Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Weekly Menus - Meal Planning vs Theme Night

Being a working, Thriving Wife and mommy has it's challenges.  Being able to "do it all" is a lot of work, but boy oh boy do I try. I strive to give 100% at work, then race home to take care of my babies all the while keeping the house in perfect order, giving my TH the attention he deserves and getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour...not to mention sneaking in my workout. Sounds like a lot? Well it is, but I continue to strive to thrive. In an effort to get get a bit more organized, I decided to take a page from Nic's book and try to do a little meal planning.  I soon realized, that a weekly menu of a specific meal each night just isn't for me; too restrictive. So much can happen in an afternoon that throwing together the lasagna I planned may not end up happening after all.

Cute lay out, but I would constantly be erasing and rewriting!
Some TWs need to know what they are making, prep it the day before and stick to the plan. Then there are TWs like me, I know what I have at home and can throw together pretty much anything on the fly.  That allows me to be a bit more flexible and even give my TH a few choices.  However, I noticed my dinners were starting to slack a bit and my TH was kind enough to pick up that slack, but I really enjoy making dinner and decided to get it together.  Instead of meal planning I was going to create "theme nights" which would allow me to make a number of different meals throughout the week, but also keep it simple.

The week kicks off with my favorite, Mexican food.  This is a easy way to start the week and for me is a no brainer. I always have these ingredients on hand and these dishes are staples in my house. Here are some of my go to meals:
  • Black Bean Burrito Bake. A tasty hybrid between burritos and enchiladas.  With a creamy bean mixture and fresh salsa, this is an easy and delicious dinner.
  • Veggie Burrito. Sautéed zuchinni, yellow squash and onion with grilled corn and black beans wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and served with sour cream and homemade guacamole.
  • King Quesadilla. Whole wheat tortilla layered with refried beans, sautéed spinach, grilled onions, cheese and salsa. 
  • Southwestern Salad. Mixed greens and romaine, black beans, corn and avocado tossed with a salsa/ranch dressing (no more than 1 tbsp of ranch!) and topped with crushed tortilla chips.
  • Sweet Potato, SoyRizo Enchiladas. Corn tortillas, layered with black beans, sweet potatoes, green enchilada sauce and SoyRizo...all in the crock pot!

Italian food is always pretty simple because throwing together a pasta dish takes no time at all and is pretty tasty. Since we are no carb dodgers, this seemed like a good addition to our weekly theme since it is all about what I have on hand. What to make for Tuscany Tuesday you ask?
  • Pesto Pasta. Whole wheat pasta served with sautéed spinach and grilled asparagus, tossed with pesto and Parmesan cheese.
  • Veggie Lasagna. Grilled vegetables layered with whole wheat lasagna noodles and lots of cheese.
  • Broken Florentine. Sautéed spinach and Swiss Chard served with homemade cream sauce, broken lasagna noodles and baked in a skillet (recipe coming soon!)
  • Bleu & Green Spaghetti. Spaghetti noodles served with homemade bleu cheese pasta sauce and fresh greens.
  • Garden Fresh Pasta Pomodoro.  Whole wheat noodles served with garden grown tomatoes and basil cooked in garlic and served with fresh Parmesan cheese. 

Breakfast for dinner, bad idea? I think not. The weekends go so fast and I don't feel I get to spend enough time eating the fancy breakfasts I so enjoy.  Enter Wake Up Wednesdays! Finally, a chance to eat all those yummy brunch-like meals I just don't have time for during the week.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Huevos Rancheros. You could double dip this cutie on Monday if you wanted as it does fall under the "Mexican" category, but with some homemade salsa, organic eggs, corn tortillas and refried beans you are in for a treat! Include a Mexican hot chocolate for dessert and BAM! 
  • Multi-Grain Banana Pancakes. Multi-grain mix with mashed bananas, wheat germ, vegan butter and organic syrup.
  • Jammy French Toast. Cracked wheat sourdough, dipped in an egg mixture with cinnamon and nutmeg, perfectly browned and served with fresh organic jams.
  • Breakfast Casserole. Our personal favorite mix of, eggs, hash browns, fresh veggies and cheese, baked and served with hot sauce. This one is perfect for leftovers too!
  • Veggie and Goat Cheese Scramble.  Sautéed vegetables, egg whites and creamy goat cheese. Served with sliced avocado and cracked wheat sourdough toast.

This is the only night of the week that I take a backseat. I teach a fitness class on Thursday nights and after I get the boys down, I usually have to eat before I go leaving my TH alone to fend for himself. By the time I get home it is time to get ready for bed so I just eat a bowl of veggies and call it a night. Therefore, this night allows my husband to Thrive while his wife is sweating it up alone.

We made it to Friday!!! By the end of the week I don't want to do anything but maybe have a bottle of wine for dinner. However, with two babies that are still enjoying their mommy's milk, that just isn't happening. What is just as good as a bottle of wine at the end of the week? Homemade pizza!
I love them on the BBQ, oven, cheesy or veggie, white sauce or red, I love them all! Get me some whole wheat Trader Joe's crust and I am a happy girl. I have a few go-to recipes for these easy Friday meals.

  • BBQ Pear, Grilled Onion and Brie Pizza. Grill up that onion, cube the pear and brie and throw on top of a lightly sauced and cheesed crust and BBQ that thang right up!
  • BBQ Margherita and Balsamic Pizza. Fresh tomatoes, garden grown basil and Mozzarella barbecued and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. 
  • Veggie Pizza. Grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms) on top of a saucy, cheesy, whole wheat crust and baked to perfection.
  • Cheese Lovers Pizza. All the cheeses you can find, topped on a saucy crust and baked, sprinkled with sautéed garlic. 
  • Peach Arugula Pizza. Thinly sliced peaches on top of arugula and a saucy, cheesy crust. Baked or barbecued, they both are delicious!
Since I purchase fresh, in season produce each weekend I am always ready to go. My pantry is  stocked with the staples, which makes whipping up these meals easy breezy! I can recycle the same dishes and add new ones making sure we don't get sick of any one thing. Once I make it through the week, I get to try new recipes on the weekend and see if they are worthy of adding to my "theme" nights. It has really helped me stay focused having a general idea of what to make each night and even my TH knows what to expect and can make some suggestions on what he would like to see make its way across the diner table.

Are you a meal planner or do you think you are more of a theme girl?

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