Menu Plan Monday – September 3/12

I officially ended my summer tonight with a bike ride by sunset.  It was a bittersweet feeling seeing all the kids skateboarding and playing soccer in their front yards, the adults walking dogs, and the bikers like myself taking advantage of the beautiful evening.  It is hard to believe in a few short weeks it is going to be dark at 5:00 PM, probably rainy, and cooler.  I LOVE summer!  I do like fall too.  I don’t like the summer to fall transition.

To make things easier, I have spent the last few weeks getting my son’s preschool schedule together (I’m homeschooling him just for preschool), buying school supplies for my daughter, making some freezer meals for busy fall afternoons, and filling my freezer with muffins and breads.  And of course a more organized meal plan.

Here’s our meal plan for the first week of school!

Monday:  Tortilla casserole

Tuesday:  Country Chicken Rice Soup (In the fall/winter I do a soup about once a week as it is quick and easy and can cook in the Crock Pot all day)

Wednesday:  My husband’s meatloaf

Thursday:  Zucchini Boats 

Friday: Out to eat (?)

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

Thankfully after some failures in past, we have a good corn crop this year!  So hopefully garden fresh corn on the cob with one or two of these meals!

I’m linking this up with MPM

Menu Plan Monday – August 3/12

Vacation is absolutely wonderful, but it is great to be in a routine again.  I actually got out of bed at 6:30 AM and exercised.  Which was a good thing because everyone and their mother was out running or biking.  Our town is supposed to get hit with the high 90’s all week.  Us Pacific Northwest dwellers are not used to heat nor humidity.  Thank goodness for central air…though I would trade it in for a pool.  Here is what we are eating this week…

Monday:  Macaroni and Tuna Casserole and brown sugar glazed carrots

Tuesday:  Meatloaf (husband is trying a new recipe)

Wednesday:  Gumbo (also made by the husband–one of my favorites!)

Thursday:  Summer Chicken Stir Fry (and hopefully using some veggies from the garden if they ripen by then!)

Friday: Parents Date Night (if we get a babysitter)

Saturday:  Hot Dog over the fire pit in the backyard

Sunday:  Dinner on your own

I’m linking this with MPM

Menu Plan Monday – July 2, 2012

Last week was VBS at our church and both my husband and I were involved.  VBS always equals very simple meals.  Now post VBS, our church got hit with some sort of virus.  We have counted at least 22 people with the same stomach bug who were at VBS last week.  All three of our kids are recovering from it, the husand currently has some form of it, and so far I am off the hook (though thinking I could still be doomed).

So our meal plan this week is not etched in stone, but hopefully everyone recovers at least by the 4th of July…

Monday:  Ham and Cheese Quiche

Tuesday:  Tasty Taco Bake (have not made it in years, just came across the recipe…will post it later)

Wednesday:  4th of July barbeque with friends

Thursday:  Chicken Stir Fry

Friday:  Hot Dog Roast over our firepit in the backyard

Saturday:  Husband’s Homemade Pizza

I love the summer outdoorsy cooking.  It’s supposed to be a warmer week here in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re ready for some heat!

I’m linking this up with MPM

Menu Plan Monday June 18, 2012

Well it’s summer here in the Pacific Northwest.  While it seems like the rest of the country is sitting poolside in eighty or ninety degree temps, we are still wearing jeans, hoodies, and dodging raindrops.   Well not everyday…this weekend was actually warm and sunny.

My husband was in St. Louis for two weeks and then we jumped right into our church campout.  Following that we battled a bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease which spread throughout our community.  The end of school came and our first grader is now officially a second grader.  We survived our first week of a summer and established a loose summer routine.

With that, it is time to organize again and meal plan.  So here is what we are eating this week!

Monday:  I am eating out with the Ladies’ at our Small Group night, the kids are eating sandwiches, and the husband is making something for himself after the kids go to bed.

Tuesday:  Tacos and the fixings

Wednesday:  Chicken Stir Fry

Thursday:  Steak on the grill and rissotto

Friday:  Dinner in Seattle (hopefully some good carbs because I am running in the Rock and Roll Marathon the next morning!)

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

Sunday:  Dinner On Your Own

I’m linking this up with Menu Plan Monday


Menu Plan Monday – April 30, 2012

Life runs smoother when you have a meal plan!  It makes a BIG difference.  I am happy to be back in menu planning mode after a short hiatus.

Here’s what we are eating this week…

Monday:  Daddy/Daughter date to Red Lobster, younger two kids had BFD (breakfast for dinner) which included chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs.  I had Taco Bell later on.  🙂

Tuesday:  My husband’s delicious gumbo.  He makes it during his lunch break and it’s ready by 6 PM.  My husband rocks!

Wednesday:  Banquet Dumplings and Chicken in a box (we all are going to youth group at 6:15 PM and it’s going to be a busy night)

Thursday:  Tortilla Casserole – one of our family signature meals

Friday:  My husband’s homemade pizza

Saturday:  Out to eat after family pictures

Sunday:  Dinner on your own

I’m linking this up with Menu Plan Monday

Weight Watchers Versus My Fitness Pal

I lost ten pounds on Weight Watchers in 2010.  Now I lost the ten I previously gained back in 2011 by using My Fitness Pal.

I was not going to post pictures because you cannot see a significant difference.  I tried taking a profile shot but it reminded me of taking “belly pregnancy pictures” and that freaked me out a little bit.  But this is where it began–a night of chocolate fondue around the holidays.  And realizing I had snacked recklessly since mid October–and it was only getting worse.

This is me in California last week.  Even if you cannot see a big difference, I feel better about my eating!  That is what is most important.  I am no longer sneaking into the chocolate chips jar throughout the day.  Snacking is under control.  I’m also in Week #6 of training for my third marathon I am running in Seattle in June!

So which is better–Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal?  Here’s my thoughts on that…

Recipes:  I loved the recipes on Weight Watchers.  I am kicking myself because I did not save them on a Word file. I made some great healthy meals while I was on WW.  You can  also type in a few ingredients of whatever you have in your fridge. A whole bunch of simple recipes pop up.  I realize you can do this using google or Pinterest, but I had more success finding simple recipes with Weight Watchers.

Counting Calories:  Weight Watchers measures foods by points.  Every single food is assigned a point based on the calories and nutritional value.  There is a list of “filling foods” and “zero point” food which is quite helpful.  However, I think am receiving a better education in healthy eating by counting to the calorie versus the point.  My Fitness Pal uses calories for everything.

Cost:  My Fitness Pal is free.  I got a deal with Weight Watchers on line and paid around $50.00 for three months.

Community:  WW has message boards and an “on line community” but I never accessed it.  I like My Fitness Pal because you can “friend” people similar to facebook.  I felt instand support once I joined.  You can “write on a wall” and start a discussion.  Or share a frustration or a success.  You can access other people’s food diaries to get meal ideas. You have the option of keeping your food diary own private.   There are message boards as well on varieties of topics.

Weight Loss:  I lost weight using both.  As long as you follow it, you should find results whichever one you use.

Meal Plan Monday: March 12 – 18, 2012

Last year we hardly left the state of Oregon.  This year we are making up for it.  I was in Chicago in January for a youth ministry conference.  Rob was in Philadelphia in February to visit with some pastors.  A small group us are doing a community partnership for a week in Philly this summer.  Now March brings another conference in Seattle folllowed by a family vacation to Disneyland!  In April I am headed to my old hometown in Michigan for yet another conference (this one on news writing) and to hang out with my sister and some old friends.  So our meal plans might be missing days or be shortened.

Between trips we often have what my husband calls “Clean out the fridge and freezer” night.  Sometimes it makes for some interesting meals.  The kids do not seem to mind.

Here’s our meal plan for this week.

Monday:  Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Tuesday:  Mini Frittatas and fruit & yogurt parfaits

Wednesday:  Chicken Vegetable Soup and bread (or clean out of the fridge/freezer if there are a lot of leftovers!)

I am linking this up with Menu Plan Monday

Healthy Lunch Option: Egg and Tuna Salad

I went on Weight Watchers after I had my third child with the intent to lose that extra baby weight.  This was one of my favorite lunches.  It’s only four points and it’s inexpensive too.  It is filling enough so you will not be tempted to raid the snack cupboards one hour later.  It’s approximately 251 calories.  To reduce the calories and the fat, take the cheese out or use low-fat cheese.

Egg and tuna salad

Here’s how I make it…

Fill the bottom of your salad bowl with lettuce.  Add one half of canned tuna, drained.  Add hard-boiled egg, sliced.  (I usually boil them the day before and keep them in the fridge).  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese (about 1/8 cup).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle on fat free raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  I sometimes add bacon bits.

There you go–a healthy frugal lunch!

I’m linking this on the Frugal Tuesday Tip.

Utilizing Your Fruits and Veggies Even After They Brown

Everyone seems to be on “a eat less and exercise more” kick right now including myself.  I am utilizing My Fitness Pal to keep track of everything I eat down to the last snack–and it is helping me tremendously.  I have been trying to increase my fruit and veggie intake.

Buying fresh produce can be time consuming.  I never make it through a whole head of lettuce without brown edges.  Plus it takes effort to bundle up three kids and head to the grocery store to buy produce every few days.

My friend Jana was sharing with me that she and her husband (who are also watching their weight) have been eating smoothies on a regular basis.

She says, “One thing I appreciate about the smoothies, though, is that very little produce goes to waste in our home now – bruised apples, over-ripe fruit, wilted lettuce, old grapes, etc.  They all get added to the smoothies.”

Jana also recommends freezing greens and berries.  We have a bunch of marion berries in our deep freezer.  Thawing them out is a sticky liquidy mess if you freeze them in baggies.  It’s easy (and delicious) to add the contents to a smoothie.

I also put our fruit bowl in a high traffic area.  If I see it, I am more likely to eat it.

And I find when I am eating healthier like this, I am less likely to buy a grande mocha with whip cream or a candy bar or a fast food lunch when I am out and around. My body naturally craves an orange or a salad.  If I intentionally keep this at home, I am less likely to eat out at fast food restaurants.  So I end up saving money in the long run.

I am linking this is on Learning the Frugal Life’s Tuesday Tip

Food Friday: Stromboli!

When I first started leading middle school and high school youth groups over ten years ago, making food for the meetings was intimidating.  I had never cooked for a group before and my knowledge of food preparation was next to nothing.  Since having my own children, getting back into volunteer youth ministry and having a little more cooking experience, it is not so scary anymore.  I actually thought of making a youth group cookbook.  Maybe that is an idea in the works.

Anyway I have made Stromboli for youth group meetings and church potlucks. Some call it upside down pizza while others call it stuffed bread.  It is quick, easy, and you can put just about anything in it.  Here is my recipe:

Pizza Stromboli

What you need:

  • 1 loaf (1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed (but don’t let it rise!)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese (I use Monterey Jack)
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

You can also add a sliced green pepper, a can of black olives or anything else you would normally put on a pizza


Roll out the dough into a 15-in x 10-in rectangle (I actually like the dough a little thick so I tend to a go an inch or two shorter).  In a bowl combine, the egg yolks, parmesan cheese, oil parsley, oregano, garlic powder and pepper.  Brush over the dough.  Sprinkle with pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms and additional toppings.

Roll up jelly roll style, starting with a long side.  Pinch the seam to seal and tuck the ends under.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Place seam side down, brush with egg whites.  Do not let it rise.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Then cover with foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Warm the pizza sauce and serve it as a dip.

I also make a ham and cheese loaf.  Same preparation except I use two to three different kinds of cheese (usually Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Swiss), deli ham, and sliced onion.  I don’t use all the spices…usually just a little bit of garlic powder.