Monday, December 03, 2018

Menu Plan December 2 - 8

I am here today to tell you that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE'RE GOING TO EAT THIS WEEK!!!  AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!  This is my "menu planning as I write this" post.  I've been so good for the last few months, planning my meals two weeks ahead, but life has suddenly become completely overwhelming and I've lost all my menu planning mojo.  I barely know where I'm supposed to be at any given time.  Seriously.  What day is it?

My daughter and I are TOO DARN BUSY, but that's a topic for another post.  I will say right now that I am not adding one more thing to our weekends between now and Christmas.  That's mostly because there's no room in the schedule to add anything else!

So, as I type this, I'm coming up with our plan.  And I'm grocery shopping with ClickList this week - that's the Fred Meyer service where you order your groceries online, then pull up to the store, call them, and they bring them out to you.  We just got it at our store a few months ago.  It's free this week but it would be worth the $5 even if it wasn't!  I've been shopping more at Winco than Fred Meyer to save money, but I think my sanity is more important this month.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday:  My daughter and I went to see my niece in The Nutcracker a couple of hours from home.  We stopped at my parents' house for waffles and bacon on the way home.

Monday: My daughter has her piano lesson at 5:00.  Thank goodness swimming lessons are over, because those were at 7:00 for a few months.  We were eating QUICK dinners!  Tonight we'll have Trader Joe's Orange Chicken and rice with green beans.

Tuesday:  I'll pick up my grocery order on the way home from work.  I'll make Chicken and Bows - it's easy and fairly quick (and I think I have everything in the house for it already!).

Wednesday:  My daughter is in a play during the Sunday School service at church next Sunday, so she has play practice from 5:00 - 6:15.  Another quick dinner needed - we'll have chili dogs, chips, and carrot sticks.

Thursday:  My daughter has (are you sensing a pattern here?) youth group at church from 6:30 - 8:00.  Normally I work from home on Thursdays so I have some leeway with our dinners but we have a new person starting in our department today so my boss asked me to come in.  This all but eliminates my time to cook at home.  We'll have chicken strips, potato salad, and coleslaw

Friday:  I'm going out for dinner and to a play with a friend.  My husband and daughter are on their own!  They'll probably go to Panda Express.

Saturday:  I'm spending the day cleaning house and preparing for my daughter's birthday party on Sunday.  So I'll be home to cook but I won't want to!  We'll have pork chops and mashed potatoes. 

Hope your week is calmer than mine!  What's on your menu?

This is posted to Menu Plan Monday on where you can find lots of other menu ideas!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Instant Pot Spaghetti

My daughter is a spaghetti fanatic.  She'd probably eat it every day if I'd let her.  Unfortunately, the rest of us don't feel the same way!  So, to accommodate her desire, I've started making big batches and freezing them in thermos-size portions for her school lunches.  The easiest and quickest way for me to do this is with the Instant Pot.  I've tried a couple of recipes but none came out with thick enough sauce for her, and after some experimenting I've finally come up with a winner!

1 T. olive oil
1/2 to 1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
16 ounce package spaghetti noodles
1 24-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
1 24.5-ounce container crushed tomatoes
3 c. water

With the Instant Pot on the saute setting, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic in the olive oil.  Once cooked, turn off the pot.  Carefully drain grease if necessary.  Add seasonings and stir with the meat mixture.

Break the noodles into desired length and sprinkle into the pot (don't put them in in solid handfuls or they'll clump together when they cook).  Pour the spaghetti sauce and crushed tomatoes over, then pour the water over all of that.  Make sure the noodles are submerged in the liquid. 

Seal the Instant Pot and cook on manual for 9 minutes.  After cooking, use the manual pressure release.  Remove the lid and stir thoroughly to make sure that everything is incorporated evenly.  Serve immediately, or freeze in single-serve portions to eat later. 


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving food 2018

In our house, we do two Thanksgivings.  Fortunately, I don't host either one and they're both potlucks, so I don't have to make too much food or make sure my house is presentable!  My husband's family gets together on Thursday and my family gets together on Saturday, at which time we also celebrate the five November/December birthdays in the extended family, including my daughter's, which is in early December.

There were a couple of recipes I tried for the first time that were definite keepers, so I want to be sure to make note of them here!

For Thursday:

I think there was something else but I can't remember what it was!

For Saturday:

  • Hot Double-Onion Cheese Dip (I'll admit I had doubts about this recipe - especially the lemon zest - but it was delicious!!!  I used Jarlsberg cheese because it was less expensive)
  • An assortment of veggies, crackers, and chips 
  • Ranch dip made following the recipe on the Uncle Dan's dressing packet  
  • Homemade Mini Strawberry Strudels, with homemade quick puff pastry using this recipe (this was my daughter's choice for her birthday dessert this year)

All in all, a delicious weekend! 

Monday, November 05, 2018

Menu Plan November 4 - 10

How'd everybody do on their menus last week?  I did a few switches but for the most part we stuck to it.  We ended up picking up Taco Bell on Tuesday because we made a last-minute trip to the pumpkin patch rather than getting our carving pumpkins at the store.  And, I switched Friday and Saturday's dinners because I didn't get the enchiladas made in the morning so I needed something quicker after Zumba class on Friday night. 

Funny story - I told my husband we were supposed to have enchiladas Friday night and he said he didn't like those (which I know isn't true).  I said I was making the creamy kind, not the red sauce kind (I've never found a red sauce that didn't taste like a can so I don't make that kind).  I asked if he liked those and he couldn't remember.  I said (with a smile on my face) "well I'll just make them and you can tell me how gross they are."  He ate them, and then ate the leftovers for lunch yesterday, so I think they were acceptable, LOL.

And so, without further ado, here's this week's menu (also posted to Menu Plan Monday at

Sunday:  White chicken chili (I used this as a base recipe)
Monday:  Leftover chili
Tuesday:  Bean and Cheese Burritos (something like this)
Wednesday:  Chicken Divan over rice 
Thursday:  Rice ball casserole
Friday:  Boboli pizza
Saturday:  movie night at my sister-in-laws means a bunch of junk food for dinner!

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Menu Plan October 28 - November 3

I've been to the grocery store twice this weekend, and spent a ton of money, but did I get the food I need for my meal plan?  Naturally, no...I was focused on Halloween festivities (and substitute festivities as we missed the family party due to illness). 

Fortunately I did a quick switcheroo on my running meal plan (that thing is a godsend - why didn't I do it years ago?) and all I need to do is run and buy bananas while my daughter is at Sunday School this morning and then I don't need to REALLY shop until my day off on Wednesday!

So here's the current plan...and I should note that we're going pork heavy in the upcoming weeks as we've entered the USE UP ALL THE PORK time of the year, as the new pigs will be ready soon.

Sunday:  Sausage hash
Monday:  Leftover pizza roll-ups
Tuesday: Chicken divan over rice
Wednesday: Sausages and Tater Tots (quick Halloween food!)
Thursday:  Pork and Cabbage Stir Fry
Friday:  Chicken Enchiladas (maybe.  If I get my act together and can make it ahead of time)
Saturday:  Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

What's on your menu?  This will be linked to Menu Plan Monday at

Have a great one!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Party Food Oct. 27

Tonight is our annual pumpkin carving party with my sister-in-law's family.  Not sure who else is coming (if anyone) this year, but it will be a great time! 

Last night I went to start preparing food, and Pinterest was down.  Now THAT is a Halloween horror story if ever I heard one!  How on earth would I get my recipes???  Fortunately, through the magic of Google, I pieced it all back together.  But it reinforced that I need to be saving tried and true recipes on my computer, not just out in Pinterest-land. 

Normally I try to go all out and make some fun Halloween-themed food for this party, but the funeral for the father of a couple of my friends is today, so I'm keeping it simple.  Here's the plan (my sister-in-law is also cooking a bunch of things so this isn't all we'll be eating!):

Pimento cheese with crackers
Spinach Dip with bread (tip - use the Spring Vegetable soup mix instead of the regular vegetable - it  is so much better in this dip!)
Pizza Roll-Ups (just pepperoni and cheese this time)
Veggie Tray with Ranch dip
Chocolate Chip Dip (I use this recipe but I don't make it into a ball) with Scooby Snacks

Carb heavy and delicious - just the way party food should be! 

What are you cooking up for Halloween?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Menu Plan October 14 - 20

I realized a couple of days ago that I totally forgot to post the menu for this past week!  Wouldn't have mattered much because we deviated a bit...but here's what we did eat!

Sunday:  Ham and Broccoli Impossible Pie
Monday:  Chili Dogs
Tuesday:  Panda Express
Wednesday:  Skillet fried pork and potatoes
Thursday:  Chicken and rice
Friday:  Leftovers for the win!
Saturday:  Instant Pot "roast" chicken with mushroom risotto

A note about that risotto - I'm totally out of white wine, so I substituted apple cider.  It was DELICIOUS!  I also made that in my Instant Pot.  I made Instant Pot spaghetti for lunch today (and now have five lunches' worth of leftovers for my daughter to take to school!). And I'm cooking dinner tonight in my Instant Pot...normally I just make ingredients with it - beans, rice, stock, stuff like that.  But apparently I'm in a meal-making mood these days.

My daughter made the chicken and rice.  She's been working on her "Simple Meals" badge for Girl Scouts.  She was tired and cranky and didn't want to make it and I said "look.  It literally takes TEN MINUTES to put chicken and rice together.  You can do it!"  So she did it.  And then she remembered she doesn't like the chicken in chicken and rice.  Sigh...

Today I went to THREE grocery stores.  I have a new routine - on Sundays I drop my daughter off at Sunday School and then have about an hour to myself before I have to pick her up (yes, I could go to adult Bible study, but I don't, for reasons which are my own).  I used to just go to Starbucks and drink coffee and read my book, but I'm trying to scale back on all forms of eating out, so the coffee had to go (and I just realized I'm a cup short on my coffee drinking today, so maybe that's why I've been cranky all afternoon, but I digress...).  Last weekend I decided to check out Grocery Outlet and wow, it's so much cleaner than it used to be!  I haven't been in ages.  So I went back again today.  I took my list and grabbed a few things that I knew I needed plus a few things that were too good to pass up.  Then on the way back I decided to check out the Super Mercado, which I also haven't been to in a long time.  Then this afternoon I went to Fred Meyer (where I completely blew my grocery budget and bought very little that wasn't on my list - I really need to be shopping at Winco).  But, we are stocked up for the week and just about out of money for the month so I'll be getting creative moving forward!

And, without further ado, here's the menu for this week:

Sunday:  Cube Steak and Gravy over mashed potatoes
Monday:  Pasta Salad
Tuesday:  Irish Sundaes
Wednesday:  Tuna casserole
Thursday:  Chicken Lazone, maybe with cornbread or biscuits.  I haven't decided.
Friday:  Chicken strips and salads
Saturday:  Beef and Noodles (made with ground beef)

What's on your menu for the week?  Remember to visit Menu Plan Monday at for tons of great ideas!  

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Menu Plan Sept. 30 - October 6

I made it through one of the busiest weeks of my year!  Woo hoo!  Last week's menu showed that my daughter and husband would eat out on Thursday.  Instead, my daughter made dinner (I was working at a fundraiser) as part of a Girl Scout cooking badge she's working on.  So there was that money saved! 

Here's the plan for this week (which is another busy one at work but at least I get to leave on time every day): has so many amazing menu ideas!

Sunday:  Sausage and potato soup
Monday:  Hamburgers/Pork burgers (leftover patties that I froze) and fries
Tuesday:  Barbacoa soft tacos (also leftovers that I froze)
Wednesday:  Jambalaya (Zatarains)
Thursday:  Garlic noodles with chicken
Friday:  Shipwreck
Saturday:  Swedish Meatballs and Spaetzle

What's on your menu this week? 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Menu Plan September 23-29

We are entering one of the two busiest weeks of the year for me at work.  I'm thankful for my meal plan because that's one less thing I need to think about!  Since I had it done well in advance, I was able to grocery shop on my lunch hour last Thursday, the day I work at home, which was fantastic because I was gone most of the weekend on a Girl Scout campout with my daughter.  Like last weekend when I was out of town, I got to come home and actually stay here instead of having to run back out to the grocery store!  Planning for the win!

Later in the week there are two meals out.  I'm noticing from the budget that we're starting to eat out less and less.  This is great because we're definitely saving money and eating healthier food.  But, I'll still rely on it when we need to!  I'm in fundraising and we have an auction Thursday night.  I'll see if my daughter wants to cook (she's working on a Girl Scout cooking badge), but it's just as likely that they'll want to go to Panda Express because I don't like it as much as they do, so they're happy to go when I'm not around.   Friday is Grandparents' Day at school, and my parents always have dinner with us afterward so they don't have to sit in rush hour traffic for two hours to get home.  But...I have to be at a conference downtown, so I'll be home late. parents will bring my daughter home, my husband will stop and pick up take-and-bake pizza on his way home, they'll cook it when they're ready, and I'll eat some whenever I get there!

Here's the plan for this week:

Remember to visit for many more ideas!

Sunday:  Chili and Cornbread
Monday:  Sausages and Tater Tots
Tuesday:  Chicken Taquitos
Wednesday:  Skillet meal
Thursday:  Take-out, most likely
Friday: Papa Murphy's

What's on your plan for the week?  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu Plan September 16 - 22

I may have mentioned that I'm now keeping a running list of menu plans on my computer.  It goes out a couple of weeks, and I note recipes that I have most of the ingredients for, that sound good to me, or that my family requests.  Because I'm working into the future, I can easily rearrange and adjust as requests are made or as I encounter ingredients that need to be used up.  Well, that menu list totally saved me this week!

My daughter and I left after school on Friday and spent the weekend with my side of the family at a lake cabin that my grandfather built.  The cabin is no longer in the family, but my parents made arrangements with the owners for us all to go spend some time there to celebrate my nephew's birthday. 

Corner of the cabin with the lake behind

Having a menu plan already made up for the week meant that I could do my grocery shopping for this week on Thursday when I bought the food I'd be contributing to the weekend.  It was such a great feeling to get home at 5:00 last night and not have to unload the car, turn around, and go back out to the grocery store! 

I was also able to throw together a quick and simple dinner with some of the leftover ingredients from the weekend.  One of my contributions was flat bread pizzas for lunch on Saturday (I also made a fruit salad for Sunday), and I had a mixture of green onions, peppers, and mushrooms already all chopped up and ready to go.  I got a small package of chicken sausage out of the freezer, cooked and sliced it, cooked some rotini, and sauteed the leftover veggies with some more onions and mushrooms added.  Then I mixed it all together with a little pasta water and added a few red pepper flakes for kick, topped with shredded parmesan cheese, and called it dinner!  It's something I call "pizza noodles" because it has all the flavors we like on pizza.  I used to put tomatoes in, too, but my daughter doesn't care for cooked tomatoes.  I also left out the pizza seasoning this time because those flavors were in the chicken sausage.  It was delicious! has so many great menu ideas!

Here's the menu for this week:

Sunday:  pizza noodles (see above)
Monday:  pot pies (frozen - hubby will cook these while we're at my daughter's piano lesson so we can quickly eat before her swimming lesson)
Tuesday:  pork and cabbage stir fry
Wednesday: chicken paprikash over baked potatoes
Thursday:  sour cream pork chops with noodles
Friday:  beef and broccoli lo mein (this recipe is new to us but sounds great!
Saturday:  My daughter and I will be at a Girl Scout campout so my husband is on his own.  He'll probably go out. 

What's on your menu this week?  Have a great one!