5 Keys to Meal Planning

5 Keys to Meal Planning

In the last week, I’ve thought about some tips that I could share to those of you newer to meal planning, or those of you wishing to improve your skills. Here are my top five that will help you achieve success!

1. Look at your schedule

There’s no point in scheduling a meal that will take 45 minutes to cook on a night you will be exhausted and have to be in and out within 1 hour. Look at the week to come and decide which nights you need 15-20 minutes meals, which nights you’ll be meeting friends for drinks after work, which days you’ll be home all day and could make a recipe that takes longer, etc..

2. Make a comprehensive grocery list

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to plan a week’s worth of meals only to discover mid-week that you have no beef for your beef and broccoli dish. Right after I assign dinner meals for Sunday-Friday, I type out a grocery list, in order that I’d find the items going around the store, to ensure that I have everything for the week. I can’t promise you’ll remember to pick up everything at the grocery store, or that the grocery store will have everything you’re looking for, but having a comprehensive list will help stack the odds in your favour.

3. Plan for snacks

If you come home from work or school everyday with a grumble in your belly, you are much less likely to stick to any plan, let alone a meal plan. When thinking about what you’ll eat for the week, think of at least one “new” snack, whether it is something you’ll be baking and eating throughout the week or something that you haven’t had in a while. I have found in the last few months that baking something that will last at least 2-3 days, really helps me get my week off to a good start. My co-workers also agree (they get the extras!).

4. Talk to your family

My husband is pretty open to eating a wide variety of foods, but occasionally I forget that he doesn’t eat a lot of certain foods (hello memories of vegan chickpea blondies!). Touching base ahead of time about the portions of meals that the recipe calls for versus what you are actually intending on cooking also helps to share important information such as “we’re not making the 16 cups of chili that this recipe calls for, by the way” before one starts dumping six cans of beans into the pot.

5. Acknowledge that good enough is good enough

I love the phrase that “sometimes good enough is good enough.” It’s impossible to be perfect, even when it comes to adhering to the best-laid plans for your week. Accept that completing even 3/5 meals as planned some weeks is still a fantastic achievement.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken

Taste: 4/5
Ease of Making: 5/5
Dishes: 4/5

Tonight’s recipe was inspired by Carl’s Bad Cravings but due to the number of substitutions, both on purpose and by accident, I’m not sure we really made the actual recipe… It still turned out pretty well nevertheless and I might try to make it again sometime.

Here are some photos from our dinner:

mongolianchicken

Nummy num nums

Yay for the crock pot!

Served over delicious rice noodles. Don’t forget to rinse them once you’ve cooked them — this is an important step!

cutedog2

A dark photo of the food, but check out the cuteness in the background.

cutestdog

“Mom! Mom! It smells SO good, mom!

 

Beef and Bean Burritos

TPW_5101

Taste: 4/5
Ease of Making: 5/5
Dishes: 3/5

Tonight’s recipe was inspired by The Pioneer Woman. I ended up adding lettuce in the wrap and skipping the extra sauce and cheese on the top. We make soft tacos quasi-regularly, so this was a tasty similar meal that was just enough different to be a little bit more exciting! Here are some photos:

burrito

Would you like some meat with those beans and lettuce? 😉

burrito2

All tightly wrapped up.

burrito3

Bursting at the seams, and ready for eating!

Special props to Lenny for cooking this dinner so I could go out for run in -18C weather with my running buddy, Steph, before the dark. Props also to Steph for being such a champ and encourager on said run despite the miserable weather!

Breakfast Quiche

breakfast-quiche

Taste: 5/5
Ease of Making: 4/5
Dishes: 3/5

This recipe was taken from skinnykitchen.com. I often forget about making breakfast for dinner, but doing so is great because it allows for something varied to eat for breakfast for the next few days! Breakfasts also tend to be lower in calories and higher in protein.

Monday’s are often “Meatless Monday’s” in our house, and while this dish does have ham in it, we regularly make frittatas or quiches for dinner that we eat throughout the week; it’s an excellent way to use up odd quantities of left-over vegetables or cheeses!

If you’ve never seen it before, you can find ham steaks in the deli area (it was near the hot dogs in our store). It’s a cheaper and easier way to add the ham in this dish:

hamsteak

What a ham steak looks like. It was $2.99.

Here are a couple photos from this adventure:

quiche

The cheesey and delicious concoction right out of the oven.

platedquiche

All plated up and reading for delving into!

I also made decaf soy lattes to go with dinner but they were gobbled up so quickly that they made it into exactly zero photos… #coffeeaddicthousehold.

Anybody else have breakfast for dinner this week? I challenge you to make it at least once this week!

Charcuterie Board Dinner

The Ultimate Appetizer Board

Taste: 5/5
Ease of Making: 5/5
Dishes: 3/5

Inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking, and a memorable thrown-together dinner on our honeymoon two years ago, Sunday night’s dinner had a charcuterie board theme. While this is not the cheapest dinner I have ever put together, it was incredibly tasty and thoroughly enjoyed. Here are some pictures from our meal!

spread

The spread!

Irish Guinness Cheddar and black olives

Irish Guinness Cheddar and black olives. Also, olives are a vegetable, right?

meatsandcheese

Wagener’s Mexican salami, Sopressata with Prosciutto, Smoked Oka cheese, Mission extra virgin olive oil, Pear balsamic vinegar (it was so sweet, it tasted like jam!).

2015 Fielding Estate Riesling

French bread loaf and a 2015 Fielding Estate Riesling

For the ease of putting it all together, and the taste, I give this a rating of 5/5. Next time though, I have to remember to include a vegetable or fruit… thank goodness we had carrots in those cookies for dessert!

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

Taste: 5/5
Ease of Making: 3/5
Dishes: 2/5

This recipe is taken from yummyhealthyeasy.com. It appealed to me because:

  • I like to incorporate vegetables into my baking
  • I had an entire bag of quick oats to use
  • COOKIES!

The recipe was fairly straight-forward and the only modification that I made was using slightly less walnuts due to the amount I had on-hand.

Here are some pictures from my time baking these!

carrot oatmeal cookies

The final product!

carrot oatmeal cookies

Stackable cooling racks are key for small kitchens!

carrot oatmeal cookies

All the cookies!

All in all, I give this recipe five out of five stars for taste.

Week One Meal Plan

This week, our meal plan consists of:

Snack: Carrot Oatmeal Cookies from Yummy Healthy Easy

Sunday: The Ultimate Appetizer Board from What’s Gaby Cooking
Monday: Breakfast Quiche from Skinny Kitchen
Tuesday: Beef and Bean Burritos from The Pioneer Woman
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken from Carl’s Bad Cravings
Thursday: Mr. Bowjangles from the Looneyspoons cookbook, pg. 125
Friday: Dinner out

See below from some anticipatory photos and stay tuned for reviews!

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies from Yummy Healthy Easy

 

The Ultimate Appetizer Board from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

The Ultimate Appetizer Board from What’s Gaby Cooking

 

breakfast-quiche

Breakfast Quiche from Skinny Kitchen

 

Beef and Bean Burritos

Beef and Bean Burritos from The Pioneer Woman

 

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken from Carl’s Bad Cravings

 

 

Hello world!

I’m very excited to get this new project underway! I’ve been considering chronicling my Pinterest experiments for a couple of years (!) now, so I hope that this inspires you to meal plan and to try something new!