Tag Archives: meal planning

Meal Planning

23 Aug
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“I’m so full!!!”

A few months back, inspired by our meal saving guru Tylynn, I decided to scour the depths of Pinterest and try to make freezer meals so that I could save time and…well….brain power every evening when it was time to make dinner.

Typically, I very much dislike COOKING the same thing more than once. I don’t mind eating the same thing over and over again, and leftovers and I are EXTREMELY well acquainted, but for whatever reason I dislike prepping and preparing the same meal more than once. So…freezer meals. Tylynn showed me a few she was looking at and eventually I came across a relatively Whole 30 Freezer Meal Plan from Stuff I Make My Husband based on the Whole 30. (To be clear, I don’t really prescribe to any particular diet. We’ve eaten Paleo, Vegetarian, Whole 30, and everything else under the sun. It really just depends on what I feel like touching that week and what cookbooks were available at the library. Ha!)

I didn’t document my endeavour very well but got a prompt from a friend to blog about it! So here I am! We are down to 2 or 3 freezer meals left from that first go round. (Each bag lasts about 3 months.) So it was time to tackle it again. A friend of mine conveniently posted exactly what I was looking for on Facebook and I saved it for an opportune time…which was today!

These recipes came from the website New Leaf Wellness and is called 31 Crockpot Freezer Meals for Back to School. I like to feed people, and by people I of course mean small armies, but don’t necessarily like to cook. It’s an odd pairing. I liked that the Whole 30 Freezer Meal Plan let me buy AND use in it’s entirety a can/bottle/vegetable, etc. This meal plan was more of a 1 freezer bag per recipe sort of deal while the previous one gave me 4 freezer bags per recipe. Since I’m relatively lazy when it comes to chopping and can opening I modified it a little so that I was making one recipe and putting it into several bags.

At the end of the day I have 36 freezer bags full of delicious dinners that will feed anywhere from 2-8 people. There is a lot of variety, which I like. Our side dishes will always be fresh and usually some sort of fruit/vegetable because nothing beats fresh produce, but for about $350 we will be able to feed ourselves for an entire month. A far cry from our usual budget of anywhere from $600-800/month on groceries ALONE. So it’s pretty significant savings, I get to take a break from constant meal planning and the torture of pouring through cookbook after cookbook because heaven forbid I make anything more than once or without a recipe to follow. (I do not improvise. I might alter, add, subtract, or substitute…but I never “wing it”. Some have attempted to force me into a position where I have to “see what we have and whip something up” and let’s just say…it doesn’t end well for anyone.)

Aaaaanyway…this time around I made 9 recipes from the 31 that were available. Most of them were chicken but I made sure to throw in some of the turkey and pork recipes as well, and occasionally substituted ground chicken/turkey for ground beef to keep the man in my life happy. (He’s pretty impressed.)

We hit up Costco for the things we could buy in bulk (most of our ingredients) and Sobeys to polish off the list.

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Our total grocery bill came to approximately $350 just for these recipes/dinners. Not too shabby!!!

I’m sure there is a way to efficiently prep everything and if you follow the handy instruction guide included in the link to the recipes she lays out the best way to prep everything for all 31 meals efficiently and expertly. Since I didn’t make every recipe I went off book a little and worked through them one at a time, although there were certain things I would pop into the freezer bags as I got to them, like the 20 pounds of chicken that I went through! Ha. All in all the prep took me about 3.5 hours from start to finish.

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I followed the directions and labelled each bag with the date, recipe name, how long they take to cook in the crockpot, and the suggested sides. (They mostly suggest rice sides…or maybe that was just the nature of the recipes I choose, so there will definitely be more variety worked in that way. Neither Cale or I are big rice fans.)

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For the especially curious, I made the following recipes:

Honey Dijon Chicken
Cranberry Pork Roast
Turkey/Beef and Black Bean Chili
Chicken Teriyaki
Thai Peanut Chicken
Turkey/Beef, White Bean and Kale Soup
Salsa Verde Chicken
Ginger-Peach Chicken
Hawaiian Pork Chops

They will be excellent on the days when we are rushing from work to activities for the girls and need to eat at 5pm ON THE DOT or starve for 3 hours. Shoutout to Vicky for posting the link in the first place and a pat on the back for me for cooking for almost 4 hours so that I can be lazy for the next almost 40 days. (Excluding special events or when company is coming because…come on.)

My Crock Pot is excited to get a workout.

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Foooooood

10 Feb

We’ve been REALLY into meal planning and (relatively) healthy eating lately. It is going AWESOME! We’ve explored just about every type of food dish there is! A typical week for us involves AT LEAST two vegetarian meals, two chicken meals, another alternate meat choice, and a “left-overs” day. I’ve been having a lot of fun making our weekly lists, and Cale is having fun cooking them! Ha. Nova is benefiting the most, of course, and hopefully she’ll end up with a well-rounded palate as opposed to the dangerous Nugget and Hot Dogs trap!

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Every day starts with coffee…

coffee and parfait

…and sometimes a parfait!

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Breakfast granola.

smoothie

SMOOTHIES!!!!

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Cheeseburger Pie

Cheeseburger pie. Better for you than it sounds!

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Homemade spaghetti with sauce. Nom.

The benefits, of course, are immediately apparent. We’re waking up earlier, Nova’s meals are ready BEFORE she starts complaining about being hungry, our lives are marginally more organized, and we get to have a lot of fun trying new things! The weekly grocery shop is also turning into a regular, fun family outing! Our area is AMAZING in that it hosts a LOT of awesome, small, family run markets and it is so awesome wandering through them choosing our fruit for the week. I always knew there were a lot of apple varieties out there, but now I KNOW!!! Y’know?

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Someday we’ll be able to plant a little garden in our back yard, but until then, I hope that I can teach my girls that there is a lot of value in being selective when it comes to what you put into your body and that it can be FUN learning about all the different ways food can affect us, from our moods to our body shapes! I was VERY pleased to see Nova choose grapes over chocolate after dinner the other day. I’m constantly amazed by HER relationship with food so it only makes sense to think a little more about MY relationship with food! It’s awesome to have Cale get into it as well! He advised me the other day to “only shop around the perimeter of the store”, since that’s the best way to avoid packaged, processed foods.

I love learning about food with my family and cooking up a storm! This week: Vegetarian Nachos, Curried Chicken with Pears (in the slow cooker), Breakfast Parfaits, Roasted Veggies and Cous-cous, Chicken Fried Rice, and a delightful Tuna and Tomato Stoup (Stew/Soup). SO DELICIOUS!

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