Monday, May 16, 2016

What’s For Dinner? Meal Planning

 Meal planning seems to be a big deal in the internet world these days.  Maybe it always has been and I’m just now paying attention? Honestly, I am one of those weird people that loves to menu plan.  Any body else?!?!?! I love going through my recipes and seeing what I’m going to make for the week, jotting down my grocery list, and even going to the grocery store.  Yes, the Mr. and I look forward to grocery shopping every week.  It’s as close to a date as we’re going to get for a while, but we love it none-the-less (and honestly we loved it pre-kids so we can’t claim that kids made us boring or lame…….we just are Ha!).  This post is not a "how-to" or "you should"....nope nope nope, this is just a “how we do it” post.Fresh Harvest

Who Does The Cooking? Until about a year ago when I got pregnant with Ellis, I was the official house chef.  I could honestly count on one hand how many times the Mr. had cooked anything, with the exception of smoking meat & grilling.  He has always done that, and I have never smoked or grilled anything.  I was the primary chef and baker though.  We never really had a discussion about it, it just worked out that way since I had more time and really enjoyed it.  When I got pregnant with Ellis I was very sick for the first 21 weeks, so the Mr. stepped up and really dove into learning how to cook.  When I say he dove into cooking, I really mean it, he has an entirely new culinary vocabulary, and he has taught me so many things lately!  Now he usually cooks dinner on the weekend to help me out, and I cook during the week to help him out. 

What Do We Eat? We typically eat organic and pasture-raised food.  We eat as fresh as possible, thus I shop on the edges of the store.  Have you noticed that the best stuff for you is on the edge?  Stay out of the center of the store where all of the processed food is.  Now, I’m not going to claim to be perfectly fresh!  Of course we don’t eat clean all the time, and we cheat.  DUH!!!! We're human and we love to eat :-) 

Where We’re Shopping? There are 4 places we venture to when we’re shopping: Costco, HEB, Trader Joe’s, & the local farmers market.  It’s kind of an event when we hit up all of these places.  We go every week because we like our food as fresh as possible and to not stock pile food that will either be frozen, forgotten, or chucked. 

Where Do I Get My Recipes?  A lot of my recipes initially come from a cookbook (I really like all of Pioneer Woman's books), magazines (I get Southern Living and Food Network), or Pinterest.  Lately I have been using Real Plan to help me schedule and brainstorm. This is a meal planning website that uses only natural and "real" ingredients.  You put into your settings what type of diet you want, what ingredients to exclude, how many meals you want per week, etc.  Then you can add more meals or recipes from other websites....and the service makes your grocery list for you and everything.  In all honesty, unless I'm baking, I rarely stick to a recipe.  Call me a rebel!  I just add or subtract what I think sounds best.  So I take a recipe from one of these places  and then modify it to my liking or to what I have in my pantry.

How Do I Plan & Schedule?  This is my weekly routine for scheduling.  I do it like this every week; I’m a planner and list maker folks!  If I don't keep this routine it is culinary chaos and junk food galore!  Soooo I have to stick to the routine. Every Friday during nap time, I menu plan for the following week: I go over what activities or commitments we have for the following week and pick our recipes according to time availability, write my grocery list (on paper, not digital..I just can’t get into the digital thing.  Call me “old school”), and write the menu on a chalkboard I keep on the kitchen counter.  Having the chalkboard is good for keeping everyone on the same page for what the week has in store.  I have another chalkboard in the kitchen that we use as a running grocery list throughout the week.  On Saturday morning we shop!  We used to do Sunday afternoons but that got to be too crazy.  Now since we’re up early on Saturday, the Mr. goes to the gym while I get the kids up and fed.  We go to the park, and then start on our shopping before naps.  We eat dinner every night at 6pm.  If the Mr. isn’t home yet I feed the kiddos at 6 and just wait to eat with him when he gets home. Lunches during the week we usually have leftovers from the night before.

Eating out?  We used to eat out alllll the time, like every meal from Friday night to Sunday night.  That was a different time in our lives.  Now we may only eat out once a week and if we do it’s Sunday after church.  Friday nights if we eat out, it’s take out and usually pizza or Vietnamese.  

Whats For Dinner Meal Planning
 When do I cook (and what do I do with the kids)? If it is a crockpot meal then I prep (chop, etc.) all of the food the night before so that I can throw it in the crockpot as soon as I wake up (before the kids get up).  Or, and what happens most of the time, I cook during Dutch's afternoon nap.  If Dutch happens to be awake then I include him in meal prep (which, yes, means it takes longer and is a bigger mess, but I figure that he has to start learning at some point and his wife will thank me one day).  If I'm in a hurry and Dutch isn't into independent play at the moment I will wear him on my back.  Or like last night we played wiffle ball in the house while I was making dinner....I would throw it and then stir/chop, throw and then stir/chop.  Motherhood is the art of multitasking, right? When I'm not around the stove/oven I just wear Ellis on my front or nurse her.  If she's sleeping then I just bring the bouncer/swing/rock'n'play in the kitchen with me.

What Does A Typical Week Look Like Taste Like? I took a picture of everything we ate one week just to give you an idea of what we eat during a very typical week.
Saturday Lunch- Me
Caramelized onion, kale & brie grilled sandwiches, with a three-citrus mint salad, with roasted golden beetsCaramelized onion, kale & brie sandwiches, with a three-citrus mint salad, with roasted golden beets-2
Saturday Dinner- The Mr.
Carnitas Saturday Carnitas-2
Sunday Lunch- Me
Avocado eggs, sage & maple chicken sausage, & mustard vinaigrette spinach saladAvacado eggs, sage chicken sausage, & mustard vinegarette spinach salad-2
Sunday Dinner- Me & the Mr.
Fried chicken, green beans & mashed potatoes perfectly paired with sweet teaIMG_20160403_184450-2
Chicken enchiladas with Spanish riceIMG_20160405_155837-2
Bang bang shrimp served over steamed broccoliIMG_20160405_180710-2

Spatchcock chicken with garbanzo beans & roasted sweet potatoes sauted in bacon
Spatchcock chicken with garbanzo beans & roasted sweet potatoes
We did take out for dinner

So there ya have it! This is how we do food in our house. 
What do you do? Where do you shop?
Do you have any recipes we need to try? Come on share your favorites with me!!!!
xoxo Darby


Jessica said...

I am so terrible with time management!! Phil basically makes dinner every day because I hate the stress of cooking and trying to time everything to be done at the same time. Ugh! I never get it right! Plus, I just don't want my whole day to be spent making food, so I struggle making dinner after I've already made breakfast and lunch... what do you guys do for breakfasts? Lydia eats a lot of cereal now that there is another baby to care for and feed!

Nikki Arrington said...

Ok I must confess... I'm a Pinterest addict. It's where I get 90% of my recipes. My recent favorite is honey apple pork chops. I have to say, you MUST make this recipe! It is super yummy and so simple. I made it for a dinner party with some friends and one of them had three helpings and literally said "I think this is what heaven must taste like." Try it out and thank me later. ;)

Cari said...

This all looks so delicious. I wish I had the drive to meal plan :-/ I really need to start only hard thing Bre is so picky when it comes to dinners & B's schedule is different every week

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