Archive for Meals

Hello Home Cooking

I like the idea of meal planning (as evidenced here, here and here). I do not like the process of going to multiple stores for this that and the other thing. In addition, I do not like wasting excess ingredients.

Who wants a bottle of Champagne Vinegar sitting around for a year after you’ve used 2 tablespoons? Chances are, that bottle has been pushed to the back of the pantry never to be seen again. The day you find it, you’ll throw it away. That very next week, some recipe will call for it and you’ll start the whole process over again…

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WIAW: Back in The Game


I’m finally feeling a bit more like myself these days! For example, I made the bed for the first time in almost 2 months the past two days! Hey folks, it’s the little things ūüôā

I’ve been very aware of what I’ve been eating in these absent weeks but seem to always forget to capture one thing or another so then I am easily discouraged and decide not to post. Then there is the waning energy aspect. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t seem to stomach getting to the computer and writing out a post.

BUT I’m feeling like a human again and wanted to share with everyone my edibles for the day. As is my usual, here are Tuesdays eats…slightly pieced together, but all documented.

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Meal Planning Trial & Error…So Many Errors

Emeals Months 1 & 2

A while back I recounted some of our more recent Meal Planning adventures.

Over the past month, we have been using emeals to plan our menu and grocery list.

Emeals is a service that emails you a menu and grocery list each week. This menu is according to a meal plan you selected. There are dozens of plans you can select.

  • Paleo
  • Vegetarian
  • Slow Cooker
  • Gluten-Free
  • Clean Eating
  • Budget Friendly

Plus you can select to have a 2 person plan or a family plan!

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Meal Planning as a To Do

Every day

Every weekend

Meal planning

Always an item on my To-Do list or task list.

  • Sometimes this task is as simple as looking at the menu, making the meal and maybe thawing something for the next day. Ideally, while always on the menu on our Bulletin Board in the kitchen would also all be written in my planner.

Meal Planning Menu

  • Other times this task is full blown Meal Planning for the week or month ahead. This process is ultimately the same
    • Length of planning period
    • Menu Creation
    • Grocery List
    • Grocery Shopping

Meal Planning

General Meal Planning Scenario


As I mentioned before, we tried meal planning for a whole month for two months in a row and it worked very well when purging the pantry and freezer. This was more difficult when working with a weekly system such as emeals. Ultimately, I think the data (if I’d been collecting it back then..hint hint!) would show we (me, personally) are more successful at monthly planning than weekly planning when it comes to actually eating what we plan. [Currently, I will be planning and C will be cooking.]


Sometime between Thursday and Sunday late afternoon I sit down with the computer and a menu print out. I use the same one every week if I am planning for the week or this one if it is for the month. I simply made something quick and easy in excel that would work for us.

If I am freely planning, I look at websites for inspiration like this (however, I always make these recipes with whole ingredients or leave the ingredient out) or this and select a few recipes to try. If either of us has gotten an email with an interesting recipe then maybe that will make it into the menu as well.

If I’m planning to use what we have in the pantry and/or freezer, I search for meals using the item we have the most of…this is how I found our recipe for quinoa enchiladas¬†(abundance of quinoa!). This next time, we have a TON of gluten-free pasta…bring on the Cheesy Squashy Pasta!

  • This method works well when planning for a week or a month. Works best when your freezer is stocked with meat and/or veggies and convenience foods.

If I’m utilizing emeals, I print out the menus emailed to me on Wednesday and select 4-6 meals to cook for the week. I don’t cook the shrimp dishes…or the overly exotic ones. I select the meals and add them to the menu for the week along with lunches.


Next, I generate a grocery list based on what we have and what we need for the items planned. If I am free planning, I simply add the ingredients I know we don’t have from the recipes I selected and anything else I want to make that week.

If I am working on purging the freezer and pantry, I work hard to make a minimal list. ¬†I have no problem buying ingredients to make the recipes, but the goal isn’t to go overboard and it isn’t to restock the supply. For example, if we’re having stroganoff because we need to use up the egg noodles and sour cream we have, we hopefully do not need to buy either of those ingredients to complete the meal. These are generally simple meals so the monthly list that is generated is small and budget friendly since we can purchase items for the month as they go on sale.

With emeals I work through the grocery list they¬†send me. There is an app that goes with emeals and this will generate your menu and grocery list based on what you select automatically but I found this to be too overwhelming. I learn and remember best when I write things down so I go through the printed grocery list and write down what we need. I forget to look at the staples needed for recipes so occasionally things didn’t go as planned for dinner.

Once, ¬†I tried to streamline the grocery list and shopping process by making this comprehensive shopping list. It was similar to this one. I could just check off what I needed to purchase from the master list and it was so organized…but again, I’d end up forgetting too many things because I never physically wrote it down. It may have also been too organized? Often, I can remember the list contents even if I’ve forgotten the list if it was a handwritten list.



Regardless of the method of planning or grocery list contents, I will often end up going to at least two stores during the week, often two that weekend. For example, there are some things that are most reasonably priced at Costco as opposed to Fred Meyer. In addition , there are things that are cheaper at Whole Foods than they are at Fred Meyer or the local fresh markets.

I have not generally had a grocery budget to stay within but try to be cognizant of what items cost and making sure I am paying as little as possible for them. This will all change sooooon!


Bagel Brain

Bagels have been on my brain the past few weeks. awhile ago I saw a post on This Pilgrim Life about making your own bagels. I decided I would try it and bought the ingredients.

Well, I didn’t make them then. Two weeks ago, I decided to make bagels and googled “How to Make Bagels at home”…choosing one of the first listings.

Rising Bagels Read More →

Turkey Brie Wraps


Turkey Brie Wrap

Recipe adapted from by Lauren. This is my favorite lunch we’ve tried from our subscription to emeals. I adapted it slightly to suit our food tolerances and to improve the wrap structure.


4-6 oz Turkey Breast or Turkey Lunch Meat

4 Thin slices of Brie Cheese

1-1 1/2 tsp of stone ground whole grain mustard

1/2 c or more more Spring Mix

1/2 tsp honey

1 flour or gluten -free tortilla


  1. Lay tortilla flat on plate or cutting board
  2. Spread mustard in a thin layer
  3. Follow with 1/2 turkey
  4. Drizzle turkey with honey
  5. Top with spring mix
  6. Arrange Brie cheese slices as evenly as possible
  7. The final layer is the remainder of the turkey breast
  8. Carefully wrap tortilla and cut in half.
  9. Enjoy!

This goes extremely well with some sweet potato chips and strawberries for a well rounded lunch!




Meal Planning…Fails

Do you plan a weekly/monthly/yearly menu?

We try…well, I try. There are days where I crave knowing what will come next and what I need to do about it. There are also days where I do not want a single thing (even a list) to tell me what to do.


In the past we have tried several different meal planning strategies.

  • Menu Planning/Menu Board: Back when Pinterest was brand new, I saw a really adorable menu board that we instantly copied and worked hard to write up our meals on little cards and affix to the clothespins. I can’t help but think that if it was as cute and professional as this one¬†we would have been more successful. We wouldn’t have been, let’s be honest.
  • Weekly menu planning: This is a lofty goal that I always hope to be good at…I even made our own printable. I have found that meal planning in general requires setting aside dedicated time to write things down and plan. I don’t do so well with dedicated planning time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 7.46.00 PM

  • Monthly meal planning: This we were modestly successful with…for almost 2 months! I was fiddling around on the internet and ran across Raising Up Rubies post on yearly meal planning. Yes, that was way too much work and an over-commitment for me, BUT I thought I could do a month. Plus, the printable at the end of the post was motivating. I was working between recipes on this awesome blog¬†(go soon and make all of her delicious¬†recipes!) and this, equally awesome blog¬†(I am¬†a million years behind on the Pioneer Woman greatness) and it was working well! I was enjoying it and so was C. Then, we ran out of our freezer stock, we’d greatly reduced our pantry stock, life during massive renovations calmed down, and we decided to change how we were eating. I failed…again…
  • “Eat what I want for dinner on the day I want it with no plan” plan: THIS is the best plan for us…its also the most expensive and results in way too much food waste¬†since we have no plan and then generally have no dinner at home.

How many have you tried? What is successful for you and your family?