Planning Life- One Week at a Time

Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category


This week I thought I would would list each night’s meal and a brief description of how it was made along with some short cuts and tips. Instead of writing out a whole recipe step by step.

Monday- Pesto Stuffed Shells, recipe from last year, I made a huge tray for a friend who had a baby. I made a second smaller one for my family. We had it with frozen garlic bread.

Tuesday- DH and I went out with friends. Kids ate leftovers.

Wednesday- Chicken, Ham, & Cheese Roll ups, Mac and Cheese, Broccoli. I bought cutlets in a big family pack. I then trimmed them and removed the tender from each one. Those will be dinner Thursday. I cut 3 cutlet in half and pounded them flat coated one side in bread crumbs. I placed a slice of honey ham on the other side and filled with mozzarella cheese. Rolled them up. I covered the bottom of a glass backing dish with cream of chicken soup and placed the rolls in it. Then baked at 350 cover about 40 minutes and uncovered for 10. While they baked I steamed fresh broccoli in the microwave and made a package home style mac & cheese. Enough leftovers for two lunches.

Thursday- Chicken Stir Fry, chicken was cut up the night before. Vegetable prep takes a lot of time but it is worth it for a health stir fry. I will chop double the peppers and onions for Fridays dinner. They will go in a zip top bag. And all good stir fries start with GGG, garlic, ginger, green onion. I’ll start those in some oil in a large frying pan. Then throw in onion, peppers, broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, and carrot. I’ll coat the chicken pieces in corn starch. Move the veggies to the sides and stir fry the chicken. Last I’ll throw in sauces like soy, teriyaki, orange ginger. A bit if water. And thicken with corn starch slurry. Serve with rice.

Friday- Cheese Steaks, I sauté veggies and mushrooms prepped the night before. Steak meat is frozen in thin pieces. I cook it up on a flat griddle with season salt then I place slices of cheese on at the end. I load up the veggies and meat on hero rolls and serve with a side salad.

Saturday- too busy to cook take out it is.


Candy Hangover

Snow for Halloween!?!? This is a first for the northeast in my memory. After battling power outages, sick kids, and a foot of snow we dressed the twins up for some trick or treating. The sugar high has settled and I feel some what back to normal. But I fear this we be a long, long winter. This week I am food shopping on a Wednesday so the start of the week was make do with what was around. And the end will be back to fresh produce and more thoughtful meals. It’s pretty busy, but isn’t every week busy when you are a working mom?

Monday- After a cold damp outing to Trick or Treat I threw together an dinner of ready made stuff. A slab of heat and eat ribs and broccoli cheddar pasta steam in the bag out of the freezer. Dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Tuesday- I had to go to Sam’s Club to pick up something for work. Grabbed a roasted chicken, DH made boxed mac and cheese while I was on my way home, and I threw stem in the bag green beans in the microwave. Another slap together meal.

Wednesday- Food shop and a school event. DH is on his own with the kids, he is making pasta with red sauce and garlic bread.

Thursday- Moms group at 4pm, Chicken Thighs braised in the slow cooker over apples, squash, and potato. The veg and apples will be turned into a mash with a little butter and nutmeg. The liquid will be drained off and reduced into a sauce. I’ll do salad on the side. Normally I don’t do one large tossed salad but line up the bowls next to the cutting board and make individual ones.

Friday- Nothing going on!!! Taco Night!! I don’t buy the taco kits or seasoning. I buy the shells or tortillas on their own and make up my own taco meat with chili powder, cumin, and other stuff I have around. I find the seasoning packets too salty. And I love lots of toppings, avocado, tomato, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, yum!! Spanish rice on the side.

Saturday- Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and a green veg TBA, the leftover chicken meat will go into a pot pie for the next snow storm.

Sunday- Cheese burger and oven baked sweet potato fries. And I *hope* to have some time during naps to make a big batch of soup for the freezer too.

Update: the rice on Friday was one you microwave for 90 seconds. We had asparagus on Saturday with the roast chicken. I had enough time on Saturday during nap to make a tray of stuffed shells for a friend who had a baby last week. Tomorrow I have the stuff to make Spilt Pea Bacon soup. I never made it before. I’m going to wing it.

Get it done!

As hard as I try to create a yummy interesting meal for my family. Some weeks I just have to go with the flow and stay simple. And this week is just that. Nothing new, nothing crazy, just old stand bys and easy to prepare stuff. I was a bit ambitious on the weekend but back to work and back to the let get something on the table mode. We can’t win them all!!

Saturday- Spinach three ways, Chicken Fingers with spinach puree in the coating, stove top homemade Mac and Cheese with spinach puree, (it was green but tasted like cheddar), and sauteed spinach with garlic.

Sunday- Oven BBQ chicken legs, Oven baked sweet potato fries (yummmmm!) and salad. My son eats the lettuce and leaves the stuff. My daughter eats the stuff and leaves the lettuce.

Monday- Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic beard from the freezer, and salad. Normally I like to make a batch of meatballs on the weekend and heat them when we are ready to have them a day or two later but this time I made them around 3pm, browned them in a pan and simmered them for about 2 hours in the sauce. Oops I didn’t have a a box of spaghetti. Capellini will do. Cooked a lot faster.

Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Stew, sweet there is leftover garlic bread!

Wednesday- Homemade Pizza, the kids will help with this one. I stretch the dough and they put on the sauce and cheese. We have meatballs left from Monday and I’ll slice them up along with peppers, onions, garlic, whatever is around for toppings. DH will be home and we will do this as a family.

Thursday- Take Out Chinese/Sushi, the twins love to taste things like California rolls, but they go nuts for Lo Mein. DH is home and Modern Family is new, nice relaxing evening

Friday- ??? eek, I’m out of ideas, something from the freezer, there is some broccoli that needs to be eaten. No on will go hungry 😉

What to cook when you haven’t been shopping

This week a had to wait until Wednesday to food shop. Leaving two nights getting by with what’s around. I always say I could live for a few weeks on the food in my pantry and freezer. It just might not be what I want to eat. Well this week it was a requirement. So Tuesday I made a frittata. They are like a crustless quiche. I told the kids it was egg pizza. The great thing about them is like quiche you can change up the flavors to your liking or what is around. No bacon? Try ham. No onions? Try garlic. The one thing you do need is eggs. I made a big one and froze 3 slices to eat for breakfast another day. This would also be a great brunch item if you are playing hostess to a crowd.

Monday- Lasagna from the freezer I made a month ago
Tuesday- Frittata with Soup
Wednesday- Swai fillets for the kids and I, stack for DH, rice, and a veg
Thursday- Take Out (DH requested chinese)
Friday- Sante Fe Cheesy Beef (test driving a slow cooker recipe)
Saturday-Penne ala Vodka with bread and salad
Sunday- Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker (I’ll most likely make it Saturday and reheat it)

Super Frittata
about 40 minutes start to finsih


5 Slices of Bacon
1/2 White Onion, diced
3/4 of a large Red Pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
2 medium white potatoes
6-8 eggs depending on their size
1/2 cup milk
Dijon Mustard
Lea and Perrin’s Chicken Marinade
Poultry Herds
Shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper

large oven safe non-stick frying pan
cutting board
chef knife
food processor with grating blade or box grater
large bowl
salad spinner or lots of paper towels


1. Pre heat the oven to broil

2. Place your largest non-stick pan on a burner and ad your bacon to the cold pan. Turn it on to the lowest heat setting. Low and slow will give you great crisp bacon that doesn’t spit at you.

3. Dice the onion and peppers (that was all I had, squash, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, all would be great) while the bacon is cooking. Check the bacon and flip it once. Chop the garlic.

4. Wash and trim any funky spots off the potatoes. Shredded them in the food processor or box grater. Place the shreds in a bowl and fill with cold water to wash the extra starch off.

5. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels.

6. Add all veggies to the hot bacon fat and sauté over medium heat. Don’t add the garlic right away or it will burn. It may seem like there is a lot of fat but the potatoes will be joining the pool. Allow the veggies to cook about 6-7 minutes until they start to get soft.

7. While the veggies are cooking. Drain and rinse the potatoes. Dry them well in a salad spinner or with lots of paper towels.

8. Add the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and stir. They will need to cook about 10 minutes to soft up, under cooked potatoes are gross. Stir them often. I added a splash of water half way to help steam them.

9. While the potatoes are cooking beat the egg with the milk, mustard and herbs. Here is where you can get creative and add flavors you like. Don’t forget a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

10. Taste the potatoes for doneness. Pour the whole egg mixture over and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute. Allow the frittata to cook over medium heat until you see the edges turn solid. About 2 minutes.

11. Top with some shredded cheese and move to the broiler. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check it. If you shake the pan and it looks tight and springy you are done. If it is liquid and jello like give it another minute. There is a fine line between, raw, done, and burned.

12. Remove from the oven and run a spatula around the edge to free the whole thing. Slide it out onto a cutting board and serve it up!

Potatoes Cooking

Yum, Bacon

Before a 2 Year Old


Indian Summer

Ah bliss! A week after declaring cool weather it’s going to 80 today. So tonight is a chance to use the grill. Maybe one of the last. I’ve mentioned before my DH doesn’t like fish or seafood. I’m not normally into cooking two meals but for tonight I will grill two different proteins. The effort to do so is minimal. DH will have a steak and I will have salmon or whatever looks good at the fish counter today. I’ll put the steak on a few minutes earlier and just have to watch my timing.

Last week the slower cooker was a huge success. I’m using it twice this week. First I have parent night at school on Tuesday and that will be a life saver. I’m making a beef barley soup and as an easy side frozen rolls or bread that can be baked in the oven. I’m also going to use it for a pork chop dish that has apple cider in it. So even though it’s warm today. The rest of the week I have fall food on my mind.

Monday- Grilled Steak and Fish, Fries, and Green Beans

Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup with bread

Wednesday- Orange Chicken, Rice, and Peas

Thursday- Homemade Soup (no school!)

Friday- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork Chops over Egg Noodles, Veggies and Dip

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers or Brinner

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

1lb Stew Meat cut into small cubes

1 onion diced

2 handfuls of baby carrots chopped

2 ribs of celery chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic smashed

1 bay leaf

1 cup of pearled barley

6 cups of liquid (beef or chicken stock, water, some beer)

1 beef stock concentrate or bouillon

salt and pepper

Place everything in the stoneware of your slow cooker. Stir. Set the timer to 8 hours on low.

other items you can add to this soup, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, hard squash like acorn, worcestershire sauce.

Update:This was so yummy, even better leftover, I served it with sourdough rolls. For the liquid I did 5 cups of chicken broth and one cup of beer. The beer flavor was a bit sharp so next time I’ll use only 1/2 a cup.

Cool Down

There has been a noticeable chill in the air most mornings here in the northeast. Sweat shirts for the twins every morning and pants for me for work. Summer clothes have pretty much been packed away. And with this weather cravings for soups and stews have begun. I have always wished I could have dinner waiting for me when I got home from work but my slow cooker has never worked right. It was too big (6 quarts) and too hot. Stew would burn to the sides have 4-5 hours on low! I’d have to soak the crock and scrub it with lots of force to clean. I was baffled, was I doing something wrong? After some research it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem with that brand. So I bought a new one, to replace my too large too hot slow cooker. I got a 3.5 quart, with settings, High, Low, Simmer, Keep Warm and a timer.

I bought it on Sunday cleaned it and on Monday night filled the crock with 1.5 lbs Chuck beef cubed, 3 russet potatoes peeled and cubed, about a cup of baby carrots cut in 3rds, half an onion diced. One can tomato soup, 3/4 of that can chicken broth, one Knorr beef stock pack, some black pepper and herbs. I put it in the refrigerator over night. Before leaving for work at 6:30am I put it the unit set it to low for 8 hours.

At dinner that night I portioned the stew out into bowls and the meat was falling apart tender but not dry. The sauce was bread dipping delicious. Kids and DH enjoyed it! I knew DH would, this is one of his favorite meals since I first made for him in college.

Only two cons I saw were the outside of the pot gets very hot. So I need to keep it far back from small hands. And the potatoes near the top were a bit crunchy so next time when I get home from school I’ll give it a stir and while it sits on the keep warm setting the last few hours they should be good.

Friday I’m going to try sauce with meatballs. And here is our week.

Sunday- Whole Chicken in the dutch oven (from the recipe a Bird in the Oven)

Monday- Chicken Cashew Casserole made from leftover chicken, cream of chicken soup, some veggies, bread crumb topping, raw Broccoli spears with ranch
Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Stew with bread

Wednesday- Take Out! (Modern Family premiere at home date with DH)

Thursday- Cheese Steaks, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and mozz cheese

Friday- Slow Cooker Red Sauce with Meatballs over Pasta & Salad

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers, Mini frozen quiches, and pizza bagels

Back to School Blues

Back to school, back to life, back to reality. After a blissful of summer of relax and play it’s back to work. There is some time to play but planning out my week is still key to keeping my stress level down. Besides planning our dinners I also lay out clothes for the twins on Sunday nights. Pack my lunch and layout my clothes every night before bed. I’m not a morning person and leaving tasks to be done half asleep at 6:30am isn’t a good thing. I wind up without a fork, forget my water bottle, etc.

So here I am planing our meals again. I thought a little background on how I plan our meals might be helpful. The day I’m going to food shop, often Sunday, I take out a notebook I use for shopping lists and coupons. On a fresh page I list the next 5-7days of the week. I then think about that week. What is going? What nights is my husband working? Dentist appointment? Meeting at school? I make a few notes. Then I look at the sales flyer. Whole chickens are on sale, okay that’s good two meals out of that. And then I fill in. Here is this week.

Monday- Food shop, DH picks up the kids, Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, salad (strip steaks on sale)

Tuesday- Kids are getting flu shots, running errands as a family, Dinner Out

Wednesday- DH works, Nacho Night!!! All the toppings, salsa, black beans, peppers, onions, cheese, tomatoes, avocados. We have a large toaster oven so pile it all on non-stick foil, and toast it up. (Tortilla chips were BOGO this week and I had a coupon!)

Thursday- DH works, Pasta with Creamy Veggie Sauce (recipe to come) huge hit, spinach is pureed in the cream sauce and the kids eat it up.

Friday- DH away, just the twins and I, Swai fish, rice, zucchini. I’ll make the Swai in a pan with some bread crumbs, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. DH doesn’t eat fish but the twins and I do so this was the perfect night to plan it. I have the fish frozen so Thursday night I’ll move it to the refrigerator

Saturday- DH still away, Brinner, breakfast for dinner, most likely eggs, toast, and fruit