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This week’s menu features more meatless meals than we typically make. My husband won’t join us for dinner part of the week so I get to try out some vegetarian meals to see if they make the cut.

Sunday~ Both lunch and dinner are covered at birthday parties. Thank you for a day with less dishes. Instead, I made some honey whole wheat bread in my new Bread Maker

Monday~ Treating us to a dinner out at a local Indian sandwich shop. Curious to see what the kids will like.

Tuesday~ Chickpea Stew with Apricots and Turnips (slow cooker). New recipe from Aimee at Simple Bites. Can’t wait to try it.

Wednesday~ Italian White Beans (slow cooker). Spinach and strawberry salad on the side. My kids love raw spinach, anyone else’s??

Thursday~ Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato French Fries and some raw peppers on the side.

Friday~ Garlicky Shrimp and noodles.  I’m doing a Freezer Meal Class with Wildtree this week and the shrimp is one of the creations we will prepare. I get to hang out with friends and make 10 meals worth of dinners at this workshop. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

What are you making this week?  Any vegetarian dishes you would recommend?

For more meal planning ideas, check out OrgJunkie.

Last meal plan of 2012!  I can proudly say we stuck with menu planning for the whole year.  The chalkboard menu plan in the the kitchen turned out to be just the right system for us.  You have to decide what works for your family. It may be on paper, a note in your iPhone, a wipe board on your fridge. The options are endless, you just need to play around and see what works with your family’s routine.

If you need a little inspiration for your meal planning, here are some additional resources.

  • The ebook by Stephanie Langford, Plan It Don’t Panic, helped me strategize how to make meal planning more effective. My favorite take away was to write down a list of family favorites for dinner. This can be a work in progress for you, but it’s helpful to have one go-to list when I just can’t think of something to make.
  • I created a Pinterest board collecting all of my meal plans. You can search back either here, or in the blog, to get a few new ideas for your own meal plan.
  • Organizing Junkie hosts a link up of meal plans weekly. Lots of people use this weekly post (comes out on Monday) to get inspired with new ideas from more than 200 other bloggers.  If you share a meal plan on your blog, you can also share it there. (Or here in the comments too!)

After all the indulgences of the past month, it’s time to clean up our eating. We will be doing less carbs and more veggies and protein. Hopefully I can sneak some meatless meals in too sometime soon.

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  • Sunday- Chicken Stir Fry with veggies and brown rice
  • Monday- Happy New Year’s Eve. Heading to a party and then a friend’s house. Last day of indulgences…
  • Tuesday- Jan 1st 2013! Beef Tenderloin, baked potatoes (need to use them up) and roasted asparagus.
  • Wednesday-Swordfish Kabobs, salad
  • Thursday-Spinach and cheese frittata
  • Friday- Salsa Chicken, salad.

What are you making this week? Any new food resolutions you want to make for 2013?

 

p.s. There a new “ebook bundle of the week I’ll be sharing with you. The simplify ebook has been on my radar for awhile so I think I may pick up the bundle myself. Enjoy!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Let the countdown begin! The kids are excited that it’s nearly Christmas Eve and the big day is almost here. They are exhausted from staying up too late at a holiday party but it was so much fun seeing them party like a rock star till well past their bedtime.

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The meal plan for the week is focused on the next two days. One more party to attend and then we are hosting 11 adults and 6 kids on Christmas Day. I’m sharing our Christmas menu today if you need a little last minute inspiration. We have never hosted Christmas Day so the menu is a mix of family favorites. The rest of our week will be filled with leftovers, using up pantry staples and a night out for mom and dad.

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Christmas Day Menu

Appetizers: Cheese and Crackers, Shrimp Cocktail

Main Course: Glazed Ham, Green Bean Casserole, Corn Pudding, Cranberry Sauce

Dessert: Buckeye Balls, Congo Bars, French Meringues, Gingerbread Cookies and Chewy Molasses Cookies.

What are you making for Christmas Day? Is it a tradition or do you mix it up every year?

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

Writing my meal plan this weekend was a normal task. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend of holiday events with friends. That too, was normal. Yet, nothing feels that normal right now. My heart aches for those families that lost loved ones last week. I know how hard this is for families, having gone through a tragedy like this seven years ago. Time does help, but it’s really the support of family and friends that keeps people afloat.  Love everyone a little more this week.

On the menu this week….

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Sunday~ Chicken Picatta, Lemon Spaghetti, Snow Peas. Recipes from the Giada DeLaurentis cookbook, Everyday Italian

Monday~ Chickpea Curry and Brown Rice  (Meatless Monday)

Tuesday~ Basque Fish Soup and Popovers

Wednesday~ Steak with Parsley Sauce, Steamed Broccoli and Oven Baked Polenta. (select recipes from the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook) Everyday Food: Great Food Fast Cookbook

Thursday~ Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato Fries, Brown Rice. Quick dinner before a Cookie Swap Party. (I’m making Mayan Chocolate Sparklers)

Friday~ Pizza night

Saturday~ light dinner before a holiday party. Need to bring a dessert.

 

***Ways to help those affected by the tragedy in Connecticut

The United Way of Western Connecticut  and The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund 

 

 

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

The holiday clock is ticking…what do you have left to do? Is your shopping done?  I did most of mine online this year and at our local shops during the post-Thanksgiving holiday so I feel like I’m in good shape. (Here is my post noting my favorite eco-friendly shopping sites.) The biggest project left are some of our homemade food gifts which will go out to lots of friends and family and also some teachers this year.

The coming week is filled with lots of evening events so no new recipes to test out. I am keeping it simple with some family favorites and trying to make some room in our freezer to store up some cookie dough.  We do need to bake some cookies and check it off our Christmas Bucket List.

Week 2 December Meal Plan

Sunday~ Baked Ziti (Lasagna style), Salad and Garlic Bread

Monday~ Salsa Chicken in the slow cooker, Salad. Recipe comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook

Tuesday~ C.O.R.N.

Wednesday~ Teriyaki Salmon, Snow Peas and Whole Wheat Couscous

Thursday~ Curry Chicken (from the freezer)

Friday~ Pizza night!

Saturday ~ Holiday party, bringing a dessert.

What holiday plans do you have this week?  Happy Hanukkah to some of you as well!

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!

Happy December everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend.  On Sunday I went to our local Holiday House Tour that showcased six houses that decked their halls, kitchens, mudrooms and more.  It always gets me in the holiday decorating mood. We have our tree up and I’m surrounded by boxes of Christmas goodies left to unwrapped.  The next few weeks are busy with holiday parties to attend so our meal plans have to be flexible.  We have a few freezer meals ready to go in case our weekly plan goes awry.

In addition to having some freezer meals prepped, we have a few fallbacks when we are not up for cooking.

-Eggs (Frittata with extra veggies in the fridge is a favorite)

-Sandwich night (Grilled cheese, Tuna melts, etc)

-Pasta and sauce with olives or capers. Simple yet comforting.

-Oatmeal with a little peanut butter mixed in, or walnuts and some berry jam.

-C.O.R.N.~ Clean Out Refrigerator Night

On deck this week…

Sunday~ Beef Chili

Monday~ Spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli

Tuesday~ Leftover Chili (off to a blogger’s holiday party at Middlesex Commons)

Wednesday~ Turkey Soup from the leftover turkey last week and homemade turkey stock

Thursday~ Eggs for dinner!

Friday~ Pizza night

What are your fallback dinners?

For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie ever week!

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.  We spent some time with friends processing apples.  We made my homemade no-sugar applesauce recipe to start with about 15 apples. It made six pints that we then canned.  Then we started some apple butter in the slow cooker.  We processed it in the morning and it was delicious. The house smelled awesome. Today I made a second batch of applesauce, plus some dehydrated apple rings.  The kids love these for snacks and now we have a full stock of apple (and pineapple!) rings for the lunch box this week.

Cinnamon apple rings

On the menu this week:
Sunday~ Lemon Orange Rosemary Chicken in the Ninja Cooking System.  I didn’t have lemon so I swapped it out for orange. The chicken came out awesome. Madison asked for fourths!  I also roasted the last of our cherry tomatoes, along with some honey roasted carrots.
Monday~ L/O Chicken used in a pasta bake.  Steamed green beans on the side.
Tuesday~ Apricot Pork chops from the Everyday Food Cookbook. Note~ I use boneless pork chops so the time increases to about 20 minutes.  The recipe is also a great way to use up the heels of bread.  Maybe some squash on the side, plus polenta in the slow cooker.
Wednesday~ Orange Hoisin Chicken (slow cooker). Recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker CookbookBrown rice and sautéed snow peas on the side.
Thursday~ Last night my sister and family are here from Hawaii. Cozy fall dinner of homemade chili and corn bread planned. Maybe a yummy apple dessert.
Friday~ Pizza!

Are you trying any new recipes this week?  Feel free to leave your menu plan in the comments below.

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I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS FeedFor more meal planning ideas, stop by Meal Plan Monday

We spent the weekend celebrating birthdays, a baptism and enjoyed some beautiful fall weather.  Even when you are a stay at home mom, those long weekends are lovely.

Picked up a bushel of apples at the farmers market this weekend

I’m a little tired from all of our party planning this weekend and needed some menu planning reminders.  Last year my playgroup did an awesome recipe exchange.  I went back to my Recipe email folder to dig out some favorites for our week ahead.

Monday~ C.O.R.N
Tuesday~ Chicken Pierre (thanks Susan!) Green Beans and whole wheat couscous
Wednesday~ Slow Cooker Ribs, Local Corn on the Cob, Cornbread
Thursday~ Hamburgers and Homemade Mac n Cheese with butternut squash hiding inside. (Thanks Cathy!)  See recipe below.
Friday~ American Flatbread Pizza (freebie from Springboard Conference)
Saturday~ potluck dinner with friends, menu still tbd.  We are going to process a bushel of apples though…I see lots of applesauce in our future.

Easy Veggie Mac n Cheese (from Cathy M.)
1 cup uncooked macaroni (I do 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup regular)
1 cup (or more) shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup milk (you could use skim but whole tastes much better)
pepper and paprika
1/2 cup cauliflower puree or butternut squash puree (optional, make in advance, I prefer cauliflower)
 
Preheat oven to 350
Drop macaroni in boiling water, boil 3 minutes
Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes then drain
Toss macaroni in a bowl with vegetable puree to evenly distribute puree
 
Layer in a large casserole dish coated with cooking spray:
1/3 macaroni mixture
1/3 cheese
sprinkle pepper and paprika
1/3, 1/3 again until done
 
Pour milk over layers and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown on top and milk absorbed so not too runny. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

What’s on deck for you this week?

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I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS FeedFor more meal planning ideas, stop by Meal Plan Monday

photo credit: roswellsgirl via photopin cc

After last week’s pantry project, I had some time to think about how to maintain a healthy, real food pantry.  I want to be able to open the pantry door and find things that I will use regularly and will work easily into each week’s meal plan.  There will always be some boxes in there of crackers, cereal and possibly Trader Joe’s Cornbread mix.  That is our reality as I have yet to see a super easy cracker recipe that I can make with two kids hanging off my leg.

In the meantime, here are my suggestions of how to work on creating a real food pantry.  Divide it up into categories and take it one step at a time.  This is a list of the items nearly always in the (new) pantry,or main kitchen shelves.

Baking
-Rolled Oats, old-fashioned not the quick variety
-Steel Cut Oats
-Unsweetened Coconut
-Flaxseed
-Sunflower Seeds
-Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
-Honey
-Agave
-Molasses
-Maple Syrup
-Whole Wheat Flour
-Coconut Oil
-Baking essentials like Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Brown Sugar

Main Dinners & Sides
-Variety of Beans (I have started cooking beans in my pressure cooker)
-Whole Wheat Pastas (& Gluten free pasta for visitors)
-Variety of Rice (I use short grain brown rice and arborio most often)
-Barley
-Quinoa
-Lentils
-Coconut Milk
-Artichokes
-Good Tuna packed in oil
-Olive Oil
-Sesame Oil
-Variety of vinegars (Red Wine, Rice and Champagne)

Nuts are also a big part of our “pantry” storage.  However I store them all in the refrigerator to keep them as fresh as possible.  Although we go through them fast, I want to keep them as fresh as possible.  The oils in the nuts can go rancid if left in the cabinet too long.  (Same for Wheat Germ, that is also stored in the fridge.)  The nuts we always have on hand are Walnuts, Pecans and Almonds.  Peanuts are generally only purchased if I’m making pad thai.

This year I want to try out some recipes using some alternative flours like brown rice flour or coconut flour.  We have so many friends, or their children, who have gluten issues and I would like to be able to offer a fun, healthy treat for them at an event or playdate.

Whole Foods self-serve bulk buying section

Maintaining a real food pantry doesn’t need to be expensive.  I find buying from the Whole Foods self serve bulk section the most affordable option for me.  Costco is also where I buy a lot of basics like old fashioned oatmeal, brown sugar, agave and many of the nuts we use.  Coconut oil is always purchased online as I tend to find better deals on bulk sizes.  Eventually I would love to get really large quantities and organize a co-op, but this project will just have to wait.

Reuse your tomato sauce jars for your pantry and it’s another way to reduce costs.  You don’t need to buy more plastic containers for bulk/pantry items.  Use what you are already using.  I even use some of our old Tupperware for storage, then I won’t risk putting it in the microwave.

Don’t forget some fun labels…see more in my Creating a Pantry post!

What are your must-have’s for a healthy pantry?