Tag Archives: meal plans

Unplanning our menus

So at what point do you stop calling the postpartum pounds “baby weight”? Because my baby is almost 9 months old, and I’m still hauling quite a bit more around than I’m comfortable admitting. Methinks this is less about the baby and more about the absurd amounts of junk food I craved when I was pregnant. (Note: “Breastfeeding makes you lose weight” is a MYTH. Because homeboy is still nursing around the clock, and it’s not helping my waistline.)

In an effort to finally get serious about getting myself back to a comfortable weight, I joined a gym and met with a personal trainer for a free consultation. I told him about my diet, which honestly, is reasonably healthy. I cut out the junk food after Judah was born. We rarely eat out, and we never eat fast food. We cook fresh whole foods, lean protein, and lots of vegetables … but we also eat lots of carbs.

To keep our grocery budget down, we make a lot of big pasta dishes and sandwiches, and potatoes are usually featured pretty prominently in our menus. The trainer suggested I cut the carbs and focus on eating vegetables and lean proteins instead and see if that helps me shed the rest of this weight. That doesn’t seem tough to me. I’m not counting carbs. Just sort of leaving them off our menu.

Unfortunately, this makes menu planning tough. Most weeks our menu features at least one pasta dish and one sandwich night. Most days I also throw a sandwich together for lunch. On weeks when I’m having menu planning writer’s block, we’d even eat pasta or sandwiches twice. We usually bought potatoes in bulk and served them roasted or boiled as a side dish. Clearly, I’d have to rethink our entire menu planning strategy if I was going limit my carbs.

So we’re trying something new. We’re unplanning. In other words, we’re just buying one or two meats that are sale priced, and then loading up the cart with whatever produce is cheap that week. When we get it all home, we take stock of what we bought, and we build a menu around that.

Here’s an example of how it works. Last week, split chicken breasts were on sale for 99 cents a pound. We loaded up on a few pounds of chicken. Then we filled the cart with low-price produce — several heads of romaine, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash, broccoli, sugar snap peas, onion and cauliflower. We have a ton of homegrown cucumber and herbs from the garden. For snacks, we bought fruit — peaches, pears, apples, and grapes. We also bought staples like milk, eggs, cheese, and some canned beans.

Surprisingly, because everything we bought was on sale, we stayed within our grocery budget. Tony basically shopped our produce selection each night and made something up. It turned out fantastic! Here’s what he came up with last week:

  • Roasted chicken breasts with squash and side salad
  • Chicken Caesar salad
  • Chicken stir fry
  • Chicken skillet with beans and vegetables
  • Chef salad with turkey
  • Grilled chicken and veggie kabobs

Yes, you end up eating a lot of the same meat all week, but you can change it up the following week. Pork and beef would work the same way. Or you could use beans instead of meat.

Of course, this method relies heavily on having an adventurous cook in the house. Tony is great at foraging the kitchen and throwing something together.

At the end of the week, we had a few items left — spinach and cauliflower mainly. We took stock of what was left, and we made sure we used up any leftover produce at the beginning of this week to avoid waste.

I really enjoyed everything we made last week, and shopping the sales motivated us to buy and use produce that we rarely eat — like zucchini and squash. It is a little harder control spending without writing an actual menu and grocery list, but as long as you stick to sale meat and produce and only buy about as much as you’ll eat, it shouldn’t get too pricey.

Now send me low-carb recipes! I doubt the planner in me will let this “unplanning” last too long.

Photo credit

Menu plan: 12/12 – 12/18

It’s the final full week before a four-day holiday weekend. That doesn’t really make Monday less painful, though, does it?

Holiday spending has really kind of wrecked our budget. Blerg. We’re trying to keep it low-key this week to lessen the damage. Here’s our menu plan:

Saturday: Holiday party
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Potato soup
Tuesday: Chicken tacos
Wednesday: BLTs
Thursday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Friday: Pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie. Have a great Monday!

Menu plan: 12/5 – 12/11

Chicken EnchiladasIt’s finally getting chilly here in the mornings and evenings, which means we’re starting to work more comfort foods into our menus. Call me crazy, but I absolutely love when the weather turns colder. There’s nothing cozier than bundling up in the evening.

We paid full price for organic chicken for the first time this week. Bummer. It is so expensive! In the future, I won’t plan to use this much chicken unless we’ve already got it in the freezer.

Here’s our $50 menu for this week:

Saturday: Chicken wraps
Sunday: Chicken and broccoli stir fry with rice
Monday: Risotto style pasta with chicken and mushrooms
Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Ground chicken meatloaf
Friday: Homemade pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Photo by The Food Network

Menu Plan: 11/28 – 12/4

After a weekend filled with not enough family and way too much food, the last thing I wanted to do was menu plan and grocery shop today. But our house full of guests this weekend seriously depleted our pantry reserves, so we had no choice.

Luckily, we have enough food leftover to get us through today and tomorrow comfortably, so we only had to plan for Tuesday through Friday. We also spent a lot of money on food last week because we were entertaining, so we chose the cheapest meals in our arsenal for the remainder of the week.

Here’s our $40 menu plan:

Sunday: Thanksgiving leftovers
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Mexican skillet
Wednesday: Chicken wraps
Thursday: Black bean quesadillas
Friday: Homemade pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Thanksgiving menu 2009

ThanksgivingI know I’ve bragged about him before, but it bears repeating: my husband is a fantastic cook, and Thanksgiving is his specialty. For the past two years, he’s whipped up some of the best Thanksgiving dishes I’ve ever tasted.

Last year, we spent Thanksgiving Day at a friend’s house for a potluck meal, but he still insisted on cooking our own Thanksgiving meal from scratch on Friday. He’s kind of obsessed.

This year we’re excited to finally cook a meal for family. Tony’s parents and sister will be visiting us for the long weekend. Instead of posting our weekly meal plan, I’ve decided to share our Thanksgiving menu and the original recipes that inspired our dishes. Tony has made many adaptations to these recipes to make them his own, but I highly recommend trying any of these dishes if you’re looking for a new twist on your Thanksgiving favorites (especially the green bean casserole).

I’ll be doing the baking this year, and I’m making apple pie for the first time. Wish me luck!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes? Share a link below!

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie. Have a great three-day week!

Photo by mil8

Menu Plan: 11/14-11/20

This is our last menu plan before the week of Thanksgiving. We’ll be entertaining Tony’s family next week for the holiday, so our goal for this week was to keep our menu simple and cheap. I’ve been under the weather and busy for the past two weeks, so my housekeeping has been lacking. I need to focus this week on cleaning, preparing our home for guests, and removing the piles of paperwork and junk from our guest room. Yikes.

Anyway, here’s our simple $50 menu for this week:

Saturday: Shredded Chicken Nachos
Sunday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Mexican skillet
Wednesday: BLT salad
Thursday: Burritos
Friday: Pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Have a fabulous Monday!

Menu Plan: 11/7-11/13

Would you believe I’m still recovering from this awful virus? Yeah. I am not a happy camper. I’ve been sick for over a week. Ugh.

But I’m getting better every day. I’m back at work and feeling mostly okay. I’m just still coughing, and I still feel like I need a little extra sleep. :( I also haven’t felt up to working out for over a week. Hopefully I’ll be back to my old self again (and back in the gym) by the end of the week.

In the meantime, all I have for you today is a meal plan. Enjoy!

I hope you’re all having a great day! Happy Monday!

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Menu Plan: 10/17-10/23

It’s finally fall in North Carolina! The temperature will barely reach 70 degrees this week. I know, 65 doesn’t seem that chilly to most of you right now, but it’s finally below 80, so I’ll take what I can get.

Now that it’s gotten a little chilly, we’re finally busting out our fall and winter recipes. Here’s our $63 menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Chicken nachos
Sunday: Broccoli cheddar soup
Monday: Leftovers/ sandwiches
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas with refried beans
Wednesday: Pasta with butternut squash
Thursday: BLTs with oven fries
Friday: Homemade pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Menu Plan: 10/10 – 10/16

We’re finally getting the hang of our modified meat shopping plan. Our total for the week was $62, and we even stocked up on three pounds of organic chicken on special.

The only meat we’re eating this week is a pound of organic ground chicken and half a pound of roast beef deli meat.

For lunches we eat leftovers, salads, or peanut butter sandwiches. We always eat whatever fruit is in season and on sale for snacks, so right now it’s locally grown apples. My favorite snack is apple wedges with peanut butter, so I’m in heaven. Breakfast is always cereal, oatmeal, or scrambled eggs.

And for dinner:

Sunday: Chicken burgers with oven fries
Monday: Leftovers/sandwiches
Tuesday: Chicken tacos and refried beans
Wednesday: Pasta with roasted garlic and crushed tomatoes
Thursday: French dip sandwiches
Friday: Homemade pizza

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie. Hope your week is off to a great start!