"...In the dance of sun and water and sky. In the faces of the people who need us most and of the people we most need. In the smell of breakfast cooking on a charcoal fire. Who knows where we will find Him or whether we will recognize Him if we do? Who knows anything even approaching the truth of who He really was? But my prayer is that we will all of us find Him somewhere, somehow, and that He will give us something of his life to fill our emptiness, something of his light to drive back our dark"
-The Great Dance -Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Meal Planning for Family of Four

Happy New Year from me and my clan!!!

the only pic we got of the four of us over the holidays

I'm excited to get back into the swing of things after a nice long Christmas break.  What better way to start the year off right than to have some well thought out food to eat!!

There was a time where Nels and I put money in envelops and stuck to a VERY strict grocery budget.  We're looking to do that again in the New Year because to be honest... it was fun!

Not only am I looking to track our spending but I'm also looking to make sure we have plenty of homemade snacks, treats, and meals made in the next few months.  We always feel better and spend less when we eat homemade everything.

Ok, here's what I'm starting with

Freezer snacks

  • Peanut Butter Protein Balls.  I was introduced to these when I tried doing the 21 day fix (i lasted 7 days ha ha!).  They're so good.  I don't even feel bad having them for breakfast sometimes.  The kids both like them too.  I like to double the recipe and throw them in the freezer
  • Pumpkin Scones.  Molly likes these better than the Peanut butter balls or Greek Yogurt Muffins.  These are good for a quick breakfast or after school snack.

The Meal Plan

With our schedules being a bit odd, a regular Monday-Friday meal plan doesn't work.  I don't normally "cook" when Nels is working nights and not around for dinner.   I'm finding that a list of meal options for the month (or week) works best for us and i just make sure I have groceries on hand for those meals.  On Nels' day shifts I always cook, on his nights I don't and then on his days off we have lots of time for cooking.

Once a week Soups 

Before Christmas we started doing Soup Sundays.  Sometimes I had soup leftover from the night before or in the freezer but we would get home from church and make some homemade biscuits and then heat up soup.  So easy and awesome!  Here are some of our favourites... I'm going to try a few new soups this month that will hopefully make this "well loved" list.  I'm not actually making any of these soups this week but they're usually my go to's for Soup days.  Nels made the Taco soup yesterday and we still have some leftovers:)

Chicken enchilada Soup: This is my favourite soup.  It freezes REALLY well.  I take it to work with me for lunch often so I usually freeze it in individual containers

Mennonite Taco Soup: Similar type of flavours as the enchilada soup.  The kids like it which is awesome.

Broccoli Cheese Soup: My kids LOVE this soup.  I've always loved broccoli soup so this is a win for us every time.

Here are the meals I'll be trying this week (my week is starting January 5th which is a Thursday)  I've gone through the ingredients for these recipes and after grocery shopping today I have everything on hand.

  • Chicken Kale Salad with Brown rice and Balsamic Honey Mustard dressing
    • dressing recipe found here, the rest is pretty easy, just fry chicken, make rice and add whatever extra's.  I usually put in some cheese, cucumbers, roasted walnuts etc... The great part about this salad is that you can keep the leftover rice, chicken and veggies and just assemble salads for lunch throughout the week.  We do this kind of recipe a lot, especially in the summer with fresh garden veggie's.  
  • Tuscan Bean Soup with French bread.  
    • this recipe looks SO good.  I especially love the huge chunks of parm cheese so I'm excited to try it
    • I always use the French Bread recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  It is so easy and fast.  The recipe makes 2 loaves so I'll save one for Caprese Garlic bread that we've done for lunch in the past)
  • Baked Honey Sesame Chicken with Fried Rice
    • this is a new recipe.  We've done chicken similar to this in the past but I'm curious to see how this recipe tastes.  
    • this particular fried rice will also be a new one for me.  Most fried rice recipes use rice that has been cooked and in the fridge so I'll probably use leftover rice from the chicken kale salad.  The fried rice recipe I usually use is basically identical to this one so I don't think there will be any surprises.  
  • Chili Macaroni and Cheese
    • this recipe is from mixandmatchamama which is a blog I read quite a bit lately.  The recipe looks pretty simple.  I am also a lover of casseroles so this is a no brainer:)
  • Skinny Burrito Bowl
    • I've made this before and it was a really big hit.  The flavour is so great and there is lots of leftovers that everyone loves!!
  • Quinoa Salad
    • i love this salad so much.  I've been making it for about 3 years now.  I modify it based on what I have but the key for me is balsamic vinegar from Costco and the curry and cumin powder.  The mango is also one of my favourite parts but if I don't have mango I've used mandarine oranges too and its still good.  I'll probably make this one on one of Nels' nights.  It's hearty enough to be a meal but maybe not for men.  The girls and I love it so I feel like it's a good meal for the 3 of us:)
I figure these should get me through at least 7 days including at least 2 days of leftovers.  Our lunches are usually pretty simple so I don't really worry about recipes for them.  Violet loves noodles so I usually do a homemade cheese sauce with elbow macaroni and she's happy.  Tuna sandwiches or peanut butter sandwiches are also hits for both Molly and Vi.  

Guess what!?!?  I'm even going to try to take some pics of how these recipes work out and update the blog.  Who cares you might be wondering... well probably no-one but i'm just stoked about having a meal plan:)