Meal Plan Monday: finding my groove

This week’s meal plan included some incredibly delicious meals! I focused on easy meals that would create lots of leftovers and they turned out amazing.

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Sunday: Zucchini Lasagna

Monday: Chicken Foil Packets

Tuesday: Potato Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Thursday: Chicken Sausage with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Friday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with roasted broccoli Leftovers

Sunday– this was one of the few meals that took a bit of preparation. Alex was home and helped me slice the zucchini and brown the meat so I could make the tofu ricotta. Once all the components were prepped I assembled this lasagna by layering sliced zucchini, pasta sauce, ground beef and tofu ricotta in layers. This recipe would work, only I used store bought sauce and tofu ricotta instead of cashew ricotta.

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Monday– This was probably one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time. I threw the chicken in the foil packet with artichokes and Italian dressing and prepared brown rice on the side. Let it all cook and voila! Foil Packets for the win.

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Tuesday– I felt like a cheater not making a “main dish” to accompany the potato salad but then I decided I didn’t care and served everyone some of our Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs with the salad. We all loved the pickles in this recipe!

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WednesdayThis recipe took a little work to make the dressing but it was totally worth it. Homemade Caesar dressing > store bought! At the last minute I decided not to toss in the Romaine lettuce and added roasted broccoli instead. Because roasted broccoli is > Romaine! We had tons of leftovers of this meal which is awesome for lunches. And both the girls totally chowed down. Given they haven’t had pasta in months I am not surprised!

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Thursday– Our go to week night meal. I worked an extra shift Thursday night so Alex was on his own to make dinner and feed the girls. Chicken sausage with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is one of our favorite 30 minute or less meals and the girls love it! We use Aidell’s Chicken Sausage in this meal. The apple flavor is especially good with sweet potatoes.

Friday– I really didn’t want to cook at all but resisted the urge to go out to eat. This is why having a meal plan is so key. Having everything I need in the fridge ready to go helps motivate me to stick to the plan. I pulled myself off the couch and tossed in all the veggies to roast in preparation for these veggie burgers and then my oven malfunctioned. I still have no idea what happened although the landlord claims it is fixed. In 10 minutes in the oven my vegetables looked like this. Not burned so much as smoked with toxic gas and fumes. Dinner fail. So instead we ate all the leftovers and carrots and guac and some pickles on the side. I was upset we wasted food, but even more upset that I wasted the energy to wash, peel and chop all the veggies!

Here is my weekly grocery list for the week including everything I needed to make these meals plus all the extras we use for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

  • 1 lb Organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 packages Aidell’s Smoked Apple Chicken Sausage
  • 4 lbs Organic chicken breast (split between two meals)
  • bacon
  • 2 18 pack eggs
  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 6 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • basil
  • Brussels sprouts
  • ~4 lbs broccoli
  • 6 lbs bananas (we eat a ton of bananas!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • extra light tasting olive oil (for mayo/Caesar dressing)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Romaine
  • baby carrots (2 lbs)
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • lemons
  • 3 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • bread and butter pickles
  • dill pickle spears
  • anchovies
  • artichoke hearts quartered
  • walnuts
  • Italian dressing
  • gluten free pasta
  • frozen sweet peas
  • frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • cashew milk
  • dishwasher soap

Our shopping total this week through Walmart online was $144. I am proud to say that we only ventured into Publix once this week and that was for a box of cereal, more milk, and a bottle of wine. I think staying out of the grocery store is going to be my number one way to stick to the budget in the coming weeks! Especially with fall approaching and all the pumpkin flavored everything!

 

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Maybe you know this trick. Maybe I’m late to the game. But in all my google searching I never came across this until my sister-in-law taught me. So for all those wondering, let me share with you the best life hack ever…

perfect hard boiled egg

This process is not mind-blowing or difficult in anyway. Here are the five easy steps to make the perfect hard boiled eggs. The kind that slip right out of the shell and have the perfect yellow inside.

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Step 1: Bring eggs to room temperature. This means setting them out 4-5 hours before you plan to boil them.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil first.

Step 3: Carefully place eggs in boiling water using a slotted spoon.

Step 4: Boil for exactly 11 minutes.

Step 5: Drain and rinse with cold water until completely cool

Done. This process takes a little preparation to set out the eggs well before you need to cook them. I previously made boiled eggs by placing in water first and then bringing water to a boil. Dropping eggs in boiling water can be dangerous and you risk breaking one, but it is made easier by using the spoon to guide the eggs into the water.

The result is a perfectly cooked egg with a yellow center and a shell that slides right off the egg. You are welcome!

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Meal Plan Monday: I’m tired of cooking

I’m worn out with meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping and cooking. I’m not sure if it’s this terrible heat, lack of inspiration or just simple laziness. I have been reaching for easy and quick meals lately to get us through this spell. Here is a quick look at last week’s meal planning.

Sunday: Sweet potato and turkey sausage hash with eggs

Monday: Spaghetti squash casserole

Tuesday: Hamburgers and roasted potatoes

Wednesday: Crockpot BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes

Thursday: Greek Chicken Salads

Friday: Burgers and Fumi Salad with friends

Saturday: Birthday party

Our menu is lacking in vegetables! I have been counting potatoes as vegetables a few too many times this summer. I justify it by packing the girls’ smoothies full of spinach and carrots. Honestly summer should feature a bounty of vegetables in the meal plan but despite the abundance available I am lacking inspiration. To me it is just one more thing that I must prep and cook. Maybe I will try to mix it up a bit next week.

Sunday I planned to make a giant frittata with a side of hash but wound up taking the easy way out by just frying eggs and topping the sweet potato and ground turkey sausage hash. It is a quick and easy breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal. We don’t use any recipe but just season the potatoes and turkey with fennel seed, salt, pepper and garlic.

Monday I once again changed my plan. I intended to make meatballs but ended up mixing the ground beef and tomato sauce and cooked spaghetti squash with a couple eggs and baked as a casserole ala this recipe.

Tuesday we made simple burgers with a side of roasted potatoes. I chose to cut the potatoes a little different to make them a bit more crispy and it was perfect!

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On Wednesday morning I loaded the crockpot with our favorite BBQ sauce and chicken breasts and let it cook all morning before shredding the chicken and topping baked sweet potatoes for dinner.

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Thursday I marinated chicken breasts in this Greek marinade and cooked on the stove top then sliced and topped salads of romaine, olives, artichoke hearts and cucumbers. The girls had a deconstructed salad with all the ingredients minus the romaine.

Friday we had an impromptu dinner with our friends. I had originally planned to make lasagna but instead we brought the ground beef to grill burgers. I ran out to grab the ingredients for Fumi salad and tossed together right before heading to our friend’s house. We also had a delicious corn salad and an ice cream bar for dessert that night.

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I didn’t have to plan dinner on Saturday since we had a fun Olympics themed birthday party to attend. We ate burgers and hotdogs and all the party sides. We definitely had a burger-heavy week but I’m ok with that. It’s summer food.

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We spent $134 on groceries at Walmart this week but we also popped into grocery stories throughout the week to pick up odds and ends like deli meat and bananas. We probably spent upwards of $175 on groceries this week. I mentioned it last week but we’d really like to start eating more vegetarian meals but I’m nervous about what we can add to the girls’ diets right now. We finally had Eleanor allergy tested and are hoping that we will have a better idea after we receive the results. If it turns out she isn’t allergic to anything then we will begin adding in more foods like beans and soy.

Here is our Walmart grocery list: Grocery List 8-15

What are your go to summer meals? Where do you reach for inspiration when you grow weary of cooking and meal planning?

Meal Plan Monday- Letting go of the Whole 30

MEAL PLAN

We are done with the Whole 30 and opening up the menu to a few new foods while still trying to maintain our healthy eating ways. Quite honestly healthy meals have never been the problem for us, it is all the snacking in between. This week alone I think we managed to eat ice cream four times! But all that is beside the point…here is last week’s eats:

Sunday: Turkey Tacos

Monday: Dinner out at Smoke Modern BBQ

Tuesday: Dinner out at Duckworth’s

Wednesday: Buffalo Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Thursday: Cauliflower Fried Rice

Friday: Crockpot Salsa Chicken Salads

Saturday: Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sunday was the most relaxing day I have had in quite some time. Alex didn’t have to work and I really stepped back and let him handle most kid duties all day. We attended church and a birthday party and yet it still felt like a day off for me. He cooked all the meals and changed all the diapers. A quick meal of ground turkey tacos made it easy for him to do all the things. No recipe, just ground turkey, taco seasoning, salsa, lettuce and tomato.

Because of our unexpected Staycation we ended up eating way more than normal. I had originally planned to make spaghetti squash and meat sauce for Monday night’s dinner. Instead I cooked it ahead and brought it to the hotel with us so we would all have food for lunch the next day without having to eat out.


Wednesday I used up the rest of our sauce from the Buffalo Chicken recipe last week. I also made another batch of Dump Ranch and piled shredded carrots, tofu and diced tomatoes into a lettuce wrap. On the side I made sweet potatoes (surprise, surprise).


Thursday‘s dinner was a mash up by Alex and me. I prepared the cauliflower rice in the food processor ahead of time (so stinky!) and he fried it up with a few eggs, peas and carrots and Coconut Aminos. It’s a quick and easy meal and we make it so frequently that it is more a “throw together” sort of dish. But if you are looking for a recipe try this great one: Cauliflower Fried Rice

Friday was another family staple. We love this quick dish and it is another “throw together” meal. I toss chicken breasts in the crockpot with a can of salsa and slow cook all day. We use the chicken to top a salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, guacamole and pico de gallo. Sometimes I will also grill up peppers and onions to include. We call this our “Chipotle at Home” meal.



Saturday was a crowd favorite. I used this Sloppy Joe recipe and just stuffed it inside a sweet potato. Can you see how much we love sweet potatoes around here? Fun fact: with both my pregnancies I could not stomach sweet potatoes. I couldn’t even look at a raw one without gagging a little. They are and always have been my favorite food except for those strange and hormonal periods of time.


I have found a great way to meal plan each week. I start on Pinterest where I surf through my Made it and Loved it, Dinner Ideas, and Whole 30 dinner boards. I then pick meals based on the meat (I try not to repeat meats too many times in a week) and cost. I repin the chosen recipes under my board This Week. I rarely use cook books anymore and rely solely on Pinterest for meal ideas. This system allows me to quickly find the recipes I need or to pass off cooking to Alex because he knows where to go to find the recipes. Once I have pulled up all my chosen recipes for the week, I hop over to grocery.walmart.com where I order our weekly groceries and choose a pick up time. Most of the time I order groceries Friday night and pick up on Saturday morning after I leave the gym. This cuts back on eating out on weekends because our kitchen is stocked.

Last week’s grocery bill came in right at $95. We also spent about $50 at Target on other foods like milk, lemons, apples, tomato sauce and cereal. On top of that we spent about $100 eating out last week so it was a very expensive week of meals! I’m still working on getting our budget down but even this week’s Walmart bill is $145 and it’s still possible I will need to pick up supplies for lunches and snacks. I think a more realistic target would be $150 and I will just need to be diligent.

What is your weekly grocery budget and how many mouths are you feeding? I swear our girls eat more than Alex and me! They are and always have been amazing eaters.

4 Ways to Use Collagen

disclaimer: affiliate links contained in this post.

4 ways to use collagenMy sister-in-law turned me on to Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate nearly a year ago and I have been having fun finding new ways to sneak it into my diet. What I love about using collagen hydrolysate for protein is that it has absolutely no flavor and dissolves in cold or hot liquids. It also tends to mix into just about anything without altering the texture or consistency. It’s just about as pure as protein comes so I feel good about serving it to the girls as well. And while I use it primarily for it’s benefit as a protein, I also love that collagen can boost healthy skin, hair and nails. I’m not sure if it will erase all my wrinkles, but I like to imagine it’s helping to prevent new ones!

1. Protein Coconut Oil Chocolate

I use one tablespoon (5 grams protein) of Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate (green can) mixed into one tablespoon coconut oil, one tablespoon cocoa powder and sea salt to make a rich, protein filled treat. I split the mixture between two silicone muffin molds and freeze for a few minutes until solid. It is the perfect pick-me-up in the afternoon and has less than 200 calories! If you are not accustomed to dark, dark chocolate like I am, add a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey or make into a peanut butter cup with a teaspoon of almond butter or peanut butter in the middle.

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2. Bulletproof Coffee

Stop me if this name is trademarked somewhere, but this has quickly become a staple in our home. I blend one and a half cups brewed dark roast coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil, one teaspoon ghee or unsalted butter and two tablespoons Great Lakes Gelatin (green can) on high speed until light and frothy. If my coffee becomes too cool and the froth is all gone, I’ll reheat in the microwave and pour back into the blender and froth again. Delicious!

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3. Smoothies

For a protein-packed smoothie without all the added junk in a protein powder, I use two or more tablespoons Great Lakes Gelatin (green can) with frozen fruit, coconut water and spinach. Occasionally I will toss in a few baby carrots and half an avocado for an even more nutrient dense meal. The girls love this for breakfast or lunch and I prefer to make mine thick and pour into a bowl and cover with toppings like almond butter and toasted coconut flakes.

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4. Paleo Pie

About once a year I’ll bake a pie. Usually right after strawberry picking in the spring. I use a crust of coconut flour and coconut oil or butter and a mix of cooked strawberries and gelatin for the filling. For the top I refrigerate a can of coconut milk until thick and whip into a frosting. It is my belief that if you use the Great Lakes Gelatin orange can that it will turn your strawberries into a jelly filling like a traditional pie. Give it a try!

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Have you used collagen? What are some of your favorite uses?