Posts Tagged ‘meal planning’

One of the disadvantages to my particular brain is that I have a terrible memory. TERRIBLE. An unanticipated benefit to this blog is that I have a record of lots of things that I might otherwise forget. (If only I were more disciplined about writing daily! Or if only I could STICK TO JOURNALING.) 

My poor memory extends to food as well as life in general. Outside of a handful of meals, I feel like my mind goes blank when I try to think of things I’ve enjoyed eating. That persists despite my (mostly) regular Dinners This Week posts, which theoretically should offer a ready list of great options to put on my meal plan each week. 

And yet… sometimes I see a meal I have planned and presumably eaten (although – Confession Time, it is quite rare that I make all the meals I plan each week) and I cannot for the life of me remember whether it was a hit or not! 

For a while, I tried to post updates on the blog, so that I could go back and read whether a certain dinner recipe was a hit or not. But I have not been consistent about doing that. 

So I am going to try something new. If I make a recipe that my husband and I both love, I am going to post it here. Just a big ol’ running list of dinners that were excellent. That way I have a go-to resource of meals that I have made before and enjoyed. Will I keep this up? I’m going to guess “not reliably.” And this isn’t to say I won’t continue to find and try brand-new recipes! Novelty is one of the main reasons I am able to keep plugging forward with making dinner night after night after night. But sometimes it’s nice to pick from a list of Tried And True Options.

Anyway: here’s a list of Reliably Delicious Dinners and Other Culinary Hits to start from, along with any notes I included with my follow-up of the recipe. (There has to be a better way to organize the lists, but I sorted the recipes out into some rough categories and then alphabetized them by recipe name.) 


  • Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce: This has become my immediate family’s traditional Christmas dinner. Double all the sauce ingredients because the sauce is amazing.
  • Chili: I should post a recipe for this.
  • Garlic Herb Marinated Oven Roasted Steak: I use top sirloin steaks, which I prefer to flank steak.
  • Instant Pot Hamburgers: We put these in the oven to broil for a very short time before putting them on buns.
  • Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Ragu: Decadent and rich. I use tomato puree instead of crushed tomatoes.
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce: Brown a pound of ground beef – say that five times fast – with half a diced onion and as much garlic as makes your heart sing. Add a jar of Ragu pasta sauce, a small can of Hunts tomato sauce, a palm-full of each dried basil and dried oregano, a few shakes of Tabasco, a few shakes of cayenne, and some salt and pepper. Simmer for as long as you can stand it. Eat over pasta of your preferred shape.




  • Best Ever BBQ Ribs: You can make these a day or so in advance before slathering them with sauce and grilling them. I highly recommend using your favorite BBQ sauce in a jar instead of making the sauce from scratch per the recipe; I find the recipe version to be quite salty and it’s just an extra step when you can use perfectly great sauce in a jar.
  • Chipotle Marinated Pork Chops: I double the chipotle in the marinade so that there is a little extra “pan sauce” to drizzle over the cooked pork. I love me a pan sauce.
  • Crispy Pork Carnitas: Definitely best when you crisp the shredded pork in the oven before serving.
  • Oven Baked Pork Chops with Potatoes: Most often, I make these without the potatoes although they are delicious together. The sauce is what makes these pork chops sing. 
  • Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork: I serve the tangy shredded pork over rice with caramelized onions, feta cheese, and I do Kalamata olives and my husband does sun-dried tomatoes. Sometimes if I am feeling fancy I will include some hummus and pita, and maybe some artichoke hearts.
  • Slow Cooker BBQ Pork: Add a pork tenderloin, about a cup of BBQ sauce, a diced onion, and as much garlic as makes your heart happy to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred. I slather the pork onto a baked potato. My husband prefers it on a King’s Hawaiian bun with coleslaw
  • Soy Ginger Pulled Pork with Tangy Sesame SlawThe slaw is essential.


  • Black Bean Burritos: Taco-seasoned black beans wrapped in flour tortillas and draped in shredded cheddar, then oven baked at 425 degrees F for 12 minutes until the cheese is melty. Top with shredded lettuce, diced onion, sour cream, and lots of hot sauce.
  • Chickpea Bowls: I make a bunch of the spice mixture (½ Tbsp each of cumin, coriander, and garam masala; 1 tsp of cardamom; ½ tsp of paprika; and ¼ tsp each of cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and fenugreek) in advance, so I can use it on a whim. I also pre-make (and freeze in ice cube trays) a batch of the ginger garlic sauce. When these two things are already in my cupboard/freezer, this is super easy to make. (And the end result is well worth the fuss.) I add sliced bell peppers to the final chickpea mixture, along with sliced jalapenos and a generous dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Chickpea Curry: My husband and I feel that this doesn’t produce enough sauce, as it’s written. However, I think if you doubled the sauce, it would be TOO saucy. And you can’t do one-and-a-half portions, because you’d be stuck with a half can of coconut milk and I for one don’t want to waste it or measure it out in the first place. So we decided on halving the chickpeas. If you jack up the veggie quotient, I think you won’t even miss the second can of chickpeas.
  • Gigi Hadid Spicy Vodka Pasta
  • Goat Cheese and Mushroom Pizza with Arugula and Onion Jam: I typically use store-bought dough.
  • Grilled Mushroom Salad Sub Sandwiches: I skip the roasted red peppers and use mozzarella for the cheese.
  • Lemon Garlic Veggie Pasta: I make this with Barilla Protein Plus pasta, increase the amount of garlic, and use broccoli, zucchini, red onions, peas, and red bell pepper. Asparagus and mushrooms would be good too. I sprinkle on 1/4  cup of parmesan at the end. 
  • Roasted Artichokes: Not quite sure if this counts as a whole meal, although I love a roasted artichoke for lunch. Trim the edges of the stalks, wrap them in olive oil, and eat them too. I love to dip the leaves, stem, and heart in sriracha aioli



  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • French Onion Soup
  • Guinness Beef Stew: I seared the meat and cooked the onions/garlic as well, before adding those things to my crockpot. I don’t know if the flavors would be the same without, but maybe I’ll try it next time because I really hate searing meat. I used baby potatoes and I didn’t chop ANY of them, which meant I had to eat the stew with knife and fork. Maybe I should quarter them next time. I added two parsnips, a container of quartered mushrooms, and two cups of chicken stock. It seemed a little under-salted, so I also added a big glug of soy sauce toward the end.
  • Garlicky Chickpea and Spinach SoupThis is perfect, but the spinach doesn’t work as well in leftovers as it does the night of.
  • Lentil Soup: I make this without the tomatoes, which means I need to amp up the spices a bit.
  • Mulligatawny Soup
  • Slow Cooker Chicken, Mushroom, & Wild Rice Soup: I use this brand of wild rice and the soup turns out perfect every time. Delicious paired with a loaf of miracle no-knead bread.
  • Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup: I blend the fire roasted tomatoes and strain them into the soup. I also add a can of black beans and about a cup of frozen corn about ten minutes before the soup is done cooking. 
  • White Bean Enchilada Soup: Yum. I reserve a can of Great Northern beans from the recipe, as well as the corn, and blend everything in the pot. Then I add the final beans and corn for a little texture. It makes the soup very creamy and rich.


  • Beef with Snow Peas: Works just as well with sugar snap peas.
  • Broccoli with Beef: I typically throw in sliced red and green bell peppers as well. 
  • Chicken and Zucchini Stir Fry: Stir fry the chicken with garlic and ginger and then remove to a plate before you add the vegetables. The amount of zucchini in this recipe is only a suggestion. You cannot have too much zucchini. Also, add in a sliced white onion. 
  • Fire Fry: Good with beef, just as good with veggies only.
  • Szechuan Stir Fry: This is good with chicken, shrimp, or beef, or without meat at all. I like using broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers – sometimes adding water chestnuts, sometimes not. Bean sprouts would be good with this, too. For anyone who, like me, is sensitive to Chinese five-spice powder, I only put in the tiniest pinch. Like, 1/16 of a teaspoon.





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Houseguests have departed. I am getting my hair trimmed and my grays browned. These two things have nothing at all to do with one another. 

As is usual for me, an introvert, after six days with someone-other-than-my-husband-or-child in my home, I feel scooped out. Like a spaghetti squash. (Which I don’t eat, incidentally, because I think I have an intolerance to it.) Thinking about making food sounds… not great. And yet! We all must continue to eat! 

Old standbys are usually good for getting through this kind of meal planning blockage. But not even tacos sounds appealing. So I will go in the opposite direction and find totally brand new meals to hopefully spark a little cooking excitement. 

Okay, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Dinners for the Week of March 6-12

Roasted Cauliflower, Lentil, Currant & Herb SaladI honestly have no idea where I will find currants, but this salad sounds AMAZING. (Plus, the addition of roasted cauliflower makes me think of Nicole – HI NICOLE!) I just… cannot wait to try it. Will my husband eat it meatless, or will he require some sort of shredded chicken to go with it? 

Thai Ginger ChickenI am always in the mood for a stir fry, and this one is new to me and sounds fresh and tasty. I will probably throw in some green beans or broccoli or snow peas, depending on what looks good at the grocery store. 

15 Minute Curry with Chicken and Peas: YUM. I mean, I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds good! And anything that claims to take fifteen minutes (I will believe it when I experience it for myself) is worth a try in my book.

Lemon Garlic Veggie PastaI have had a serious pasta craving lately and this looks so fresh and delicious. I will probably add a little sprinkling of parmesan at the end. And way more garlic. 

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We have houseguests this week, so my meal plan is intended to be easy. But also Planned, because I do not like other people cooking in my kitchen and I know if I have no plans, one of the guests will want to cook. Which is a KIND and GENEROUS thing, I recognize this, and yet I do not like it.

So! Onto dinners!

Dinners for the Week of February 27-March 5

Sheet Pan Chili-Honey Chicken and Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro Yogurt: I think I can make the cilantro yogurt in advance, and maybe I can even get Carla to try the chicken and sweet potatoes? Probably I will try to serve some steamed broccoli on the side, just to have something green.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork: I have been craving this. I have definitely served it to these particular houseguests before, but that is not a reason to take it off the list. They do not expect New and Extraordinary Meals every time they visit. I am saying this for my benefit; if I write it perhaps it will feel true. (IT IS TRUE.) We serve the tangy shredded with caramelized onions, feta cheese, and I do Kalamata olives and my husband does sun-dried tomatoes. Sometimes if I am feeling fancy I will include some hummus and pita, and maybe some artichoke hearts. There is nothing green with this meal but that is also okay. (IT IS.)

Baked Pork Chops and Asparagus: This is another one that maybe Carla would eat. Hard to say. Some days she is a fan of pork and other days she won’t touch it. We can do rice or quinoa or couscous alongside this.

Tandoori Sheet Pan Chicken and Cauliflower: Yes, this yet another sheet pan dinner. Sheet pan dinners are good and easy. I will have to buy a LOT of vegetables this week though. Maybe I will make two trips to the grocery store. 

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry: This is leftover from last week’s meal plan – I didn’t end up making it because Carla, out of nowhere, decided SHE wanted to make tacos for dinner one night… and she did! I supervised, and helped remove the taco shells from the oven, but she did it ALL, including chopping all the veggies. Anyway, I don’t normally make stir fry for company for some reason. But this sounds good and fairly easy and there’s no reason I can’t make a stir fry for houseguests. (NO REASON.) Also, I want to indoctrinate as many people as possible to the joy of broccoli slaw. 

Do you have any weird houseguest-related cooking blockages? Foods you love but don’t think are “Guest Worthy”? What’s your favorite sheet pan meal?

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We have reached another low point in the energy and cheer I have available to devote to meal planning. Sometimes I just viciously hate everything to do with meal planning and preparing food, and this is one of those times. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that today is YET ANOTHER day off from school. We haven’t even had any snow days, just pre-planned days off. Eight, since the beginning of January. She’s had only three weeks of school with no days off. I don’t know why this is making me so cranky today. Usually, I kind of like a day off from school. We get to sleep in a bit, Carla and I get to chill together or run errands, sometimes there’s a playdate. Today she gets to accompany me to acupuncture though, which sounds like torture for everyone involved. And then we will go to the grocery store, which is agony for Carla. (At least, until we get there. She’s very cheerful about helping and asking to buy a million things; it’s just the anticipation of grocery shopping that makes her wail as though I threatened to incinerate all her toys.) Maybe, to balance out all the suffering, we will make brownies. (Yes, I am still trying to get protein into Carla at every turn – as well as calcium, but that is not going well – and also I am still trying to like baked oatmeal. We WILL be adding chocolate chips to this recipe.)

Anyway, day off or no, meal planning grumble or no, we must eat. I think I will do the thing where I pick maybe three meals and then make black bean tacos the other days. My husband will eat a ham sandwich on black bean taco days. Carla, as you know, eats a stunning variety of foods including and pretty much limited to chicken nuggets, salmon, ground beef tacos, steak, and two very specific types of lunch meat, so she will eat one of those things while my husband and I eat whatever it is I decide on.

For lunches, I can drum up slightly more enthusiasm. I have recently rediscovered how delicious artichokes are. They are currently plentiful and also a whopping $3.99 each, but they are enormous and I find them to be such a delicious and satisfying lunch. I will see if I can buy two this week, and then maybe make a batch of Hungarian mushroom soup to eat on the other days.

Dinners for the Week of February 20-26

  • Miso Ginger Soy Salmon Rice Bowls: For awhile, I felt like I kept coming across yummy sounding meals with miso as an ingredient, so when I saw some miso paste at Trader Joe’s I snapped it up. And then of course I couldn’t find any meals that featured miso. But this recipe does feature miso and it sounds really good. 
  • Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry: This is technically called “skinny chicken and broccoli stir fry” but that makes me think of anorexic roosters, so I deleted the “skinny.” Despite the ridiculous name, this sounds really delicious and fuels my recent obsession with broccoli slaw. I think I will also throw in a handful of water chestnuts, which I LOVE. (My husband does not love them, so his portion will be water chestnut free.)

Wow, just deciding on those three recipes felt like removing my own fingernails with pliers. Hopefully I will feel more invigorated for meal planning next week. 

Have you tried miso before? What about broccoli slaw? Does meal planning also currently feel like torture for you?

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Internet! We don’t really do much for Valentine’s Day around here, except cards for one another. And I found some irresistible little things at Michael’s a few weeks ago that I picked up for Carla, including a stuffed animal that she does NOT need. I also picked out a few small treatsies, even though I have been pretty successful at keeping candy and sweets out of our house so far this year. Time will tell whether this was a Bad Plan. 

The only other thing I did (today at least; don’t hold me to this for future Valentine’s Days) was make A Special Breakfast for Carla. I used a cookie cutter to cut heart shapes in her pancakes and I bought her a box of Valentine’s Day themed Froot Loops, and I cut her strawberries into hearts. She mentioned the strawberry hearts but not the pancake ones, and only ate a handful of the Froot Loops after proclaiming that they taste just like regular Froot Loops.

My husband’s view of Valentine’s Day, without putting too many words in his mouth, is that it is kind of aggravating and unnecessary. I told him that Carla and I were participating in Valentine’s Day whether he wanted to or not, and that we really wanted to at least get him some sort of candy, but he is trying to eat better and had no suggestions. Carla was indignant at the idea of not getting him SOMETHING, so she and I got him some low-sugar treatsies from Target that I hope aren’t too terrible. My view is that Valentine’s Day is fun, and I like to participate in fun things. Because my husband has made his views quite clear, I have no expectations of getting anything for Valentine’s Day, and was therefore delighted that my husband remembered to buy me a card and Carla remembered to make me one (or, more likely, that my husband reminded Carla to make me one). Also, it was an excuse to buy myself Sour Patch Kids and Nibs.

My only other view of Valentine’s Day is that it’s really fun for our kid, and she will only be a kid for such a short time, so why not lean into the fun for her sake? She LOVES holidays, and candy-centric holidays especially. I think this may be the last year that her school does a Valentine’s Day party, but she really enjoyed making a “mailbox” and writing out Valentines to all her classmates and teachers. She even decided to depart from her all-black clothing routine for the day: she chose a red skirt and a shirt with polka dots in a variety of pinks and reds. Making Valentine’s Day special for her is worth the little amount of effort I put into it, and I’m happy to continue as long as she enjoys it.

This is all to say that we are not doing a special Valentine’s Day dinner, which is fine. Special or no, however, we still have to eat.

Normally, I post dinner plans on Monday. But my husband and I went to the grocery store on Sunday for a quick restock of a few things, so I didn’t need to go to the store again urgently yesterday. Plus, I was having A Day. I swear that I woke up and my brain stayed in bed. Probably needed a mental health day. I was in a fog all day, and kept forgetting things, culminating in nearly missing Carla’s music lesson.

One of her activities has ceased for the season, which means we can reclaim many hours of our week. I have been feeling happy and relieved since the last day. In my head, apparently, this translated to ALL of her activities ending, which is not the case. So I was indulging in a leisurely Target trip with Carla – you know, just sort of toodling around the store, not really following a list – when my phone alarm went off, reminding me that I had twenty minutes to get Carla to her lesson. Ack! 

Of course, the alarm went off two minutes after everyone else in the store decided to wrap up their own shopping trips, so when we got to the (poorly manned as usual) checkout stations, three enormous lines had already snaked into the walkway, blocking foot traffic, plus there was an additionally long line at the lone self-checkout. 

I didn’t want to put back all of our shopping – that would have taken too long. And I didn’t want to abandon my cart and our carefully selected items – no way did I want to RETURN to Target after already spending so much time there. (Target shopping just doesn’t have the cathartic, comforting effect on me like it used to.) But (shock of shocks) there was no staff person in sight, so I couldn’t ask if I could simply leave my selections somewhere for 30 minutes while I dashed Carla to her lesson and came back. I did briefly consider parking the cart outside the bathroom and hoping for the best, but as it wasn’t a foolproof plan I didn’t go through with it. So I got in line and sent my husband frantic exclamation-point-laden texts which helped neither of us but felt like Doing Something at least. 

Poor Carla, at this point, was complaining about being hungry. Most Mondays, because of our jam packed activity schedule, I feed her dinner at 3:45 (I know), so she was starving. I impulse allowed her to impulse grab a package of Nutella and pretzel sticks as well as a Rice Krispie treat off the impulse buy display. The line moved at an agonizingly slow pace, but eventually a couple of other registers opened, and we were out of Target a mere 15 minutes after my alarm went off.

In the car, while Carla wolfed down her treats, I called the music teacher to let them know she’d be late. We managed to arrive at her lesson 15 minutes after it started, but by then I was a sweaty, edgy mess.

Later, when I unloaded the Target bags, I realized that I’d grabbed the wrong type of breakfast bars for my husband. So I will be returning to Target after all. 

I still feel slightly frazzled today. My husband asked whether the dishwasher was full of clean or dirty dishes, and I gave him an exasperated look and said, “Well, just look in the dishwasher and you will know!”… at which point it became apparent that I had only unloaded the top rack and the silverware tray while the bottom rack was still full of clean plates and pots. Also, I have been writing this post and just now realized that I forgot to soak my feet this morning. Sigh. I really hope that my brain decides to show up to work at some point today, even if it is a little tardy. 

Anyway, dinners!

Dinners for the Week of February 13-20

Garlicky Chickpea and Spinach SoupI posted about this a few weeks ago and tried it and LOVED it, wet spinach and all. So flavorful, so filling. I have been thinking about it ever since, so back on the meal plan it goes! I feel like the preparation would work well with lentils, too, but I haven’t tried that yet. Maybe next time.

Quinoa Crunch Salad: This just sounds so yummy and fresh. I am not a big eater of cabbage, but for some reason it has a high level of appeal right now. Probably my husband will want chicken with his salad, and I may roast some shrimp for mine.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Tacos: Despite everyone’s encouraging comments in favor of chicken thighs, I am going to make this with breasts. Takes a looooong time to teach this old dog new tricks, especially when those tricks involve food. I plan to turn this into a taco bowl with lots of romaine and cabbage. I feel a little wary of a slow cooker recipe that doesn’t require any liquid, but I suppose the NYT is trustworthy enough. And I can always throw in half a cup of chicken stock if I feel really uncomfortable. 

Noodle Free Chicken Pad Thai: Is this too similar to the quinoa crunch salad??? We’ll find out, I guess. I have never in my life purchased broccoli slaw, so I am very interested to learn what it’s all about. I am going to let my husband eat the chicken for this one; I will eat shrimp or just stick with the veggie-only version.

What’s on your meal plan this week? Do you do a special Valentine’s Day dinner?

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Look at this: how we are only the first FULL week into February, and yet it is already practically half over! Spring is right around the corner, friends.

Now, seeing as I am QUITE late in posting this (as if anyone cares if or when I post these dinner ideas), I will get right to the meal plans:

Dinners for the Week of February 6-12

Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake: I am slightly wary of this for reasons I don’t entirely understand, but it sounds intriguing and I like all the ingredients (except tomatoes; I will not be including tomatoes).

Asian Chicken Salad: A couple weeks ago, Steph mentioned that she was planning something similar for her family and I have been thinking about it ever since. My husband likes to add mandarin oranges to his salad and sometimes I throw on a handful of chopped cashews as well.

Buffalo Chicken Rice Bowls: This is a new-to-me recipe but it sounds spicy and satisfying. Hopefully we have some veggies left over from the salad to eat alongside this dish.

Roasted Pork with Mushrooms: We could do a side salad with this one, too, or maybe steam some broccoli.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Chickpeas: (inspired by Sarah) This sounds right up my alley. I do think I will use plain old chicken breasts, though, because – despite all the hype around chicken thighs and despite knowing that skin adds flavor – I do not like chicken with bones and/or skin. So the cooking times will be a bit off, but that’s okay. I am Breezy. 

What’s on the menu at your house this week?

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It is the last week in January. Somehow. I know time goes faster as you age, I know it. I understand the intellectual concept behind it. And yet it still feels shocking, like loose gravel slipping out from under your feet as you try not to fall down the side of a hill. 

We have snow and sunshine right now, which is my favorite combination. February is right here, knocking on the door, and I love February. It’s so short, it makes it seem like spring is right around the corner. Plus, it’s my birthday month. (And Lisa’s!) One of my aspirations this year is to get a massage, and I think I’ll schedule it for my birthday. That sounds like a good way to start my forty-third year on this planet.

Time to stop delaying. Let’s get to the meal planning.

Dinners for the Week of January 30-February 5

Garlicky Spinach and Chickpea Soup: My husband wants to try this, so try it we shall! I do admit that I am a little wary of spinach in soup. Cooked spinach already has an unpleasant (to me) texture, and I can’t imagine that making it wet will improve things. 

Szechuan Stir Fry: Tried and true favorite. My grocery store has been flush with beautiful bell peppers lately. I have been eating the green ones raw, filled with cottage cheese, but I also really want all the stir fries. I think I will make this with steak for my husband. I like to stir fry the meat in a little garlic and ginger and oil, put the meat into the bowl I will use, add it back into the stir fry at the appropriate time, and then enjoy the essence of meat it leaves behind. 

Sheet Pan Pesto Salmon with Lemon Thyme Potatoes: I love a good sheet pan meal. I don’t know if I can persuade my husband to eat salmon though – it seems like every time we eat fish, he gets a piece with bones in it. 

Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas: I snagged a big ol’ pork butt on sale the other day. Carnitas seems like a good thing to have on hand for tacos and burrito bowls and salads. Plus, it’s delicious and easy.

What are you doing, this final week of January 2023?

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It’s a new week, which means that another 21 meals stretch before us, waiting to be planned and created. That both sounds like A LOT and not that many, although it feels endless and insurmountable. It’s also an appointment-heavy week, which I am not looking forward to. So much driving. So much trying to squeeze in Normal Life around these holes in the schedule. Why do I do this to myself? I think what happens is that, as I’m scheduling the appointments (which is usually months in advance of the actual appointment), I either think, “Oh, it will be so nice to just get everything over with at once!” when in fact I do not find that “nice” at all, but overwhelming and disruptive. Or I get all flustered on the phone and feel like I am being A Pain if I continue to request different dates/times. Probably it is a combination of the two. Either way, Past Suzanne is a jerk. 

Dinners for the Week of January 23-29

Lemon Chile White Fish with Chickpeas: I think I have shared my rule of thumb with you before, which is, if my husband suggests a meal, I make it. I hope that this encourages him to suggest more meals because coming up with meals is so tedious. (Once again, I fervently wish that I had A Mostly-Fixed Weekly Rotation, like Nicole… or a handful of tried-and-true recipes that we eat regularly, like NGS. Alas.) We do not own “Aleppo pepper,” but my husband is confident we can use chipotle powder and no one will know the difference. Probably we will have something green on the side – steamed broccoli, maybe?

Greek Chicken with a Big Salad: I am going to use this marinade as the dressing. Alert alert: I do not use a mortar and pestle with the marinade/dressing ingredients: I blend everything up in the blender. My Greek salad will have feta, Kalamata olives, red bell peppers, red onions, and cucumbers. My husband will have tomatoes instead of olives. I may also make some pita bread, just because it’s not too hard and it’s so fun to see the little pitas puff up. 

Japchae (inspired by this post from Birchwood Pie Project): Birchie eats this meal with gyoza, but says steak would probably be a good accompaniment. I may make steak for my husband and shrimp for myself, or just load it up with veggies and eat it without meat.

Farro with Garlic and Roasted Vegetables (inspired by this post from The In Between Is Mine): This sounds so wholesome and wintery and versatile. I will not be using tomatoes (quelle surprise), and I don’t have any potatoes on hand. I think I am just going to throw in whatever I can find rolling around in the house: mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, maybe a sweet potato although I’m trying to decide if that would taste weird with the other ingredients or not. I don’t really like sweet potatoes, but they are supposedly pretty healthful and my husband likes them and I have one languishing in the pantry. Hmmm. It will be a game-time decision.

Black Bean Burritos: I have been in a burrito sort of mood, so I’m putting this on the list. My favorite kind of burrito is a simple one. On the inside: black beans, a little cheese, a lot of hot sauce, a sprinkling of cilantro if I have some on hand. On the outside: copious amounts of cheddar – no, more than that, maybe just a little more – heated in the oven until it’s all bubbly and melty, lettuce, onions, sour cream, and so much hot sauce the whole thing looks more like an enchilada than a burrito.

What are you looking forward to this week?  Or not looking forward to, as the case may be?

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Well, January is half over. I swear, January used to feel so interminably long and now it goes by in a flash just like all the other months. I do not care for the speed at which time passes now that I am 40ish. 

Part of what is making things go by so quickly is that we are so busy. Activities have resumed, but now we’ve added performances for my daughter’s instrument lessons, plus skiing lessons. We have two vacations coming up, which seemed – just two weeks ago, when we bought the plane tickets – so far in the distance, and which now are rapidly approaching. I have been much too social, which is good but also bad. And there’s the day-to-day normal on top of it all. It’s all good, it’s just… busy. I was under the impression that staying busy helped time feel like it passes more slowly, but maybe that’s just if you’re doing novel things? I don’t know. I do know that it feels like none of us have gotten back into a normal sleep pattern, after our two-week holiday of extremely laissez-faire bedtimes. And sleeping in until unholy hours on the weekend does nothing to lengthen the days. Perhaps this is the week we will get on top of that.

Despite time’s maelstrom swirling around me, I have to take a minute to slow down enough to answer the ever-pressing question: What shall I feed my family this week?

Dinners for the Week of January 16-22

  • Slow Cooker Pork Al Pastor: This sounds yummy and different from our usual, although I am slightly suspicious of pineapple. I craved fresh pineapple during the last trimester of my pregnancy with Carla and ate probably two entire pineapples each week, all by myself. In the decade since then, I don’t think I have eaten more than two bites of pineapple. Certainly not cooked pineapple. 
  • Quinoa Salad with Apples and Sweet PotatoesI am on a half-hearted mission to divest my husband of his belief that a meal must contain meat in order to have enough protein. I know quinoa and sweet potatoes don’t have as much protein as chicken, but they do have quite a bit. And this salad sound fresh and hearty and filling. I may swap out the dressing with this hummus dressing – I have hummus in my fridge and it sounds yummier than boring old oil and vinegar.

Follow Up: I lost my nerve/energy to make the hummus dressing, so we stuck with the boring old oil and vinegar. I think the salad would have been better with more interesting dressing. Aside from that, this salad was AWESOME. I included goat cheese and chopped walnuts as toppings, and the salad was very hearty and satisfying. PLUS it produced enough leftovers for at least two more meals. So good! Definitely a keeper.

For the rest of the week, we can eat leftover pork with whatever we can dig up from the depths of the fridge/pantry and leftover quinoa salad. 

What’s on your meal plan this week? Are you feeling the same way about January’s speed?

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The other day, I saw a headline that said something like, “People Living in [My State] Should Expect to See Higher Food Prices in 2023.” That was a head scratcher because we have been seeing higher food prices for quite a while thanks. Can’t wait for the grocery bills to climb more steeply, I guess.

(The container of honey we have is leaking. But it’s doing so in a way I cannot figure out. I have tried having it rest on its top and on its bottom, and both ways seem to leak, but not in any discernible way, i.e. the top isn’t swimming honey. But I am constantly scrubbing honey off our spice cabinet which is not my favorite. Anyway, my husband discovered the honey leakage yesterday and after hearing my explanation his solution was to throw the entire jar of honey away. Um, no???? It is 3/4 full???? And honey costs a million dollars $4.99 on sale???? I will scrub honey off the shelf every day if it means I can delay paying eight dollars for honey by even a couple weeks.) 

That’s all I have in the way of preamble this week, so let’s get to the dinners.

Dinners for the Week of January 9-15

  • Brussels Sprouts TacosThis is a very specific craving I’m having lately, based on the memory of the amazing spicy Brussels Sprouts tacos I ate with a friend at a local restaurant this summer. I like the sound of the one I linked in the headline, but I also think this smoky version with black beans, sweet potatoes, and crema sounds amazing.
  • Thai Larb: Last week, my husband and I tried the Lemongrass BBQ from the sampler of Southeast Asian sauces he got me for Christmas; it was delicious. I want to try the Thai Larb this week.
  • Beef with Snow Peas: This is one of the simplest stir fries in our rotation, but it is so delicious. And all the peas make it super crunchy and green, two characteristics I find very appealing.  
  • Creamy Chicken and Orzo SoupYum, this sounds so good and hearty and nourishing.
  • Soy Ginger Salmon Rice Bowl: I could probably swap out the salmon for chicken on behalf of my husband. I am just not in the mood for chicken lately, plus if there is an egg shortage a chicken shortage must not be far behind, right?

What are you eating this week?

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