Meal Plan Monday (on a Friday!)

In the midst of vying for a valuable spot in the online ordering queue for our local grocery store and a few tears cried because my husband doesn’t quite know how to do buy groceries to my liking, meal planning has taken an adventurous turn. I’d usually post on a Monday, but lately my meal plan is constantly evolving and who even knows what day it is, anyhow? I’m still attempting to create a menu, but it’s hard to plan a week’s worth of meals when you have a 12 year old and 14 year old constantly grazing and grocery store roulette leaves you with some glaring holes on your grocery list.

I am limiting my time out in public significantly and that’s leaving Kevin to fetch and pick up for us. He’s amazing and doesn’t complain until I complain about the wrong deli meat he’s picked up. (I’ve been craving a good corned beef or smoked meat on rye for weeks… No, ham isn’t going to cut it!) We get our grocery spot and he’ll pop out once in awhile to fill in the gaps.

I’ve been getting online slots about two weeks out, but it’s always a surprise to see what doesn’t make the final cut. Some weeks it’s been meat, other times veggies, and never ever junk food. This past shop we didn’t get certain dairy, meat, pantry, or produce I had hoped for. This means meal times are reinvented or we look at alternate sources. The farm store near us still had flour and they had great (more expensive) cuts of meat from their farm to table butcher.

Tonight I finally had my Caesar salad with thanks to a local restauranteur who provided me with a bottle of dressing when she read I didn’t successfully get one in my last shop. She also kept us well-stocked for whipped cream. It’s the little things, people!

Over the last few weeks we’ve made substitutions and taken shortcuts, believing that “fed” is often more important than stressing over the “what.” We’re still looking at balance, but not sweating the fact that the pulled pork came prepared in a frozen box. (Hint: M&M Food Markets have great selections of prepared foods… including desserts!)

Some of our meals have included:

  • Chicken strips (frozen), caesar salad, cucumbers, and potato wedges (fresh)
  • Take out (when I’ve had just about enough!)
  • Breakfast for dinner (always a hit!)
  • Beef chili (made with stewing beef)
  • Beef chili “enchiladas”
  • Pulled pork tacos
  • Soup of different varieties (with bread and cheese)
  • A pot roast that no one liked
  • Spaghetti (which everyone liked but me)
  • Burgers

I’ve been flexible with the grazing and I’ve been flexible with the dinner time complaints. (Someone didn’t eat his wedges tonight and you know what, that’s fine! I didn’t eat my cucumber.)

Overall, I don’t even think I’ve had to be too creative either. If you look at older meal plans, there’s nothing too different on the list. I’m sticking to things I know for the most part and finding some comfort in that. Switching out the odd meat or vegetable o make things work isnt huge sacrifice. There’s a bit of control in the kitchen with the ingredients I do have and in a world that I have very little control over right now, that works for me!

What’s cooking in your kitchen these days? Are you baking up a storm? Taking out your frustrations on your bread dough? Sticking to the classics or trying to keep things fresh and creative? Whatever you’re doing… stay healthy and have fun!

Meal Plan Monday (on a Sunday): January 26th Edition

It’s been a long weekend – meh (not to be confused with a long weekend – yeah!) We are looking ahead at a week that is going to require some creative juggling again. You know what those look like.

Work will include helping to facilitate a busy visitation and funeral, sitting down to discuss wedding plans with an engaged couple, and some Annual General meeting prep plus all the usual… with one less day to do it all. Parenting this week will include accomodating teacher strikes, exams, another hospital visit with the youngest, and all the usual chauffering. A book review is due Tuesday as part of a publisher’s blog tour. Come back and read it!

In an effort to stress less, I’ve put my meal plan and grocery list together tonight, and, hopefully, included easy, no-muss meals. I’ve started marinating my chicken drumsticks for tomorrow’s dinner. Let me tell you… it’s going to be delicious. Now I just have to make sure I’m home from work on time to throw them in the oven and be out the door again to get the boys back to town for 6:30. It may not have been the best pick for tomorrow, but it’s going to be worth it, taste-wise.

On this week’s menu:

  • chicken braised in coconut milk, served with carrots, potatoes, side salad
  • creamy coconut chicken and rice soup (using leftovers)
  • a dinner out or takeout depending on timing after the visit to SickKids
  • cashew ginger stirfry with sweet potato spirals
  • DIY pizzas
  • grilled cheese and fresh veg, maybe soup
  • pesto bruschetta pasta

We may be busy this week, but as long as my energy remains, we’ll be eating fairly healthy, tasty meals. Wish us luck as we juggle the rest…

Meal Plan Monday: I’m Not Even Sure What Day It Is Edition

I know it’s Monday… but it feels like March and it’s only January and it feels like these days I’m not sure whether we’re coming or going. I’m trying to juggle clinic appointments for myself, business as usual, oldest son’s high school exam schedule, out of town early morning clinic appointments for the youngest, business as usual, and well all the other fun stuff with life. I’ve written a meal plan the last 3 weeks, than made it to the grocery store and thrown it out the window to some degree. We’re calling it flexibility.

Last week was an incredibly rough week. I wasn’t feeling well and there were mornings it was difficult to roll out of bed. One morning in particular, I made it as far as the shower, dropped a million things, spilled grape juice on myself (and the bed) and had enough of the twitchy eye and shakiness that I crawled back into bed and tried to find my normal. I slept most of the day and hid most of the evening and by daylight the next morning, felt like a human again. Many days last week resulted in a full day of work and a nap the minute I got home. It was rough, y’all. These are days that I can have the healthiest meal plan on the planet, but if I don’t have the energy to cook it, it doesn’t do me much good.

Our quick grocery run yesterday took that into account and had some easier, less prep meals. Better for the overall budget than take out, not so great for my food budget in general, and of course, a bit less healthy. However, it’s not everyday and I think a fed family is important. No judgement, please.

My first version of this week’s meal plan involved some great soups, lots of veggies and from scratch comfort cooking. My actual version involves a box of chicken wings (what a rip off) and some potato wedges from frozen. Meh.

Our menu for the week, in no particular order:

  • frozen chicken wings, potato wedges, and apple slices
  • tacos
  • quesadillas
  • some sort of soup and sandwich combo
  • pasta (using whatever remnants are in my pantry and whatever jar of sauce I can find.)
  • hot dogs – probably wrapped in Pillsbury dough because I found both hiding – one in the freezer, one in the back of the fridge.
  • burger date night… if the kids have their drop in program this week.

What are your cheat meals and do you feel guilty about them? Why do I feel so guilty about them? Food should not be something that triggers guilt.

Meal Plan Monday: December 2 Edition

I haven’t been very diligent in the meal plan department lately. My grocery shops have been few and far between as I try to use up the contents of our cupboards, fridge, and freezer. I meal plan on the weekends usually – even if it’s just a loose idea of what I can come up with and often the complexity of the meals will vary with how I’m feeling. This Sunday when I sat down to meal plan I was “done” and it reflects – there’s a lot of quick meals or comfort food. Nothing wrong with that! Before I type up my grocery list, like most people, I try to shop the cupboards first. I’m also notorious for forgetting something on my list or the whole list entirely so I also approach my meal plan with a certain flexibility. It’s not always a happy flexibility, but we try to make it work (even if there’s a certain degree of cupboard banging and very loud sighs in the process.)

Today was the first snow day of the school year for the boys and bonus, I was given the work-from-home option – which sounds delightful, but in reality made me crave the office. My productivity levels were way off and throw in a borderline migraine for fun and well, let’s just say we’ll be making up some hours this week. We were *supposed* to have leftover butternut squash soup with biscuits, salad and fresh veg, and smokies for some protein for those who would say soup doesn’t fill them up. Unfortunately, my plan backfired as many of my plans do lately as the soup was still frozen solid by the time dinner rolled around. Plan B was to make a tortilla soup with smokies instead of chicken and that would have been delightful but between Friday’s “don’t eat the tortilla chips” and today, said bag of tortilla chips disappeared. Meh. To top it off, I *destroyed* my stock pot the other day and there was no salvaging it – I have a teeny tiny saucepan to cook in… and was clinging to that almost-migraine. Dinner prep felt like a disaster.

We salvaged it though. One child made himself a smoothie and frozen pizzas (and you know what, I wasn’t cooking twice or didn’t have energy to win this one so his tummy is full and that’s fine.) I still made a sauce-pan sized pot of soup with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, corn, rice, and diced up smokies and it worked. Still made the biscuits. Still had salad for two of us and pulled out the Costco veggie tray we picked up and has been a hit at meal times as they graze the veggies they like. No one dared complain. (I may be extremely grumpy when I have an almost-migraine.) Here’s hoping the rest of the meal plan goes a bit smoother and our dinners this week are no fuss, no muss – while using up some of that frozen meat that was passed our way!

  • Sunday – leftover roast beef poutine, caesar salad, and fresh veggies featuring leftover
  • Monday – soup with biscuits, salad, fresh veggies
  • Tuesday – smokies, cornbread, fresh veggies, and that leftover butternut squash soup
  • Wednesday – veggie goat cheese flatbread (no kids!)
  • Thursday – chicken, broccoli, and rice
  • Friday – ribs, sweet potato fries, fresh veggies
  • Saturday – burgers and salad

How do you salvage meal time prep that’s gone awry? I’m sure we’d be using UberEats way more often if we didn’t live outside of town. (Probably a good thing that we don’t!) Also, if anyone is talking to Santa, could you mention I’m looking for a good pots & pan set and that I’ve been a VERY good girl this year!

Meal Plan Monday: November 18 Edition

My kids are heading out to more ‘things’ in the evening and this seems to cover the dinner hour – no appeasing two different appetites on these nights (impossible!) I count that as a win. However, the driving back and forth doesn’t seem like a win and Kevin’s been working erratically “late” some evenings. Even when I meal plan, things seem like a bust – and it’s often on the fly.

I do, however, continue to try. I dont always share our menu or mealplan because I don’t often feel its remarkable or that I’m successful in sticking to it. Despite that, every week I have at least a loose plan going in before I tackle the groceries. Making things interesting is the desire to clean up my freezer/cupboard/fridge. My in-laws leave us with their freezer contents every time they winter in Florida. We have so. much. pork. at the moment. It helps with my grocery bill, but I come to a halt in creativity while still trying to find balance.

This afternoon, the boys headed to a paint party. They are literally painting the walls of a new youth room and the leaders are buying pizza. Kevin and I had tomato soup I found buried in the forgotten corner of the freezer. I served it with a fried egg, salami (there were 2 slices left), and cheese on some slightly freezer-burnt toasted English muffins. Gourmet dinner it was not. Curbed the hunger? Absolutely. Wednesday will most likely be another day I can cull the fridge of leftovers as I’ll be on my own. Or perhaps I’ll indulge, and grab takeout mango salad on the way home.

Here’s the rest of our menu for the week:

  • steak, potatoes, caesar salad, and carrot sticks
  • crockpot pork roast with rice and broccoli slaw
  • pulled pork tacos
  • slow cooker jambalaya (minus the shrimp) – I’ll be giving this recipe a try for the first time and using turkey sausage
  • dinner for 1 (soup, leftovers, or takeout)
  • Spinach and chicken pasta

What do you prepare when you’re cooking for one? How do you deal with fluctuating schedules and last-minute change of plans while still cooking at home? Share your wisdom, please! We want to know what works for other families.

Meal Plan Monday: November 4th Edition

Let’s talk produce. I can’t be the only one who does groceries thinking she has lettuce or spinach in the fridge only to find out it’s now a slimy disintegrated mess! I even looked when I did my meal plan, but I guess the corner I peeked at was hiding the mess. We had to get creative with our wraps tonight.

Last week was a nightmare of low energy and extra commitments. My boys have completely taken over their lunches and I’m not sure they’re getting as many fruits and veggies as I would like. The flip side is, I haven’t wanted to fight the battle either… I feel like I’m constantly nagging and who has energy for that!? So they’ve been slipping when it comes to balanced lunches. The one boy is good at throwing something in – frozen mango seems to be the go-to, but has also been asking for pre-sliced apples. Neither is my ideal, but I count it as a convenient win.

So how do you make sure there is balance? How do you allow them responsibility and autonomy when it comes to food choices and still remind them to make wise choices without devolving into a battle of wills? This is where we’re at.

We discussed our meal plan as a family this week. My husband zones out for these conversations because he’s happy if he’s fed. The youngest won a meal for two in a costume contest and bent the rules a little. His night to cook involves eating out and we will forego date night this week. The oldest chose breakfast for dinner (which we ate last night), but is a win because he can prepare it and no one complains.

Here’s what our menu looks like for the week.

  • Chicken Cucumber Wraps
  • Dinner Out
  • Quesadillas (instead of date night)
  • Breakfast
  • Soup & Grilled Cheese
  • Flattened Chicken, Fresh Cut Fries, and Fresh Veggies
  • Beef & Broccoli on Rice

Sounds great… works for me…

Meal Plan Monday

I haven’t posted a meal plan in awhile… mostly because I haven’t meal planned in awhile. The summer tends to be more low key. I’m still not feeling as well as I’d like and some days I sleep through meal prep time a d we tend to grab food at one of our favourite local haunts. We’ve had a loss on the family, a new baby arrived, a very special birthday (mine!) and life has just been hard.

With back to school on the horizon and the need to budget (because no meal plan = more money spent on good), I decided to whip up a plan this week. Some days are busier than others – I’m attending a First Aid course tomorrow and Wednesday… and we still have some back to school errands to run, anniversary party for my in-laws and maybe we’ll squeeze in that last summer beach trip. Hopefully this plan will help with taming some of the chaos.

Tonight, we’re using up some new potatoes and the discounted ground pork I found at the grocery store this afternoon to enjoy some loaded tex-mex wedges. I managed to add tomatoes and spinach to the meat so we’ll be getting our fair share of colour, plus we’re topping with red pepper and green onion. I also have a million cucumbers in the fridge so I’ll probably slice one to eat on the side.

Here’s our menu at a glance:

  • Loaded wedges
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Breakfast for dinner (probably omelettes)
  • Enchiladas
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Hamburger casserole (like Hamburger Helper but a little bit healthier)

Lots of comfort food and a few that I can use the Crock-Pot for. I think we’ll be well fed this week.

Meal Plan Monday: June 10th Edition

As we ate take-out once again tonight, I’ve decided I am horrible at sticking to my menu. In my defense, I’ve not been feeling well and tonight’s excuse is that at the time the two guys were complaining of hunger, I was fighting off hot flashes and a pounding headache and racing pulse. On one hand, I think I need to be preparing more food at home to combat some of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, but by the time dinner-hour hits, I don’t have the energy or strength to deal with it or the complaints I inevitably get. Meh.

So tonight we enjoyed some Asian takeout… and there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow. That’s a good thing, because my bank account is more empty than my cupboards. Payday is still a few days away. (Maybe the money spent on take out would have been better spent on pantry basics and some fruit.)

The rest of our menu this week may include the following… depending on the curveballs life sends our way:

  • mac & cheese with side salad
  • chicken wings with roasted potatoes and fresh veggies
  • tacos (as part of a the drop in group I volunteer with – an end of school year dinner we’ve been invited to attend)
  • stuffed peppers & garlic bread
  • enchiladas with salad
  • sticky coconut chicken with rice pilaf (recipe via Leigh Anne Wilkes – Your Homebased Mom)
  • or soup… because comfort food still makes my list when I’m feeling crummy!

I’m not tying myself down this week – easy peasy, shortcuts, take out, veering off plan – whatever keeps the family fed!

Meal Plan Monday: June 4th Edition

I realise this doesn’t qualify as Meal Plan Monday considering I’m posting it on a Tuesday, but the menu was prepared well in advance of yesterday.

It’s hard to believe we’re trying up the first half of 2019! Besides reading a tidy amount of books, I’m not too sure we’ve accomplished anything if significance.

Back to the posting on a Tuesday… Yesterday I packed 7 hours of work into 4.5 hours, then spent my afternoon in the chilly sunshine cheering on our 8th grader. As a runner, he qualified for the area meet (track and field) of the northern schools in our district. He managed to place third in his 200m finals. He ran his heart out in his other events and this mama couldn’t be prouder!

Unfortunately, by the time this mama got home she was on the verge of a migraine and hid in her bed for quite some time. This means we took a shortcut to meal prep… as in Kev picked up dinner on his way home.

Here is our illustrious menu:

  • Deli chicken meal (yesterday)
  • Oven-baked wings, fries, and fresh veggies
  • Taco salad
  • Beef dip sandwiches and salad
  • Beef “poutine” and salad
  • Veggie pasta skillet
  • Leftovers

Here’s to a few more short weeks of lunch-packing and sunny afternoons with a picnic in the park!

Meal Plan Monday: May 27 Edition

This past weekend we attended our local Food Truck Frenzy organized as a fundraiser by the Rotary group. We decided to go in the rain. On the plus side, no crazy crowds to deal with. In the down side, it’s still crazy expensive and you walk out feeling like you’ve been bathed in oil. My favourite pick this year was from the Jerk Brothers Carribean truck – the jerk pork poutine was de-li-cious. I was sad to share it three ways.

Yesterday after church we had our final potluck lunch before summer. There were a ton of casseroles – including 7 shepherds pies – and only two crockpots of meat – one full of meatballs and mine full of BBQ jerk pulled pork. I went home with zero leftovers. Success.

Last night, I craved veggies – so we enjoyed a peanutty cashew stir-fry with butternut squash noodles to try and find some balance in our weekend overload of ridiculously tasty and decadent food.

My boys will not stop eating the last couple of weeks. I think we’re dealiƱg with some growth spurts. At 12 & 13, I’m sure we’re in for copiously large grocery shops in the near future. Our menu for the upcoming week (if I can keep the food in the fridge long enough) looks like this:

  • Italian sausage, roasted potatoes, Caesar salad
  • Burgers and veggie sticks
  • Crepes and sides
  • Chicken and pepper alfredo
  • Chili or other meal featuring ground beef
  • Leftovers

Parents of preteen/teenage boys… What are your tips and tricks to groceries on a budget and still keeping them fed?