If you didn’t catch this from my original post about creating a meal plan, they’re excellent and totally helpful. However, there’s many, many steps that I take to sculpt the right meal plan, and it can honestly be pretty tiring. So here’s mine to use and abuse! Each meal plan makes ten dinners, as well as two “treats”, and should leave enough money for fruit and breakfast foods, whether that’s cereal and milk, oatmeal, fried chicken, etc. Our budget is $200, and your weekly sales will vary, depending on your location.
Each meal plan can be organized in a way that’s fresh–not redundant or boring; you won’t be eating ground beef every night. Schedule your meals however you prefer, based on the time you have to cook on a certain night or cravings you might expect.
We bought everything on this particular meal plan at Whole Foods, buying organic when we needed. We use a great app, called Soleil Organics, to help us determine if fruits and veg are worth buying organic. It can help you avoid wasting money on organics when it’s really not necessary, and it’s so handy walking around the store.
Of course, try to check your local circulars, so you can find great deals. I buy fruit this way, which conveniently leads to us eating mostly seasonal produce.
And of course, I know this isn’t a super tight budget, but it keeps us in line, while not feeling restricted. Give the meal plan a try. Check out the Pinterest board with all the original linked recipes here.
The Meal Plan
Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce and Italian Sausage Meatballs: We’d bought a package of Italian sausage on a great sale and frozen it, so I looked for recipes this fortnight that used it. These meatballs were great–O raved–but next time, I’ll do half Italian sausage, half ground beef. The vodka sauce was pretty good, too, but I might look for a recipe that doesn’t include “Light” in the credits. The meal came together in about an hour. Dinner #1.
Chicken Soup Chicken: I’ve been eating this dish since I was wee! It’s overly simple and contains the dreaded “cream of” soup, but it works so well.. who cares! This meal was planned for O to make; it’s literally three ingredients and totally fool-proof. We used frozen organic chicken thighs we bought a few weeks ago at Whole Foods. Dinner #2.
Tofu over Udon in Miso-Ginger Broth with Bok Choy: As requested by O. We already had the dashi and miso, so if you have to buy those, your budget might be a little different than ours. Just skip the over-priced Valrhona that seems so necessary at the time. But seriously, wait until I post a recipe for African rooibos white chocolate mousse and your slightly inflated budget will thank me. Dinner #3.
Baked Caramel Apples (My Way): Because, obviously. The sweltering heat ebbs a little, and I go balls-to-the-wall autumn mode. I used this picture for a visual, but here’s how I’ll do it: core the apples and mix softened butter with cinnamon and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes to an hour–it’ll all depend on the size of the apple, the strain of apple, etc. Make a quick, utterly delicious caramel sauce from Food Network, and top when finished baking. Top with a bit of fresh cream. Treat #1.
Pizza Fritta with a Salad: We already have a half-whole-wheat/half-white-flour pizza dough balled up in the freezer, so we only had to buy toppings. Pizza crust costs nearly nothing to make, especially if you already have flour. Pizza fritta prevents the buying of a pizza stone.. or the “let’s just slide this onto a baking shee–OHMYGOD IT FELL UGHHH BOOHOOHOO I’m so stressed” debacle of 2012. Seriously, it was upsetting. We’re loading garlic and truffle oil on the pizza. We got spinach and a tomato for the salad and will whip together a quick balsamic vinaigrette with what we have. Dinner #4.
Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili: Oh. My. God. Make this. The meat was perfectly tender and phenomenal. I halved the chile de péquin and added a can of diced tomatoes. I subbed a cheap pilsner (inherited leftovers from an old party) for half the water. Next time I’d replace the water with a dark beer and double the chili powder. Definitely half the chile de péquin or cayenne! Serve over macaroni and top with chopped onions and cheese. Blasphemy? Whatever. So delicious. Dinner #5.
Healthy Banana Bread: I made this banana bread with half whole wheat, half white flour, maple syrup instead of sugar, and applesauce instead of oil. Screw being healthy. It was too dense and dry! Make this instead. You’ll thank me, even if you die one day early, because of it. Treat #2.
Red Curry Tom Kha with Rice Noodles: A recipe of mine that O requests often, it’s a play on traditional tom kha and red curry soup. Completely and utterly delicious–recipe coming soon. Try my traditional tom kha with a teaspoon of red curry paste added during the lemongrass-simmering stage, then separately cook some rice noodles, place in serving bowls, and ladle soup over. Dinner #6.
Bangin’ Grilled Shrimp Skewers [served in iceberg lettuce as wraps] and Edamame Fried Rice, with a Simple Oriental Onion Soup: As a huge fan of the bang bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill (who isn’t?), but not as impressed with high cholesterol, these are a great option for a similar taste, without being deep-fried. Skinny fried rice with edamame and brown rice gives a boost of carbs; my clear soup is simple but a great addition. Try a basic clear soup recipe, but don’t bother frying your own onions. French’s work fine. Dinner #7.
Rock Salt Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies and a Side of Garlic Spinach: The smell of a chicken roasting in the oven is one of the simplest, yet most fulfilling pleasures I can think of, yet summer doesn’t really lend itself towards 400 degree ovens for hours. I’m personally a huge fan of Thomas Keller’s perfect roast chicken with roast root vegetables, but my photo was simply not Pin-worthy. The recipe? Unreal. We picked up a turnip, a rutabaga, and a couple red potatoes to roast beneath the chicken. For a bit of fiber, a side of O’s favorite garlic sautéed spinach: chop about four cloves of garlic, heat a pan with about a tablespoon of oliv oil over medium-high heat, quickly sauté the garlic for about a minute, then add a bag of baby spinach, quickly sauté–15 seconds or so, squeeze Bragg’s amino acids on (anywhere from 1/2 a teaspoon to 1 1/2), turn the heat to low, cover, and let steam for about three minutes, or until totally wilted. Dinner #8.
Peanut Curry Seitan over Jasmine Rice: I’ve been making this peanut satay sauce for years; it’s simple and surprisingly delicious each time I make it. I’ve made this a few times with seitan in place of chicken, and no one misses the meat. Make this sauce, then sauté drained chunks of seitan in peanut oil over medium high heat for a few minutes, then pour the sauce over and heat thoroughly. Serve over brown jasmine rice. Dinner #9.
Chicken Divan: Another dish I picked up from my family, chicken divan was always considered a “fancy” dish, which is understandable–it uses approximately five pots and pans. However, O does the dishes, so this is a great option for a Friday or Sunday dinner. This particular version of chicken divan is floured- and sautéed-chicken thighs, sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli, in a basil and sour cream sauce over egg noodles. Comforting, tangy, filling. Dinner #10.