Food · Life

Some meal-planning magic + new recipes

Last week, the day before I went grocery shopping, I sat down to write a menu for the next two weeks, and my brain was blank. Nothing. Nada.

I decided it didn’t have to be that hard! I decided to try something a friend had been talking about. So I made up a meal schedule, assigning each night of the week a theme. Then I was able to quickly fill in meals because now I had a place to focus my brain. And when I say quickly, I mean I planned a menu for two weeks and wrote a shopping list in an hour. Lately, it’s been taking me a day, and I usually still have a few days that stay blank and we end up eating scrambled eggs or questionable leftovers.

So here’s what I came up with.

meal schedule 1

Simple Sunday is the only one that isn’t obvious as to what it is. It will be leftovers from the week or maybe a frozen pizza or a meal that didn’t happen during the week. We often go to lunch after church and are still fairly full at dinnertime (that’s true Italian food for you!), so Sunday doesn’t need a full meal plan. Besides, isn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?

Now, this schedule had to change a little because Tim vetoed “meatless Monday” (I’ll still try to sneak it in when he isn’t looking) and our Bible study night shifted from Tuesday/Thursday to Wednesday. So here’s the revised version.

meal schedule 2

But as you can see, it’s the same general idea. And it’s genius.

When we moved here a year and a half ago, I bought a notebook and started writing a master list of dinners. Of course, I gave up fairly quickly and only had a few meals in each category. To my defense, we had been using up food (read: eating weird meals) or living in a hotel for two months, and I couldn’t think of much to write down.

But now I would like to come up with lists that correspond to these themes. It will be a learning curve at first, finding new (and fairly simple) recipes that fit the theme, but when I find ones that we like, my goal is to print them out recipes and keep them in a binder. Once I have a good collection, then it will be even easier!

Here are a few new recipes that I have tried so far and were wins.

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup Now please, allow me to be an international snob for a moment: Gnocchi is pronounced “ny-oak-ee”. The last time I went to Olive Garden, I asked for this soup (pronouncing it correctly) and the server said “Oh, you mean ‘gah-no-chee’?” Um, no, my Italian is not great, but I at least know how to pronounce that.

Anyway. This soup was really good. It was creamy and amazing. And super-duper yummy. And pretty healthy. Even Noah liked it, and he’s been weird about eating soup.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Rice Oh wow, this was also a win. I used chicken tenders, so they cooked really fast and the sauce burned a little (oops). The overall ease of this meal on a scale of 1-5 (1 being Noah could do it) is a 1. Haha, just kidding, he can’t cut an onion. I added peas as well as corn, and it was devoured by everyone. The only thing I would add next time is some seasoning, which one, I’m not sure. But it was excellent as is.

Pumpkin Pecan Baked Oatmeal OMG, this was really good. And there were leftovers! Like a lot of leftovers. And who doesn’t like those? It was super easy and the only sweetener in the whole thing was ¼ C of maple syrup. I was sick at the time and trying to limit my dairy intake (I hate you, sinuses), but it would have been even better with some extra warmed milk on top.

Peanut Butter Cookies My friend in Germany gave me this recipe and it’s soooo good. It’s very simple and perfect for when you want just a few cookies (I got 9 large cookies). I ran out of creamy peanut butter halfway through, so I used chunky, and I actually enjoyed finding come peanut chunks in my cookies. With the amount of sugar I used, they are definitely not healthy, but man, they taste good.

What about you? Do you have a meal schedule? If you did/do, what are your “days”?

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11 thoughts on “Some meal-planning magic + new recipes

  1. This is brilliant! I too struggle with my meal plan and shopping list. It takes me an hour, too! I don’t do themed days, but I try to match how easy the recipe is to what our schedule is. My husband is very picky, so I can’t do too many themes. I wish! Yours sound great.
    I love pumpkin pecan baked oatmeal, too!!! I always top mine with a big dollop of plain greek yogurt instead of milk – cools it down less.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can really be as simple as “things on bread” or “pizza”. And I definitely also try to match easy recipes with busy days. When I made the schedule, I tried to build that in, with spacing out probable leftovers for my husband to take to work. I’m hoping to have a good base of recipes before the baby comes. Because we all know how much faster a recipe goes the tenth time you’ve made it!
      Ooo, I’ll have to try it with yogurt. I put almond milk on it (because we ran out of cows milk) and it was really creamy and good.

      Liked by 1 person

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