Meal Planning

Meal planning seems like such a simple task. You come up with a simple plan to follow and then follow it. For the past 2 years or so, I’ve really struggled in the area of meal planning. Each week I dreaded coming up with a meal plan and some weeks I simply avoided the task which always results in the ‘what’s for dinner’ question being asked and meal time stress!

A few months ago, I realized that we tend to eat the same foods fairly regularly. Most of the things I prepare are super simple and we enjoy eating the foods. It finally dawned on me that it would make sense to come up with 2 weeks worth of meals and simply repeat the same meal plan over and over. Yes, it seems boring but the reality is I can’t remember what I wore yesterday much less what I ate 2 weeks ago!

Last week, I came up with a 2 week meal plan and this week was the first week following it.

One week in and I’m sold! We’ve simply been following the plan. And, I’ve been happy to have the detailed meal plan this week since we all had colds at the beginning of the week with John David and I ending up quite sick (he had a sinus infection and I had a double ear infection plus sinus infection.) Even with those challenges, we followed the plan. John David simply looked at the posted meal plan and knew exactly what to lay out, what to prepare and knew that we had the ingredients for the meals!

Here’s one week of our meal plan:

Monday
Breakfast- Omelets
Lunch – Leftovers/Quesadillas
Dinner – Chicken Tacos with Refried Beans
Tuesday
Breakfast – Yogurt and Granola
Lunch – Leftover Tacos
Dinner – Chicken and Veggie Soup
Wednesday
Breakfast – Chicken Biscuits
Lunch – Leftover Soup
Dinner – Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions
Thursday 
Breakfast – Bacon, Eggs, Yogurt & Granola
Lunch – Leftover Roast
Dinner – Bean and Cheese Quesadillas {a light dinner since John David works late on Thursdays}
Friday
Breakfast – Pork Chops with Hashbrown Casserole
Lunch – Clean out the fridge/ Snack Lunch
Dinner – Buffalo Chicken Dip
Saturday
Breakfast – Pork Chops with Hashbrown Casserole
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Hamburgers and Chips
Sunday
Breakfast – Omelets
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Pizza

And of course we have lots of snack options like fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and dried fruits!

If you’re struggling with meal planning, I suggest writing out a list of your family’s favorite meals as well as some super simple meals to prepare and come up with a week or two worth of meal plans!

Week 9 Project: Streamlining Breakfast and Lunch

Getting a decent breakfast on the table each morning has been a struggle of mine. As you can tell by looking at my meal plan, I’m actually beginning to plan what we’re eating for breakfast! I’ll be sharing how I’m streamlining that as well as sharing my tips to make lunch easier.

Visit Mary Jo at Covenant Homemaking to read about simplifying her meal planning! She has a list of 23 main dishes she loves to prepare for her family and links to many recipes!

Decluttering and Cleaning the Kitchen

A cluttered and dirty kitchen is not an organized kitchen. The first step towards streamlining in the kitchen is getting rid of clutter and cleaning.

This week’s project was to declutter and clean.

My kitchen is quite small so there’s not much room for clutter to collect but I did get rid of a few items including disposable casserole dishes (that I’ve had for 3 years) and decorative casserole dishes that I used maybe once a year. There were other odds and ends that I pulled out of the cabinets and ended up with a large box full of stuff to donate!

Once I decluttered, it was time to move on to cleaning! I try to keep my kitchen clean by washing dishes at lunch time and right after supper but some days, I’m unable to wash dishes after dinner or after lunch and my kitchen quickly looks like a disaster zone. I started by washing the dishes and then clearing the counters of all appliances that aren’t frequently used (like the slow cooker, water pitcher and blender base).

After washing all of the dishes, putting appliances away, and cleaning the sink and counters, the kitchen looked wonderful!

Of course, the kitchen rarely looks this pristine but the biggest ‘mess’ is just the dishes that need to be washed and that’s just part of daily life since we have to eat!

Week 7 Project: Put something in the freezer each week day.

Freezer cooking can help save time when it comes to preparing meals or snacks. Of course, it’s not easy to devote a few hours for freezer cooking. Putting something in the freezer each day will be much simpler than devoting hours to a cooking day. Taking a few minutes  each day to double a recipe, freeze fruit for smoothies or brown meat will save time.

Do you have any favorite freezer friendly recipes to share? 

Go visit Mary Jo at Covenant Homemaking to see her organized kitchen and find some resources for freezer cooking.

Free Cookbook Download for Subscribers of Intentionally Simple

 

I’m so excited to share a big project we’ve been working on, a cookbook, Twenty Intentionally Simple Recipes! This cookbook contains family favorite recipes that are inexpensive and simple to prepare!

The best part, it’s FREE!

To get your free copy, subscribe to Intentionally Simple via RSS or e-mail.

When you subscribe via RSS, you’ll find the link to the cookbook in the bottom of your feed. When you subscribe via e-mail, you’ll receive the download link in your subscription confirmation e-mail.

{If you are already subscribed via RSS, you’ll find the link to the cookbook in the bottom of this feed. If you’re already subscribed to the e-mail list, you should have already received an e-mail with the download link} 

Thank you so much for being a part of the Intentionally Simple community. I hope you enjoy your cookbook!

Home Tour :: Kitchen

Now that we’ve lived here almost a year, I have taken pictures of our kitchen! (Remember, for these home tour posts, I tidy up! It rarely looks this neat and clean!)

This is the view of the kitchen from the living room. The kitchen is visible from the front door. In fact, as soon as you walk in, the first thing you notice is not the living room, it’s the kitchen. That serves as a bit of motivation to keep it somewhat tidy most of the time!

When we were looking at the house, we really didn’t like the kitchen. Before we even made an offer, we were thinking of ways to open it up and make it bigger and wanted to begin a mini kitchen renovation right after we moved in. Instead, we decided to give the kitchen a chance and see if we liked it before we invested money into a renovation.

After a few weeks, we realized we really liked our kitchen. It’s small but we don’t have a ton of dishes and cookware so storage really wasn’t an issue. There’s not much counter space but keeping the counters clutter free gives us plenty of prep space.

The left side of the kitchen. The small cabinet is our pantry, it looks tiny but it holds quite a bit of food. The cabinet above it contains our cups and Pyrex storage bowls.

I spend quite a bit of time here washing dishes. I actually enjoy hand washing dishes, it’s relaxing to me! My dishwasher is basically a large drying rack! (We run it every few weeks just to keep it going and also when we have company or if I’m not in the hand washing mood!) The drawers on the left contain silverware, kitchen gadgets, dish cloths/towels and the bottom one is Paxton’s drawer.

The right side of the kitchen is the prep and cooking space. That little bitty counter is where I do just about everything. (I suppose it’s a good thing that our first little apartment had a teeny kitchen! I learned then how to make the most of a small space.) The fact that John David and I can peacefully cook together in this small kitchen is quite amazing. (We had a 1 person in the kitchen rule in our apartment.)

This is probably my favorite view of the kitchen due to the chalkboard wall! We painted this a few months back and we’re having so much fun with it. This wall typically is covered in letters, numbers, names and lots of toddler scribbles. It’s always something new and different!

As you can see, the oven is very small. This was another thing we didn’t like but we’ve not had a single instance where we couldn’t fit something in there! And the cabinet above the oven holds the microwave. The unsightly microwave is hidden away and isn’t taking up precious counter space!

It’s far from the kitchen I dreamed of a few years ago but quite honestly a large kitchen would just be a huge waste of space for us since we don’t have a bunch of stuff. Our small kitchen is a wonderful kitchen.