Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meal Planning - My new found friend

So, I've made new friends with meal planning. Seriously, I don't know why I ever gave this up, or let it go or whatever it was that happened. But this idea, concept, way of cooking is amazing to say the least.
I've been working really hard with our budget and our time to eat real foods. This doesn't neccessarly mean the completely organic, gmo free craze just that I try to incorporate real food into all of our meals. For example: breakfast I can make anything from scrambled eggs for the boys, or blueberry pancakes and I can pair it with fresh fruit that was on sale or I can do regular pancakes with crock pot applesauce. Which by the way is amazing, and beyond easy. I'll post a recipe I found on the bottom of this post. Lunch normally tends to be left overs. And dinner depends on what meat is on sale, paired with veggies etc. The Green Giant steamable veggies have been on sale lately at Publix and I've been a huge, huge fan of those because they make things easy and anything that makes life a bit easier is always appreciated.
The big goal behind the excitement of BLW (baby lead weaning) was to eat healthier and as a family. I absolutely love what this has done for us, the boys and our family. I cook pretty much daily, which can get frustrating at times but that's where the meal planning comes in. I sit down one night a week and see whats on sale at Publix and Target (we tend to get most of our meat from the commissary since its cheaper there) and pair it up with what meat we have in the freezer. Apples have been on sale a lot lately so I've been doing applesauce on homemade zucchini bread, or applesauce just as a side. I love applesauce and from watching the boys eat it - they really do too.

The wonderful thing I've found about meal planning is that it helps me, and it helps me know just what we are having for dinner but yet its flexible enough to mix up or around if I'm just not feeling like having chicken or pork that day. I also found that I enjoy cooking again, I used to love cooking before getting pregnant with H&L and lost that when it became hard to cook with the smells and bedrest and then once they arrived, its just been about survival. Things are finally settling down and with that it offers new opportunity to try new recipes and try new foods. If you haven't tried meal planning, don't be intimated by the pinterest pins either. It's much easier than anyone ever leads to believe. Here is a guide to how I do think out my meals:
  1. What meat do I have in the freezer? What veggies/ingrediants do I have on hand? Example: I have two things of ground beef, 3 packages of chicken, a pork tenderloin, and steaks. I have a bag of potatoes, I have blueberries, a bag of apples, I have some biscuits in a can etc
  2. What can I make? What sounds easy/appealing? What haven't we had in a while?
  3. I write down ideas, search pinterest for ideas etc
  4. I plan, here are some examples
  • Taco Pie - Canned biscuits/crescent rolls and ground beef
  • Mini Chicken Pot Pies
  • Spagetti and garlic bread
  • Grilled Chicken and steamed veggies
  • Pork Tenderlion and mashed potatoes
  • Chicken and Pasta with steamed veggies
  • Steaks, sweet potatoes and applesauce
See - pretty easy and I'm all about easy. I've also noticed that by getting whatever I am making ready at the very, very start of the boys' afternoon nap all I have to do is pop it in the oven/warm it right before dinner time (5:30) and I'm good as golden. It helps keep additional clean up and dishes at bay, and gives me more time to devote to them. I really am hoping to find a good sale soon and get some freezer meals ready too. I made a meal earlier in the week and split it in half and froze the other half, so that's always an option too. Just isn't a good idea to do it with an experimental dish, try it first, then give it a shot!

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