Weekly Meal Plan: Monday January 3rd

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on January 3, 2011

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and fun weekend. I can’t believe it’s 2011.

While my kids have been playing with their new toys, I’ve been enjoying the new griddle I got for Christmas (mother-in-law, not husband!). I love it because I can cook multiple pancakes, egg sandwiches, French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches. A time-saver for sure.

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This week I’m trying a couple of new recipes from the cookbook we’re giving away, No Whine with Dinner. (So enter the contest if you haven’t already.) I’m deviating from regular salmon to try salmon cakes and I’m intrigued by the slow cooker spinach lasagna recipe.

For more meal plan ideas see Org Junkie.

What’s Cooking this Week?

Monday: Have it Your Way Tacos with guacamole and all the toppings

Tuesday: Corny Salmon Cakes (new book), baked fries and green been and mushroom medley

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili, fruit and salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Slow Cooker Mile-High Spinach Lasagna (new book), bread and salad

Salad of the week: Orange, walnut and mixed green salad (wihout the Gorgonzola)

Goals for the New Year

I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution person but I do like to reflect on the past year while making plans for the new one. I won’t bore you with all of my goals, only my food and health related ones. So here goes…

1. Better meal planning:
I do a pretty good job of planning dinner but can be caught off guard with breakfast and lunch. I’m going to start planning all the meals while staying flexible.

I also want to stop my impulse buying. I’m guilty of seeing a cool looking vegetable, buying it and then finding it spoiled later in the week.

Needless to say, I’m the kind of cook that needs to plan. I’ll be stocking my cabinets and freezer with food we typically eat. I tend to only buy what I need for the week so my grocery trips take a lot of energy and planning. And it’s all too easy to forget something, which I tend to do each week.

So expect to see more detailed meal plans from me.

2. Stick with simple – cook more:
I’ve been trying to make homemade pizza for a while. I buy the Trader Joe’s dough and it always turns out too doughy. I even bought a pizza stone and it still didn’t turn out. I keep saying I will make my own dough….but I never do.

After a friend mentioned the Boboli pizza crusts to me (I used this like crazy in my twenties) I went out and bought the whole grain one. It was so simple — I just topped the pizza with marinara, cheese and veggies. And I didn’t have to worry about rolling out the dough or not cooking it enough.

In the last couple of years I’ve learned that when it comes to meal preparation, simple is best. I can create the best meal in the world but if I’m stressed as a result, it doesn’t help anyone.

I feel like I strike the jackpot when I find a recipe that tastes good, is nutritious and super simple. So expect to see more easy and nutritious recipes in the coming year.

3. More taking care of me:
I have a lot going on: small children to take care of, part- time work, this blog, other writing projects, a new condo and a husband.

I exercise about three times a week, try to get enough sleep and get my hair done regularly, but that’s about it for self care. I’ve always valued my friendships and realize I’ve lost touch with some dear friends.

I’ve been telling myself that this is all temporary and that once my kids are in school I’ll have more time to focus on myself. But then I talk to friends with older kids and they are still having trouble with time and balancing it all.

So while I don’t have time to plan events every night, I can save a couple nights in the month to meet up with friends or make phone calls. I can take breaks for more exercise, which always rejuvenates me. And I can take time once a month to buy some things I need like makeup or clothes.

I need to laugh more and stress less. How about you?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Mama Melissa January 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

LOVE your new griddle – I’m a little jealous over here! But granted, I’m only feeding a family of three, so I can make due with my iron skillet. Just wanted to encourage you in your homemade pizza endeavor. I too thought the dough would be hard to make. I can truly tell you that it is not. I was a boboli fan myself until I started to read labels. Pizza dough should have six ingredients… flour, water, yeast, oil, and some salt and sugar or honey. It mixes in minutes and bakes in ten – so simple, I swear. Check out my post for more instructions – http://thesassyapron.blogspot.com/2010/05/thin-crust-whole-wheat-pizza.html
Can’t wait to try the slow-cooker chili – thanks for the menu ideas!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Thanks Melissa. Will try it out!

Steph January 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Hi there! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile but I’ve never commented. I had the same problem with pizza dough, but I discovered that if I cook the dough on the stone by itself without any toppings on it for about 8-10 minutes, it turns out great. Then I just add the toppings, either right away or later on, and pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

I make pizza dough in my bread maker. It literally takes three minutes to throw the ingredients in, and I get enough for two pizzas. I put half of it in the freezer for another day.

Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) January 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Maryann, great goals for this year! I have a pretty lengthy list of food-prep-related goals and like you, have let a lot of my other obligations get in the way of getting together with friends. I’m hoping to change that as well!

We love homemade pizza and when I’m in a pinch I like to use the dough from Sam’s Club. I buy it by the case and split it with friends. The ingredients are pretty simple too (at least all recognizable ingrediendts minus the dough conditioner–need to look into that!) I cut it into quarters and freeze. Then we can pull out a slice for each of us (or share), add our own toppings and bake. Custom-made pizzas without a whole pizza-the kids love it!

When I actually think ahead, I like to make my dough in the bread machine like Steph does. If you really plan ahead you can make up a bunch at a time and freeze the dough balls. When you’re ready, pull them out, thaw, flattend and bake like usual.

Anne Marie Dailey January 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Hi there,
I love this website! I am concerned with finding healthy meals for the whole family – one menu. One of our challenges is that my older son is severely allergic to peanuts. Both of my sons (ages 7 and 5) are pretty picky. I want them to grow up to like most foods and not be so limited. Help!

Jodi January 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I got a griddle last year and use it at least once a week, sometimes more, definitely one of the best gifts I’ve ever received! I also struggle with meal planning for breakfast and lunch, I tried to plan them a bit more last year but need to refocus my efforts.

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Brenda! I like the mini pizza ideas. And the freezing makes sense.

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thanks for writing Anne! I plan to give readers plenty of ideas for feeding the whole family. Here’s an article you might find helpful http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/2009/11/how-to-make-family-dinners-more-kid-friendly/

Leah Smith January 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hi there. Thanks for your blog! I have been reading for almost a year now, and you inspire me each week. To try new recipes, to become more of a planner, and to shop ahead. Thanks!!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Thanks Leah! You all help me stick to planning too.

Steve January 4, 2011 at 7:54 am

Better meal planning is important. I try and plan a whole month in advance. Use a spreadsheet. You can keep your frequently used meals so that you can just cut and paste them. Sure, if you do this too frequently, your meal planner will start looking like a school lunch menu (Look! Tuesday is chili day.), but it sure makes it easier.

Another super easy, but healthy meal can be had by making whole grain pasta and adding frozen stir fry vegetables to the water about 2 minutes before you strain the water out. Grill up some chicken tenders in the George Forman and cut them into bite sized morsles.

Use the lowest sugar canned or jared sauce you can find, then add it and the chicken to the strained veggie/pasta mixture. If you look it should be under 6g sugar per serving. Be careful though, because they love to hide extra sugar in that stuff. Mix it all together and cook for another feww minutes. It tastes great and has all the good stuiff with little of the bad. To make it exrta good, use free range chicken breasts. That ups the cost substantially, but makes it healthier and taste better too.

It’s great to keep in touch with friends, but be aware of doing it on Facebook. My sister in law does that, and while you may keep in touch with your friends, it sure won’t save you any time. If you’re like 90% of the population, you’ll just get drawn in to the big blue monster and waste more time than ever.

Love your blog.

Sam January 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Maryann – Thanks for being such a wonderful resource for families! I appreciate reading your ideas. One of my goals in the coming year is to improve family meals, and that certainly includes the planning process. Keep up your great work!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Sam. I really appreciate it!

goodfountain January 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

One my goals is more fruit this year. For the whole family, but especially me. I tend to forget to eat fruit! I’m also going to start planning breakfasts too. I often times end up eating just toast because getting kids ready for school and taking care of baby can be a little crazy. I’m thinking of making this year the year of the smoothie. Great for breakfast and a great way to get fruit in.

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