, 2015}

Weekly Menu Plan-basic image-jan5

I’m back from my break from blogging and am ready to start meal planning and cooking a little more regularly again, are you? I’ve got some new meal planning related goals for 2015 which I will share with you in another blog post (are you setting any goals for yourself? I hope so!) Weekly Menu […]

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Healthier Easy Entertaining – Quiche plus Spinach and Kale Tortilla Bites Recipe with La Terra Fina #ad


One of the neat things about being a blogger who writes about food is that I often get introduced to new-to-me foods. I love being able to try new things and for my family to try them too. When it’s something we really like I want to let you all know about it too. So […]

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Easy Gourmet Kahlua Sugared Pecans – Great for Gifts!


Several years ago (before many of you had discovered Meal Planning Magic) I shared one of my very favorite recipes that I make every holiday season. These Gourmet Kahlua Sugared Pecans are a staple in my gift giving repertoire and are always a HUGE hit with everyone I give them too. Huge! I love to […]

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My Favorite Things Plus Two Holiday Recipes #ad

Texas Citrus Holiday Punch

You guys, the holidays are HERE! And I’m all about discovering new flavors but also keeping things simple. This month’s My Favorite Things feature includes some new and not-so-new to me products that I want to share with you. But I’m also highlighting some of my favorite products from my Amazon Store (did you know […]

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