Week 4: Dinner Shenanigans

I’ll admit that we used to be one of those couples that went to the grocery store together every week and cooked dinner together every night. I’m sure my excuse was that I thought we could get our grocery shopping and dinner made a lot faster with two people, but the truth is we had the time so why the heck not. Life is a little bit different now…a little less than a year ago we bought a house, got a puppy the very next day, and had a baby three very short months later. As someone so aptly put it, we ripped off the adult bandaid! So our house is madness, but seriously cute madness. How we make dinner each night looks a little different these days. When Travis gets home from work his number one priority is to tire the little pup out since her morning walk has since worn off. She also goes bananas when he gets home because she loves him more than me, something I will have to get used to with Stella someday too. Meanwhile, Stella and I work on dinner which usually means I put her in her high chair with some sort of snack to keep her occupied while Travis and Tazzie play. I’m faster at chopping anyway so this is all part of the plan. Once Travis comes back with a “tired” puppy, he takes over dinner and I feed Stella dinner #1: milk. I hate dealing with meat so that is something I usually try to save for Travis whenever possible, but I can make exceptions when necessary. Then we all sit down for a nice family dinner. Poor Tazzie gets baby-gated in the adjacent family room away from falling food while Stella flings her food far and wide keeping us on our toes and entertained. Never a dull moment here, but dinner always manages to get on the table and for now at least we all get to eat it together which I know won’t last forever. So we will enjoy it while it lasts! Menu Plan & Grocery List

Week 4 list.png

Monday: Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce and a Green Salad

  • I LOVE pumpkin. In the fall I dive head first into pumpkin recipes. Bread, pancakes, waffles, ice cream. You name it. I deem these not too fall-ish and therefore can be enjoyed anytime of year!
  • This is a pretty easy dish and anything you like or don’t like can be added or removed from the filling.
  • The one thing I am working on with the sauce is the amount of chili powder, so add more if you’d like.
  • I think a hearty meal like this needs a nice simple side salad, which is pretty easy to add while the enchiladas are cooking.

Tuesday: Salmon & Asparagus Farro Bowl

  • This was a new one for me. I thought it was a good use of farro which can be pretty bland on its own.
  • I actually followed the recipe and everything turned out great, no surprise there. I think next time I will save myself the trouble of skinning the salmon and just cook it whole and remove the skin after it is cooked.
  • The basil on top was delicious. I added way more than it called for and highly encourage you to as well.

Wednesday: Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup with Garlic Bread

  • I have made this one dozens of times and not once have I found yellow split peas. Granted I have made no effort besides looking in one store, so maybe this will inspire me to track some down, but it is delicious with green split peas too.
  • And super easy! I made this entire dish this week with Stella asleep in the front carrier after our morning walk. Visibility was poor so I chopped the veggies rather than diced, but I like bigger veggie chunks anyway. I also always err on the side of too many veggies so I chopped 5 carrots, 2 medium onions and about 5 celery stalks.
  • To serve with the soup I tossed some olive oil, crushed garlic and parmesan cheese on slices of bread, wrapped them in foil and heated them up in the toaster.

Thursday: Hamburger Buddy

  • This is another dish we both love and eat regularly. I’ve finally converted Travis into a one-pot meal fan which took some work, but I think he now sees my logic. Fewer dishes are always better, and why think about 3 dishes when you only have to think about one.
  • To make this a more colorful and complete meal I add frozen peas. We of course do not make this with mushrooms, but I am sure it is still delicious if you do.
  • We also cook either a 1lb or 12 oz box of pasta when doing this and adjust the liquids accordingly.

Friday: Pineapple Teriyaki Pork Chops with Brown Rice and Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

  • This dish is meant to be made with chicken, but we’ve always done it with pork chops since we have so many more chicken dishes in our repertoire.
  • As they note in the recipe, don’t use “cooking sherry”, make sure you find the real deal at the liquor store.
  • I couldn’t find a good fresh pineapple at the store this week so I used canned. Both work well.
  • For the roasted broccoli and cauliflower, make sure the vegetables have enough room on the pan to crisp up and buy way more than you think you will need since it shrinks down so much!

Week 3: Almost Spring

Springtime in Colorado can go from 70s and sunny one day to 2’ of snow the next. My menu this week follows just that pattern going from wintery crockpot dishes one day to springy vegetables the next. Although we have daffodils and tulips blooming outside, most of the produce in the grocery store is still not very springy so it can be hard to feel inspired to cook with the seasons. And who can resist an easy crockpot meal? Enjoy! Week 3 Menu Plan & Grocery List

Week 3 MenuMonday: Crock Pot Chicken Mole with Corn Tortillas and Broccoli

  • I love mole and know that it is one of those dishes that takes a lot of time and dozens of ingredients. For how easy this was, I thought it was delicious. I will say I am from VT where we did not have Mexican food growing up so who am I to say, but Travis also thought it was delicious and he grew up in Colorado. Authentic, who knows, but super flavorful, yes.
  • Since mornings are often crazy in this household, I made the mole the night before so I could just trim the chicken and throw everything into the crockpot in the morning. My rule with crockpot dishes is that they have to be dump and go meals. I refuse to cook and entire meal only to dump it into the crock pot and have to wait 8 hours and still get stuck with all the dishes. No thank you.
  • I could not find smoked almonds and would suggest replacing them with sliced almonds since my whole almonds did not chop up very well in the food processor.
  • I have a pretty low tolerance for heat so I added one chipotle chile instead of two. Enough recipes I use call for just a little bit of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce so when I buy a can and don’t use it up, I toss it in a storage container and freeze it until next time so I don’t keep buying it and throwing it out.
  • I doubled the water when making the sauce and added another cup or more of water while it was cooking since it started burning to the side of the crockpot. Since I used  2 ½ lbs of chicken instead of 4lbs I am guessing there was “too much sauce” which is why it burned to the sides rather than coating the chicken properly. However, the end results were delicious and there was and is no such thing as too much mole. So I stand by my proportions.
  • I just steamed the broccoli and had it as a side. Plain and simple.
  • I served the mole on corn tortillas with sour cream and cilantro as garnish.

Tuesday: Almond & Lemon Crusted Halibut with Roasted Asparagus and Brown Rice Pilaf

  • Brown rice takes foresight, but is otherwise pretty easy. If I’m being honest, we usually eat our meal with brown rice at the end of the week since I forget to start the brown rice early enough every other night and eventually just have to deal. So, let’s pretend we ate this on Tuesday night.
  • To make brown rice a little more interesting I chop and sauté an onion in the rice pot first, and add the rice and water or stock if I have some to give it more flavor. Once it is done I toss in some dried fruit (chopped apricots, raisins, craisins, etc.), cover and let it stand for 10 minutes. I might also add some slivered almonds at the very end but since this dish already has those in the fish I’d say we are good to go!
  • Before prepping the fish I got my asparagus ready with salt, pepper, and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. They cook at the same temperature as the fish, so I just put them in a few minutes early for a total of 15-20 minutes.
  • Since we didn’t serve this dish with spinach I just followed steps 1-3 and served the fish with lemon wedges…or wish I’d served the fish with lemon wedges but I forgot to put lemon on my list and had to substitute orange instead. Perfectly good, but I like the lemon version more.

Wednesday: Mini Meatloaves with Green Beans & Potatoes

  • I love this meal! Eating Well did a whole week of sheet pan recipes that I think are genius. Individual meatloaves are great because they cook so much faster and can be a good weeknight meal. And I actually followed this recipe pretty much as is, so no notes from me.

Thursday: Egg-in-a-Hole with Chard & Bacon

  • This is one of those recipes I used as inspiration but definitely did not follow, so fair warning.
  • I cooked the bacon first, poured most of the fat out, transferred the bacon to a plate with paper towels, and used the bacon pan to sauté the chard. Saving on dishes, yes please!
  • I added balsamic vinegar to the chard at the end rather than red wine vinegar for more flavor.
  • I skipped the bread toasting step and just brushed each piece with a little bacon fat, put them on a well greased pan, and filled each hole with chard, a little shredded sharp cheddar cheese and an egg. The bread toasted nicely in the oven anyway so it all worked out. Brinner is served!

Friday: Pasta Primaverawith optional Chicken Sausage

  • I don’t like super creamy pasta dishes or alfredo sauce, but this kind of light pasta dish with tons of veggies is something I love.
  • We, and by we I mean Travis, grilled some chicken sausage to have on the side.

Week 2: Back to the dark ages

When I was doing our menu planning this week our internet was down. And since free time and baby naps are hard to come by, I went the old fashioned route and used actual physical recipes. My husband created an awesome recipe binder in which I’ve been collecting recipes over the years. Flipping through it I found some great recipes from Cooking Light that I had never had the chance to try before. One thing I love about their quick dinners is that they include the main dish and all the sides, so everything is done for you. Enjoy! Menu Plan & Grocery List

Week 2 menu

Monday: Sausage, Cannellini, and Tomato Ragout with Rosemary Parmesan Polenta and Broccoli

  • Like I’ve said, we eat a lot in this household so I doubled the recipe. We had enough for dinner, lunch the next day a little more to spare which is quite a feat! The grocery list only has enough for the original recipe but with an extra can of beans and diced tomatoes, it was super easy to do.
  • When I buy canned goods if possible I try to buy the “no salt added” version. Both the tomatoes and beans for this recipe were “no salt added”.
  • Since my herb garden is not quite there yet, I used dried oregano rather than buying fresh. For 2 tsp fresh I would use ¾ tsp dried, and add it in with the garlic and tomato paste instead.

Tuesday: Spanish Tortilla with Spinach & Lettuce Salad

  • Some recipes take healthy too far and this is one of them. I am not wild about egg whites and also don’t really like to waste food, so instead of doing 6 eggs and 4 egg whites, I did a total of 8 whole eggs.
  • I also had some red potatoes on hand and found it pretty quick to dice them up and quickly steam them in the microwave myself. I leave the skin on for extra fiber and because when they are diced I really don’t notice the difference. But it is also very easy to buy frozen diced potatoes. The grocery list has fresh potatoes but do as you wish.
  • I used 1 tsp dried time to substitute for the 1 Tbsp fresh.
  • I prefer fresh spinach to cooked so I just made a green salad with spinach to go along with our dinner. Also saved me the time of having to chop the spinach!

Wednesday: Indian-Spiced Lamb Kebabs with Whole Wheat Pita and Raita

  • We used the leftover pita from last week so we didn’t have to buy any more. I try to do that when I remember so things like that don’t get lost in the back of our fridge or freezer.
  • To go with the kebabs I made a cucumber raita with 1 ½ cups greek yogurt, ½ cup finely diced English cucumber, ¼ chopped mint, and a pinch of salt.

Thursday: Spaghetti with Asparagus (see directions below)

  • My mom had an amazing garden when I was growing up, still does I am just not around to enjoy it, so come springtime we would eat asparagus every day for about a month. We had several tried and true favorites that kept asparagus season interesting and delicious and this is one of them.
  • With the extra spinach and lettuce from the Spanish Tortilla I made a quick green salad and threw in some extra veggies we had laying around.

Boil water and cook spaghetti.  Chop asparagus into 1” pieces. Chop 4 cloves garlic. Heat a frying pan with 4 Tbsp oil or butter. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then add asparagus and 4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 8 Tbsp lemon juice, salt a pepper. Cover and steam until the asparagus are cooked. Mix with spaghetti and serve with parmesan cheese.

Friday: Orange-Glazed Salmon with Olive Quinoa and Salad with Orange

  • To go with the salmon and quinoa I made a simple green salad that I topped with the remaining orange segments from the recipe and homemade salad dressing.

What this blog is about

Hi! I’m Victoria, a stay at home mom who loves to eat, cook and yes, menu plan. I don’t always love the actual menu planning process of deciding what to eat each week, but I do love the end results. A fridge stocked with good food, only having to go to the grocery store once a week, and not having to worry about what to eat every night. Call me a dork, my brother certainly does, but I’ve been menu planning since I graduated from college and had to start cooking for myself everyday. I was working for a non-profit at the time teaching this exact thing so I decided to put my money where my mouth was. After a few years of work I was inspired to go to grad school to get my Masters in Public Health, Nutrition. Now, I am enjoying family life and trying to find ways to make what I do in my daily life fulfill my passion for public health and the whole reason I went back to school in the first place. So here we are.

This blog will include weekly meal plans as well as a shopping list. Since it is the meal plan I did with my family the week before, you will also get my notes on what I changed, added, and would do differently. Most of my recipes come from my favorite cooking magazine, Eating Well, conveniently based in my hometown of Charlotte, VT. They have a lot of quick, easy and healthy weeknight meals. We cook enough dinner with the goal of having leftovers for lunch the next day. This may be more than your family needs, so adjust accordingly. I will also say that I don’t follow recipes completely, or sometimes at all, and often take shortcuts and substitute ingredients. I will try my best to explain what I did and why but feel free to do your own thing or just follow the recipe as is. This is not a cooking blog, so I won’t be teaching you how to cook or posting step-by-step pictures. There are plenty of those already and I promise to never cook anything technical enough to require so many pictures and explanations! In my grocery list I will assume you have general staples like salt, pepper, oil and salad dressing. I will always substitute out mushrooms. Both my husband and I dislike them, mostly a texture thing, so if that is a deal breaker for you then I’m sorry. I think that is it. We eat lots of veggies and whole grains, love brinner, eat a LOT and just about everything and don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Enjoy!

Victoria

Week 1: Meatless Tuesdays

Meatless Mondays are definitely a thing, but this week we are doing Meatless Tuesday. My husband commented that Mondays are already kind of a bummer, so why make them worse.

Below is our menu for the week along with the grocery list and changes I made when cooking dinner each night. Enjoy this week’s dinner plan! Meatless Tuesday Dinner Plan & Grocery List

Menu

Monday: Chicken Shawarma with whole wheat pita bread

  • For the yogurt sauce, I used 1 cup greek yogurt instead of ¼ cup and kept all the other ingredients the same. I always love yogurt sauce, the more the merrier, so I stretched it out a bit.

Tuesday: Kale Salad with Spiced Tofu and Chickpeas

  • I always press the water out of my tofu before using it. I find it browns better. Just put it on a cutting board over a sink and weigh it down with a cast iron skillet or something heavy for 20+ minutes.
  • I will stay that when my husband heard what was for dinner he ask, “have I done something wrong?” On paper this is his idea of punishment, but he claims to have really enjoyed it. Either that or he loves me a lot and will eat anything I cook. TBD.

Wednesday: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops with Hoppin’ John & Corn Bread (see recipe below)

  • I used 2 cans of black-eyed peas instead of 1 so we could have some leftover. Super yummy! I usually find black-eyed peas to be very bland, but this was a pleasant surprise.

Corn Bread: ¾ cup corn meal, 1 ½ cups all purpose flour (I usually do ½ white whole wheat instead), ¼ cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, ¼ cup vegetable oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Grease 8 or 9-inch round pan
  3. Mix dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients until dry ingredients are moist.
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday: Grilled Halibut Salad Nicoise

  • My husband does not consider a salad dinner, but with fish, potatoes and some veggies this is hardly a salad. Definitely a complete meal in my book and he either indulges me or agrees.
  • I hardly follow a recipe here and just keep everything super simple. Steam the beans and potatoes, prep the tomatoes and olives, grill the fish, make my own dressing and call it done. I serve it all over a bed of dressed lettuce and pour more dressing on all the individual ingredients. I leave out the hardboiled eggs since I can neither stand the smell nor the taste, so that helps keep the recipe simple too.
  • Since I don’t like raw garlic and wanted to speed things up a bit I used my go to Dijon vinaigrette. 1:1:2 dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. Simple and traditional on a nicoise salad.

Friday: Gnocchi with Zucchini and Parsley Brown Butter & optional grilled meat

  • I never boil my gnocchi. Instead I brown them in olive oil so they don’t end up quite so mushy. Once they are brown I take them out and use the skillet to cook the rest of the meal and add them back in at the end.
  • Since I don’t like fresh tomatoes, and because canned ones are usually better than winter tomatoes anyway, I use canned diced tomatoes instead. Another time saver too.