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A Peek Inside our Meal Planning Process

 

Check out how I make our family's weekly meal plan.

Meal planning is crucial in making our family dinner time run smoothly.  It also helps keep our grocery bill within a reasonable range each week.  There are many ways to meal plan and there is no one tried and true method.  You honestly have to figure out and do what works best for your family.  I am showing you how I create our weekly meal plan which will hopefully give you some tips and inspiration. IMG_1090[1] 1.  The Calendar:  You can find fancy, online printables if that will help motivate you.  In our house we don’t go the fancy route.  As seen above, I use the back of a piece of scrap paper and set up a monthly calendar.  I plan our menus weekly and write the meals in pencil, so I can erase and move things around if needed.

2.  The Day:  The grocery circular for Shoprite, where we do most of our shopping, comes on Saturday with our newspaper.  Over the weekend I write out the menu and make the grocery list.  Then I do the actual shopping Monday.

3.  Time:  I’m not going to lie.  Meal planning takes time.  Especially in the beginning if you have never done it before.  Even now, it sometimes takes me about an hour, but that’s because I enjoy it.  I rarely, if ever make the same recipe twice.  So, it can take me awhile to go through all of my recipe resources (see below) and pick out the new recipes I want to make for the week.  Once you’ve been meal planning for a little bit and have found some recipes that your family enjoys, you can repeat them throughout the month.

4.  Resources:  So, where do you find recipes?  Well, you can start here on my blog, at the recipe index!  Really though, there are so many food blogs out there, ranging from family focused, quick and easy meals, to more involved recipe blogs.  It can actually be quite overwhelming!  I subscribe to several food blogs and get new posts e-mailed to me.  Here are a few blogs that I use often and recommend:

Closet Cooking – Some of the recipes can be a little more involved but Kevin posts recipes for dishes with a variety of flavors and different cuisines.

Damn Delicious  – For quick and easy, family-friendly dishes.

Melanie Makes – For more quick and easy, family-friendly dishes.

Half Baked Harvest and How Sweet Eats are both great blogs with consistently good recipes.  I’ve rarely made a recipe from these blogs that wasn’t delicious.  However, some of these recipes can be a bit involved or require a bunch of ingredients.

Try cooking recipes from several different blogs.  You will eventually find you like certain bloggers’ recipe choices, presentation, photographs, etc. over others.  You don’t need to subscribe to all of them! I have two folders in my web browser favorites.  One is titled “Recipes” and anytime I see a recipe I want to make I bookmark it there.  If I decide to make the recipe, I bookmark it in the “Cooking This Week” folder, so it’s easier to find when needed.

I also subscribe to Cooking Light and Every Day with Rachael Ray and highly recommend both magazines.  Instead of keeping piles of magazines lying around, I rip out the recipes that interest me and stick them in a folder.

For beginner cooks I highly recommend the website Allrecipes.com.  You can search for recipes by a number of different factors, including ingredients or name.  I’ve found most recipes that I’ve used from the site easy to make.  It’s especially helpful since there are tons of ratings and reviews.  If a recipe has lots of five star ratings, it’s probably going to be good.

Several bloggers post a “Meal Plan Monday” where they share their upcoming weekly menu, often with links to the recipes that they are making.  While you probably won’t follow a blogger’s exact weekly meal plan, it can be helpful for inspiration.  I recently stopped posting my weekly meal plan, but you can find over 85 of my past weekly meal plans for some ideas!

Here are some blogs that I’ve found that share a weekly “Meal Plan” post:

I’m an Organizing Junkie – Not only does Laura provide her weekly menu plan, she also hosts a link-up where other bloggers can link up their weekly menu plan.  Check this blog out for loads of inspiration!

Skinnytaste – for some lighter, healthier meals.

And let’s not forget about Pinterest.  There are millions of recipes posted on that site.  Start creating boards of recipes that you see that interest you and you can refer to your board for inspiration when meal planning!

I’ve found that as much as I enjoy reading cookbooks, I don’t use them very often, since most recipes can easily be found online.  I do have several older editions of the Cooking Light Annual Recipe collection cookbooks.  They have the whole year of recipes from the magazine bound nicely into one book.

Again, the recipes you choose will really depend on your family’s food and dietary preferences.

5.  The Planning:  If you are new to meal planning, it might be easier to start with some recipes that you know your family eats and enjoys and maybe aim for one new recipe a week.  I recommend you use your grocery store circular to start your planning.  If chicken is on sale this week, I recommend making at least one chicken dish and buying some extra chicken that you can freeze for the future.  Some people prefer to have a themed dinner for each day, like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday.  This helps in keeping a consistency to meal planning.  My meal plan varies from week to week.  I try to have a meatless meal, a chicken dish a pasta dish, a burger/sandwich, etc.  Other weeks I sometimes plan by cuisine.  I will plan to have a Mexican-themed dish, an Asian-themed, breakfast for dinner, pizza, etc.  Sometimes, if I find a bunch of interesting chicken dishes at one time, I will pre-plan and space them out throughout my monthly calendar.  Once I find a recipe that I decide I’m going to make, I write it in pencil on the calendar, along with the name of the source (blog name, magazine, website).  Although I will have my five recipes for the week written in, I won’t necessarily make them in that order.  When we eat each meal depends on factors like which dishes have produce that may spoil or how busy our schedules are.  I will then write in each box, what day I actually plan on making that dish.

6.  Grocery List:  I then take my grocery list and go through the recipes I plan on making for the week.   I write down the ingredients that I need for each recipe on the grocery list.  I circle the recipe on the calendar to know that I made sure I had everything I needed for that recipe.  Like I mentioned previously, I will stock up on proteins, chicken, ground beef, pork chops, etc. when they are on sale so I have them for the future.  I recommend stocking up on other staples when they are on sale as well.  There’s nothing like having to buy something at full price for a recipe, when it was on sale last week!  Pasta, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, rice, etc. are all items that you will probably use a lot of.

I hope this helps give you a better idea on how to meal plan, if this is new to you!  Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or e-mail me.  I’d love to hear how others meal plan and am always looking for tips on how to make the process easier!

 

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 89}

2017 calendar

Monday, Monday, back so quickly!  Time to start another week and another weekly meal plan. If you’re new to meal planning, you can read all about my meal planning process.  This is the last week of my weekly meal plan posts. You can still see my more photogenic dinners (and other tasty eats) by following me on Instagram.  Plus, there are 88 other weekly meal plans that you can check out on the blog! I look forward to posting a wider variety of food and restaurant related posts.

Saturday:  I had spent the day at my parent’s house with the kids visiting my nieces.  My husband stayed home, sick with a cold.  My mom sent me home with some homemade chicken soup which he enjoyed.  The rest of us had leftover calzones.

Sunday:  My daughter requested tacos for dinner.  My husband made ground beef tacos which he served with yellow rice.

Monday:  This week I tried another Make Once, Cook 3x recipe from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I made Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs.  I made 42 meatballs that were then divided up into three different recipes.  I made my meatballs with just ground beef, since the grocery store didn’t have ground pork the day I went food shopping.  The meatballs weren’t super flavorful but the sauces and recipe variations helped.  I served these Swedish meatballs over mashed potatoes, as recommended, and with some veggies.

Tuesday:  Using some of the leftover meatballs from Monday, I made Greek Stuffed Pitas from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I added some sliced cucumber to the pitas.  Unfortunately, the pitas that I bought were thin. When I put all the “stuff” in them, they fell apart as soon as I picked it up.  So, we ended up eating these with a fork and knife! Cucumber yogurt sauce can make anything taste good!

Wednesday: The last recipe using the meatballs was this Banh Mi Bowl from Cooking Light, September 2016.  Quick pickling the carrots and radishes is a game changer!  I didn’t realize how easy it was to do and the flavor is amazing!  I seriously could just eat these veggies.  This was my favorite meatball dish of the three.  I think I’d make this again using a more Asian flavored meatball.

Thursday:  I made Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry from Chef Savvy.  Would you believe that I forgot to buy the broccoli for this recipe and only realized it when I was starting to cook?!!  This was a tasty sauce and it actually thickened like it was supposed to!  This is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.  I served it over rice.

Friday: Mr. NY Foodie Family went fishing Friday morning with some guys from work.  He caught eight Porgies on his fishing trip.  When he got home he fried up the fish and made us FLT (Fish, Lettuce, Tomato) sandwiches for dinner.  He served them with fries.

What is on your dinner menu this week? 

Weekly Meal Plan {Week 88}

2017 calendar

Happy Columbus Day!  It’s Monday, which means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.

Saturday:  We were out shopping for most of the afternoon and had a late lunch (hello Chick-fil-A!).  On the way home we stopped at Stew Leonard’s and picked up some soup to have for a light dinner.

Sunday: We were at the Baptism of my friend’s son. We ate a late lunch/dinner (linner) after the ceremony at the celebratory reception.

Monday:  I made One Pot Creamy Tomato Orzo from Lovely Little Kitchen.  I think this came out a little more liquidy than it was supposed to be, but it was tasty. Instead of heavy cream I used half-and-half, so this probably wasn’t as creamy as intended either. I enjoy one pot meals because less clean-up is always a win.  We all enjoyed this meal.

Tuesday: I made Bottom Round Roast with Onion Gravy from allrecipes.  I had high hopes for this, expecting a nice and tender roast.  I cooked this in the slow cooker as per one of the reviewers directions.  Well, my beef overcooked and my gravy didn’t thicken.  It was a bit of a disappointing meal.  I served it with some mashed potatoes and corn.

Wednesday: I made Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken from Chef Savvy.  This only cooks for about two hours, so this is not one of those recipes that you can set and let cook for the day.  There’s also a little prep work involved with cutting the chicken, coating in cornstarch and browning on both sides. I served this with rice and roasted broccoli. This is a super tasty dish that the whole family enjoyed. I would make this meal again.

Thursday:  We used the leftover beef roast from Tuesday in these burritos.  There’s no recipe for this meal.  I just cooked some rice up in the slow cooker.  Then we put the rice, chopped beef, black beans and shredded cheddar in a large tortilla.  We wrapped them up and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes to warm up and get the tortillas a little crispy.  We had this with a garden salad.  This kind of meal is a great way to use up leftover proteins and is always a winner with the kids.

Friday:  This week there were no after-school activities.  While homemade pizza is quick and easy, we are getting kind of tired of it every week.  My husband made pepperoni calzones.  He mixed ricotta, mozzarella and the pepperoni and cooked it in some pizza dough.  He served them with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.  These were good but I thought that they were a little light on the filling.  I would have stuffed them a little bit more.

What is on your dinner menu this week?

Weekly Meal Plan {Week 87}

2017 calendar

It’s Monday again!  Which means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan. If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.  As you will see, this week’s meal plan was unintentionally filled with pasta and meatballs.  There were carbs…..lots of carbs!  Be on the lookout though, I’m hoping to incorporate some healthier meals into our meal plans in the upcoming weeks.

Saturday:  We had fried chicken from Acme and fries.  Definitely not a healthy meal but it was quick and easy. My husband was working outside all day and my daughter and I had to head out for a Girl Scout event.  Some days, you gotta do what you gotta do!

Sunday: My daughter woke up dreaming of spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread.  Hoping we had that for breakfast, which sadly, we did not, I decided to make it for dinner.   This is one of her favorite meals and she was very happy with dinner.  I don’t have a go-to meatball recipe and just mixed some ground beef, diced onion, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, one egg, salt, pepper, some Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle and some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Monday: I was at the Culinary Institute of America for a blogging event so my husband was on dinner duty.  He made grilled cheese sandwiches with cheddar cheese and apple slices.  I got to dine on food like these fried shrimp!

Tuesday:  I made Broccoli and Bacon Chicken Alfredo Linguine from Closet Cooking.  Healthy cooking this is not!  Obviously, we all enjoyed it because…..bacon!  This was easy to make and wasn’t too time consuming.  I think cooking the bacon took the most time.

Wednesday: I made Family-Style Meatball “Fondue” from the September 2017 issue of Cooking Light.  Unfortunately, I only realized when grocery shopping Sunday afternoon that we were going to be eating meatballs twice this week.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but one of the reasons why I try to meal plan.  The Sunday evening spaghetti and meatballs dinner was a last minute decision and I had already had this dinner planned.  These meatballs were different than the ones we had Sunday since they were made with ground turkey.  Even though the recipe noted that the meatballs would be very soft, I added some bread crumbs to prevent them from totally falling apart. I found these meatballs to be lacking in flavor and probably won’t make these again.  No matter how hard I try, one veggie that I haven’t been able to get my kids to like is mushrooms.  I should have just left them out of the sauce since they picked around them. Instead of toasting a baguette I bought already made garlic bread toasts to scoop up the meatballs and sauce.  I served this with a Caesar salad.

Thursday: I went out to dinner with a friend but needed dinner for the rest of the family.  I made an “Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake” from Betty Crocker.  The recipe makes enough to serve 12, so I halved it.  Sadly, the bell pepper that I bought Sunday afternoon had gone bad sitting on my kitchen counter.  I only discovered this Thursday morning when I went to make this.  I wasn’t running out to the grocery store to pick a replacement up, so I made it without.  After putting everything into the prepared backing dish, I didn’t think that there was enough liquid covering the sausage and potato mixture so I added two more eggs. While this is relatively easy to put together, it does need 40-45 minutes to bake.  I cooked it early in the afternoon and had my husband heat pieces up for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is always a hit in our house and according to my husband, they all enjoyed this.  I got to enjoy leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Friday:  I made our weekly pizza but added leftover turkey meatballs from Wednesday night’s dinner.

What is on your dinner menu this week?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 86}

2017 calendar
 Monday means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan. If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan. Since it’s officially fall, it will be getting darker sooner.   Unfortunately, I fear my dinner pictures will be negatively affected.  Just a pre-warning, that they may not be looking as light and bright as they have been!  Now on to our menu from this past week:

Saturday: It was my birthday and we went out to celebrate!  I had been wanting to go to Polpettina to try their Eggplant Chips.  We had a carb buffet with the chips, truffle parm fries, pizza and a fried eggplant, broccoli rabe and burrata sandwich.  Everything was delicious!

Sunday: After a day of eating in the city we weren’t too hungry at dinner time.  My parents had given us some veggies from their garden so my husband made a ratatouille sauce of sorts with tomatoes, eggplant and squash. Fresh garden tomatoes always make any sauce taste extra delicious! He served the sauce over spaghetti. As per his usual cooking style, there’s no recipe.

Monday: I made Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken from Get In My Belly.  It’s an adapted version of a Damn Delicious recipe.  As you can tell from the plate, the dish was super liquidy.  The chicken had great flavor from cooking in the sauce all day.  Unfortunately, chicken thighs are not the most photogenic food!  LOL!  I served the chicken with rice and veggies.

Tuesday: I made Mini BBQ Meatloaves from Cooking Light, December 2015.  I served these with roasted potatoes and veggies.  Since the recipe only called for a 1/2 pound of ground beef and a 1/2 pound of sausage and made eight mini meatloaves, I ended up doubling the recipe.  I usually buy meat in bulk and freeze it by pounds.  By doubling the recipe I didn’t have to figure out what to make with the leftover 1/2 pounds of meat and I ensured that I’d have leftovers for lunches during the week.  These meatloaves were so tasty!  I loved the flavor combo of the ground beef and sausage with the BBQ sauce. This was a kid-approved meal and wins for me as best dinner of the week.  I would definitely make these again.

Wednesday: I made Creamy Balsamic Skillet Chicken from Lovely Little Kitchen.  I didn’t mean to have chicken thighs twice in one week.  I was supposed to make the pineapple chicken last week but we had gone to my parent’s house for dinner.  Let me just say that my chicken looks nothing like the chicken in the original recipe.  My sauce didn’t reduce and thicken and was a liquidy mess, as seen from my plate!  The flavor of the chicken was okay but this is not a dish that I’d make again.

Thursday: I made Cheesy Sausage Zucchini Rice Skillet from I Wash You Dry.  Since the kids were off from school I ended up making dinner late (as can be seen from the terrible lighting of the picture!).  This dish is easy to make with few ingredients.  Unfortunately, I thought the kielbasa overpowered the flavors of everything else.  For those with picky eaters, this might be a plus, since the zucchini taste is barely discernible. The kids enjoyed this but I wasn’t a big fan.

Friday: I made our usual Friday night pizza.  Tonight was plain cheese, a favorite of the kids.

What is on your dinner menu this week?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 85}

2017 calendar

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend. We had a great weekend celebrating my birthday, which was on Saturday. I just can’t believe how quickly it flew by!  Monday means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan. If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.  Here is what was on this past week’s meal plan:

Saturday:  We hosted our monthly supper club.  This month’s theme was “sauce.”  I made Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas in Creamy Avocado Sauce from Closet Cooking (which I showed a pic of on Instagram and in this past Friday Favorite’s post) and my husband made the gnocchi in a spinach, mushroom and Gorgonzola cheese sauce, pictured above.  Unfortunately, there’s no recipe since he made it up.

Sunday: We attended a food truck festival during the day.  When we got home we weren’t super hungry.  But my husband made Chicken Fried Rice for dinner using some leftover cooked chicken.  Again, no recipe.  But this is a great way to use up any leftover proteins you may have!

Monday:  We had leftover enchiladas and gnocchi.

Tuesday:  This week I tried one of Cooking Light magazine’s “Make Once Eat 3x” series from the August 2017 issue.  Tuesday I made Smoky Caramelized Onion Burgers.  They were easy to make and tasted good.  I served the burgers with fries.

Wednesday: I used two of the leftover burgers to make Thai Beef and Cabbage Salad.  This was a light meal that was easy to make but it wasn’t very filling. Both kids ate this without any complaints though.  I cooked dinner for the family and ended up going to the gym.  I will admit that after I got back at 8:45 PM and ate this salad I was still hungry…..so I ate some leftover fries.

Thursday:  I made Skillet Nacho Dip with the last two burgers. The spices totally changed the flavor of the former burgers!  I did not add the jalapeno so it wasn’t too spicy for the kids and omitted the pinto beans because I don’t like them!  I also used a Taco Blend of shredded cheese instead of the combo of Mozzarella and Mexican Blend cheeses as directed.  I’m glad my husband was at a Yankee game and not eating with us because there was only enough for the three of us (two kids, one adult).  I realize my dish lacked one cup of beans.  But next time I’d use at least a pound of ground beef and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Friday:  My parents had us over for dinner to celebrate my birthday.  My mom went all out and did a mini Thanksgiving.  Our dinner included turkey breast, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, her homemade sausage stuffing, and asparagus.  Plus a Napoleon cake and strawberries for dessert.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 84}

2017 calendar
Happy Monday!  Summer has sadly come to an end and we are done traveling for the time being.  This means that the weekly meal plan posts will return to the blog.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan. Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday: We were in Rhode Island for Labor Day weekend.  My parents cooked steak, chicken, baked potatoes and sauteed veggies for dinner.  It was delicious, but sadly no pictures were taken.

Sunday: We were in Rhode Island last weekend and made a stop at Foxwoods before we came home.  My kids love the Wizard of Oz game at the arcade there and requested we stop so they could play.  While we were there we decided to eat dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  Between the three of us we shared a Chicken Cobb Salad as well as a Spinach Artichoke Thin Crust Pizza and this Thai Chicken Pizza.  This is our favorite pizza there!

Monday: My husband made breaded eggplant sandwiches with fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers.  No recipe but really tasty! Even though the kids normally don’t like eggplant, they will eat it when it’s breaded and fried.  There was enough for some leftover sandwiches for lunch as well.

Tuesday: I made Honey Soy Chicken from Table for Two.  I made the honey soy sauce early in the morning and marinated the chicken in it all day.  Otherwise, I made the recipe as directed.  The chicken was very flavorful, I think from marinating all day.  I thought the leftover liquid in the pan was pretty greasy so I did not pour it over the cooked chicken, as directed.  I served the chicken with rice and roasted broccoli. The chicken bakes for 40 minutes, but otherwise is super easy to prepare.  To cut down on cooking time, next time I think I’ll cut the chicken up into bite size pieces and cook it in a pan on the stove.

Wednesday: I made Summer Chicken Parmesan from Cooking Light, July 2017.  Instead of baking the cutlets, I fried them.  I also added a dash of balsamic to the zucchini and tomato mixture.  Chicken cutlets are always a hit in our house and we all enjoyed these.  The kids even ate all the veggies.  I cooked up some extra cutlets which we ate for lunch during the week.  I served this with a Caesar salad and some garlic toast.

 

Thursday: I made Sausage and Peppers Pasta Supper from Epicurious.  This was a fairly quick and easy dinner.  Instead of cutting the sausage into 1-inch pieces, I removed it from the casing and crumbled and browned it.  I apologize for the lack of a picture.  Imagine a plate of penne pasta with sauteed peppers, onions and sausage crumbles, sprinkled with some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Friday: I made Tomato-Ricotta Pizza from Cooking Light, May 2017.  This was a tasty vegetarian pizza and a change from the normal cheese pizza that we usually make.  My husband made a cheese pizza for the kids, since they don’t like ricotta cheese.  But they both voluntarily ate a small slice of this one.

What is on your dinner menu this week?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 83}

2017 calendar
Hello Monday!  I am exhausted!  We had a very busy but fun weekend celebrating Father’s Day.  While I’m never happy for Monday to arrive, this week is the last week of school for the kids!  This also means summer vacation begins for me too!  I no longer have to awaken to a 6 AM alarm clock, pre-plan breakfasts and lunches or chauffeur the kids to and from their various activities.  This will also be the last week of our weekly meal plans for awhile. Since we will be traveling so much this summer, I won’t be creating very many meal plans.  If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll hopefully be posting more of my dinner food pics there.  Now, here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday – Last Saturday we were out geocaching  On the way home we picked up some takeout from a local Caribbean restaurant.  We shared a Curry Goat and Jerk Chicken dinner.  It was really good and we will definitely be back!

Sunday – We were out geocaching again and then made a quick stop at Woodbury Common Outlets since it was on the way home.  While there we stopped for some Shake Shack for dinner.  We love the Chicken Shack!

Monday – I made a Broccoli Rabe, Red Pepper and Roasted Garlic Frittata from the May 2017 issue of Cooking Light.  The original recipe called for broccolini but my local grocery store didn’t have any.  I substituted broccoli rabe.  The garlic prep takes 25-30 minutes of cooking, so I did that earlier in the afternoon and just left the garlic infused oil and roasted garlic on the counter until I needed to cook with them.  This was  a tasty frittata.  I served it with a salad for a nice, light dinner.

Tuesday – I made Buffalo Chicken Ziti from the February 2015 issue of Rachael Ray Every Day.  While I love almo st everything “buffalo” flavored, this pasta dish wasn’t a fave.  The buffalo sauce gets drizzled on the top at the end which worked out well.  My son complained that buffalo chicken is too spicy, so he had his pasta without the sauce.  Overall this dish was just okay.  I’d recommend either saving some blue cheese crumbles or having extra to sprinkle on the dish at the end.

Wednesday – I made Queso Crockpot Chicken Chili with Roasted Corn and Jalapeno from Pinch of Yum.  I have made this recipe before, but we enjoyed it so much and I needed a slow cooker recipe, so I decided to make this again. I did not put the jalapeno in for fear my son would think the dish was too spicy and not eat it.  I love serving this with tortilla chips and using the chili as a dip.  I actually went out to dinner but had this ready for the rest of the family to eat.  I was able to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day though!

Thursday – I made Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce from the June 2006 issue of Cooking Light.  The special sauce is a mixture of mayo, Dijon mustard, scallions, orange juice, honey, soy sauce and ginger (which I left out since I don’t like it!).  The burgers had many of the same ingredients in them.  The sauce was a bit on the sweet side and was a nice addition to the burgers, which didn’t have much flavor, in my opinion.  There are so many better burger recipes out there that I won’t be making these again.  I served the burgers with curly fries.

Friday – I made Grilled Cheese with Apricot Jam and Arugula from Love & Olive Oil.  This was my husband’s request after he found the recipe online while helping me plan the menu.  This was quick and easy to make and was a winner with the family.  I haven’t made grilled cheese in awhile and this was a great version.  There was no additional prep work and the ingredients were simple but tasty.  The sweetness of the jam paired well with the bitterness of the arugula.  I served this with some sauteed zucchini.

4

Weekly Meal Plan {week 82}

2017 calendar

I hope everyone had a great weekend! We had a pretty low-key couple of days and I got in some reading and relaxation time!  It is starting to get hot here in New York!  My goal for today is to try to stay cool!  Monday  means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan. Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday: Our daughter was at her friend’s house, so we ordered sushi and Chinese takeout for my son, husband and me.

Sunday: We spent the day at the Liberty Science Center.  We had leftover pizza from Friday evening, when we got home.

Monday:  My daughter had requested that I make lasagna last week, but I just didn’t have the time to do it.  So, I made sure to put it on this week’s menu.  I also purposefully made it early in the week so we could eat the leftovers for lunch during the week.  I made World’s Best Lasagna from Allrecipes.  I’m not sure I’d call it World’s Best…..but with 5 stars and over 10,000 reviews, I knew it had to be good.  I only used ground beef, even though the recipe also called for sausage.  My only problem with the recipe is that it takes so long to make it.  This should have been a weekend meal, with overall cooking time being 2 hours and 30 minutes. Well, my sauce only simmered for about 30 minutes while I was doing all the other prep work!  Even with the the abbreviated cook time, this still came out delicious and my daughter was super happy.  As predicted, there was plenty of leftovers for lunches. I served this with a Caesar salad.

Tuesday: I made ground beef tacos for “Taco Tuesday.”  I picked up an Ortega nacho cheese taco shell kit that I saw in the grocery store.  They tasted like Doritos and I assume are similar to the one that Taco Bell sells.  They weren’t bad and tacos are always a hit.  The kids love being able to pick and choose what they put on their tacos.  I served these with some veggies.

Wednesday: I made Thai-Style Lime Risotto with Pork & Coconut from the May 2017 issue of Rachael Ray Every Day.  I used ground pork instead of cutting up pieces of a pork loin, like the recipe suggested.  Earlier in the week my husband picked me up some Thai green curry paste, since our local grocery stores didn’t carry it.  Well, I didn’t realize how spicy Thai green curry is.  The kids were troopers and ate this, with lots of milk to help cool their tongues off!  There was definitely some heat in this dish, so it’s not kid-friendly.  Although the flavors were different from the risottos that I normally make, I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe myself.

Thursday:  My husband and I attended a local Burger and Beer event.  We gorged on burgers (like the one pictured above that had beer braised onions, wild berry fig jam, and field greens on a brioche roll!) and all kinds of tasty treats.  Earlier in the day I cooked up some breaded chicken cutlets for the kids which I served to them with rice for their dinner.

Friday:  Friday I made our usual homemade cheese pizza.

What are you having for dinner this week?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 81}

2017 calendar
In a blink of an eye, it’s Monday again!  The weekend always flies by much quicker than I want it to! We had a fun-filled couple of days, but now it’s time to get ready for another week.  Monday  means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan. Just to note, this week’s menu does not actually have any formal recipes as you will see.  But hopefully, it can provide you with some dinner ideas!  Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week.

Saturday: We were in Rhode Island for the weekend.  Saturday we spent the day in Providence.  We started the day at the Roger Williams Zoo and then went to see Water Fire.  Before Water Fire we ate at Fire + Ice, a restaurant nearby.  At this restaurant, you basically create your own meal.  You choose what starch, veggies, protein and sauce that you want.  You then bring it up to the grill and watch as it gets cooked.

Sunday: We got home from our long weekend in Rhode Island and we were exhausted.  We raided our freezer and cabinets to find something to make for dinner.  We ended up making a box of mac and cheese and some chickpea veggie burgers.  Nothing fancy or homemade and fortunately for you, no picture!  It was not photogenic at all!

Monday: It was chilly and raining on and off for Memorial Day.  So, I marinated a London broil the night before in a mixture of Teriyaki sauce, Soy sauce, Hoisin sauce and garlic. My husband then cooked the London broil and roasted some potatoes, which we had with a garden salad.

Tuesday: I made Chorizo Breakfast Nachos.  I cooked chorizo in a pan.  Once cooked, I took it out and then scrambled some eggs in the pan.  I put the scrambled eggs and chorizo on a pan of tortilla chips.  I then sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top and topped with salsa.  Then I broiled until melted and served with sour cream.  Breakfast for dinner is always a hit in our house.  I love breakfast nachos since they can be customized to whatever you want to put on or have on hand in the house.  I’ve made these before, as my kids pointed out.  I don’t normally repeat recipes.  However, when you need quick and easy, this is a go-to recipe.

Wednesday: I made a Ravioli Bake, again no real recipe.  I put some jarred pasta sauce in the bottom of a baking pan.  Once I cooked the ravioli, I put them in the pan and covered them with sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Then I baked it in the oven for about 10 minutes until heated and the cheese melted.  I served the ravioli with garlic toast and Caesar salad.

Thursday: I made Bacon and Blue Cheese Burgers which I served with fries.  I didn’t use a recipe.  I took ground beef and added Steak seasoning that had salt and pepper in it.  I then cooked the patties in a cast iron skillet and once cooked, topped with slices of bacon and blue cheese crumbles.  Easy, but tasty!

Friday:  Friday was super busy with me shuttling my daughter back-and-forth between two different events.  I managed to make our regular homemade pizza and squeeze dinner in.