Weekly Meal Plan 3/23-3/29

Another weekend behind us and 5 days of grind to get to the next one, but the next one has a date night in it!!! Wahootie! Mr. Little Sis and I will actually be leaving our house without our children and our beloved sitter (who is a kindergarten teacher, and yes that’s perfect and no, you can’t have her) will be entertaining the dynamic duo. We intend to eat something somewhere and then going to a singer songwriter coffeehouse. Perfecto. Spring is springing and now I am too.

Monday: Not Just Kramer’s Mulligatawny Soup, Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, green salad

Tuesday: Nofredo Orzo, roasted cauliflower, cut veggies

Wednesday: Lentil Bulgur Burgers, Oven Fries, green salad

Thursday: Oven Cooked Asparagus with quinoa and Mung Bean Sprout Namul (Spring has Sprung!!)

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Date Night – That’s right I said DATE NIGHT!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Lemon Jots

Adult Lunches: big giant salads with sauerkraut and miso dressing – don’t judge, it’s awesome

  

Here’s hoping Spring has really sprung where you are. Today was the first day our resident woodpeckers passed up the bird feeders in favor of pecking on actual trees, I imagine in search of actual bugs and stuff rather than seeds. I miss watching them – they are really cool, but I take as a sign that all is right in the world that they don’t need us anymore. Have a great week friends. Eat well, be well!

Weekly Meal Plan 1/26-2/1

As we get another week between us and the holidays, the kids’ resolve to detest everyday living is slipping. There have been some admissions of enjoying school sometimes and the occasional act of unexpected graciousness between siblings. As the weeks pass, we are also entering yet another season of activity. Ms. Picky Pants has started a new dance class and the Gentle Giant is poised to start basketball. They are both clamoring for more activities, but I’m holding steady at one. They also get piano at home. And when’s a kid supposed to play with all those great new Legos anyway?! So it’s a contained kind of chaos, which I’ve concluded is the best kind. ;-)

Regardless of what kind of chaos we find ourselves in, however, we still have to eat. At least I do. I’m sure some people can just skip the occasional meal now and then, but unless I’m doing it for a REALLY good reason (and I can’t think of an example), I am not one of those people. So as we sit, waiting for this snowstorm to actually become something, I better get my act in gear and figure out what we’re having. They are out in the centimeter of snow playing. If it does keep up, they’ll be in it tomorrow too, and they will be hungry. What’s the weather doing in your neck of the woods? Are you planning your meals with the weather in mind?

Monday:  a dairy free version of Broccoli Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian Times), served in whole wheat mini pitas, with sautéed green beans and a green salad

Tuesday: Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Soup,  No Fear Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, chopped veggies

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, steamed broccoli, green salad

Thursday: Warm Asian Noodle Salad (a variation on Big Sis’ version), crispy tofu, chopped veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Potato Pancakes (a la Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), homemade slow cooker applesauce, sauteed spinach, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with red sauce, green salad

Lunchbox Treat: Date Chewies (I’ll share if this works ;-))

Adult Lunches: Leftover miso soup from last week, leftover homemade pizza (yes, It’s DF)

  

Well, there it is, and I’m pretty sure we even have what we need to do this plan until Thursday or so, so if it does snow more than a centimeter and state of Maryland goes into weather related lockdown we should be alright. Hope the weather is giving you joy, or at least not getting in your way. Have a great week! Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 1/19-1/25

Don’t know if you’ve noticed… or if I’ve even mentioned it, but my meal plans rarely go entirely as planned. Truth be told there’s a lot around here that doesn’t go entirely as planned, but I think this has more to do with our family culture than with some sort of underlying deficiency with the plans themselves. I CAN report that even though plans have often required at least one last minute modification, since I’ve been planning our weekly meals there has been 1) a huge reduction in the number of trips to the store which means 2) lower spending on food, and 3) less stress in the critical after school timeframe. I already know what I’m cooking and can work on that while nagging (I mean advising, yeah that’s it advising) about homework and piano practice and hang your coat up and whose sock is that… You can imagine that making a decision in the middle of all that advising could be a little daunting.

This past week, as a result of invitations we could not refuse, our regular Sunday night pasta has not yet been made and eaten. So, the planning and cooking for me is a little lighter than usual as we will return to our regularly scheduled pasta next Sunday. We could eat pasta every night with great pleasure. If this is not true for your family and you’d still like a plan, feel free to peruse plans from past weeks or to scroll through some of our recipes in search of a replacement. Me, I’m glad to be eating it, and even more glad that Mr. Little Sis will be playing chef for all that pasta. I will be taking on some additional paid work this week, so we’ll be relying on a slightly different division of labor, and putting our bare bones 15 year old CrockPot to good use. And so without further ado…

Monday: Homemade Pasta with the Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Tuesday: Miso Soup with Rice Noodles (leftover from last week)

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Herbed Beans and Barley

Thursday: Slow Cooker Burrito filling in taco shells (they’re in love with tacos), chopped veggies and green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Three Sisters Savory Cobbler (from December’s Vegetarian Times) 

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Pesto, green salad

lunchbox treats: Dark Chocolate Dipped Wheat Pretzels

Adult lunches: leftover Nutshroom Burgers from last week

 

In other news for the week, I will continue to attempt to get more sleep as part of my Year of Well-Being, which may be extra hard (and extra necessary) with a loaded schedule. Big challenge ahead. I’ll let you know how it goes… unless I blow it and I’m too tired, in which case I’ll post something like brm;kjasdkhjfklja;hzzzz.  Eat well, be well friends. If you need help with that first one, check out our e-book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Have a great week!

Weekly Meal Plan 1/5-1/11/2015

The hubbub has come to a close. 2014 ended with a giant yawp and a flourish over here. Good friends, good food, good times. After all this merry-making, I confess to being kind of ready to return to business as usual. I suppose that’s part of what all that merry-making is about, right? To rejuvenate, to replenish, to nourish all the parts of us that we ask so much of every day. I have been rejuvenated (in no small part because my fabulous husband insisted I sleep more than usual), replenished and nourished by seeing so many people who I love so dearly. And I have finally thoroughly dispensed with the respiratory part of the plague that has punished our household for the last few weeks. So here we are, the beginning of the beginning of everything else. What better to do at the beginning than to think about what you will eat?

Monday: Spinach Chickpea Burgers, roasted potatoes, sautéed green beans, green salad

Tuesday: Half Raw Veggie Stir Fry on quinoa

Wednesday: Tacos (inspired by a pal I’ll make Thirty Minute Bean and Bulghur Chili but add less tomato so it’s thicker and serve with fixings and taco shells)

Thursday: Lentil Casserole (when Ms. Picky Pants asks for something cheap, easy AND healthy, I make it)

Friday: homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Dinner Out (taking the twins on a day long outing for their upcoming 8th birthday)

Sunday: Homemade Pasta

There it is! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all letting me hold myself accountable by publishing my meal plans. Believe me, there would be a whole lot more last minute winging it around here if I didn’t HAVE to plan. If you’re looking for more information on meal planning, and on planning to improve your health through better food, check out our new E-Book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Eat well, be well friends!

Weekly Menu 12/8-12/14

You thought perhaps it had all caught up with me, all this silly menu planning promising, didn’t you? You thought I’d finally hit the wall. Well… I guess I did, but then I decided to scale it. Aren’t I tough? In truth I didn’t want to plan a menu today any more than I wanted to do laundry or get out of bed; however, I was compelled both by my promise to you and by the fact that I knew if I didn’t do the menu, I likely would continue only to feel worse about doing any of those things. A case of the blahs is not defeated by last minute ill-considered meal consumption, at least it’s not for me. So, with all of that undersell out of the way, I give you the week in food:

 photo f618fbe6-237f-44d3-aa49-4f134f91e5c6.jpgMonday: leftovers – what else can one do when the fridge is full of lots of single servings, the cook is tired, and there’s holiday decorating to be done?!

Tuesday: Shweet Potato Stew, brown bread, pickled carrots, and green salad

Wednesday: Green Bean and Potato Coconut Curry, cucumber slices, green salad

Thursday: Nutshroom Burgers, Sauteed Green Beans, Freezer Pickles, burger fixin’s

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Dinner with Friends – Yay!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach and a green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Sweet Potato Cookies (I will make lots and freeze some for the holiday crowd)

Adult Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup (Gotta keep that immunity up for the holidays!)

 

Hope your week goes swimmingly, or at least treadingly!

Weekly Meal Plan 12/1-12/7

Holy crow where is the time going?! I can’t believe I just typed those dates in… I sincerely hope you all have had a lovely weekend, and if you’re in the U.S. a superb Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our feast, spent some good time together, watched the kids play in the first snowfall and visited with old friends. We’re now working our way through what’s left of the leftovers and trying to get our heads around the fact that Christmas is around the proverbial corner. But even with leftovers and post/pre holiday chaos, there’s cooking to do and meals to eat, so while I’m a little late in the day, I’m keeping my promise to myself and those of you who heard me say it. ;-) A week of healthful yum for all of us.

Monday: Leftover Mashed Potato Soup, homemade wheat bread, green beans and green salad

Tuesday: Spicy Mushroom Gumbo (using a recipe in More with Less as guidance), brown rice, cut cucumbers, roasted root veggies

Wednesday:  Rockin’ GF Falafel, roasted potatoes, green salad with tahini dressing

Thursday: Leftoverlicious Lentil Casserole, steamed broccoli, cut cucumbers

Friday: Homemade Pizza, carrot fries, salad

Saturday: Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach (Moosewood Low Fat Favorites), Power Tabbouleh, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, red peppers and green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Joy Brownies

Parent Lunches: leftovers of all of the above as I will be making double batches :-)

Hope you all have a super duper week.

Weekly Meal Plan 11/17-11/23

How we react to things is a really good indicator of our core, our essence, those fundamental and if not unchangeable, at least strongly resilient parts of ourselves. This last week we discovered (while having someone complete one repair on our heat system) that a significant section of our venting was, in fact, not even connected to the thing that makes the heat. We have lived here for over seven years.

My husband, in a display of his generously sunny disposition, responded with “Yay! It’s finally going to be warmer in a big section of the house.” And I know he’s right, and I’m happy about it too. But right there along with my happy, is a calculator of all the wasted heating dollars, and frustration with all the HVAC people who’ve been here before now… because REALLY?! So, it’s fixed, and as tonight it seems that winter has arrived, I’m happy about it too. Really I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want warm comfort food, because just like my dollar wasting calculator, my desire for comfort food is core, basic me-ness. I’m pretty sure both my love of comforting belly warming foods and frugal dishes show up in this menu. Hopefully all my sunny people will eat them and still stay their wonderful sunny selves. Hope your week reveals something essential about you that you just love.

 photo b4b5fa15-af38-4aaf-93a3-efb49641c748.jpgMonday: 30 Minute Bean and Bulgur Chili, Quinoa, Cornbread, Green Salad

Tuesday: Lentil/Bulgur Burgers, Roast Potatoes, Broccoli, Green Salad

Wednesday:  Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, Mixed Grain Bread, Green Salad

Thursday: Asian Varia Bowl with Rice Noodles, Veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, Cut Veggies

Saturday: Baked Butternut Squash Risotto, Green Beans, Green Salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Spinach and Pesto

Adult Lunches: leftover chili, leftover Cold Kickin’ Soup

Lunchbox Treat: Peanut Butter Crisp Cookies (yes, I will share this one…)

  

I had completely forgotten about those cookies. Yeah, I gotta go. Hope your week is as easy or as hard as you need it to be and that all of your vents are properly connected. Eat well, be well friends!

Weekly Meal Plan 11/10-11/16

And then we got sick… I joked about last week’s menu looking like one written by someone who had a cold… I was apparently seeing the future. Our family has been passing around the most delightful illness. By midweek I was fevered and dizzy. The plan did not necessarily go as planned. The reality of that happening from time to time reminds me that it is always a good idea to have some fall back positions, especially the kind that only require heat in order to make food happen. Freezer food is your friend, especially if you have small germ factories in your house that make a daily deposit and withdrawal at the local public incubation system. We relied heavily on earlier efforts last week and as a result ate reasonably well in spite of my being completely out of commission. Mr. Little Sis is quite culinarily capable, but is strapped for time, so our freezer stock served us well. I will, over the next few weeks, make a concerted effort to include at least one very freezable meal (we have lots of ‘em here) in the plan and double the amount so I can restock for the next round. In the meantime, while I am still coughing, I am at least able to stand up and move around, so life goes on, and that means food. On with the weekly plan.

 photo 554b547c-c3c4-4c40-a2a6-51f6ad6ad77b.jpgMonday: Potato Pancakes (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) with Cashew Cream, Applesauce, Green Salad

Tuesday: Pakistani Lentil Kima, Spice Marinated Cherry Tomatoes(from Vegetarian Times), salad

Wednesday: Lentil. Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, Wheat Bread, Salad

Thursday: Zucheezy Noodles (didn’t happen last week and I really need to throw Ms. Picky Pants a bone here), sautéed green beans, cut veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable Chili, cornbread, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, green salad

Grown-Up Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup

Aspirational Dessert (If I am up to it, IOW): Mango Coconut Bread Pudding… yeah, it sounds great, but don’t count on it. I’m not.

That’s my plan for the week. I’d say I’m excited, but it would be more honest to say I’m just hoping this week I can actually do it. ;-) Hope you are virus free and all your meals are healthful and delicious!

Weekly Meal Plan

Wow are we having some beautiful weather in Mid-Maryland! The trees are changing color. The mornings are crisp and the afternoons are sunny and warm. Oh fall, I love you. This week’s menu is definitely leaning in the fall direction, and probably also shows that we’ve got a wicked cold circulating through the troops. Lots of warm hearty comfort food working its way onto our table. Hope you’re enjoying autumn as much as I am! Continue reading

Why Should I Eat Something I Don’t Like?

Indeed.  Why should my son who asked that question of me?  Why should I?  It got me thinking about ‘First World Problems’ and starving children, but, let’s be honest.  Generations of parents have tried to convince their children that they should eat something nasty just because there are people in the world who would be happy to have that nasty thing which is WAY better than nothing.  But it doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work for children OR adults.  Empathy is not the forte of the young, especially when it really doesn’t make sense.  It is sad that others do not have enough to eat, or what they want to eat, but my son will say that if there is something he prefers right there in the cabinet, then why can’t he have that right now?  He knows what he eats for dinner won’t affect that poor child’s hunger either way.  So how to answer that question for him, and for myself.  In a culture that emphasizes choice, reward and satisfaction, why shouldn’t we always have something we like to eat?

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I chose a picture of broccoli because my son used to hate broccoli. The only way we could get him to eat it was to allow him to put ketchup on it (Bleah!) He still does not love it, but he eats it, without complaint, and without ketchup ;-)

I’ve got 3 responses to share with my son and myself:

A) You can acquire a taste for things / change your taste for things;

B) You have 1 body which you would like to be able to navigate through as much of this world / life as possible; and my personal favorite….

C) Because I made it and we’re all sitting down here together to eat it, dammit!  i.e. this is about more than your personal satisfaction.

I know, that’s all a bit flippant, so allow me to expand…

A) Indeed you can acquire a taste for things and even lose a taste for things!  I recently splurged on a purchase of some fancy Italian ice cream which was labelled chocolate / peanut butter.  Who knew the fancy Italian ice cream would have little peanut butter cup candies in it?  My mother will think I’m lying, but I removed the candy peanut butter cups because they were too sweet.  They made the ice cream cloyingly sweet to me, so I didn’t eat them.  Mind you, I used to ADORE Reese’s peanut butter cups.  They were my candy of choice and Younger Big-Bro could always get a good trade out of me at Halloween if he had Reese’s cups to offer.  However, I have lost my taste for milk chocolate and heavy duty sweets because I stopped eating them and learned to love other things that are not so sweet instead.  It can happen.  It took awhile!  Baby Steps friends, remember to take Baby Steps – small changes a bit at a time, like reducing amount or cutting it with something.  With chocolate you can slowly switch over to darker chocolate.  For more info on making switches – either fast or slow, see Baby Step #1 The Ol’ Switcheroo, or Baby Steps Boost which makes suggestions for how to take Baby Steps away from some common unhealthy foods.

It can also happen that people’s taste buds change as as they mature and as they age.  Little Sis will tell you that Miss Picky Pants (my adorable niece) has taste buds that can change overnight ;-)  If they haven’t tried it in awhile, have them try it again.  And not the touch the corner of the fork with your tongue and then make a face try.  An actual try that involves a bite, followed by chewing and swallowing.  We require 2 bites because the first one is still colored by negative expectations, or a poor guess.  This rule goes for adults also.  As a precursor to answer ‘C’ I say, “Put your Big Girl Panties on and just eat it – it won’t hurt you even if you don’t like it.”

B) If children were left to eat without any input, some of them just might develop some serious nutritional deficiencies.  Heck, many adults have serious nutritional deficiencies.  Personally I am low in iron.  I try to eat greens and cook in a cast iron pan to amend that situation.  I’m sure you know the basics of balancing protein, carbohydrates and including lots of veggies and fruits.  Perhaps more information about what nutrients are in our food and what those nutrients do for us would help allay the tendency to eat pizza every night.  Check out some resources for nutrient information:
– Charts on the nutrients in fruits, vegetables and fish
– 
An extensive list of foods and the nutrients they contain – this is a pdf booklet – you have to go through about 10 pages of other info before you get to the chart, but it is a good resource.

As we mentioned in the Baby Step on getting your kids engaged with change, try to tie in their personal goals with their food intake.  In other words, if they want to be an athlete stress the nutrients needed to help them get stronger and to grow healthfully.  If they want to do well in school stress the foods that will feed their brains….

Understanding the physiological need for a variety of healthy foods and the physiological benefits of a variety of healthy foods can be helpful in convincing yourself and others to eat things that are not your first, or even second or third choice.

C) Eating is about more than personal satisfaction.  It is part of the ritual of converting the bounty of the planet into bountiful community.  It takes a village to feed one gaping maw.  Recognizing the involvement of community, family or personal involvement on the resulting meal or even packed lunch takes a little emphasis off the pleasure and places it back on the living, necessity of eating.  So when our culture shines through in my son’s belief that he is entitled to have something delicious every time he eats, I can try to re-focus him on all of the reasons and all of the work that goes into feeding people.  Little Sis’ family starts the evening meal with some thanks to the one who prepared the meal.  What a great way to re-focus the meal on the bounty of being fed…. the bounty of having good nutrition…. and the bounty of being together and taking care of each other.

Should we live to eat? or eat to live?

Here at the Pantry we usually fall in the middle on such spectrums of possibility.  It surely seems too stringent to do either exclusively.  But there is definitely room in most of our lives for a little more eating to live.  Such a blessing to even have a choice!