Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Let me tell you, my Facebook page was lighting up tonight!  The Packers are well loved here in Wisconsin, even though I don’t watch football (and may be the only person in the U.S. who didn’t watch the game against the Cowboys) I was happy to see them win.  Instead of watching football, I was cooking food for the week.  Probably a much better use of my time.  🙂

When planning our menu earlier this week I was pretty pumped because at least two of the meals I chose I had everything I needed to make.  I was gleefully rubbing my hands together thinking about all the money I was going to save.  Pulling up to the check out counter I was still feeling somewhat confident given that my cart was not overflowing.  Until I realized that the things we bought were expensive.  I was quite bummed when we came in exactly at our budgeted amount.

Once I got over my initial disappointment and started analyzing everything I planned on making, I realized that we are still coming out ahead.  Here’s the deal, for the “Year of Me” I’m concentrating on eating healthier.  With that in mind, I have prepared breakfast and lunch for myself for the entire week.  Given that I usually spend $8 – $10 a day on breakfast and lunch, that’s between $40 – $50 dollars a week that I’m potentially saving.  Knowing that I was able to buy the extra food within my budgeted amount, that’s truly a win.

In my desire to be healthier and have more energy, I’ve been dissecting what my issues are.  Constant fatigue, headaches and achiness are the norm (although since the holidays my headaches have been better).  I saw a doctor over the holidays who did some blood work and recommended that I see a pulmonologist for my sleeping problems.  My lab work showed that I was extremely low in the Vitamin D department (not at all unusual for women living in cold climates) so she’s started me on a high dosage supplement.  As of yet it hasn’t kicked in but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I also did my sleep study this week although I’m praying I didn’t mess it up.  I’m a bit worried that I may have turned the machine off in my sleep and erased the information when I woke up.  I guess we will see on Monday!  Most people would probably hope they don’t find an issue, but given my battle with sleep I’m kind of hoping that there’s something they can do.  On a typical night I wake up about 6 times with at least one two hour stretch where I can’t fall back to sleep.  I’m quite sure that’s one of my reasons for the fatigue.  It seems like no matter what I do to help me sleep, I just can’t get through the night.

At the core, I believe that eating a cleaner diet will help a number of my issues.  Over the last couple of years, our evening meals have improved drastically with the addition of Plated.  Before we started getting boxes, a lot of my food contained processed foods instead of whole foods.  Dinners are now mostly whole foods.

Of course, If I do have sleep apnea, eating better isn’t necessarily going to help that, but some of my other issues it definitely will.  My next step in the “Year of Me” is to start an eating class in February.  There were some other labs that came back with some not so great numbers (mainly the inflammation number) so I’m hoping that doing another step change in my eating habits will make me feel better.

So, for this week there is no breakfast or lunch out.  Only whole food that has been made in my kitchen.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Brrr, it was cold here in Wisconsin last week!  Those deep freezes make you just want to hibernate and not come out until spring.  That, and in my case, itch your skin off!  My skin is normally dry but when it gets super cold like that and all the moisture is sucked from the air, my entire body becomes one itchy patch.  I for one am glad that we’re having a heat wave this week.  Well, if you consider 20 degrees a heat wave 🙂

So Mike was off this weekend but with the extreme cold, we spent a relatively quiet weekend indoors.  Saturday night we went out for dinner with friends, but other than that it was kind of nice just to kick back, get some stuff done and have some quiet time.  Mike was kind enough to finish taking down our indoor Christmas decorations, something which I had been to tired to do.  This week I’ll just need to dismantle the porch and then I’ll be done!

Given that this is the Year of Me, I’m going to try to start taking my lunch instead of buying it every day.  We have a cafeteria at work that serves salads and hot entrees but it can really add up cost wise.  Through our wellness clinic at work I’m taking a healthy eating class starting in February.  I’ve hemmed and hawed a bit about it, but if I’m serious about feeling good then I need to make some step changes.  One of those is to attempt to limit my meat consumption during breakfast and lunch.  I feel our dinners, even though they contain meat, are healthy and well balanced.  Plus, both of us enjoy the way we’ve been eating dinner so I’m not going to do anything there.

With cutting back on meat during breakfast and lunch, I’ve decided to start getting an extra Plated.com vegetarian meal every week so that I can make it one night and then have leftovers for lunch for a few days.  Of course, I decided to late to get it this week so I’ll be punting a bit.

Historically I’ve only shared our dinner menu but I’m going to start sharing lunch as well.  Lunches can be difficult for families with conflicting schedules and/or women that work outside the home.  Hopefully by sharing what we do that will give you some ideas for your life.

We are getting a Plated.com box this week, but it’s pretty much all meals that we’ve made before so we aren’t trying anything new.

Creating Goals that will Allow you to Succeed

Creating Goals
Creating goals is an important part of making life improvements.  A few years ago I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions.  Don’t get me wrong; I continually strive to make my life better too.  The problem is that I found I’d make these grand gestures and think that just because I turned over a new page on the year that I’d be able to magically change into a new me.  When that didn’t happen, I would become disappointed and get down on myself.  Instead of making sweeping changes, I decided to focus on one or two specific things at a time.
What I learned in the process is that it is possible to make changes.  However, they need to be small, buildable steps instead of sweeping changes.  I also needed to know the how and the why as well as the what.  You see, saying you’re going to go to the gym is easy but what makes you think you are going to be any more successful tomorrow than you are today?
The point is you can be successful tomorrow, but you need to have a workable plan.  Identify what is holding you back from making the change and find a way to remove that obstacle.
A few years ago Mike and I found ourselves in a food rut.  I would make the same 7 or 8 things all the time, on the weeks that I cooked that is.  We also found ourselves getting takeout almost every night.  Even if you’re picking up “cheap” fast food that adds up and hits the budget.
The problem was that I was sick of cooking the same stuff.  Mike was tired of eating the same stuff and honestly, I wasn’t being challenged in the kitchen.  The thought of actually going out and finding new recipes to try, buy the ingredients and then cook it was a little overwhelming.  What worked for many, many years wasn’t working for us as we moved into a new season of life.
Although I knew I needed to make a change, it took a radical change to my approach to make the big difference in our lives.  I may sound a bit dramatic, but our decision to start a Plated.com subscription was life changing.  It was the step change that we needed to add variety and healthier cooking into our evening meal.  Two years later we still get the Plated.com boxes, but even when we take a sabbatical from receiving them, our eating is more varied and healthier than it was.  Plus, we’re saving money since we rarely eat out.
As I look back over the changes I’ve made in my life the last few years, all the positives ones have been from approaching the problem differently than I had in the past.  It’s about deciding to make a change and then figuring out what you are going to do to make it stick.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Happy 2017! I have to admit that I am sooo glad to see it.  2016 was a rough year, I crawled to the Christmas finish line on my hands and knees and pretty much laid there and let 2017 come to me.

My mom had her surgery last week and we’re cautiously optimistic that it was successful.  She was able to come home afterwards (instead of the nursing home she’s been at since August) and has more life and spunk than I’ve seen since April of last year.  We still need to give it a few weeks as she’s not eating solid food yet but so far it all looks promising.

I on the other hand still have this awful middle ear infection I can’t get rid of!  After my first rounds of antibiotics which seemed to tamp it down it came back with a vengeance.  The morning of New Years Eve I was able to get in to the doctor who prescribed me some terribly expensive medicine (my co-pay was $105) but it seems to be working.  I’m not in excruciating pain and my face doesn’t look like the Goodyear Blimp with all the swelling.

Later this week I’m going to write a bit more about my goals for 2017 but I will say that one of them is to be a healthier version of me.  I think I say this every year, and every year I do make some improvements, but this year I really need to make a step change. My doctor has at least one idea of something that will make me feel better but it’s going to be a few months until we can act upon that.  All I know is I’m tired of constantly being tired.

This week our menu plan is going to be pretty simple. We have some plans to go out a couple of times and we are getting a Plated.com box.  With the holiday and some get togethers I didn’t need to cook yesterday and I haven’t even had a chance to go to the grocery store.  That will be an after work task.


weekly menu planning

Another Christmas is in the books.  Hopefully you had a nice one and got to spend some time with the ones you love.  Our Christmas was pretty low key.  I had a chest cold last weekend and it created a terrible ear infection.  I’ve been in a lot of pain and not sleeping well so I didn’t feel very good.  My mom is still in the nursing home and wasn’t feeling the best so we just reserved a room at the home and had a small gathering there.  Very different from other years but we were all together which is what was most important.

Tuesday, assuming she’s healthy enough, my mom is having her surgery which should correct her issues.  If you believe in the power of prayer, she could really use them.  It’s been a very long, stressful year and we are hopeful that this should take care of the situation although it’s not guaranteed.  The surgeon is going to try to put in a feeding tube which would allow her to come home after the surgery instead of going back to the nursing home.  Please pray that he is successful.

Normally I’m able to take this whole week off and spend it putting everything back to rights and organizing but I used up all my vacation so I’ll be heading back to work on Wednesday.  That should make getting the decorations put away interesting 🙂

We are getting a Plated.com box this week which makes me happy.  It certainly makes menu planning a lot easier!  For Christmas I got a new set of pots and pans (which I picked out and am pretty psyched about) so I can’t wait to actually do some cooking after the last couple weeks of fending for ourselves.  The menu is a bit chicken heavy but that’s OK, we like chicken!

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

It’s the final week before Christmas.  Is everyone else as unprepared as I am?  Some of the decorations are up.  I do at least have some of my shopping done.  Nothing is wrapped.  Not a cookie made.  OK, let’s be honest, there will be no cookies this year.

Sometimes Christmas is a struggle.  As much as I love it, it can be a tough holiday.  When the kids were younger it was tough because I nearly killed myself giving them that “magical” Christmas filled with stuff.  Now it’s tough because as you get older things change.  There are no little ones shaking you awake yelling “Santa came!”  Some of our loved ones are no longer with us.  It just gets tough.

However, I’m not hear to whine.  Christmas is still a great holiday and I’m looking forward to spending time this week celebrating with family and friends.  Taking a few days off to regroup and hopefully shake this awful cold and what I believe to be an ear infection.  Guess I should probably make time to see a doctor today before it gets worse.

Last week was a bit of a bust on executing the menu plan.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  There were a couple of nights when I left a note for Mike that he was on his own for dinner and I grabbed a bowl of cereal.  However, Friday and Saturday, instead of going out, we made the Steak Gyros and the Manchego burgers.  Delicious!

This week is going to be pretty busy.  Last night we had Michael and his girlfriend over to celebrate his birthday.  Can you believe that kid is turning 26?  How did I get so old?  Pretty much every night other than Wednesday I’m going to be out doing something.  Basically what that means is there won’t be a whole lotta cooking going on here!  However, there will be some so I decided to post my menu plan.  No matter how simple it may be.

Typically I host Christmas Eve at my house.  However, although I’m still hosting, we decided to hold it at the nursing home where my mom is staying.  Her stamina is pretty nonexistent and this way if she is ill or to tired to stay for the entire event we can take her back to her room.  The meal itself is going to be pretty low key and mostly store bought to keep things easy for me.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Don’t you love it when you have a weekend that you totally rocked it?  That was my weekend.  I started out Friday night going out for dinner with some friends (best way to start the weekend!).  Saturday I cleaned the house, grocery shopped and visited my mom.  Sunday I made 8 dozen cupcakes and got our tree up.  Did I mention that I got a significant part of my Christmas shopping done this weekend?  Oh yeah, I managed to find time to take a nap both days too!

I’ll admit, there’s still a bit of me that is frustrated that I didn’t get more done.  However, given that I’ve been struggling with migraines and that I’m feeling overwhelmed and as non-Christmasy as they come, I’m going to take my win.

This week my menu planning may be a bit iffy.  With the holiday season descending upon us, we are starting rounds of holiday get togethers.  I put my menu plan together with that in mind, however I’ve already started a bit in the hole since I didn’t do any cooking Sunday.  I spent the day baking and to be honest, I really wasn’t up to putting dinner on the table.  Typically I hate to leave Mike hanging with no food when he gets home from work but there were some left-overs so I knew he wouldn’t starve.

Carrot Cookies – A Family Favorite

 These carrot cookies are a family recipe from when I was quite young.  Many, many years ago my mother belonged to a monthly recipe club.  I remember her having a large, avocado green recipe box with dessert cards that arrived monthly.  This recipe is one of two remaining cards my mother has kept and one of our family favorites that is made year after year.

Carrot Cookies

The cookies by themselves are a little plain but the frosting makes them pop so I am very generous with the frosting. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does.

Carrot Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening (I use half butter/half shortening)
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 cup mashed carrots
    2 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 cut shredded coconut
    2 cups flour

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and carrots. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt – stir in coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonful about 2″ apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Batter is loose, not your typical cookie dough. Note: Use the coconut even if you don’t typically like coconut. You don’t really taste it and it will change the consistency of the cookie

Orange Juice Frosting

  • 3 tablespoons soft butter
    1 1/2 cup powder sugar
    2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    1 tablespoons orange juice

Blend butter and sugar, stir in orange peel and orange juice.  Beat until smooth.  As I stated I go pretty heavy on the frosting so I triple this recipe. I also use the juice from a real orange since I’m zesting the orange peel.  Do not add vanilla to the frosting, it tints the frosting and detracts from the orange flavor.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve learned over the years to make the carrot cookies the best they can be.

  • Keep the batter in the refrigerator while baking.  If this batter gets warm the cookies tend to spread
  • These cookies do not brown like typical cookies so just make sure they look fully cooked (i.e. don’t look runny)
  • Instead of cooking my carrots with water I cook them with some orange juice.  This gives a little additional flavor to the cookie itself.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of orange zest on the top of the cookies for additional visual appeal.

Enjoy!  I’d love to hear if your family liked them or not.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Some weeks menu planning can be tough.  This was one of those weeks.  Typically I like to get Mike’s input into what we are going to be eating since he does have some skin in that game.  However, everything I threw out as an option was met with an uh, I don’t think so.  He was pretty adamant that he didn’t want meatloaf or spaghetti.  He also LOVED the chicken parm that I made last week and requested that again.  Other than that, he pretty much wrinkled his nose at everything I suggested.

So, basically I planned this week around meals that I knew he liked, items that we had in the freezer/pantry as well as what I was in the mood to eat.  All I can say is I really miss getting my Plated.com boxes, they simplify menu planning so much!  My next box is coming the week after Christmas and I can’t wait! On a side note, do you know someone who would like to try a week of Plated for free?  I have a few boxes to give away.  If you want to cross something off your list, send me a note here.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Welcome to the final countdown before Christmas.  Unfortunately this is probably going to be another year where I slide into home plate a little disheveled and worse for the wear.  This is the weekend that I usually get all my Christmas decorations up by so far I’ve managed a couple of wreaths and the front porch Christmas tree.  That leaves a lot to do yet!

I skipped my Plated.com box this week because I want to use up stuff in the freezer.  It isn’t until I don’t have it that I realize how it truly makes my life so much easier!  Tonight I’m planning on making a prosciutto pizza and I’ve forgotten to buy the figs.  Ugh!  I also thawed meat from the freezer last night for spaghetti only to have it smell a bit funky.  Soooo, I used the meat that I was planning for the meatloaf to make the meatballs.  I will definitely need another trip to the grocery store.