Meal planning. Do those two words evoke a feeling of panic in anyone else? I don’t know about you, but I have to meal plan… and also? I HATE to meal plan. After years of trial and error, I have discovered that I must go grocery shopping weekly. When I tried to go every two weeks, I’d end up making endless “small trips” where I’d end up spending an absurd amount of money with the intent to only buy milk. Doesn’t work. So, though I have the whole timing part figured out, I get into a huge rut with the meals that I cook, especially considering 1) I have no time and 2) I have no energy.
We have really been wanting to forgo processed foods completely in our house. We’ve already cut WAY down on them with Knox’s soy allergy because, FYI, every. single. thing. has soy in it. I saw a post the other day on Jill’s blog about the same thing, and she decided to try out a meal planning system called “The Fresh 20.” Oh. My. Gosh. Color my life changed. The gist of the plan is that you use 20 fresh, whole ingredients (plus pantry staples) to make five meals for the week. They should feed a family of four (or in our case, two hungry adults, one bottomless pit of an infant plus one leftover serving (Knox has some sensory/picky issues with food and generally eats something else)).
I googled “groupon fresh 20″ and found one out of Knoxville (you don’t have to live in the city where it’s offered since it’s online) and bought a yearly subscription for 50% off the normal price, so it was just $24. With the yearly membership, you have access to the archives of weekly meal plans. I perused through and picked my menu for last week based purely on what sounded good to me. I can honestly say that I loved every single meal that I made. I did spend more than the guestimmated amount for the week because I had to stock up on some pantry staples, but I anticipate a much smaller bill next week.
Trevor has raved about the meals I’ve been making. Now, I’m a pretty darn good cook, normally. Not to brag on myself, but I am a Southern chick with a whole family of good cooks… I’ve absorbed some cooking skills over the years. This is just a whole new method of cooking for me, based on healthy, fresh ingredients. We are planning on a good garden this spring, so we wanted to start eating a lot more fresh vegetables, too, so this really ticked off a lot of boxes for us. Brody has also enjoyed every meal so far, especially the tilapia… I’ve never seen such a tiny kid eat so much fish!! Here are some of the things I’ve made over the past week or so:
Pan-seared tilapia with a quinoa, green bean and tomato salad (with homemade citrus vinaigrette)
Asian turkey meatballs with whole grain broccoli and pineapple “fried” rice
Kale and Italian Sausage Pasta
Pork tenderloin medallions over sauteed red cabbage and brown rice
Maple-glazed salmon over a mixed grain medley with kale and carrots
These are just iPhone pictures, but they give you the general idea. On tonight’s menu? New York Strip. Oh yes, I can’t wait for dinner! Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you guys in case you’re stumped for healthy meal ideas, too. I wouldn’t say these are necessarily recipes for beginners, but if you know your way around the kitchen, you can handle it! I’ve tweaked a few of the recipes to fit our taste, but for the most part, I’ve stuck to the menu. So excited about this new way of eating and planning our meals! How do you meal plan? What’s the method to your madness?
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