Tag Archive | meal planning


I’m a diligent meal planner. Every weekend I sit with my spiral notebook and calendar and plan the next week’s meals. It’s a labor of love, trying to select meals that everyone will enjoy, but there are many benefits. Planning reduces waste, because I’m only buying what it part of the plan. Planning saves money, and it saves time. I do not run for in-between shopping trips, because, you know, I have a plan and I stick with it.

It’s all good, but I have to say I’m tired of planning. At least this weekend.

I got it done and I got my grocery order today. (Thankfully we watched the weather and scheduled pick up for today instead of tomorrow, beating the big snow storm.) But it was painful.

Because, after almost a year of not going out to eat, of planning pretty much ALL of our meals, I’m tired. Tired of trying to come up with new recipes. Tired of trying to be creative and interesting. Tired of asking for input, only to hear “whatever”. It’s certainly nice that my husband and son will eat anything I put in front of them, but occasionally, it would be nice to have some input. When I really, really push them, I might get one suggestion from each of them. But that is so rare.

I suppose I could go back and just re-use prior meal plans. It’ll get boring after a while, but maybe it’ll lower my aggravation in the meantime! They say that most people only know how to cook 5-10 recipes, and that most only try a new recipe once a year. I definitely know how to cook many more, and I try for at least one new recipe…every week. So maybe I need to lower my own expectations: Stop searching for new recipes every week. Re-use prior menus from time to time. Plan for take-out a bit more (I think we have only done take-out, maybe, 20 times since last March). Stop making it harder than in needs to be.

Because, you know, “whatever” is ok!

What do YOU do for meal planning?

IMDb: Whatever (1998)

The Missing Ingredient

I don’t know about you, but life in quarantine has really upended my usually-organized and well-planned meal preparation. I always planned my menu for the week ahead over the weekend, and shopped at Wegmans on Monday mornings. All of that is out the window now.

Considering myself at higher risk than some of the population, we are opting for curbside pick up of groceries, just to be on the safe side. The challenge with that is finding a time slot, and then actually getting what you needed. (Note: this is not at all a criticism of the grocery stores or their personnel. I give them all the credit in the world and am grateful for all the work they do!) Obviously, many of us are trying to do this, and the stores are doing their best to fulfill the high demand as best they can. (I have tried Wegmans, Riccardo’s, Gerritys, Shop Rite and Walmart. While not a fan of the latter, I have found a better ability to get a time slot. And while they don’t always have items that cater to a vegan menu, we are able to make do.)

But as a planner, I’ve had to learn to be very flexible!

The first thing I did was to make an inventory of everything in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. With that list, I put together a list of meals that I know I can make. With the remaining items, I put together a list of the possible meals and what ingredient(s) might be missing. As those missing ingredients are procured, those recipes move to the “ready to make” list. Since I didn’t always know when (or if) I would get those items, I just tracked as they came in. For example, if I can ever get chipotles in adobo sauce, I can make cauliflower tacos!

And in some cases, I just had to be flexible. When I didn’t get my frozen spinach, I realized that I had enough fresh spinach to just cook down what I had, so I could make stuffed shells!

When I didn’t initially get the riced cauliflower (or regular cauliflower) for aforementioned tacos, I searched for a new recipe using black beans and corn. What I found was a great recipe for corn salsa which I modified here based on the ingredients I had (and to make it oil free)! For the taco meat, I just use some sautéed red onion, a can of black beans and a tablespoon of cumin. Delicious!

I find myself googling a lot these days… “substitute for….”  It’s led to some new and interesting tastes, even on some old recipes.

So what are you cooking up these days? What’s your most creative substitution? How are you planning? Share your tips!!


By the way, I am now on Instagram @metamorphosis.mind.body.spirit. Follow me there!

IMDb: The Missing Ingredient (2015)

Getting Physical

I am finding this week that preparing meals ahead of time is the way to go!  Monday night we had the vegetarian shepherd’s pie that I made on Sunday.  Tuesday was a crock pot dish, and today we had the leftovers from Monday.  Prep for dinner was a snap, and this actually allowed me to do other productive things… even exercise!!  (By the way, if anyone has any good, healthy vegetarian meals for the crock pot, or that can be made ahead and frozen, please do share!!)


Speaking of exercise… this week, I have been doing some light weights (2 pounders) to tone and strengthen my arms. I have also continued using the ACTIVcycle David got me for Christmas.  I am up to 11 minutes on that for my arms, with the majority of that being manual (as opposed to the automatic, where you just sort of ride along).  I place the ACTIVcycle on the kitchen island, which is the perfect height for arm peddling.  Since just standing there for the 11 minutes is boring, I have started jogging in place.  It increases my steps for the day and gives me a bit of cardio.  It’s not much, but it’s a good start for someone like me.

I had pretty much fallen away from my physical therapy exercises, so the weights and cycle are helpful.  The lymphedema hasn’t been too bothersome — just an occasional fluid build up that doesn’t last long.  It’s when I feel it coming on that I suddenly remember all my lymphatic massage!  I really do need to remember to do that every day.

I’m hoping 2014 is the year I get back to some higher level of physical fitness.


I’d like to share a new blog that started this New Year.  It’s written by a friend of mine and focuses on her own wellness journey, but is particularly good for those of you trying to cut back or eliminate sugar from your diets.  Check her out!



On FaceBook, a few of us were discussing the virtues of kale.  Since so many of us seem to struggle with the taste (I am skeptical of those who say they LOVE kale…), I thought this quick graphic on kale versus spinach was interesting.  I don’t mind the kale in soups, or other places it’s more hidden, but to eat it outright, I think I’m not personally doing it any justice.  Maybe I need some good recipes, but so far, I’d rather spinach.



Getting Physical (1984) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087326/

Family Meals

The holidays are over and the decorations have been taken down.  I always miss the beautiful lights of the Christmas tree when it’s gone, but I also appreciate the house being put back together.  I love organization and order (although you wouldn’t know that if you saw my house)!  With David and Ethan, I have had to learn to let go of that a little bit, although it’s not a battle that I’m done fighting.  If I could just purge a whole bunch of stuff from this house, I would be so happy!  There’s a certain serenity that comes to me with de-cluttering.  It’s definitely an ongoing mission for me.  (I did manage to unload some old Christmas decorations and clean out a desk drawer today!  A little every day, I hope!)


With the holidays gone, it’s also back to meal planning for me.  I’ve found a process that works for me and all it takes is a simple spiral notebook.  In the beginning of the notebook, I have a list of the family favorites and my “go to” recipes, along with a reference to the location of the recipe (website, hard copy, cookbook & page number…).  Behind that, I use one page for each week, and list Sunday through Saturday in the left column.

Each weekend I check the calendar on the fridge for any appointments or events during the week that might require a quick meal and note that on the corresponding days in the notebook.  If there is a night that we need to eat out, that is noted also.

I then go through the list of recipes on the first page, as well as my stack of cookbooks, to sketch out what I will make on each day.  Recipes that take a little more preparation time get slotted on the days when I think I will get out of work on time and when there are no nightly activities.  As I note each recipe, I go through the ingredient list to see if I need to purchase anything.  If I do, that goes on my grocery list.

Once the week is sketched out, I add any additional instructions (for example, if I have to soak beans or prep something the night before) and I’m done.  I then rewrite my grocery list to sort like items, and I’m all set.

This has really been working well for me.  It ensures I’m only shopping for what I need and that we have a healthy menu planned for the week.

I only do this for dinner meals.  For breakfast, it’s typically fruit for me (with mixed nuts for a mid morning snack), pancakes or waffles for Ethan, and David fends for himself.  For lunch, we usually have leftovers from another night.  I also make sure I have some staples for quick lunches, in case there are no leftovers!  Examples:

  • organic natural peanut butter (that I will eat with an apple for lunch)
  • chickpeas, so I can make hummus (I’ll eat in a pita/tortilla, with raw veggies, or with whole grain crackers)
  • an array of veggies (I’ll eat a can of red beets or fresh cucumbers, pickled with apple cider vinegar… and no, this wouldn’t be the “only” thing I eat for the day.  Since they are veggies, I’ll use these to supplement whatever else I take.)
  • organic vegetarian soups (like Pacific’s black bean and kale)
  • yams that I can quickly “bake” in the microwave

I hope this is helpful!  I have found that planning is the key to success!


Family Meals (Croatia) (2012) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2273227/