Thursday, September 4, 2014


I am recently engaged in learning to meal plan effectively.  Coming home from a long day of work and then deciding what to have for dinner and realizing everything we might make that could pass for a real meal requires thawing and cooking is the worst.

Second worst is actually having ideas and realizing we're missing one key ingredient for each option.

Tied for second worst is when I have lots of ideas that all involve milk or cream.  My husband is lactose intolerant and baby can't quite handle cow milk proteins yet so that makes me dairy-restricted as well for now.

After too many hangry nights and the grown-up decision to eat more vegetables, I decided to start meal planning.  It takes a bit of effort and I'm kind of lazy, but so far so delicious.  Sometimes the meals take just as much effort to execute as before, but pre-deciding what to eat and knowing all ingredients are on hand is half the battle.  With those two things taken care of, and I'm much more willing to make the meal.  

It's also satisfying to realize we aren't wasting food like we used to.  Not like it happened a ton.  My husband is a rock star at eating leftovers, but we used to partially eat something then the rest ended up in the fridge and eventually going bad because it didn't go with anything else.  Now everything we buy, particularly fresh perishables, has a plan and gets used up in time.

I realize these things I'm learning are all things people who meal plan tell you are great about meal planning, but it's one of those things you still just have to do to realize and appreciate the benefits for yourself.  Having babies is like that too.

I decided from the start I should blog about all this because I've been anemic on the blog ideas lately. Meal-planning leads to blog-planning.  How appropriate. 

When I remembered, I took pictures:

Ginger salmon with sauteed veggies and bacon
Pesto pasta with chicken and sauteed asparagus. I made the pesto myself!
Pork empanadas with quinoa and black beans
Ham and bean soup improvised from the broth leftover from slow cooking pork for the empanadas
Mini meatloaf, homemade mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob
Hamburger and homemade sweet potato fries
Fish tacos (except all we had were giant tortillas so more like fish burritos)
Meals not pictured include Waldorf salad, chicken fingers and onion rings (I've been on a deep frying kick), panini, french toast, tikka marsala, pulled pork sandwiches, and pizza (our dairy splurge when we can't help ourselves; my pizza is amazing).  

Most of the things we make take 30 minutes or less.  The most time intensive dishes are probably pizza and the empanadas. The latter has a particularly long prep period including slow cooking the pork and assembling the empanadas.  Actual cook time is like 25 minutes tops.  They can be made and frozen for later cooking, and one batch is big enough for 2-3 meals for us.  And I usually cook 4 lbs of pork at a time and use it for other dishes too.

I've also been planning healthier snacks to take to work or have on hand at home.  We've been enjoying lots of carrots and hummus, applesauce, and granola bars.  Baby girl is starting solids in earnest soon.  I want her to eat what we eat, so we better eat what I want her to eat.

Most of my recipes and improvisation inspiration comes from  If you want a particular recipe for anything seen or mentioned above, let me know.
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