Meal Planning Series, Week 1

Meal Planning Series, Week 1

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What’s for dinner?

Sometimes I get in a dinner rut, and I’m often wondering what other people are making for dinner. So today I’m starting a series about my meal planning system and what we’re having for dinner this week! Maybe you’ll find a new recipe to try 🙂

I normally cook 3 dinners a week, then we eat the leftovers or dine out for the other nights. Sometimes I’ll also make a big batch of something like chicken salad or Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad that we can eat for lunches.

Also, a note on one of my favorite grocery staples…spinach! Baby spinach is always always always on my grocery list. It is the most versatile green, and I use it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Baby spinach in an omelet. Baby spinach in a salad, on a sandwich, stirred in tomato sauce, tossed in with pasta, sautĂ©ed with butter and garlic…the list goes on!

My meal-planning system is super simple. I keep a running list of meals in the Notes app on my iPhone, then add the ingredients for each meal to my grocery list app. (My grocery list app is no longer available, but the closest I could find is called List Omni Lists.) Typically, I make a chicken dinner, a fish dinner, and a turkey/beef/vegetarian dinner.

I go grocery shopping on Monday, which is also the day I run most of my errands for the week. Again, I just keep a running list on the Notes app of the stores I need to hit, and my grocery runs are always last so the food stays fresh.

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This trunk organizer is SO handy and keeps my groceries and other purchases from rolling all over the place. I purchased mine at a garage sale, but here’s a similar one that also looks pretty cool!

So here’s my meal plan for this past week:

Breakfast: eggs, hash browns, oatmeal, homemade granola with almond-coconut milk

Snacks: apples, peanut butter, carrot sticks, hummus, olives, tortilla chips, salsa

Lunch: rotisserie chicken, spinach, shredded carrots, radishes, lemon dressing (lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper)

Dinner #1: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Dinner #2: BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Spinach and Roasted Green Beans

Dinner #3: Salmon Burgers with Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

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Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 onion, peeled and halved

2 heads of garlic, roasted (see here how to roast garlic)

EVOO

2 tsp Italian Seasoning

2 cups baby spinach

2 tbsp grass fed butter (Kerry Gold is my FAVORITE!)

Salt and Pepper

1 lb. ground beef (or protein of choice, or no protein at all!)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 box whole grain rotini pasta

Shredded Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. (Hint: Make sure you generously salt your pasta water. I also add a little bit of EVOO to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick together.)

Set a large pan over medium heat. Drizzle in some EVOO and add ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until browned. Transfer cooked beef into a bowl and set aside. Add to the same pan all the tomatoes, onion, roasted garlic, and Italian seasoning. Let tomato sauce simmer for about 30 minutes or until thickened. Remove the onion with tongs. Add butter and taste to see if the sauce needs more seasoning. Add the cooked beef back to the mixture. Add spinach, stirring until it wilts into the sauce.

Slow Cooker Directions (Here’s the slow cooker I use!):

Add tomatoes, onion, roasted garlic, and Italian seasoning to your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove onion, add cooked beef, butter, and taste for seasoning. Add spinach, stirring until it wilts into the sauce.

Serve the sauce over the pasta and top with parmesan cheese, if you please!


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BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

Note: While I changed a couple of things, the original source for this baked sweet potato recipe came from here!

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried

4 (‘ish) cups rotisserie chicken, shredded

4 tbsp butter, divided

about 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, or enough to coat the chicken (I used Jim ‘N Nick’s Habanero BBQ Sauce)

Pepperjack or cheddar cheese, shredded

Toppings: scallions, cilantro, jalapeños

Directions

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then place a cooling rack on top. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork then coat them with EVOO and rub with a little sea salt. Place sweet potatoes on cooling rack. Bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the center.  Meanwhile, toss the chicken with the BBQ sauce until nicely coated. Slice the baked sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and use tongs to press the ends towards each other to open them up. Put 1 tbsp butter and salt and pepper inside potatoes, then mash up with your fork. Top with BBQ chicken and shredded cheese, then put back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve with toppings! (Leave the oven on if you’re going to make the Roasted Green Beans!)

Garlic Spinach

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

10 oz baby spinach

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp EVOO

Salt and Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pan to medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted, add garlic and sautee for 1 minute. Add spinach, and use tongs to toss and coat in the garlic butter mixture. The spinach will wilt very quickly, you only need to saute it for about 30 seconds! Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Roasted Green Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed

EVOO

Salt and Pepper

4 lemon wedges

Directions

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Toss green beans with a drizzle of EVOO and salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes. Serve with a little squeeze of lemon juice over the top if you want the tastiest green beans ever!

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Salmon Burgers with Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

Note: I got the recipe for the Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad from my friend, Kelly Rothacker!

Salmon Burgers, cooked by package directions (the ones I used are Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers from Costco)

1 lb. frozen corn

2 Tbsp oil

3/4 teaspoon cumin

6 Tbsp lime juice (this little electric juicer really comes in handy!)

5 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 scallions, chopped

1 can rotel, drained

2 jalepeno chilis seeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large avocado, peeled, and diced

Directions

Heat oven to 450. In medium bowl, combine corn and 2 tbsp oil. Toss to coat. Spread corn in ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until corn turns light golden brown, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Cool for 5-10 min.

In a small jar with a lid, combine dressing ingredients (cumin, lime juice, oil, and cider vinegar) and shake until blended.

In a large bowl, combine cilantro, scallions, rotel, jalapenos, bell pepper, garlic, beans, roasted corn, and mix well.

Add dressing and mix well. Top with diced avocado and serve!

P.S. The leftover options for this “salad” are also delicious! Use it as a dip, sprinkle on nachos before topping with shredded cheese, spice up some fish tacos, stir in a burrito bowl, or on a baked potato…it’s all good!


What are some of your meal planning tips and tricks? I’d especially love to hear if y’all have any great slow cooker recipes. I want to find more ways to better utilize that appliance!

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