creating a meal plan

There are many, many valuable reasons out there to create a meal plan every week. It saves you from making multiple trips to the grocery store, ensures that you don’t buy groceries you don’t need (which saves money and translates to less food waste), and also means that the “what are we having for dinner” thoughts at 5:00pm are eliminated. Which is one of the worst thoughts ever, don’t you think? It is definitely the thought that makes me lean towards going out or grabbing take-out on the way home.

I’m going to show you how I create my weekly meal plan and subsequent grocery list – I hope that you will share your tips if you are a meal planner, or if you aren’twhat is holding you back from being one!

Step One: create an outline of dinners:

  • 1 new recipe (from a cookbook, pinterest, etc.)
  • 1-2 simple: rotisserie chicken or some other similarly easy meal
  • 1 fish
  • 1-2 pasta night (or stir-fry, taco, pizza, crock pot, etc.)
  • 1-2 open nights (for going out, take out, dinner with friends, etc.

*if you don’t plan specific veggies with the meals, be sure to pick up a few fresh and frozen vegetables for dinners

Step Two: create a list of the standard breakfast & lunches:

  • eggs, cereal, oats, frozen waffles, toast, yogurt
  • sandwich supplies, salads, frozen meals

I go really simple on the outline – no fancy paper or spreadsheet – just a sheet of paper so that it can be easily changed.

Step Three: create the shopping list. Be sure to include staples in your list (not having garlic for a recipe is horrifying)!

Step Four: go shopping, and do as much meal prep as you can ahead of time! Sometimes paying a little extra for vegetables that are already cleaned and ready to go can make a huge difference in how much time it will take to you prepare the meal. Or if you have time on the weekends, you can prep vegetables and make grains before the week gets busy.

Step Five: eat and enjoy your home cooked meals!

Or, I’ll do it all for you. :)

Do you plan out your meals every week? What does your process look like? 

spring chicken salad

Southern California is known for its lack of real seasons, and I hear time and time again, “I just could never live without the change of seasons.” To which I reply with, “Yes, I know. Seventy-five and sunny most of the year is awful.” :)

I might miss the seasons (fall and spring only) at some point, but I haven’t noticed yet – I’ve been enjoying the weather just the way it is.

But now that spring has arrived for the rest of the world, it is time to embrace all of the lovely spring foods and produce.

This Spring Chicken Salad is wonderful – it has the bright and light flavors that we love in the spring and is so versatile – serve it over greens, on toasted bread, in a wrap or even mixed into pasta salad! I hear scooping it straight of the bowl with crackers is also delicious…

The inspiration came from Bon Appetit’s Three Pea Chicken Salad – I wouldn’t have thought to add peas to chicken salad on my own, but it was such a wonderful addition. I’m hooked! As an added bonus, this recipe is on the lighter side, without tasting anything like it. Greek yogurt replaces most of the mayonnaise but it isn’t evident at all, in case you live with someone who doesn’t like greek yogurt like me. :)

 

Spring Chicken Salad

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 5 min

 

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 1 small leek
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 Tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (7 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley

Instructions

Slice leek in half length-wise.

Rinse out with cold water.

Thinly slice leek and shallot.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.

Add leek and shallots, sauteing for about 3 minutes.

Add peas and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk together greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and season with salt & pepper.

In a large bowl combine sauce, chicken, leek mixture and parsley.

Chill for at least a half-hour before serving.

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daily eats: 4.2.12

Is it really April? I’m still not convinced.

Coffee: I started with some coffee + 1/2 & 1/2 but just wasn’t feeling the coffee so switched to some green tea. Some days that happens – I have no idea why.

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Breakfast: I hadn’t had eggs in a few days so I was craving them. Eggs and toast is probably what I would consider my standard/favorite meal to be – anytime of the day! I never get sick of it. Yesterday I had, sourdough rye bread + earth balance + 2 eggs.

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I had a busy day of work, spring cleaning and prepping for an exciting interview – cross your fingers!

Workout: This really isn’t a “workout” but I wanted to move a little (but didn’t feel like actually working out) so I went for a short walk to pick up  a few things at Whole Foods. (1.5 miles) The weather in LA was absolutely gorgeous – it felt so good to be outside!

Lunch: Vegetables were, uh, lacking this past weekend so I was needing produce in my life! I had an apple while putting everything together.

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Salad: mixed greens + blue cheese + nuts + dried cranberries + champagne viniagrette.

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Side: bowl of kale sauteed with coconut oil.

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Snack: 2 cups of Movie Theatre Popcorn from Trader Joe’s. I love my popcorn. :)

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At about 6pm I decided I should do my taxes – normally I get them done right away in February, but I’ve been putting them off, mainly because I thought it was going to be a huge pain this year, but it really wasn’t. I have two small glitches to work through and then they are done! (Let’s hope the “small” glitches are just that)!

Taxes –> Wine!

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Dinner: One of our go-to meals of late has been turkey meatballs (Trader Joe’s) with marinara. I usually serve mine over greens or vegetables instead of pasta because I never miss the pasta and I’d rather eat really good pasta than average pasta.

kale + 4 turkey meatballs + marinara + green beans

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 And 2 ginger chews to finish the night off!

Have you done your taxes? Please tell me I’m not the only procrastinator!

 

simple & healthy: sausage & peppers

I hope you all are enjoying my simple & healthy meal ideas. The whole purpose is to give you meal ideas that are delicious and nutritious while at the same time satisfying your family and going from the kitchen to table in less than 30 minutes.

Todays meal, Sausage & Peppers, is one that you can go in many different directions with. Richie loves it over pasta, I’m a huge fan of it stuffed in bread, but you could also serve it over brown rice or even use it as a pizza topping or in a calzone.

Serve with a fresh side salad for a complete meal.

The process is fast and simple:

  1. Prepare grain component if necessary.
  2. Grill or saute sausage, slicing after grilling or before sautéing.
  3. Saute peppers, onions and other vegetables, sliced into bite size pieces.
  4. Top with “extra flavor” if desired.

Grain:

  • brown rice
  • whole grain pasta (or a whole grain/white blend)
  • sub roll
  • on pizza dough or wrapped in it for a calzone

Protein:

  • chicken sausage
  • pork or blend sausage
  • veggie sausage

Vegetables:

  • bell peppers
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • spinach (thrown in at the last minute to quickly wilt)

Extra Flavor:

  • marinara sauce
  • roasted or canned tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese
  • smoked mozzarella cheese