Monday, August 11, 2014

Meal Plan Monday

Hi everyone! I hope you had a fabulous weekend! Ours was quite lazy because of our patient. Meaning, we didn't really go anywhere or do anything, we took care of our patient. He had breakfast in bed this morning. Yep, he's a lucky man to have four girls love him so much! And it rained, a lot, so outside play wasn't an option. Needless to say, I am ready for the activities that the week will bring!

Today, we have Kindergarten Orientation and Meet the Teacher for Payton. Wait. What? Kindergarten? Seriously, how can she already be almost 6 and in Kindergarten. Then on Wednesday, her first day of school for the year. She will be gone 5 days a week, from 8:20 a.m. until 3:20 p.m. I think I might just miss her a little. My house will be so much more quiet without her here. *tear*

Who else hates trying to figure out "what's for dinner" as much as I do? Well, I started meal planning awhile back and it makes my life ten times easier than when I would just look up recipes the day of and wing it. I'm going to share with you how I do it and then share my recipes for the week. Essentially, after reading this, all you'll need to do is grocery shop!

First, I go through my recipes and determine what sounds good, what I think my kids will eat and write down my picks. If you don't know this already, I'm OBSESSED with Pinterest. I do most planning right off of my boards. If my hubs comes home and tells me somehting he ate while out and that he loved it, I'm finding a recipe. It is my go-to place for recipes. 

After I have determined my meals for the week, I look at the items needed to make the recipe and take inventory. After I know what's in my kitchen and what I need, I make my shopping list. Then off to shop. Damien typically does the grocery shopping for me on Saturdays as long as I have my list ready. He is the less impulsive shopper, so junk food stays out of the cart when he goes. Me, not so much. Him going is definitely the healthier decision.

Some helpful tips: 
1~If I am buying produce for a specific meal, I will make sure that there are other recipes that I can use it in for the week so it doesn't go bad. If it's something I can freeze. Wasting good food is the worst.
2~Be adventurous. We love trying new things! Don't be afraid of a recipe because it calls for something you've never eaten or cooked with before. If you don't like it, don't make it again. But at least you know you tried.
3~Utilize leftovers. I don't always make things that have a lot of leftovers, but when I do, you better believe we eat them. Plus, it makes cooking for the next night a total breeze. <see end of #1> If there is not enough leftovers for the entire family, they go to work with Damien for lunch.
4~Your meal doesn't always have to have a meat as the protein. Nothing wrong with meat, I'm a fan, but I also love meatless meals. We try to have at least 2 meatless meals a week.

Each month, we try to have what we call a "Salad Week". I was a little nervous when I first mentioned this to Damien and was pleasantly surprised when he was on board. We feel so great at the end of each salad week! It is quickly becoming our favorite way to eat.

Here are some of our favorite salad recipes. Enough for 6 days of eats, some yielding leftovers.

Monday: Asian Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced cucumber
For the dressing:
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Two Peas and Their Pod nailed it with this salad! Proof that Salad Week doesn't have to be all about the lettuce. I think quinoa salads are our absolute favorite. Tip: Make the quinoa the night before and store in an airtight container in the fridge. This way, it is chilled when you make your salad. 

Tuesday: Santa Fe Salad
2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn (frozen or canned)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese
1/2 teaspoon cumin

tortilla strips
black olives

drain corn (if using canned) and place in frying pan with cumin. saute over medium heat, for 10 minutes. stirring occasionally. if you like a spicy kick, add a diced jalepeno pepper while cooking. allow to cool.
layer salad with lettuce on the bottom, black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cheese, olives and tortilla strips.   
This Avocado Lime Dressing is wonderful on top.

Wednesday: Strawberry Fields Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

4 cups spring mix lettuce
6-8 medium strawberries, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinkly sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 cup cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/4 cup slived almonds, toasted
1/4 cup feta cheese

I found this Poppyseed Dressing and it is delicious. I usually half the recipe because it makes so much. I've also added less sugar to keep calorie count lower.

Evenly divide ingredients into two servings. Divide into four servings if you will use as a side salad along with an entree.
You can also add sliced grilled chicken tenderloin, if you choose.

Thursday: Healthy Chicken Salad

Once again, Pinterest to the rescue! Lemon-Sugar has this brilliant Chicken salad recipe that we love! It's packed with protein and fruit. It is wonderful served in a bowl with a fork or on bread. Mmmmm!

Friday: 9 Layer Asian Salad

A Spicy Perspective doesn't disappoint with this recipe! It's exploding with flavor! The perfect amount of crunch. The perfect amount of sweet and salty. Your palate will thank you! 

Saturday: Back Bean and Quinoa Salad with Mango, Tomato and Avocado

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water or stock (to cook quinoa)
3 green oinions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 mango, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
I can of black beans, drained and rinsed

for the dressing:
juice from 2 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt

toast quinoa in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes over medium heat.
rinse quinoa under cold, running water until water runs clear.
add water and quinoa to saucepan and prepare accordning to package.
(again, you may choose to do this the day before and store in fridge)
add all ingredients to large bowl.
in a smaller bowl, mix together dressing ingradients.
pour dressing over salad and blen thoroughly

This is another recipe that is loaded with flavor! Great balance of sweet and sour. 

If you are new to Quinoa or haven't found one that you like, we really love Alter Eco. I like the texture of this one best out of the ones we have tried (we tried one kind and after one meal, threw the rest out because it was so bad. I wish I could remember what brand it was). We will stick with Alter Eco, plus it's organic.

On the Seventh day, God rested and so will I. Actually, I do still typically cook on Sundays, but there was one night during the week that Damien worked late, so the girls and I cheated and had Chick-fil-A. Don't freak out on me, I had a wrap, so not too off my salad diet for the week.

Hope you enjoyed Meal Plan Monday. Look for this every Monday and sometimes, I'll add our Saturday morning breakfasts, what we are snacking on and the occasional dessert. <we are in the process of losing weight, so desserts are a rare treat in this house these days>

If you try any of the recipes, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, if I can help with anything else regarding meal planning, or if there is a way I can make my meal planning post better, just leave your question or suggestion in the comments!

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