Menu Plan Monday & A Cure for Recipeitis-the New Recipe Challenge!

Menu Plan Monday ideas

This week is going to be challenging when it comes to getting dinner on the table–lots of busy evenings ahead. I’m employing my slowcooker twice this week so hopefully that will help.

Last week I introduced you to the New Recipe Challenge. I got a lot of great feedback and hope you all have already started looking through your recipe collection to start making some of those new recipes! Considering that I found two more sources for recipes (my computer files of saved recipes into Word documents and my recipe box and clipped recipes stored in a kitchen cabinet) I have self-diagnosed myself as having an official case of Recipe-itis! I forgot You know, where you just can’t stop collecting recipes?! I started my challenge last week with some Sweet Potato Pancakes that I saw in Family Fun magazine last month (for some reason it’s not letting me link to the recipe–urgh! I will update if I can get it to work). They were SO easy but unfortunately, I was the only one that really liked them. I think the notion of “sweet potato” and “pancake” and them not looking like traditional pancakes really threw my family off so maybe next time I’ll call them something different! The only thing I’d change is to make them a little flatter than I did because they were not as crispy on  the outside as I had hoped. My daughter also tried her hand at baking some strawberry cupcakes. They tasted pretty good but were a little denser than expected. Still, they were happily gobbled up! She got her inspiration from a  book that she’s reading where the main character likes to bake!

New Recipe Challenge--Try New Recipes and Share with Others! | Hosted by Meal Planning Magic

Now on to this week’s menu plan:

Monday: Grilled Teriyaki Sliders (from freezer-recipe is from 30 Day Gourmet’s BIG Book of Freezer Cooking cookbook) and carrot sticks
Tuesday: Slowcooker Fajita Chicken Chili, Trader Joe’s cornbread (super-yum!) and garden salad
Wednesday: Slowcooker Rotisserie chicken noodle soup
Thursday: Goof-proof chicken cutlets, roasted rosemary potatoes & garden salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: TBA (soup or salad & sandwiches)
Tuesday and Thursday’s recipes are new to me for this week so go along with the challenge. And since I also said I wanted to do a Pantry Challenge along with the New Recipe Challenge, I’m using up several items already in my freezer or pantry like the Teriyaki Sliders, a pepper & onion blend and cannenlini beans for the chili and rotisserie chicken carcasses from the freezer and carrots and onions already on hand. I also already have some chicken in the freezer that I bought on sale a few weeks ago at Whole Foods that I will use in the Goof-proof Chicken Cutlets. Actually, I happen to have on hand ALL the ingredients for that recipe–bonus!

So what’s on your menu this week? Any new recipes your trying out? Share with us in the comments below!

This Week’s Menu Plan plus Thoughts On Finding The Right Planner for You

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I realize it’s Wednesday already but I did make a menu plan for this week that I wanted to share with you all. I just feel like I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home lately. I can feel the busy-ness of spring approaching with lots of different activities for our family and I need some sanity. At least I can feel a little bit more of that when I’ve got our menus planned. Makes shopping and meal prep a whole lot easier.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Monday: Beef & Chicken Grilled Fajitas with all the fixings (peppers, onions, avocado, cheese)
Tuesday: Slowcooker Baked Potato Soup plus garden salad
Wednesday: Paella—inspired by our recent trip to Spain. I will be taking pictures so I can share the recipe with you in a future post—it is a lot easier to make than you might think!
Thursday: Tomato Topped Fish with roasted broccoli and rice pilaf (will share the recipe with you soon!)
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: homemade chicken strips plus garden salad

This week on my Facebook page I asked what kinds of calendars/planners people use? The answers were varied but many use an online calendar like Google Calendar or Cozi. I use a combination of Google Calendar (which syncs to both my and my husband’s smart phones—great for access on the go and keeping him up-to-date with our family’s schedule of activitie). But, after my “experiment” last year to try and go totally paperless, I am back to using a paper planner. I’m a visual person so I have found that being able to see the “big picture” helps me feel a little more organized. I just couldn’t do it only looking on the computer or my phone…I often felt like I was missing something (and sometimes I did!)

The planner I use is the DayTimer Family Plus planner. I found it in store at Target earlier this year. I had some trouble finding it online so you all could see what it looks like so I sure do hope they continue making it because I love it! It has a monthly calendar as well as weekly calendars that have columns for each family member, space to write Meal Plans, Errands, To-Do Lists and Notes—all in one place! Why am I telling you this? Because I think the finding a calendar that works best for you will ultimately you help you stay organized, especially when it comes to meal planning. There are lots of ways to meal plan, but having a central place to keep track of it all is essential. For a more complete meal plan that lets my whole family know what will be on the menu, I use this printable form that I can post on the refrigerator for all to see.

What kind of planner/calendar do you use? What do you love most about or what would you change? Let us know what you’ve got planned for your meals this week too in the comments below.

Menu Plan Monday (on Tuesday) + Prep Ahead Meal Tips

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I’ll blame it on the jet lag from our trip over Spring Break last week but I totally flaked yesterday and forgot to do my menu plan for you all this week! So here it is Tuesday–but better late than never right? Our spring is getting busier several days a week as the kids have started back with swimming clinic and we don’t get home until almost 7. It takes some serious meal planning to be ready for dinner shortlly after we get home. So far, so good though.

One bonus to having my meal plan done so that I know what we’ll be having is that I can do the prep for much of the meal ahead of time. Like yesterday. I set the timer on my rice cooker so that the rice would be nearly done when we arrived home from swimming. And I washed and prepped the asapargus and put in a dish so all I needed to do was steam them for a few minutes in the microwave when we got home. And I even prepped the salmon ahead of time. I actually had some of the pecan crumb mixture in my freezer (so handy to make a double batch and have in the freezer!) so I put the salmon on some foil, prepped it with the topping ingredients and sealed the top to make a litle “packet”. When we got home, all I needed to do was pull it out of the refrigerator, pop onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven as instructed. We had dinner on the table in about 20 minutes! Even just a litle bit of prep work ahead of time can make a big difference when it comes to the dinner rush hour. Prep work can be done in the morning too or sometimes the evening before. Maybe you’ll start thinking of little bits of time where you can squeeze in some meal prep too!

I set my rice cooker's timer so that the rice pilaf would be ready when we were.

I set my rice cooker’s timer so that the rice pilaf would be ready when we were.

Prepped the asparagus ahead of time and it is in the microwave ready to steam a bit when we're ready!

Prepped the asparagus ahead of time and it is in the microwave ready to steam a bit when we’re ready!

I had some of the pecan crust mixture in the freezer that needed to be used up. Easy peasy!

I had some of the pecan crust mixture in the freezer that needed to be used up. Easy peasy!

I prepped the salmon on a piece of foil so I could save it for later.

I prepped the salmon on a piece of foil so I could save it for later.

Covered it up with another piece of foil so I could keep it in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake.

Covered it up with another piece of foil so I could keep it in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake.

Out of the fridge, on to the baking sheet and ready to pop in the oven. Just about 15 minutes until dinnertime!

Out of the fridge, on to the baking sheet and ready to pop in the oven. Just about 15 minutes until dinnertime!

Now on to the meal plan. Here’s what’s on our menu this week for us:
Monday: Pecan Crusted salmon, steamed asparagus, rice pilaf
Tuesday: Reuben panini sandwiches (to use up corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday) with cut up carrots and cucumbers as a side–simple!
Wednesday: Chicken & Clam pasta (I need to write this recipe up for you all!, garden salad
Thursday: Chicken Caesar salad using rotisserie chicken
Friday: Homemade Chicken Noodle soup (using carcass from rotisserie chicken)
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: leftovers

What’s on your menu this week? For more menu plan ideas, check out OrgJunkie!

Menu Plan Monday + A Make It Ahead Preview

Looking at our calendar I can tell we are in the countdown to Christmas and our evenings are going to be full of fun holiday activities! This week we’ve are going to be judging a holiday light contest (one of our favorite annual activities), baking some cookies for a cookie exchange and welcoming a friend who is visiting after moving overseas last year. Those are just the things off the top of my head. Boy, am I glad I’ve got some freezer meals ready to go so our we can still enjoy tasty homemade meals a little more easily. every main dish this week is from the freezer. Here’s what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Lasagna Rolls with garden salad and leftover garlic bread (from yesterday)
Tuesday: Pizza sloppy joes, carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad (this was on the menu for last week but we ended up not having it)
Thursday: Cranberry Meatloaf, roasted red potatoes and a garden salad
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: special activity–meal TBA!
Sunday: leftovers

At some point I also hope to make some Saag Paneer–maybe for lunch one day. Ever since trying this Indian dish on flatbread from a local restaurant last month, I have been craving it!

Also, last week I made a double batch of one of our favorite sides for the freezer: Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes. Yes indeed, you CAN have mashed potatoes from the freezer! I will be getting my post together a little bit later so be on the lookout. It is one of our family’s must-have favorites, especially yummy this time of year!

Preview of the Make It Ahead Monday post with recipe to come!


For more menu plan ideas, check out OrgJunkie.

Menu Plan Monday + Lemonpalooza

This week I’m taking advantage of some of my freezer meals that I made a couple of weeks ago. I promise I will get that post up at some point. I finally took the rest of the pictures at least! It’s going to be a busy week with a few extra activities for the holidays–it’s starting already!

I was also able to gather a TON of lemons from a neighbors tree. That tree was LOADED and we barely made a dent! I’m calling it our Lemon-palooza. She was giving them away because she just can’t use them up fast enough.

I got all these lemons from a neighbor! We LOVE lemons and I’ve got lots of plans for them.

First on the list was to make some homemade lemonade! I’ve actually never made it (that I can remember anyway) but my resourceful and excited son got online, found a video tutorial, and with very little help from me made up a batch. It was delicious! I also made some lemon cookes that I’ll be sharing the recipe for next week. And I juiced and zested some others so I could freeze those and have on hand for recipes throughout the year. I’m also hoping to make these Lemon Blueberry Muffins–they are one of my daughter’s favorites! Also on my list…lemon curd and lemon bars. I may also try some of these tasty looking recipes from Dandy Fresh Produce. We LOVE lemon around here!

Now on to this week’s menu plan:

Monday: Light Loaded Baked Potato Soup, garden salad, garlic bread. This soup is SO tasty. I love that I could make it ahead and all I had to do was thaw and heat it up. It tastes great and is one of my family’s favorites!
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie, garden salad
Wednesday: Slowcooker Barbecue Ribs (I will take pictures so I can write a post about it at some point–this is SO easy and good–starts as a freezer meal then is a slowcooker meal!), garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli
Thursday: Chicken Caesar Salad with parmesan seasoned walnuts (a new recipe I’m trying)
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Special activity–no cooking for me
Sunday: Leftovers/TBA

What’s on your menu this week? For more menu plan ideas, check out OrgJunkie.

Menu Plan Monday & a Pantry Challenge #4


I sort of skipped last week’s Menu Plan Monday. No real reason other than that I just didn’t do it! But I can report that my groceries bill was only like $20 last week. Now, before you get too impressed the reason is because that weekend I did a big freezer cooking session to fill my freezer with meals for the rest of the year. I spent about $200 total for all those meals–more than 25 meals in all! More on how that session went to come in another post. And I probably could have kept it to about $15 if I didn’t buy the extra apples and cream cheese to make some pumpkin dip to share at a little healthy snacks gathering at the gym that one of our instructors organized at the gym last week (very nice by the way!)

This is a picture of last week’s groceries. Only about $20 worth but that’s because of my freezer cooking session to cover the majority of our meals otherwise.

So this week is our last official week of the Pantry Challenge hosted by Sally at Real Mom Nutrition. And it’s the week of Thanksgiving so things are a little bit off the norm. Still, my total bill this week was about $60. More than the $50 budgeted but I bought a ham because it was on sale and I got a free turkey with it. And I bought a lot of apples to take to our Thanksgiving gathering with family. And then a few other basics to get us through the week since I don’t normally host Thanksgiving. Rather, we meet up with family and I usually bring a few dishes to share. All in all, I’d say $60 is not too bad because the ham and turkey alone will serve our family for many meals.
So here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Monday: Chicken and rice casserole made from my recent freezer session
Tuesday: Homemade chicken nuggets (from chicken bought for freezer session but never used), roaster broccoli (also leftover from freezer session), and homemade crispy sweet potato frieds (trying a new recipe)
Wednesday: Leftovers–Most likely from our Sunday meal which was “mystery” pork chops (a.k.a. the meat that my husband marinated and put in the freezer but never labeled so I wasn’t totally sure what it was–but it WAS pork!), leftover quinoa and a garden salad
Thursday: Thanksgiving!
Friday: Thanksgiving leftovers
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: TBA

What’s on your menu this week? Are you doing the Pantry Challenge too? Tell me about it!

Looking for more menu plan inspiration? Then check out this week’s links over at OrgJunkie

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I finally sat down and planned my meal plan for the rest of the month! I feel so good about it because I really felt kind of out of it by mostly winging it the last few months. I’ll check the plan weekly to make sure I don’t need to tweak it but the basic framework is there! Now I just need to schedule a big freezer cooking session. More on that later!

This is what’s on the plan for us this week:

Monday: Greek tacos (falafel, lamb kefta, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onion, feta cheese, steamed rice, plain yogurt in a flatbread “tortilla”)–one of our favorites
Tuesday: Crawfish Etouffe (I’m going to take pictures this time so I can write up a blog post about it), garden salad
Wednesday: Bourbon Flank Steak, roasted butternut squash (see picture below), quinoa/brown rice pilaf, garden salad
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Homemade Mac & Cheese (also going to take pictures of this one as I’ve made it a few times now, tested it for the freezer and it’s a keeper), not sure what else will go with it
Sunday: Tomato Basil Soup (this is the recipe we like), grilled cheese

Look at this! Peeled, chopped organic butternut squash that I got at Costco while visting my parents. We don’t have a Costco near us–yet! They are supposed to be building one next spring. I’m willing to pay a little extra for this package because I find butternut squash a pain to peel and chop myself!

What’s on your menu this week?

For more menu plan ideas, visit OrgJunkie.com

Menu Plan Monday {Recipe Ideas}

I feel like I’ve been cooking a whole lot more than usual lately and at the same time not so much. I think it’s just been all the “extras” like breakfast items that are filling my kitchen (and freezer!) This week we’ve got a busy weekend so the meal plan will be on the fly. But here’s what’s cooking the rest of the week:

Monday: Beef Tenderloin, Pear and Cranberry salad (recipe to come later this week!)
Tuesday: Spaghetti Meat Sauce over whole wheat pasta; garden salad
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad with carrots, celery, cucumbers and locally bought lettuce (for some reason I can’t find the recipe online anymore so guess I’ll need to do a post for it myself at some point–it is a freezer meal!)
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: out to eat
Sunday: TBA

What are you cooking this week? For more great ideas and inspiration, check out these link over at OrgJunkie.com!

Menu Plan Monday {Recipe Ideas}

I realize today is Wednesday and I’ve done it again where I haven’t posted my menu plan for the week on Monday. But I’m figuring that most of you just find the list a source of inspiration for future weeks and don’t really count on it for this week’s menu. So here’s what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Poppyseed Chicken (from freezer meal swap group) and garden salad

Tuesday: Greek Tacos with Falafel served in flatbread with plain yogurt, feta cheese, steamed rice and chopped purple onion, tomatoes and cucumbers. A family favorite!

Wednesday: Pepperoni Lasagna with garden salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Teriyaki Sliders with carrot sticks and sweet potato fries

Saturday: Out to Eat

Sunday: TBA (something grilled though!)

What’s on your menu this week? Happy cooking!

Menu Plan Monday {Recipe Ideas}

This week my kids are going back to school and it seems as though I’m going to have to get myself back in gear and do a little more regular meal planning as we get back into our school-year routine! My Freezer Meal Exchange Group is starting back up in September so I need to get that freezer cleaned out so I can start filling it up in preparation for our busy fall. So here’s what’s on our menu for the week:

Monday: Crunchy Beef Tacos with fresh tomatoes & lettuce (a back-to-school tradition)
Tuesday: Quick Beef with Broccoli over steamed rice (to use up some leftover steak and broccoli from the weekend)
Wednesday: Fish tacos (baked orange roughy and a mash-up of veggies like tomatoes, lettuce and baby spinach to use them up before they spoil!)
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: out to eat (we have a Groupon expiring so need to go use it!)
Sunday: special outing–no cooking for me!

I’m also going to make one of our favorites, Pear Walnut Muffins, to have on hand in the freezer for busy weekday mornings. Plus I have some pears and plain yogurt to use up (are you getting the sense that I overbought on my last grocery store trip and I have LOTS of things to use up?!)

What’s on your plate this week? Make it a great one!