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Posts Tagged ‘meal planning’

The grocery store and I are on the outs lately. And it’s not just ONE grocery store, but multiple grocery experiences at multiple grocery purveyors that have driven me into the deep end. Let me count them for you:

  1. We have a local grocery store that is notorious for being a) really busy and b) poorly staffed, so that no matter the time of day, you will end up waiting in an endless line to check out. It’s close to my daughter’s school, so I chance it on occasion anyway. Usually — to up the stress factor — I’m rushing in there for a key ingredient I need for that night’s dinner when I have a mere 15 minutes to shop, checkout, and pick up my child. The store has two (TWO) self checkout scanners but – and this is on me, even though I think it is STUPID – you can only use them if you have the store’s reward card. Which I DO HAVE. I have a credit card sized reward card and a little one that hangs on a keychain next to my housekeys and my membership card for the zoo. But I have recently acquired a new car (don’t get too excited) and it has a key fob rather than an actual key (my old car was from 2003; it even had a tape deck), and I carry the fob around by itself, unattached to a keyring or my housekeys, because it’s very easy to stick it in my pocket or shove it into the ankle of my leggings when I go out walking. ALSO – this is relevant, I promise – I have a phone case with a little sliding door that holds my ID and a credit card. So basically, all I need is my key fob and my phone and I’m GOLDEN. It is very pleasant to travel without a purse, let me tell you, especially after nearly SIX YEARS of lugging around a big carpetbag of a thing to hold wipes and snacks and crayons and sticker books. Is this what it feels like to be a man? SO FREEING. So – you see where this very boring aside is meandering – I frequently go to the grocery store without a wallet or my keyring. And then I am forced to stand in an achingly long line while the single checker the store seems to employ painstakingly slides each item across the scanner before gently placing it on the conveyor belt and then bags everything herself because of course they don’t employ any baggers either. You can circumvent the need for your card at the self checkout scanners if you a) call a staff member over and b) they input your phone number for you. But for some reason my phone number is not attached to my rewards account so I can’t even do that. So I have had two experiences in recent memory where I had to 1) leave without buying anything and 2) leave my basket of unscanned items in the care of a staff member while I dashed out to my car and retrieved my card. On a third occasion, a staff member took pity on me and somehow bypassed the need for the card, but I get the feeling that was a one-time perk, not something repeatable.  Since then, I have learned my lesson. But it annoys me to NO END.
  2. I have been having bad luck with fruit lately. I bought some grapes at my local store and they were moldy a few days later. I bought some cherries at the same time; they lasted a couple additional days but then MOLD. And then I bought a giant two-pound clamshell of strawberries at Costco for $3.99. I immediately – the day of purchase – washed half of them and fed them to my family. The very next day – one day post-purchase – I went to wash the remainder to give them to Carla and… MOLDY. What the ever-loving what…? Is my house a petri dish for mold spores or something?
  3. This morning, I walked into the grocery store without my brain. First, I made THE SAME HUMILATING MISTAKE I’VE MADE BEFORE and said, “I’m good! How are you?” to the checker when she was talking to the person in front of me. I had plenty of time to decompose slowly of embarrassment while the checker handled the other person’s transactions, and then said kindly (pityingly) to me, “Hi, how are you?” so that I could respond, “Fine, how are you?” all over again like a sad, socially awkward parrot.
  4. Then, mere minutes later, when the bag loader person was loading bags into my trunk, I called out, “Thank!” instead of “thanks” or “thank you” like a functioning human. As my trunk closed, Carla said, helpfully, “You said ‘thank,’ mommy. It’s ‘thank you.’” Thank, Carla. Thank.
  5. Then I arrived home to find that the bag person had loaded my bags in behind my bag holder. Even though I had put one bag into one of the bag-holder holders myself prior to pulling up to the bag loading area. I didn’t mean it as an example, but it should have been a good one, right?

Bags not in bags.JPG

Anyway. Despite such perplexing events and humiliating encounters, we must continue to prepare and eat meals. Onward, shall we?

Dinners for the Week of August 13 – August 19

  • Tacos

Note: I am trying to institute a weekly Taco Tuesday around here, both for ease of planning and for deliciousness purposes. It has taken a long time, mainly because I keep forgetting, but Carla is 100% on board. (Tacos are one of the few foods she eats with great gusto.) Maybe someday she will open herself up to the delight that is other kinds of tacos, but for now we soldier on with the ground beef variety.

Note: I have grown weary of the standard veggies we eat as sides. So much broccoli, zucchini, and green beans around here. And yet I am not willing to pay $3.49 a pound for brussels sprouts because they also require so much work. $3.49 a pound is convenience food pricing, I think, and brussels sprouts are not a convenience food. Anyway, I was lamenting the lack of options (my husband and I can only deal with asparagus every so often and I really can’t think of anything else to eat) and my husband stepped in before I could suggest it and notified me that he doesn’t find mushrooms and onions a satisfying side. Which is too bad, because I LOVE mushrooms and onions. Well, with this one meal I am going to have TWO sides. (TWO SIDES.) I roast the mushrooms and onions on the same cookie sheet with the pork chops, and the sauce makes them extra yummy.

  • Grilled Chicken with a Veggie

Note: I have not purchased any such veggie… so… we’ll see what happens. I will either marinate the chicken in a Wegman’s marinade or in this self-styled “best chicken marinade” which I have tried and is, in fact, delicious.

Note: This is, as you may note, just another way of doing chicken-with-a-veggie. But it requires a wok.

Note: It has been heavily documented that this is one of my favorite salads, and it is time now to eat it again.

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe. Maybe it will inject some interest into my boring chicken-and-zucchini lifestyle.

Note: I love this Rachael Ray recipe for mushroom sandwiches… and I am going to attempt to transform it into a big old spinach salad. I will marinate some steak in the mushroom marinade for my husband and he can have steak. Also I am using mozzarella instead of Manchego because I can. I am envisioning making a balsamic vinaigrette (I found an AMAZING balsamic dressing recipe online and cannot for the life of me find it, but this one seems close) and then throwing that and some of the marinade on top of the salad to dress it.

 

What’s on your meal plan for the week, Internet?

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There’s a lot going on these days, Internet. I feel burnt out.

Then, NGS made a comment on my last dinner post that stuck with me: “You’re so much more ambitious in food planning than I ever could be. We seriously only have about six meals in rotation.” That struck me as SO LOVELY. Six meals? No fussing around with food blogs and magazines and a big pile of recipes I’ve emailed myself? Clean, simple, tada. GENIUS.

And then I thought of Nicole, who serves the same five categories of food each week, Monday through Friday. When she posted about her weekly meal plan, it was a revelation. I could make tacos every Tuesday?! And sometimes they could be fish tacos or carnitas or black bean tacos, but it didn’t matter what spin I put them, Tuesday would always be taco day! What a delightful fantasy!

These two wonderful bloggers (and I’m just assuming they are excellent home cooks, as well) got me thinking… and I think I’m making things too complicated.

It seems that I have made an overcorrection in my meal planning navigation. I find that it is so easy to get into a meal rut, when you feel like you’re eating tacos and spaghetti and grilled chicken ad nauseum and so cooking feels boring and eating feels boring and you just hate life. This is just me, of course. But I course corrected so far in the other direction – trying to find New! and Interesting! and Different! meal options – that now I feel like variation is my GOAL. (This is not to say that I don’t end up eating the same things over and over, I’m looking at you, delicious spinach and arugula salad.) And also, it’s become somewhat of a chore. I’ve been looking through my bookmarked meals, searching for something new or different… and nothing seems new enough or different enough. I start looking at super elaborate options that just aren’t practical for a regular Tuesday, and then I get discouraged and BAM!, I’m right back where I was when I started this whole meal planning journey.

So there’s that. But also… sometimes you just want to throw a couple of chicken breasts on the grill and call it a day!

This week, I am doing Tried and True, Easy Does It meals. And it feels super! I love it! I should do this more often. Or, maybe, I should come up with a list of Favorites that I can choose from again and again, things that can be Go-To meals alongside tacos and spaghetti and grilled chicken.

Anyway, here’s the dinner plan for this week.

Dinners for the Week of July 16-July 22

  • Tacos

Note: Taco Tuesday, baby!

  • BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Baked Potato (for me) and Coleslaw(for my husband)

Note: We are supposed to have storms, and it feels like we haven’t eaten this easy crockpot meal in a long while.

  • Grilled Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Note: I will marinate the chicken in Wegman’s Korean barbecue marinade. I also have this idea that I will make a quinoa salad with bell peppers, bean sprouts, maybe some edamame, and scallions, and then dress it with Nagi’s Sesame Peanut Dressing. (When I went to a writer’s conference a couple of years ago, one of the meals was this AMAZING quinoa salad with pad-Thai-style flavors. I have been chasing that flavor ever since, and this sounds like it might get me pretty close.)

Note: I have tried many (MANY) a recipe for homemade pizza dough. But I haven’t found a single one that holds a candle to the Papa Sal’s dough I can get at the supermarket.

  • Grilled Pork Chops or Steak with Roasted Green Beans

Note: I found a couple of filets in the freezer; I think I intended them for Carla (they were DEEPLY on sale), but perhaps I will commandeer them for myself and my husband.

  • Grilled Chicken with Side Salad

Note: Chicken marinated in Wegman’s marinade, salad dressed with leftover French vinaigrette.

  • Out

And you, Internet? What are you eating this week?

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Let’s talk about food!

Note: Combining salad and tacos is becoming a regular pastime of mine, I see. And I am HERE FOR IT.

Note: I have had this on my To Eat list for a very long time. It sounds slightly… off-puttingly-sweet to me? But I think if I add some broccoli and maybe some rice it should be good.

Note: This marinade sounds super good. And I have a bunch of pork chops in the freezer just begging to be eaten.

Note: We haven’t had this in a long time, but it was so good the last time I am wondering why I waited so long? Per usual, I will be amping this up with extra veggies.

Note: I can’t remember, but I think last time I turned this into a stir fry? Whether I did it or not, I plan to do it THIS time.

Note: I may or may not make a Greek salad to go along with this chicken. Lots of leafy lettuce with some cucumbers and onions (and tomatoes for those who eat such things) and maybe some avocado and maybe some Kalamata olives? Sounds pretty delicious to me.

Note: I haven’t made anything in the instant pot in a long time. Perhaps this yummy sounding chicken will get me back in the groove.

 

What does your weekly menu look like, Internet?

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Another Tuesday, another list of delicious meals I am eager to eat and not as eager to prepare!

My lovely mother-in-law got us a gift subscription to Bon Appetit a while back. I love reading through it, but it’s rare that I find a recipe that speaks to me enough that I want to make it. But we finaly got around to reading a recent issue and it really pulled out all the stops! My husband and I found three whole recipes to cut out and save. The theme for this week is, once again, veggies! Lots of bell peppers and lettuce. And hopefully a whole lot of flavor.

  • Balsamic Pork Tenderloin:  https://addapinch.com/balsamic-pork-tenderloin-recipe/

Note: I never remember that Tuesdays are awful, from a timing perspective. We get home late because Carla has A Sports Activity and she’s always cranky and exhausted so I need to put her dinner in front of her immediately and then throw her in the bath and then put her to bed. Which leaves very little time to prepare dinner for myself and my husband. So tonight I am making this crockpot meal that requires next to no prep and only needs me to chop and caramelize some onions once we get home. AM GENIUS.

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe, but my husband picked it out and it sounds delicious. You know I love a good stir fry. I am going to add some bell peppers, onion, and maybe some broccoli to the mix to make it less shrimp-centric. Also, I am not sure about using two whole tablespoons of fish sauce, per the recipe… Fish sauce, like Chinese five spice, caraway seed, and anise seed, is one of those flavors that hits me REALLY hard, even in small amounts. So I may end up replacing some or all of it with soy sauce.

Note: Another new recipe! I am giving this one the side-eye already because I don’t typically cook with orange. Don’t get me wrong, I love citrus! I am happy to use lemons and limes in my recipes anytime. But… orange? I mean, in bakingoccasionally, sure… But with fish? Well. I am always interested in new ways to make fish and this sounds really fresh and flavorful. I have no idea where I will get a single clementine, but I do enjoy a challenge.

Note: Mozzarella was on sale at my grocery store last week, so I bought some and then realized I didn’t know what to use it for. NOW I DO. I am super excited about this salad, although you know there will be no tomatoes on my portion. I am marinating chicken for my husband and cooking shrimp for myself. PUMPED.

Note: I am totally going to eat black beans instead of chicken and I CAN’T WAIT.

Note: This marinade is super yummy and I think it’s good to have an easy meat-plus-veg dish in the rotation.

  • Out

 

What are you excited to make for dinner this week?

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Apparently, planning and executing an extravagant dinner party does not mean you get to SKIP making dinners for your family the rest of the week. Shock!

We are having a lot of vegetables this week:

Notes: This is just lettuce with avocado, bell peppers, and corn. I will put black beans on mine for protein and my husband will do chicken “marinated” in taco seasoning.

 

What’s on your menu plan for the week?

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This Saturday is The Dinner Party. I am sure as hell not planning much of a regular menu when I am so pre-occupied with Not Losing It. I am making things as easy on myself as possible, Internet.

So here’s my meager menu:

Dinners for the Week of April 16-21:

  • Today: Mulligatawny Soup
  • Wednesday: Tacos
  • Thursday: Crockpot BBQ Pork with Baked Potato
  • Friday: Out
  • Saturday: DINNER PARTY
  • Sunday: Crap, it’s Easter do I have to do something special? Maybe beef tenderloin.

 

I know YOU aren’t fretting about my dinner party, Internet. What’s on your menu this week?

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Who has time to plan REAL dinners when all one wants to think about is Dinner Party Planning?

Well. Unfortunately, one’s family still needs to eat.

Here’s the menu for the week:

Dinners for the Week of April 9-15:

Follow Up: This was DELICIOUS. I used 1/16 of a teaspoon of five spice powder and it was exactly the right amount. I love how this sauce goes well with pretty much any veggies. You can throw in bell peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, pea pods — whatever! Anything goes! My only complaint was that I didn’t make enough vegetables. Make more veggies next time!

Follow Up: We did not actually make the shrimp portion of this meal (I think I made the broccolini with the vinegar chicken). The broccolini was fine, but I think I just don’t really LIKE broccolini. The stems are too tough for me to enjoy and the fluffy part is too small to make it worth the EXORBITANT price. I think I will stick to broccoli.

 

Follow Up: This was delicious. I made it with zucchini noodles, but I think it would be yummy to stir fry some bell peppers and/or broccoli with the sauce.

Follow Up: This was delicious. I “marinated” the chicken and shrimp in a teeny bit of olive oil and a good heap of homemade taco seasoning. Very yummy and satisfying.

  • Black Bean Burritos

 

  • Out

What’s on your meal plan, Internet?

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