My Life

Meal Planning Adventures: Week 2

The adventure continues! I have continued to use some of the recipes on my pinterest board, but in addition, we have incorporated some old-time favorites of ours.

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1. Plan easy meals for busy days. The crockpot is one of my favorite friends. While we’re out getting the to-do’s done, the crockpot is at home doing all the work. We made Honey Sesame Chicken in the crockpot on Sunday to eat when we got home from church. We invited a family over to join us, and we all agreed — delicious! We ate it on top of rice, and the next night we ate the leftovers on top of quinoa with a side salad. And the night afterwards, we shared the leftovers with my sister, and again, it was delicious.

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2. Have ingredients on hand for healthy, quick snacks. When I am on the brink of getting hangry, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour cooking. Thankfully, I had fruits and vegetables on hand to help me out. I was in the mood for a simple green smoothie after returning home from my internship, so I blended up 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 apple, and a couple handfuls of raw kale. It woke up my brain, and I was able to get back to work.

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3. Be okay with changing plans. I had planned to try making a shepherd’s pie one night, but we were in the mood to eat a hamburger that night, so we changed plans and used the potatoes we wanted to use to make the baked potato wedges instead. I feel that the point is to have a plan, and then when life changes those plans, you can adapt.

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4. Try new combinations. We had two bell peppers we wanted to use, and we were both in the mood for fajitas. I had never made them before, so I looked online, but the recipes I found were too complicated for what we had in the pantry. So I put some olive oil in a pan, added sliced onion, sliced bell pepper, garlic, chopped chicken, sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper, and chipotle tabasco sauce. It was heavenly! I love the sweet spiciness the sauce adds to the meal!

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5. Have fun trying new things. We visited my great aunt, and she let us pick apples from her backyard. She had thousands of them back there, and we went home with a full plastic bag of them. Friday afternoon I cut them all up and made applesauce. I based my recipe on this recipe, but since some of the apples were not sweet, I added some honey to taste. I blended up most of the apples, but I left some chunky to use with some chicken later this next week.

In addition to trying new things, we also enjoyed making old-time favorites.

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I was in the mood for some zucchini pasta, and while I was working on things for my internship, my husband whipped up this lovely dish with lentils, garlic, and chopped tomatoes added to the pasta sauce. #IAmSoBlessed

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I also love to make bread. I prefer to make them in rolls, since we can share them with our neighbors as well as throw them easily in the freezer and have them thaw when needed. (I will share how to make these in a future post. They are my favorite bread ever, and I love how simple their ingredient list is. I can make it either by hand or in my Bosch machine.)

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A friend also gave us some very ripe strawberries from her garden, so I mashed up with a fork and added a tbsp of chia seeds. I love it in place of jam on toast or as a spread on pancakes!

Stay tuned for my recipes for Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal! 

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Meal Planning

Meal Planning Adventures: Week 1

Life is an adventure.

School is an adventure.

Marriage is FULL of adventures.

The past few weeks I have experimented in the kitchen. With our busy schedules as newly-wed college students, meal planning has helped me the past few weeks relieve stress and save money when shopping for groceries. As I got ready for the week, I looked up posts with tips about meal planning (such as Faith’s post on the Kitchn, as well as Amanda’s post on Run to the Finish). I really like how they emphasized taking note of what you already have in your fridge/pantry and trying to plan meals around certain ingredients you want to use.

For the past couple weeks, that principle has helped us use our vegetables so they wouldn’t go bad in the fridge.

While creating my meal plan, I had fun pulling recipes from my pinterest board to try. We bought the ingredients from the grocery store to make sure we had everything on hand.

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One of the first meals we made was Liza’s Coconut Curry Chicken. It was DELICIOUS! I used 1/2 a can of regular coconut milk and added a little water (to use in place of buying a lite version of coconut milk). My husband and I DIED of delight. We are definitely going to keep this recipe on hand.

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Banana Soft Serve is one of our favorite treats! It is a lot cheaper to make than to buy the dairy-free ice creams they sell in the grocery store (not to mention a lot healthier as well without all the added sugar).

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I have also wanted to try Ashley’s Loaded Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes for a long time. I added it to our plan and noted the couple ingredients we lacked at the moment. After buying the few ingredients we needed, we prepared it and ate it on top of my homemade bread. I didn’t grow up eating sloppy joes very often, so I didn’t know exactly what it should taste like, but I liked it. My husband said it tasted similar to sloppy joes, so I call it a winner.

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This is my absolutely FAVORITE breakfast: Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal. I will share this recipe soon. (It might be an obsession of mine….)QWLG1819

After trying that Coconut Chicken Curry, we were in the mood for more curry, so I made Hauke’s Vegetarian Chickpea Curry. I made the chickpeas in my crockpot and they were still a little crunchy, so I let the curry similar longer to finish softening the chickpeas. We loved it, especially as leftovers. (Leftovers really help us on those long days when we come home and don’t have energy to cook something big.)

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A friend gave us a HUGE yellow squash, so I added to our week meal plan to roast it with some other vegetables we had on hand, such as red potatoes and cauliflower. I chopped them all up and put them in a gallon Ziploc baggie. I added olive oil, salt and pepper, and italian seasonings, and after shaking it to coat, I placed it in the fridge for later. before dinner, I laid it out on two cookie sheets (I had made a lot so we could have leftovers), and I roasted it in the oven at 425 degrees F for about 25 minutes until the potatoes were soft. We enjoyed them with other leftovers. Leftovers are becoming my favorite friend.

I feel like meal planning has helped me branch out and try new things. I’m now finding myself creating my own recipes and using the spices with which I’m getting better acquainted, and I look forward to using these skills and experiences to bless my future children. What an amazing adventure still lies ahead of us.

My Life

Meal Planning + Avocado Sandwich

Meal planning. That is a skill I want to develop. As a single student, I could buy whatever I would like and make meals I wanted at that moment with what I had. Now that I am married, we are tighter on money. I’ve had fun cooking for the two of us these past few weeks, and I am learning through trial and error. 

Last night as we drove home from our shopping trip to Winco (where we stocked up on some essentials, such as quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other ingredients I need for some recipes we want to try), we wrote out what we had spent on food for the past few weeks and what meals we wanted. My goal today is to plan out our meals so we can make sure to have the necessary ingredients on hand.

One meal we planned for today was an avocado sandwich. We wanted something with an Hispanic cuisine flavor, so we sliced some of my homemade bread (which I baked in bread pans instead of the large tin cans, since we don’t have any tin cans I can use), and we topped it with lite mayo, homemade style refried beans, avocado, and salt and pepper. It was delicious. I like to eat mine open-face style.

What are some of your favorite sandwich toppings? We would love ideas!

Have you ever meal planned before? What strategies have helped you?