Saturday, March 23, 2013

Meal Plan Links to Recipes

I started linking all the recipes and my computer just can't handle it.  At this point in the day, neither can I. ha!  So, I'll have to come back and add more links later.  I also need to type up some recipes for our food blog and then I can link to those.  But, these should get you started if you're looking for a meal idea! (typed in the order they appear on my menu plan for March through May)

*The items marked with an asterisk were prepared in advance as freezer meals.  I typically stock up when chicken is on sale (for me $1.99 at Sprouts is what I look for).  I prepare some raw with seasoning or sauces and cook some.  I also purchased a 5 pound whole chicken and cooked it for many of the recipes.  I purchased a 6 pound package of ground beef from Costco and two 20 oz. packages of ground turkey.  I dice all the onions I'll need for the recipes I'm planning to make.  Then I do the same with all the other veggies.  While things are cooking or baking, I prepare other dishes.  I put almost everything in a Ziploc freezer bag and then squeeze out all the air.  I lay items flat on a cookie sheet to freeze and then stand them up in the freezer.  Here's a post on my freezer cooking adventures.

Chicken Parmesan (used chicken tenders and didn't pound them, you should pound them; didn't make this as a freezer meal
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
7-Up bread (from pinterest; read through the comments and made my own mix, used fat free greek yogurt, no butter on bottom of dish, and Sierra Mist; good, but not "amazing")

*Sweet and Sour Meatballs (meatballs were prepped and frozen; sauce was made the day of serving)
Rice
Green Beans

*Balsamic Roast Beef (meat was frozen; sauce was made the day of serving; was good; a friend had given us the roast; didn't have the strong balsamic flavor I wanted, but was still yummy)
Mashed Potatoes (Joel searched how to dress up boxes mashed potatoes and found this site; he just added chicken stock to the water and it was yummy; we buy Better Than Bouillon from Costco)
Waterless Carrots (these are my FAVORITE cooked carrots!)

*Baked Ziti (from my friend Denise)
Huge Salad
Bread
Eclair Dessert (from pinterest; super simple and impressive for guests but SO easy)

*HB BBQ sandwiches (from my friend Nancy in PA)
Coleslaw
Chips

Frogmore Stew

*Jalapeno (Green Chile) Chicken casserole

*Baked Potato Bar with BBQ shredded chicken, broccoli, and toppings (placed one cup of shredded cooked chicken in a bag and labeled as BBQ shredded chicken; we will add sauce and heat through the day of serving)

*Shepherd's Pie (I prepare the beef mixture and freeze; after thawing, the meat is placed in a dish and we quickly made instant potatoes for the top)
Salad
Fruit

*Orange Chicken (this is a frozen entree from Costco; we LOVE this orange chicken and our kids request it regularly)
Stir Fry noodles
Green Beans (steamed from frozen bag; seasoned and buttered)

*Turkey Burgers (mix the turkey burger recipe and shape into burgers for freezing; thaw and cook)
Pasta Salad
Sweet Potato Fries

*Chili and Cornbread (my chili is always prepared differently; I add a few cans of stewed tomatoes, onions, peppers, chili powder, a blend of cooked ground beef and ground turkey; a can of drained pinto beans; a can of drained great northern beans; other spices; simmer and then cool and bag in 6 cup increments)

*Lasagna
Salad
Bread

*Chicken and Wild Rice casserole
Peas
Fruit

*Pizza Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
CA medley veggies (just a blend of veggies from the freezer section; we steam them)

*Chicken Fajitas (I always prep this as a freezer meal; one of my favorite dishes)
Mexican Rice (from a box mix)
Beans (can of refried beans or black beans seasoned with spices and cheese)

*Rattlesnake Bites (new recipe for me; made just the beef filling mixture for freezing)
Roasted Cauliflower (LOVE these; could eat it all by myself)
Carrots and Ranch

*Sweet Soy Chicken
Cheesy Orzo (we all love this recipe; been making it a long time now)
Simmered Cabbage (awesome recipe!)

*Sopa de Maiz
tortilla chips
Layered Mexican Dip

Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes or Waffles
Eggs
Sausage
Fruit

*Chicken Enchiladas (I use a newer recipe than the one linked here; I mix about one cup of shredded cooked chicken with 4 oz. cream cheese and warm on low heat until melted, then mix in 4 oz chopped green chiles. Layer in a dish: little bit of green enchilada sauce (we love Old El Paso mild green chile sauce), tortillas (corn or flour), 1/2 chicken mixture, shredded cheese, tortillas, 1/2 chicken mixture, sauce, cheese or you can roll the chicken mixture in flour tortillas and lay those in a little sauce with poured sauce and sprinkled cheese on top.  Bake all at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.)
Rice
Corn/Bean Salad

*Baked Potatoes with Chili and Cheese (chili prepared and frozen)

*Ham and Green Chile Quiche (ham is frozen from when I cooked a whole ham at Christmas; hashbrown potatoes are frozen)
Fruit

*Honey Garlic Chicken
Rice Mix
Broccoli

Hotdogs and Hot Sausages with Peppers & Onions (kids don't like sausage and it's a favorite of Joel's; just cook on stovetop, saute peppers and onions in separate pan)
Chips

*Chicken Spaghetti (new recipe; similar to another I have and tasted yummy when prepped; I prepared this and then filled our crock pot with this mixture in a liner bag; froze it and will just take out and put in crock pot to thaw and then warm through)
Salad
Bread

*Terriyaki Pork Chops

Slow Cooker Maple Chicken (new recipe to try)

*Meatball Subs (meatballs were cooked and frozen plain)
Potato Salad
Chips

Vegetable Soup
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Salmon Burgers
Sweet Potato Fries
Carrots and Ranch

*Sweet & Sour Chicken (pretty common recipes, but this blog was found via pinterest and was helpful)
*(here's another recipe I like with the same name "Sweet & Sour Chicken")
Rice (Joel bought several prepackaged rice mixes)
Green Beans (not necessarily this recipe but it's one I like)

*Brown Sugar & Balsamic Pork (pork chops were frozen plain)

*Chicken Broccoli Casserole

*Spaghetti and Meatballs (meatballs were cooked and frozen plain)
Broccoli
Salad

*Honey Curry Chicken (chicken was frozen plain in a portioned amount for this dish)
Brown Rice
Peas

Quesadillas
Soup

*Chicken Pot Pie (chicken was frozen plain in a portioned amount for this dish)

Kielbasa and Potatoes

Harvest Chicken Salad Sandwiches (new recipe)
Raw veggies
Chips
Fruit

Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Shells
Salad

French Onion Soup

Italian Sausage & Zucchini

Chicken in Wine Sauce

Creamy Chicken Penne

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken Nachos

Major Meal Planning

I experienced a huge victory over Spring Break.  I was able to spend much-needed quality time with my husband and children and take care of some things at home.

With our transition last summer [leaving Gospel for Asia, Joel taking a part-time youth pastor position--which meant we also left our church here in Carrollton, Joel starting seminary full-time, and me starting to work full-time], Joel and I basically switched roles when it came to taking care of the house needs and earning an income.  I went to work to support our family and he happily took over the bulk of grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry.

After 8 years of being a stay-at-home mom, however, it was a lot harder to let go of than I thought it would be.  Don't get me wrong...I had no trouble not doing laundry or not cooking a meal.  I simply didn't have any time to do it.  I would leave the house at 7 am and return around 6 pm every day.  After we would eat dinner and get the kids in bed by 8 pm, I would plan, prep, or grade for the next day of school.  Then, I would try to get in bed by 11 pm so I could force myself to get out of bed the next morning by 5:30 am.  (If you know me well, you know I thrive on at least 7 hours of sleep and could really use more like 8 to be good to go.)

I love my teaching job.  I can't even describe how grateful I am for the gift God has given me in this role in this season.  However, it has taken everything I have to give.  Part of that is my own desire to do things well.  I don't do things half-heartedly.  I am either in or I'm out.  I am committed.  I am loyal.  I am devoted.  Good or bad, it's who I am and how I'm made.

So, while I simply could not do the things I was doing for the last 8 years, I struggled internally on a regular basis.  I felt extreme guilt.  I felt like a failure as a wife and mom.  I cried.  I got mad.  I was frustrated.  But, I really couldn't do much.

However, I have finally come into a rhythm.  I'm still in my first year in the classroom, so it's still all new to me.  I'm still teaching concepts and lessons I've never before taught.  But, the routines of everything are much easier.  I've learned what's important and what can wait.  I've learned how to do things faster and not to procrastinate on some tasks.

Therefore, as Spring Break arrived, I committed to spending a portion of the time at home planning meals for the rest of the school year.  I wanted to cook.  I enjoy cooking and planning the food my family will eat.  I'm pretty good at it, too, so it feeds that need to do something well.

So, that's where this post came from.  I posted my victories on Facebook and had many friends ask for the meal plan and/or recipes.  I've done my best to collect them all in these two posts.  This post is the PLAN portion.  The next post has all the links to the recipes, most of which come from all over the web.

I hope you find great success as you plan, prep, and serve your family through feeding them!  It really is a LABOR of LOVE.

March/April Meal Plan (PDF in google docs; sorry it's flipped sideways)

April/May Meal Plan (PDF in google docs; sorry it's flipped sideways)

Since I created the plan over Spring Break, my calendars are dated from mid-March through mid-May.  Our family tends to eat leftovers about once a week (a clean-out-the-fridge night).  However, I didn't plan a lot of gaps in the first month.  We also like to do a pizza night either Friday or Saturday night.  I also didn't account for those.  So, often times I will circle a date and "move" it to another day later in the month.  If you notice empty days, they were left empty so they could account for these changes.  We also have church every Wednesday.  Joel is the youth pastor so we need to be there early and the church is in Ft. Worth (about 45 minutes from our house on a good traffic day).  Our three big kids go with us and we eat a quick dinner out that night.  [My mom generously keeps Jett each Wednesday, which is great since we don't get back home until almost 10 pm.]