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Category: meal planning

  1. Sunday, August 22

    Week 187 Menu

    I visited one of my favorite spots yesterday and bought this…

    If you can tell us what spice (or, more accurately, seed) it is, you win the Spice Queen/King title for the day! And if you don’t know what it is, you’ll find out soon enough…I’m trying a new recipe this week involving this beautiful seed and you can bet I’ll be writing about it (crossing my fingers it actually tastes good!).

    Last week there was a lot of shifting with my menu. I ended up changing a lot of what we ate based upon the stores I had a chance to shop at. So, we’ve got a few repeats from last week’s menu.

    MONDAY:
    – Recipe that uses the above spice that I’m keeping a secret for some reason…I guess I’m bored? 😉
    – Fresh corn on the cob from the farmstand

    TUESDAY:
    – Homemade pizza just for Cate, who will officially be a KINDERGARTENER on Tuesday!

    WEDNESDAY:
    Red beans and rice (Thanks for the link, butterfly wishes! And Emily, I’ll be sure to try the recipe you shared last week as well!)

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Chili

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    – Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese
    – Fresh fruit

    As always, I’m incredibly appreciative of you all sharing your menus. I love that you provide ideas for each other, and, more importantly, for ME. Yeah, this is all about me in the end. 😉 Seriously, though, my brother recently asked me where I go for ideas every week. I don’t go any further than this blog…I just browse through previous weeks’ menus and look at your comments from the week before. That’s it. So, THANK YOU!

    Can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for the week! Have a good one!


  2. Friday, June 18

    What Do You Eat When You Don’t Eat What You Plan To Eat?

    empty plate2 web

    It’s Friday. And Friday is all about slacking off, taking it easy, getting ready for the weekend. So, let’s discuss meal planning slackerness in honor of this the greatest day of the week. My dear friend Emily (whom I have mentioned before and is the reason I discovered and started blogging) just had a beautiful baby boy! The week before he was born, she ‘chatted’ me saying, “Can you do a post asking people what they eat when they don’t cook what they planned?” I thought this was a smashing idea, so here we are.

    Last summer, I tracked exactly what we ate versus what I planned for 4 weeks. This was a great exercise for me…but I’m still curious what YOU eat when you don’t eat what you plan. For me, every single week there is at least one day that diverges from the meal plan. That’s life, it’s gonna happen. But when that happens (which I think it does to most of us), what takes the place of the planned meals?

    Emily needs help, people. She just had her third kid. She’s sleep deprived. Let’s make her feel good about throwing her meal plans out the window…and offer up ideas (good or bad) for replacing those ditched dinner plans!


  3. Tuesday, January 12

    Whoops Bunny Meal Planner Giveaway Winner!

    First off, can I say how happy I am so many of you are meal planning out there?  Or wanting to get into it?  What wonderful comments you shared for the Whoops Bunny meal planner giveaway! You made me smile.

    whoops bunny2 web

    Before I announce the winner…don’t forget the super sassy frameable meal planner from Ollibird that you can download for FREE on the original giveaway post.

    And, you can buy the adorable Whoops Bunny meal planner and shopping list by clicking this link.

    Now, for the moment of truth…random.org selected CheekyChic as our winner! Here’s what she told us: “I’ve been meal planning since I got married to my sweet husband Shawn. The only flaw, which I didn’t know was a flaw until reading your post, was I was writing my meal plans on ripped out notebook paper. Wouldn’t your giveaway be perfect for me? Thanks!”

    Now you can plan the RIGHT way, CheekyChic. 😉

    Thanks to everyone who entered and happy meal planning!


  4. Wednesday, January 6

    I DARE you to make Meal Planning a New Year’s Resolution (random giveaway and a free download to help you get started!)

    This giveaway is now closed. But this post is full of great info…plus a free meal planner download. So keep reading!

    I don’t bug you very often about meal planning. I figure if you want to do it, you will. If you don’t, that’s fine too.

    However, every January I can’t help but plug meal planning as a great new year’s resolution. Here are a few quick reasons why I think you should start {or continue} meal planning:

    • Because I said so. Isn’t that enough?
    • It will save you money.
    • Weekly meal planning = less trips to the grocery store = a happier life
    • It only takes a few minutes. I SWEAR. Especially if you visit a certain helpful website each week to get ideas from…
    • You will no longer be stressed when dinnertime rolls around.

    For those of you who are thinking, “I’m not organized like that.” Don’t forget, I am NOT all that organized myself.  The only reason I get a meal plan done every week is because of this here blog. If I can do it, anyone can! And there are no rules when it comes to meal planning…don’t stress yourself out about it, just find a system that works for you.

    Now that I’m done lecturing, on to the fun stuff!

    Fun Thing #1: Whoops Bunny is giving away a Weekly Menu Planner & Shopping List, with a matching set of pencils. They are SUPER cute and come with a handy magnetic strip, so you can easily stick your meal plan to the fridge. To enter for your chance to win the set, just add a comment to this post by Midnight PT on Monday, January 11th.

    whoops bunny web

    Fun Thing #2: Ollibird has really cute meal planners that you print out and put in a frame. You then write your meal plan on the glass with wet or dry erase markers, which clean off easily week to week. You can find this design and this design at their etsy shop that you can download for $10.00 each. And…lucky you…Ollibird is providing a free download for the design you see below! Aren’t they the sweetest?

    Here’s how to download and print this beautiful menu planner:

    scribble menu copy web copy

    • Click on the image above. Save image to your computer. Dimensions are 19.625″ x 15.75″ but image can easily be cropped to most other standard dimensions. As is, the image will fit well in an Ikea Ribba frame.
    • To print the large image, try a printer such as Kinkos, which should be a little less than $10.

    Now that you have all these wonderful options for writing your menu plans, no excuses! And I hope to see your menus posted here on This Week for Dinner each week! I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I love reading your menus!

    One last thing…you don’t have to commit to meal planning as a resolution to enter the Whoops Bunny giveaway. Please, post a comment regardless! Although…the random number generator might look favorably on those who take the meal planning plunge. (Okay, maybe not…but it’s a nice thought!)

    BIG THANKS to Whoops Bunny and Ollibird for making this year’s meal planning post the best ever!


  5. Friday, July 3

    What We REALLY Ate for Dinner

    A few weeks ago someone asked in the comments how closely I actually stick to my menus each week. It made me laugh because Nate frequently jokes he’s going to start a blog called “whatweREALLYatefordinner.com”.

    Sadly for Nate I’m foiling his big blogging plans and just telling you myself what we really ate.  And it’s actually pretty darn close to the weekly menu plans I share each Sunday! I think part of the reason my menu plans happen {for the most part} is because I include leftovers and eating out in the plan.  I also look at the schedule for the week and plan around nights that I know cooking will be unrealistic.  

    Click more to read the full exposé!

    (>> Find out more…)


  6. Thursday, November 13

    New Favorite Easy Dinner: Paninis

    Here’s my new favorite easy dinner.  Paninis.  No, I don’t have a fancy panini maker (yes, I accept free panini makers).  I just cook it in a pan and smash another pan on top of the sandwich.  Oh so fancy, but it does the trick.

    If you’re stuck for a new dinner idea, give it a try!  I use actual panini bread or yummy sliced bread and pile on whatever toppings I happen to have in the fridge.  (I also browse sandwich shop menus for ideas.)

    Pictured is a chicken panini (I cut the chicken into strips, pounded, and sauteed on the stove in olive oil and S&P) with provolone, spinach, tomatoes, roasted red pepper and honey mustard.

    Another plus of the panini – you can use spinach.  Lettuce ain’t so good warm, but spinach is, and it’s oh so super healthy.

    Fast, warm, easy, tasty.  My idea of a good dinner.


  7. Friday, September 19

    A tragic day…

    Horror of horrors! My Costco doesn’t carry $5 rotisserie chickens!!!! WHAT am I supposed to do now? My go-to meal is toast. Oh, and I’ll never be able to take someone dinner again. It’s a sad, sad day. Because Costco was chickenless, I had to pick one up at Whole Foods. It was $10, smaller and a little dry. How depressing.

    Time to go eat some chocolate. Seriously, I think this cake could get just about anyone out of a chicken-induced depression.


    Pictured: Gooey goodness from Jake’s Del Mar. Yes, I ate the whole thing. By myself.


  8. Tuesday, June 24

    Summertime…and the cookin’ ain’t easy

    Summer’s here, bringing with it sunshine, barefeet, lawn furniture, flowers, sundresses, ponytails, strawberries…


    …and HEAT, which generally sends my weekly menu plan into a tailspin. When it’s hot, I just can’t stand thinking about cooking over a stove or turning on an oven!

    Please share your favorite summertime meals with us! Whether you like them because they’re lighter for eating, don’t require as much time spent slaving in the heat (ovens, stoves, etc), or it’s just something that always reminds you of summer, I want to know about it! And so does everyone else.

    Which means summertime has also brought you a bit of homework…get posting! I want to give you all a summertime A+.


  9. Tuesday, May 13

    Meal Planning 101

    Every once in a while I just feel like talking about meal planning with you. After all, it IS the crux of this blog, right? Today we’re going to discuss why it’s so EASY. I’m also going to share a few strategies you might find helpful. This is a long post – SORRY! I promise there’s some good stuff in here, so keep reading!


    Let me preface this post by saying, I’m a slacker at heart. Before this blog, most days you would find me around 4:30 pm each day lamenting the fact I had to cook dinner, with no idea what that dinner was going to be. For some reason I thought planning a weekly menu was annoying. Then I started this blog (if you want the story behind THAT, click here!) and everything changed.

    PLANNING MEALS IS EASY! Yes, people, it is. I know many of you who visit this site do so because you ARE planners. In fact you are probably way more organized than I am. But I also know many of you out there are not planners and don’t plan weekly menus. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, she’s just organized. I’m not like that.” If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am not an organized person. If I can do it, so can you!

    WHY should you plan a weekly menu? Honestly, it makes cooking dinner so much less stressful every day. Grocery shopping is SO much easier. And you spend less money. It’s awesome. Trust me, 10 minutes of planning will save you bucket loads of grief for the rest of the week!

    Okay, off the soapbox. Time to share some cool menu planning strategies. And these strategies are not mine…my strategy is pretty much sit down on Sunday, browse through the blog for ideas, randomly select meals. That’s not so helpful or interesting…Ruth and Elizabeth have much better things to share…


    My good friend Ruth does the following, with an 8-week rotation of tried & true meals that she uses for each slot:
    Monday: Mexican
    Tuesday: Italian
    Wednesday: With Rice (Indian, Stir-fry, Red beans & rice, Pad Thai, etc)
    Thursday: Try new things or Leftovers
    Friday: Fast food (homemade fast food items: hamburgers, grilled cheese, pizza, baked potatoes, etc.)
    Saturday: Fancy Meals (salmon, coq au vin, stuffed shells, etc.) or Eat Out
    Sunday: Soup & Salad

    One of Ruth’s daughter’s friends comes over regularly on Tuesdays. One day she said, “You guys eat pasta a lot!” Pretty funny…little does she know how amazing a cook Ruth is!

    Elizabeth Harris wrote a post a few months back about her quest to plan meals and “reclaim” dinner. You should definitely click over to her post…she writes some great things about the importance of family dinners. Here is Elizabeth’s weekly strategy in a nutshell:
    – One crock pot meal (for the busiest day of the week)
    – One night for leftovers
    – Tuesday nights are usually quick and easy (like breakfast for dinner) because of late meetings
    – One new recipe each week

    There are of course many meal planning websites out there. I’ve gotta tell you, though, I think it just boils down to making a list of things you like and are willing to cook, then developing your meal plans from there. And if you are not planning, hop to it! You’ll thank me later. 🙂

    Time for all of you to share your strategies! How do you go about planning meals? What motivates you?


    You may be wondering what the white trash dinner pictures are up here for? To take the pressure off those of you who think your meals aren’t FANCY enough to post each week. This is honestly what we ate on Friday for dinner. I’m not kidding when I say I love reading your menus, fancy or not! All of your ideas are super! 🙂 Meal planning does not equal fancy food. Especially in my house…


  10. Wednesday, June 6

    Musings: Why Meal Planning RULES


    You may be thinking right now, “Isn’t this a food blog? Why am I looking at a flower? Has Jane gone green-thumb on us?” The answers are…Yes, Yes, and NO WAY. No plant in its right mind wants me thinking I have a green thumb. Honestly, the orchid just looked so pretty at breakfast this morning under the kitchen light. And flowers, while I may kill them, DO in fact make me happy…kind of like…(prepare for terribly cheesy segue)…meal planning!

    So, I don’t know why you visit my blog. Maybe you like the pictures, maybe the recipes without measurements, maybe you even like reading what I have to say (that seems unlikely!)…regardless, the whole reason I started the blog was to get myself planning my weekly menus, and getting other people’s ideas is super helpful – enter blog.

    I was thinking I should do a little PR for my blog and try to convince the un-converted of you out there why planning a weekly menu is so great. I don’t actually enjoy the planning part, but the result is so worth it. It makes life so much less stressful. Seriously. When I don’t plan, cooking is a DRAG…when I do plan, it’s no big deal. I go to the store less. I spend less money (usually). It really just makes life EASIER. I’m not an organized person or some super duper chef…but meal planning helps tremendously. TRUST ME. If you aren’t planning, you should give it a shot! Okay, I’m done preaching.